A long overdue update!

The best!

Well…. Where do we begin? The last time we spoke we were just preparing to reopen after the third lockdown in April.
We blinked and now it’s September! The good news is that that is because we have been so busy doing so many wonderful things! The new studio is coming along nicely and quickly becoming the perfect home for all our tattoo and art needs.

I guess the first update should be on the building. Studio 2 is now fully renovated and furnished and in action. The final room, studio 3, has had new windows fitted and we are in the process of doing renovations in there. We hope for it to be up and running for early 2022. Along with the final piece of the puzzle, being the entryway and bottom staircase. Then the whole building will have been given a makeover from top to bottom!

The studio family is also growing nicely. As well as myself and Grace, we now have another permanent addition to the family: @jack_underdown_art Who is a very nice young man and a crazy talented artist. We are very proud to have him with us. We have also had visits from guest artists @thenomadictattooist and @twocabz

Art from Jack Underdown
@sharonlmerchant and @thenomadictattooist

We had some amazing clients and stories come into the shop over the last few months. So many great projects and great people. But the one that stands out is the final epic completion of this backpiece! Due to three lockdowns and the ridiculous size of Danny’s back.. this project has taken more time than I can remember! But we finally chipped over the finish line! It’s been a great project that I have thoroughly enjoyed. (A lot more than Danny did!) But thank you Danny for your trust and for not giving up or hating me too much!

Backpiece by @sharonlmerchant

I guess the final other news of note.. is that in August we had the first studio flash day! It was a charity event to raise money for a family that are a friend of the studios. Their son, Tyler, was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, osteosarcoma. So we had a flash day to raise funds to help towards supporting this wonderful family through his treatment. The day was a great success and we managed to raise £650 for the cause. You can read about their story at @sarcomagramz


I guess that’s the main news for now. I promise to be better at keeping this updated more often and in general taking more photos and being more organized with updates!

Thanks so much to everyone who in some way supports The Candle Orchard. Things just keep getting better and better and that’s all thanks to all you wonderful people!

Hope you had a wonderful summer! More updates coming soon on some new projects, some studio merchandise, some new artwork and a Halloween flash day!

Best wishes,

Sharon and TCO family.

The countdown begins!

As I’m sure everyone and their dog know by now… Boris has spoken, and next week we finally be able to open!

The studio is now 90% up and running. The reception, bathroom and studio 1 are finished. Studio 2 is almost there… just waiting for some last bits of furniture and some finishing touches. The staff room/kitchen/drawing room is also prepped and ready for the fitted units that will be going in at the end of the month.

Most importantly… the chess board is up and running!

The hallway floors have all been sanded and painted. The wood chip is (mostly) gone. And thanks to the lovely Luke (@brabantsluke) we now have some beautiful birds to admire as you come up the stairs between the first and second floors. Studio 3 is still a work in progress… as are the ground to first floor stairs…. but hey… Rome wasn’t built in a day, right!

There are so many exciting projects in the pipeline! As well as just the joy of doing what we do everyday. We have some great guest artists lined up for May and June. More details to follow soon.

We also have an amazing selection of original art, prints, t-shirts, stickers and more available in reception. Including these awesome cat prints from the lovely @cvetelinaemilova. The studio will be open fridays and saturdays for anyone who wants to come and browse.

We are all so excited to welcome you finally into our new space. And enjoy our new found freedoms! We hope you are all enjoying these beautiful spring days.

Best wishes,

TCO Family.

Lockdown 3.0

Here we go… again! Hope you all managed to enjoy yourselves over the Christmas period. This new national lockdown we find ourselves in, is not quite the start to the new year we hoped for. But here at TCO, we are staying positive and keeping busy.
Everyone with upcoming appointments has been contacted. We are currently not taking any new appointments and will not be rebooking until we get a better idea of when we may be able to get back to work.
Work continues on renovating the new studio. You can see updates on all the work being done on Instagram and Facebook. (@thecandleorchard)

We are sending all our friends, family, clients and supporters a lot of love and best wishes. Hope you can all stay safe and well and in good spirits.

Let there be light!

Its been a dark time. And it’s looking bleak. Tier 4, Brexit, endless dark damp days. But today there is a glimmer of hope.

Today the light starts to return. Everyday, that little bit lighter, moving towards longer and warmer days. Its a small ray of hope in these dark times.
The studio is of course closed again. Tier 4 means we have to close our doors yet again.
Everyone with upcoming appointments has been notified. But we are left waiting with no idea when we might be able to return.

