When a family member has selected cremation as their final disposition, there are so many new answers to the question, “What can we do with Cremains?” Options vary from placing cremains in jewelry, mixing cremains in paint for a portrait, or infusion of cremains into elegant and colorful glass table sculptures and jewelry, and new, more creative concepts are available now, like sending the cremains into the atmosphere to fall as rain or snow, shooting into the night sky as a brilliant firework, or becoming a memorial tattoo, forever etched into the skin, and a part of you forever. Tattoos can not only represent the person or pet you loved, they can now CONTAIN them.
I spoke with a talented artist here in town, and she confirmed that she has, indeed, used cremains in a memorial tattoo. A gal at my favorite deli by the office has her mother’s cremains in her memorial tattoo, which is a traditional style heart and banner tattoo, with Mom emblemized on it. The process is sterile, as cremation not only destroys all DNA, anything else, leaving simply the cremated bone pulverized to a fine powder, not actual “ashes” as one would think of when burning wood. Her artist simply took the finest fragments of the cremains into each little color pot, a tiny smidge, and mixed generously with the ink. The cremains do not actually infuse in the skin, they simply touched the ink entering the skin. Not all tattoo artists will offer this service, so besides finding an artist you trust, make sure they are comfortable doing this for you.
Austin not only has an abundance of talented tattoo artists, it also has an active and vibrant performance arts scene. I recently attended a Burlesque show that centralized on the art that graces the skin of the tattoos of the performers and the story’s behind them. It was at this show that DoubleDown Dixie shared the story of a tattoo that graces her shoulder in memorializing her friend, the late, great Nick Curran.
“Nick Curran was many things. He was a master guitar player having played since he was just a tiny child, singer and song writer, prodigy of the blues, he was kind and humble, he was creative, fearless and hard working and I feel so fortunate to have had him in my life.
I first met Nick when we were both 20 or 21. He was playing guitar for Ronnie Dawson, “The Blond Bomber” and I was immediately smitten. The romance wasn’t meant to be, but our friendship was. He was funny, soft spoken (most of the time), humble and very easy to talk to about anything, though you could talk about music with him into infinity. He said a lot with just a grin, and a nod. He was also a fashion plate. His style was ever evolving and an amalgam of everything he loved like the music he made was. He was the only man on earth that could pull off a vintage leopard turban and a GiGi Allin mustache.”
Nick was an active musician in Dallas and Austin in his lifetime, and was a founder of Texas’ first revival Burlesque troupe, Red Light Burlesque, bringing an old art new life with a mix of classic performance, new moves, and live blues.
“There would be no burlesque in my life without Nick Curran. Burlesque as it is in Texas would not be what it is without Nick Curran. I have danced a thousand dances because of him and will dance a thousand more.”
Nick died in 2012 after a hard and brave battle with caner.
“I’m sad he’s not in the world. I’m sad that he won’t make anymore music, but I’m consoled by the fact that music makes you immortal, so if I miss him, I can always play a record, hear his voice and he’s there.”
DoubleDown Dixie sports a tattoo in honor of Nick by Bobby Marlar at Texas Bob’s Tattoos here in Austin. Bobby did a run of these tattoos with all the proceeds going to travel expenses to allow for Nick’s family to attend his Memorial Service. There are over 100 people all over the world with this same memorial tattoo.
Within a month of publishing this piece about Nick and the tattoo shared by so many, I visited The Continental Club on South Congress Street in Austin. Later in the night, I looked at the stamp they had placed on my hand in bold, black ink upon entry into the establishment… it was a rubber stamp impression of the Nick Curran Momento Mori Tattoo.