99 James North Project

As part of our 20-year anniversary celebration we are excited to participate in a collaborative guitar-building project with Jillard Guitars, Birchway Sound and Sonic Unyon Records.  A meticulous renovation of 99 James N in 2015 brought the 150 year old 4-storey Victorian building back to life.  This unique project is utilizing recovered wood from our space during the renovation.  The guitar bodies will be created from 150-year old Douglas Fir beams that were salvaged from the construction. 


Jillard Guitars is a local guitar maker who has designed the body with input from Hamilton favourites Terra Lightfoot, Basement Revolver and Tristan Psionic, all artists signed under the Sonic Unyon (sonicunyon.com) record label.  Sonic Unyon, also celebrating an anniversary of 25 years, is helping in a promotional capacity to bring this unique and exciting project to life.  Birchway Sound (birchwaysound.ca) will be responsible for the electronic workings of the instrument.  Birchway is celebrating its 5th year in business.  The back of the guitar will feature a laser etched inlay of the Electric Lady.  This beautiful design is courtesy of the talented Jen Stewart from Cottage 13.  The design is a rework of a poster from the turn of the century promoting Hamilton as the first electric city. 


The #madefromhamilton project will create a limited number of these spectacular and unique guitars.  The prototype has already been seen on stage with Terra Lightfoot during the Longest Road Show.  Basement Revolver has also taken it out for a spin as have a number of other high profile local musicians. 


The guitar package will include Mcnelly pickups (mcnellypickups.com), a custom pedal from Southampton Pedals (southamptonpedals.com) and will come in a hard case.  Every effort has been made to keep all aspects of the instrument and its manufacture as local as possible.  Proceeds from the project will be donated to Hamilton based charity An Instrument For Every Child which believes in the positive impact that music can have on the development of children, and aims to provide access to instruments and skilled instructors for children from all walks of life.


This guitar is a players dream.  It is lightweight making it perfect for long nights on the stage.  It has a unique vibe and a beautiful sound.  Each guitar body features distinctive wood grain particular to the recovered Douglas Fir beams.  The pick guards are laser etched metal.

You can follow the history of the project and it’s inspiration on Instagram @99jamesnorthproject.  For information on getting your hands on one of these coveted guitars for your own collection visit Jillard Guitars (jillardguitars.com). 

I Am An Artist

We are so proud of Jen Stewart for having been chosen as part of a group of artist featured in the Hamilton Arts Council “I Am An Artist” initiative.  The council’s aim is to promote the arts in Hamilton and broaden public understanding of artists to encompass all makers – not just visual artists. 


A walk down King William St Art Walk in downtown Hamilton, just a stones throw from the shop you will find a series of banners with photos of featured artists spanning every artistic industry from film, theater, literature, music, dance, multi-media as well as contemporary craft like tattooing!

jen an artist.JPG

Hamilton’s reputation as a vibrant and growing community of artists is becoming world-renowned.  With the popularity of monthly Art Crawls as well as the annual Supercrawl phenomenon in September, the influx of artist and makers to our city is nothing short of a renaissance.  As the old manufacturing industries die off our city is embracing culture and art as its new steel.

Tattooing has always been on the fringes of what is considered “art”.  With a long (and sometimes sordid) reputation routed in the underground, many people have difficulty recognizing it as a unique and viable art form.  The unprecedented popularity of recent exhibits relating to tattooing at the Royal Ontario Museum is evidence that the craft is being elevated in the eyes of the public and the art world.  The rich, colourful history of tattooing and the evolution of the tattooing process to its modern day incarnation make for an interesting study.  

The growth of our industry and subsequent acceptance into mainstream culture could not have been possible with out the perseverance of talented tattooers like Jen Stewart.  Forging her career in Hamilton, Jen has been tattooing with us since we opened our shop in 1999.  A career spanning 2 decades has allowed her to develop her flawless skill but it is sheer talent that has her creating beautiful, flattering and aesthetically pleasing tattoo designs.  Jen’s specialty is bold, vibrant, colourful pieces.  Her favourite thing to tattoo are flowers and it is what she is best known for.  Although Jen is primarily focusing on portfolio worthy, large scale pieces she can be persuaded to do smaller tattoos as well!

You can view more of Jen’s work on her Instagram page @poppyjen


Professor Hall's "Observance" Art Show

The “Observance” art show featuring the esoteric works of our very own Professor Chris Hall took place on May 12th.  Cottage 13 was transformed into a gallery and the doors were open to the public during Art Crawl.  Serving up some tasty treats from Sensational Samosa and Bitten on Locke, friends and family and curious crawlers joined us to celebrate our first ever art show.  It was a successful night of fun to celebrate Chris’ talent and hard work in putting “Observance” together.