We will keep you all posted as soon as things become clearer. This has not been the start we hoped for, for the new studio. But hopefully things will get better and brighter in the new year and we are looking forward to welcoming you all into the new space.

A massive thank you to you all for your continued support. We wish you a very, very merry Christmas and a lot of love and wonderful adventures in 2021!

With love from Sharon and family. (TCO)

Baby steps…

Greetings everyone!

I hope this finds you all well and managing during lockdown 2.0.
A few of you have been messaging to ask about the progress at the new studio… so I thought I’d post a little update.
The studio in Hastings is now closed and laid to rest. Since we are not tattooing, there has been more time to focus on the renovations at the new studio in Bexhill.
After many weeks of hard slog on jobs that give little satisfaction… we are finally beginning some of the more fun bits! There is still so much to do, but at least it feels as though we can come home and the end of each day, and there is visual evidence of progress!

Next week, we have the sanding machines coming, so there is currently a big focus on getting the carpets up and getting the wooden floors prepared in reception and the hallways.

I’m sure the wood is going to look stunning when it’s all tarted up, but just ripping up the minging brown carpet has been a vast improvement already!

The bathroom is now 95% complete. New toilet, new sink etc. Just waiting for the boiler to be hooked up next week and we will have hot running water! Big progress has been made in my work room. Ceiling, walls and new floor all complete. I’ve started moving a few bits of furniture in, and even put my first picture up! One of my favorite prints from Alex Binnie. We are just waiting on a part and we can finish plumbing in the sink. And then I can properly start moving in! Some of you will be especially pleased to hear that I have invested in a fancy shmancy new client bed/ chair that will be arriving on Monday!

The reception has now been cleared of (most) of the furniture/tools/hardboard/plumbing parts that have been cluttering it the last few weeks. We started painting the walls today. The sunlight that hits this room is just stunning! Only when there is any sunlight of course! Which isn’t a great amount these days!

And so that’s where we are at for now. Providing Bojo lets us go back to work after the 2nd, we should be at some level of ready…. maybe! There will of course still be a lot to do. So many ideas and plans for this space. I hope it will be a labour of love for many years to come.

I will try to be a bit more regular with the updates. We will have to go with the flow regarding December/January appointments but I will keep everyone affected updated, as and when we know what is going on.

I really hope you are all keeping warm and well. Can’t wait to invite you all into this new home.

Stay safe and well.

Sharon and The Candle Orchard family.

Here we go again…

As I’m sure you are all well aware… pending the formalities in parliament on Wednesday… we will be going into a second lock down on Thursday 5th November until at least December 2nd.

This does mean that when we close up on Wednesday evening… this will be the final hoorah of The Candle Orchard in Hastings, since we were due to close on November 30th anyway.

Many of you I’m sure, like me, have enjoyed the beautiful, peaceful space in Wellington square, and there is definitely a tinge of sadness as the end of this phase comes to a premature and sudden end.

What this means for the future of The Candle Orchard is unclear. Our 1st December opening in Bexhill will of course be postponed, as a minimum by a few days… but possibly longer.

We will be contacting everyone with appointments that will be affected in the coming days. Please be patient. We are still trying to work out how this will all work moving forward… and what the chances are of us still being able to complete the renovations and get up and running in a realistic timescale during a lockdown!

Thank you so much to everyone who has given and offered help and support during these crazy times. We love you all.

Stay safe. Be kind. We will be posting regular updates.

Sharon and The Candle Orchard family.

A place to call home…

As many of you know… this has been brewing for a while now… but a few weeks ago, we dotted the ‘i’s’ and crossed the ‘t’s’, and we now have the keys to the new studio in Bexhill!

Its been epic, getting to this point, and now the real adventure begins! So far, there is not much to share in the way of exciting renovations! Our time has been spent putting in plumbing and taking wood chip off walls!

But there is so much good stuff to come! I can’t wait to share it all with you! Meanwhile, for the rest of this month, and all of November, all appointments will remain at the studio in Hastings.
We hope to open the doors in Bexhill on December 1st.

I’ll be making regular updates over the next few weeks about all the awesome new things taking place at the studio.
Starting with the official welcome of the newest member of the candle Orchard family…. Grace.

