Gypsy Jill Page 2
Here are some more pictures, and some memories...

Jill did the artwork on the wooden leg shown above at the request of its owner before she began learning to tattoo. Gone but not forgotten referred to the lost leg it replaced, though now it is hard to read those words without thinking of the artist herself.
The beauty of Jill's tattoo artistry was not her only contribution or accomplishment. It would take a book to do justice to all of what she did. In an email in March of 2008, she told me a story that explains it a part of that in her own words, better than I could paraphrase it:

It may be prophetic, I believe our last email had info on how long you can healthfully wear a bra in a day. I was on my way to Kohenet with my final project and Initiation just ahead of me, and I was going to tell you all about how my work on Jews & addiction had been received there.
I mention the bra business, because I felt that I had committed to you that I wouldn't wear one for more than 6 hours in a day. Which was no big deal because my life was very casual, and I appreciated that you cared about my health.
In January I went to Kohenet. I did 2 things. One, was that I was going to host a 12 Step meeting at Elat Chayiim for any of the 100 spiritually seeking Jews that happened to be on the campus that week, who wanted to attend such a meeting. Also, that I would give my presentation to my group.
I could go further into the build up, but what happened was that when my private little 12 Step group met, we got raided and accused of possibly engaging in terrorist conspiracies, because EVERYONE KNOWS THERES NO SUCH THING AS A JEWISH ADDICT/ALCOHOLIC!!! --so we must've been actually meeting to do something very bad to the Jewish people. I had to find a rabbi to believe me and help straighten this out. The people who had come away to meet in private were devastated. It was a major humiliation for them. I felt like a total failure as a leader.
Next, I did my presentation. Michael, I didn't know that these projects that us women had been working on for the last 2 years would be rated. I just thought that we'd talk about what our passions had evolved to on a community level as a result of this training. No one knew what the others would be talking on.
Two of the women were disqualified, because what their work amounted to was they had each independently decided to form their own religions. I know I'm weird inside, but the only thought I really had about this after 2 years of working and studying with them was: Man! These women must be absolutely awesome in bed!!!-- weird, huh?
There were peacemakers and rabbinical candidates and a woman who wanted to crochet missing boobs for breast cancer survivors, but your Yosefa and the project on Jews, addiction and recovery took 1st Highest Honors. Michael, everyone was crying and sobbing as I told them about what a cultural struggle this has been for me . But I know I am not alone, there is hope and help, and you never have to forsake your Judaism. You can have it all-- better than you could've ever dreamed of. This is the very fact of my life.
The next night I was initiated.
A couple of days later I was back in Washington and it was snowing. I went to the grocery store and the parking lot was slick and frozen. No one was clearing the lot and many people were trying to get in the store, kinda freaking out that they would go without food. So I stood in the lot for 2 1/2 hours crossing women and old people from their cars into the store, because they were afraid they would slip and get hurt.
I have not been the same woman since that snowy day. Or maybe the Initiation had seeped in.
Overnight I became very strong and beautiful and clear. And I became a leader.
I gathered a dozen addicted Jews in Seattle, not by advertising, but by going places and talking, and they came to me. I got a charter from JACS in New York City to start a chapter in Seattle, which will most likely have its first meeting in May at Jewish Family Services.
I gotta hurry, because even though I'm strong and beautiful-- I still need to have dinner ready when Charles comes home from work in a bit.
Next month I'm leading a 12 Step recovery meeting at the National Tattoo Assoc convention in Reno. I'll also be giving 2 seminars: the Art of Consultations and How to get a really great Tattoo from the Right Artist.
I'm enrolled at the community college to begin classes on April 8 in the Alcohol and Drug Counseling Dept.
I am back to tattooing, I'm one of 4 female artists at my shop.
Last Sunday, after extensive research, I gathered up all the female tattooists in Seattle (or many of them) and we met to fill out a timeline of the women who have tattooed in Seattle since WWII. Michael, I gathered them from everywhere. And we met in this exotic little place called the I Dream of Jeanie Room, and drank and ate strange fingerfoods. And when each of the women had marked her place on the graph, we sat in a circle. And saw that we were several hundred years of tattooing women's wisdom. And we laughed and we cryed-- because from the youngest to the oldest, its just a very strange trip to be a girl artist in what is such a STILL heavily male dominated industry. And we bonded and got stronger.

Jill was an amazing woman. The world is richer for her having lived.

Gypsy Jill Page 1
Gypsy Jill Page 2 (this page)
Decorating Her: Women Tattoo Artists in Seattle
A magazine article about Gypsy Jill and her mentoring of other female tattoo artists. PDF format.
Tattoos By Gypsy Jill

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