Sunderland tattoo artist’s race against time to finish sleeve before Lockdown 2

A Sunderland tattoo artist pulled out all the stops to finish a client’s sleeve before the stroke of midnight when the second national lockdown came into force.

Mel Blyth, owner of Elixir Tattoos on Frederick Street, worked right up until the last minute before the Government’s latest Covid restrictions kicked at midnight on Thursday, November 5.

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Her effort was inspired by other businesses across Wearside who worked around the clock in an attempt to try and prepare for a month’s loss of trade.

The Virgin Mary tattoo was finished just before midnight when lockdown restrictions came into force.

During her final appointment before the four-week closure, Mel managed to finish a huge tattoo of the Virgin Mary which formed part of a religious-themed sleeve for client Mick Taggart.

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The 52-year-old said: “I managed to take it to the wire but escaped before midnight!

"It’s very sad not to be able to go to work for the foreseeable future but I immensely enjoyed tattooing the last piece of the day.

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Elixir Tattoo owner, artist Mel Blyth.

“It took several hours and we left a couple of minutes to midnight – I felt like Cinderella escaping before the clock struck 12!”

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Mel hopes to be back at work in a month’s time on Wednesday, December 2, but admitted that she was ‘not holding [her] breath’ for the lockdown to be lifted on time.

With the uncertainty around the possibility of the lockdown being extended, Mel is now facing the prospect of needing to take on another job to survive during lockdown.

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Mel, who has had the studio for 17 years, said: “As a business owner you are just starting to claw things back [after the first lockdown] so you’re thinking ‘not again.’

"It is just hard but everybody is in the same boat.

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"If everything is going to be closed for longer than a month then I have no other option [to get another job] – everything else still needs to be paid and the money has got to come from somewhere.”

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