You may have seen Grace lurking around the studio the last few months. Grace is a very talented artist who I have been drawing with since the beginning the year. We can now officially announce that we are welcoming Grace to the studio as an apprentice, and I’m sure you will all agree, that not only is Grace an awesome and lovely person.. but it’s also going to be a wonderful adventure watching her develop as an artist over the coming months and years.

You can check out some of Graces work below… or head on over and follow her on Instagram @grey_seas_ink

Here’s a few of my favorite tattoos from the last few weeks. Hope you are all keeping warm and well during these blustery autumn days.
Till next time.


Like riding a bike?

I can’t begin to explain how nervous I was, the night before returning to work. After almost four months of lockdown, I was terrified that I might have forgotten how to tattoo!
My dreams were plagued with hideous scratchy designs, far worse than anything I produced as an apprentice, or that one where you complete your tattoo and then when you wipe to clean it, the whole tattoo just comes off on the kitchen roll and your stomach sinks out the bottom of your toes!
Luckily, it was all just fine. After a third deep clean of the studio, trying to shed four months of dust and dead plants! We were ready to welcome guests once again.
It has been so lovely to be back working in that lovely space. So wonderful to catch up with old faces, and to meet a few new ones too!
Back in that beautiful, peaceful space, doing what I love with awesome people.
One of my first back was the lovely Robyn, pictured above. The lower right leg and left leg, were healed from last year. And we added the mandala on the right calf to balance it all out.

It’s been a great mix of projects to return to. Finishing or working on some ongoing things, a few single session pieces and starting some new things. I’ve got so much excitement and motivation for tattooing and art right now. It’s like its all been bottled up and now its all flowing out!
Things in the Wellington Centre are operating on a minimal basis and with obvious changes to keep everyone safe.

I’ve really enjoyed every day I’ve been back in the studio so far. But particularly enjoyed this underboob for the lovely Sandra.

It’s a tricky place to tattoo and be tattooed, and she sat perfectly, and I think we were both really happy with the result.

In other news… over lockdown, the first expansion to The Candle Orchard family has been made! But more information on that soon.

Hope you are all staying smart and safe, and enjoying the new found freedoms we can enjoy in this post lockdown world!

Massive thank you to everyone that has supported myself and the studio through these challenging times.
Love to you all.

The green light at last!

As I’m sure all of you are well aware by now… we all had a bit of shock last night when the government announced yesterday evening that tattoo studios are allowed to open from Monday!

I have to say… that as much as we have been waiting and hoping for this moment, it came as a bit of shock! I, and I’m sure many others were expecting a bit more notice! I was expecting to be in my pajama bubble until at least august!

But so it is! That in a moment lives change, and we can get back to doing what we love!
I’m very excited to catch up with you all share the joy of tattooing again.

We will be re-opening again from Tuesday next week. As always the studio will run by appointment only. The Candle Orchard and everyone at the Wellington centre will be operating on a skeleton crew and keeping the number of people coming in and out of building, using facilities etc. to a minimum. And our usual high hygiene standards will be further increased with regular cleaning of all door handles, surfaces etc between clients.

I’m sure it goes without saying that if you, or anyone in your household has been unwell, please do not come to the Wellington centre. You will NOT lose your deposit and we will find a safe time to reschedule your appointment.

I believe I have now spoken to everyone that was due to have their appointments re-scheduled and those on the waiting list. So if you haven’t heard from me yet, please get in touch because it means you have somehow fallen through a gap! I do my best to keep on top of everything but I am only human and mistakes do sometimes happen.

And so that is where we are… I hope you are all continuing to keep safe and well… and I very much look forward to catching up with you all over the coming weeks and months.

Best wishes,


And still… we wait…

So, despite all the anticipation… the mighty Boris has spoken… and the news, as I’m sure you have heard… is not good for us.

Tattoo studios, are amongst those businesses listed as being unable to open on July 4th. I could write a small thesis on how frustrating and unfair this seems, but it would change nothing. The fact is, we have to wait a little longer, or maybe even a lot longer? Who knows?

I’m so sorry to all of you who have waited so patiently. I hope you can understand that I am every bit as frustrated as you are.

Of course, as always, all deposits and appointments will be carried forward and as soon as we get the green light, we WILL get everyone booked back in, in order of priority.

In the mean time, I hope you all enjoy this glorious weather, and that you are all staying safe and well.

I very much hope to speak to you all again soon, with better news.