The art of the line: Kat Ratcliffe at her Ballarat workshop. Photos: Kate Healy.We may not like to think about itbut essentially, whether we are human or any other form of vertebrate creature with skin for a covering, we are a potential parchment, alive or dead.
An artisttrained in tattooing, Kat Ratcliffe has taken the dried, tanned form of the skin and turned itinto a canvas for her designs. Using the same tool with which sheonce created art on living skin, Ratcliffe now painstakingly inks everything from traditional tattoo designs to intricate geometric patterns onto leather items she has handmade.
Ratcliffe resists the term tattooist or tattoo artist.
“I’m an artist, and I’m using the tattoo machine as a tool,” she says.
Ratcliffe says she once worked as a tattoo artist but finishedabout two years ago, giving her the freedom to pursue her artwork.
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From skin to leather: how Kat Ratcliffe mastered the art of tattoohttps://nnimgt-a.akamaihd苏州夜场招聘/transform/v1/crop/frm/GJZ5TVpAk84wrTzsQfLQRB/7c4ca979-ccb7-432b-9832-3d8b949a6f7a.jpg/r5_0_1915_1079_w1200_h678_fmax.jpgWorking with the skills learned in tattooing, Kat Ratcliffe creates beautiful objects.life-style, arts, design, women, ballarat, tattoo, tattooing, leather2017-09-30T12:00:00+10:00https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5588695112001https://players.brightcove苏州夜场招聘/3879528182001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5588695112001Kat Ratcliffe in her Ballarat studioOriginally learning the skills of tattooing involved a four-year apprenticeship.
“I wasat the (tattoo) shop for seven years.I was limited to what I could do;all my timewas spent working for other people,” she says.
“Now I can produce items with my own artwork, as well as doing commission pieces as well.At the moment I’m creating leather itemsand I’m tattooing themwith my own images and artwork.”
Kat RatcliffeOnce you mark the leather, it’s done. If you make a mistake you have to start again, regardless. And you are limited by the types of leather and the types of inks that you can use as well.
The inking of each piece is a meditative process for Ratcliffe, one that she gets lost in each time..
“It’s a lot of concentration,” says Ratcliffe.
“Just looking at that line that’s coming up, and knowing that you can’t muck it up. You do get into the rhythm of it and listen to music; it’s never stressful. I’m just used to doing it now so I’m not worried about making mistakes. I’m not worried about how it’s going to look. Iknow it’s coming out the way that I want it to.”
Personalised pet collars are another item that Ratcliffe has turned her talents to. She likes the idea of people being able to return a lost creature simply by by reading her ink work.
“Just so our furbabiescan get home to people when they are lost,” says the owner of Marli, an affectionate but surly-faced British Blue cat.
“It makes it a lot easier then getting microchips scanned or having to call up the council.”
Patience and planning are Ratcliffe’s strengths, honed through long hours carefully guiding the needle to completion.
“I’m looking atmy artwork from walls to fashion and furniture. So I take my own images, my abstract art and see ifI can translate them on to the leather and then get them made into furniture, shoes, bags and that type of thing.
“I’d liketo get into the furniture side of things, use images that directly relate to that piece of furniture and the era it was made. So that’s a little bit further down the track, but it’s where I’d like to get to.”
“At the moment I’m makingeverything myself so it’s a really, really long process. That’s where I’d like to take it.
In the meantime, she plans to get her art displayed as an body of work -not justa craft buta legitimate form of artistic endeavour.
“I’d like to do an exhibition because it’s something that’s rare. There’s no one else in doing it.It’s just a different and unusual sort of thing, to use the tattoo machine as the tool, not to do it on the person but to produce something else that can be used every day,” says Kat Ratcliffe.
“You don’t have to like tattoos; it doesn’t have to be a tattoo image.It can just be used as a paintbrush.”
This article is part of a Courier series on Women in Design, focussing on women making creative paths for themselves in Ballarat. More, including multimedia, at thecourier苏州夜总会招聘.au