Thursday, March 29, 2012

Experimental Temporary Pace Tattoo

Screen capture from Taz Running with pace chart specific
to the A2A Half Marathon that I'm running on Sunday. The
pace chart is what the tattoo looks like.

Pace bands from Marathon Guide,
just cut out, cover with tape
and tape it on your wrist.
Since I have two more half marathons this weekend I was looking for some pace bands or cards to use just to see if I'm staying where I should be as far as pace goes. I would usually just print up the pace bands from but came across these temporary pace tattoos in the past. Another site I found for temporary pace tattoos was where you have the option of ordering a tattoo at a set pace or at a pace that takes into account elevation changes and such (limited to specific races). They also offer you the ability to print out the chart yourself and use it an whatever manner tickles your fancy. I decided that I would try to print one out and make a temporary tattoo. 
 Pace Tat

In order to do this I would need some temporary tattoo transfer paper that could be run through my inkjet printer but after doing a search for instructions on how to make a temporary tattoo I stumbled across this site which did not require any specialized paper other than the backing of a sheet of labels. So, I gathered everything I needed: label backing paper, astringent/alcohol to clean the skin, moist paper towel, non-toxic glue stick, scissors and tape (medical or athletic recommended).

My finished product.
Step 1. Find the pace chart that you want to use and save it as an image. Print it out on regular paper first and ensure that it will fit on the area of skin where you want to place it. If it doesn't, resize the image and repeat. Be sure to save the image again when it's the right size.

Step 2. Get ready to print the image. Insert the backer sheet into your printer so that the printing will happen on the glossy side (the side where the labels were).

Step 3. Change the settings on your image (you may have to save it to your Paint program) so that it prints in reverse. Some printers have a "Mirror" setting that can be used instead of Paint.

Step 4. Print the chart. Remember that printers won't print white, so wherever there is white on the image it will be you skin only. Be sure not to touch the chart itself or print anything before you remove the sheet from your printer because the image will smudge!

Step 5. careful with the image. It is very delicate. Cut out the chart leaving minimal edges. Do not touch the image itself.

Step 6. Clean the area of skin where you want to place the tattoo with the astringent or alcohol. Allow to dry completely.

Step 7. Use the glue stick and apply it in a light layer to the whole area where the tattoo will go. Be sure to have good coverage as this is what will take up the ink from the image.

Step 8. This step is not necessarily needed but would be a wise move. Use the tape to secure the tattoo in place for 10 minutes. During this time be careful not to move the tattoo around.

Step 9. Use the moist towel and simply dab it on top of the tattoo to moisten it. Another option is just to lay the folded towel over the top of the tattoo until the 10 minutes is over. The latter is my preference.

Step 10. When the 10 minutes is over, carefully remove the paper and allow the area to dry completely. When it is dry you will be able to touch the tattoo which will have a slightly tacky feeling.'re done!

After a nights
restless sleep.
Now, I wouldn't recommend rubbing the tattoo over aggressively. While it did tolerate light to moderate rubbing I didn't try a full blown scratching or rubbing. I applied this in the early evening and by the time I went to sleep around 11pm it was still fully intact without much special care taken to protect it. When I woke up I found that the tattoo had smeared because I had slept with my arm resting on my chest which resulted in the tattoo partially transferring to my chest. When I got into the shower the tattoo almost immediately washed off with only the water running over this method is probably not something you'd want to try if you sweat profusely. It's currently two days later and I still have a light ghost image on my forearm.

One thing I did have a problem with was finding a backing sheet for labels that wasn't perforated. It seems that almost all labels have perforations that go through the backing sheet as well as the labels themselves. I did find a whole sheet label that only had two perforated lines on the backing sheet, so I used that and just taped the perforations together into one piece.
Ghost image
after shower.

I'm going to try to find some tattoo transfer paper for my inkjet printer, but I've not had any luck yet. I may end up ordering online as I'm just crazy enough to try every method before deciding whether to buy the professionally made tattoos or not!

Now, just to let you know. The ink never really dries on the backing paper. It's now 3 days later or so and I accidentally touched some other charts I had printed at the same time and the ink smeared all over the place. So, needless to say, I won't be using this technique this weekend. I'll probably just be using the trusty pace band unless I can find the special tattoo paper and find that tattoos made with that last a while.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, very resourceful. This is Owen Lillywhite, Owner of Taz Running. Just wanted to save you some headache. Do not buy the inkjet temporary tattoo paper. I went that route when I first was exploring the idea of making these for people. They work good, apply good and look good after you apply them. The problem is that once you sweat even a little, the ink turns back to liquid form and runs all over the place and is completely not readable. You'd need to do it on a laser printer with the laser temporary tattoo paper. That paper is very expensive so I doubt you'd be able to pull it off without spending more than $4.99 on