When our loved ones pass on, we have many different ways of remembering them. The most popular way of keeping their memory alive is to keep something that was special to them and cherish it forever. For example, I have a lovely bone china tea set that was my grandmother’s. I also have a couple of the hand-knit scarves she made me that keep me warm during winter. Completely normal and not at all bizarre items to keep.
However, there is a new, albeit skin-crawling way of remembering those you loved and keeping them close. According to a report by Nine News Australia, that would be to have their tattooed skin preserved in order for it to be framed and displayed.
And to help you do that is father and son mortician duo from Ohio. Together they run “Save My Ink Forever.” The practice is based in Northfield, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland.
Mortician Michael Sherwood developed the idea with his son Kyle a few years ago while having drinks with friends. Seriously, don’t come up with business ideas while drinking – that’s never a good idea.
One friend had lost his father and explained to the duo how he wanted his father’s tattoo preserved.
Kyle Sherwood told Nine News Australia, “Being the guys our friends come to with death-related questions, we kind of laughed about it at first.”
However, their friend was completely serious, and that is what got the Sherwoods thinking.
Kyle continued, telling 9News.com.au, “With the art in tattoos and how much they mean to people, why not keep them after they die? People put ashes in urns on mantles and visit stones with their loved one’s names on them. Why not keep their tattoos as a memorial?”
Eventually, the Sherwoods founded their business aptly named “Save My Ink Forever,” which gives people the chance to preserve their loved one’s tattoos and turn them into a piece of artwork.
The process is not an easy one, nor a short one and according to Kylie, can take 3-4 months to complete.
This is how the process works. The first step is that the tattoo gets surgically removed from the body at the funeral home within 72 hours of the person having passed away. It can either be done either before or after the body is embalmed.
After the inked-skin is removed, it is then treated “with the same dignity and respect as with any funeral preparation process,” as Kyle stated.
Afterward, the tattooed skin, which is a parchment, is then framed as wall art for the family to hang on the wall.
The Sherwoods do have boundaries. They don’t do facial or genital tattoos. In addition, they will only frame the final product as wall art. They have received requests for the tattooed flesh to be turned into things such as lampshades or book covers, but they have all denied those requests.
“We are helping families and fulfilling their last wishes, we are not trying to create a freakshow.”
Naturally, the Sherwoods’ business isn’t without its controversy and they have received backlash, although most of it has been from the conservative members of the community.
Some people have compared the Sherwoods to the infamous Ed Gein, who was known for digging up bodies from graveyards in order to use their skin and bones to make different items, including lampshades. Other people on social media have commented, saying that the Sherwoods remind them of the “Silence of the Lambs” antagonist, “Buffalo Bill,” who kills women and skins them in order to make himself a suit.
Regardless of all the backlash and the comments, Kyle remains unbothered, saying, “It’s the family we care about – who am I to say how they should remember their loved one? Most super conservative people disagree with tattoos in general and have no idea what they mean to people.”
The website states the following:
“Welcome to Save My Ink Forever where we have developed a unique proprietary process for PRESERVING TATTOOS. Our mission is to help carry on a loved one’s story. We hope to ensure that the spirit and legacy of your loved ones can live on for generations to come. Save My Ink Forever focuses on creating an everlasting memorial. At Save My Ink Forever we create more than just a picture. You receive the ACTUAL TATTOO. This becomes a framed piece of art that is presented to the family in a DIGNIFIED MANNER. All of the funeral homes and crematories listed on the preferred provider page of our website are businesses willing to provide the service of removing a loved one’s tattoo art.”