Tattoo buff can’t get tough with pupils

Oamaru’s Mel Rushton shows off her  tattoo of an owl at the Tattooed & Proud show at the Oamaru...
Oamaru’s Mel Rushton shows off her tattoo of an owl at the Tattooed & Proud show at the Oamaru Club on Saturday. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
One thing Oamaru teacher and tattoo buff Mel Rushton cannot do in the classroom is tell her pupils off for drawing on themselves.

The 39-year-old was one of hundreds of well-inked people who filled the Oamaru Club for the annual Tattooed & Proud show on Saturday, which featured tattoos of virtually every imaginable theme, shape, size and colour.

Mrs Rushton said she got her first tattoo, of a devil, at the age of just 14.

She admitted her parents were not too thrilled to begin with, but eventually accepted it for what it was.

"They didn’t know. They were not impressed when I showed them, but they weren’t too bad. They were not so common then."

She liked the idea of getting inked as it was a way to express her individuality, she said.

She now has about 17 tattoos,  the most recent being of an owl on her right arm, which  she said was her favourite.

Her other tattoos include floral and watercolour designs, as well as the birthdates of her children in Roman numerals and her and husband Neil’s name written in kanji, Chinese characters used in Japanese writing.

When in the classroom at Weston School,  her pupils often talked about her tattoos — especially when she showed up with some new ink, Mrs Rushton said.

"They love them, especially when I come back with new ones from the weekend. They are always interested to know about them ...  I guess I can’t tell them off for drawing on themselves."

She suggested people think hard about what kind of tattoo they wanted if they were getting one for the first time as it would be "there for life", and to find an accomplished tattooist and stick with them.

She planned to add more to her collection in the future, Mrs Rushton  said.

"I’m never finished."

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