Chris Hall has been a tattooer for 18 years and he has been painting in various mediums for 26 years.  His first art show was in November at Seven Crowns’ gallery in Toronto.  “Observance” is essentially a continuation of the November show.  Chris’ 13 paintings, all black and grey ink on paper, depict traditional tattoo imagery as well as mystical and mythological characters.  Refined shading and juxtaposition of light and dark elements define this collection. Although the imagery is a little less macabre than the previous series and not as minimalistic in its approach, this collection is an homage to slightly more occult ideas. The inspiration for these pieces came from a lot of gothic and religious art.  Chris looked to the use of line and composition from artists such as Erhard Amadeus Dier, Erte and Aubrey Beardsley.  He admits to choosing black and grey because when he tattoos, and generally when he paints, he gravitates towards colour.  This series of paintings is an exercise in developing monochromatic skills.  He believes that the paintings are more timeless in this way and carry a dark ambience.   The use of ink and water also crosses over in both mediums, painting and tattooing, therefore making it another exercise in progression.

Chris admits he prefers to paint over tattoo because he is able to explore his own ideas, as opposed to tattooing where he is essentially a contracted illustrator making the clients idea work for their body.  Also, when painting, he is not necessarily dealing with time constraints (although he put himself under tremendous time pressure to complete this show!)  Painting allows him to execute the ideas as he wishes and he finds the time he spends painting very cathartic with minimal stress and pressure.  This is in contrast to tattooing in which you must please the client, please yourself and perform the delicate operation of applying something permanent to something living. Tattooing allows little margin for error, which is why painting is less stressful.  In the context of painting you can rework or start again.

All of Chris paintings are for sale and will be displayed at the shop for the until next the June art crawl.  Partial proceeds from the sale of the paintings as well as cash donations made during the opening event will be donated to local children’s charity Food 4 Kids. 

Progressive Mentorship Infection Control Course

One of the defining elements of Cottage 13 is our commitment to the health and safety of both clients and practitioners.  We ensure an up to date education by taking a course offered by Progressive Mentorship which outlines the different aspects of infection control in a tattoo and piercing environment as well as important information about blood borne pathogens and the steps necessary to avoid cross contamination.  On Sunday, March 23rdYolanda Pierces and Alicia Lowe, the piercers of Cottage 13, attended one of these classes in Kitchener for a full day of learning.

The course facilitator is Jesse Villemaire,  a professional piercer and owner of Thrive Studios in Cambridge.  Jesse is also responsible for Progressive Mentorship, an organization dedicated to the education of tattooers and piercers in all aspects of our business from marketing to sterilization to record keeping.

The Blood Borne Pathogens and Infection Control course is an industry specific look at preventing the spread of blood borne disease from client to client or client to practitioner.  In this course we learn about diseases like Hepatitis B and C, HIV and MRSA the symptoms of these diseases and how they are spread.  We are taught the proper processes necessary to prevent cross contamination in the shop environment to protect our customers and ourselves.  Infection control goes beyond just cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.  It includes a thorough understanding of how to properly handle equipment throughout the tattoo and piercing process as well as how to properly clean and sterilize tools.  At Cottage 13, tattoos are done using disposable tubes, tips and needles.  All this equipment is purchased pre-sterilized and is single use so the chances of cross contamination are greatly diminished.  Piercing equipment, such as forceps, are subject to a rigorous cleaning process which includes manual scrubbing, visual inspection, packaging and sterilizing.  Accurate records of sterilization loads are kept on site.  Our sterilizer or autoclave is spore tested bi-weekly to ensure it is working properly.  All local tattoo shops are inspected by the health department and must follow the guidelines set out in the Ontario protocol.  Although this course is not mandatory for practitioners we believe it is an important part of our trade and should be updated regularly.

You can be confident that in addition to years of valuable experience, our education in regards to your health and safety is part of the exceptional service you will get at our shop!

Botanical Tattoos

We Canadians are a hardy lot.  As the calendar turns to unveil a new year we push on through the dull days of January, willing ourselves from beneath our blankets.  The most depressing day of the year comes and goes and suddenly, as February approaches we realize that daylight extends past 5pm and hope is reinvigorated that spring will indeed soon come.  One of the ways in which we delight in the promise of spring is by embracing all things floral.  From bouquets for Valentine's Day to floral prints in clothing and yes, even to our tattoos!  On Janurary 19th The Hamilton Spectator featured a piece about the art behind botanical tattoos spotlighting our beloved Jen Stewart!


The Spectator article highlights two of our great clients, Seona and Abby who both sport spectacular examples of Jen’s skill and talent at botanical inspired tattoos.  

Floral tattoo by Jen Stewart

Floral tattoo by Jen Stewart

Poppy's by Jen

Poppy's by Jen

The article goes on to explain Jen’s process of designing a floral piece.  She draws her inspiration from the natural world by taking photos of living specimens and later sketching them to finally incorporating them into a final design that is stencilled onto the skin and then tattooed.   A constant reminder that spring is just waiting to emerge.

Supercrawl 2016

As the summer draws to a close in beautiful downtown Hamilton, the city prepares itself for the biggest and best festival of the year.  This years festival took place over the weekend of September 9-11.   James St. North is closed to traffic for 3 days of non-stop excitement in a celebration of Art, Music and Fashion called Supercrawl.  Featuring local and international indie music, art installations on the street and in local galleries, vendors and food trucks. Awarded Tourism Event of the Year is 2015, this spectacular festival showcases one of the most vibrant and culturally rich areas of our city, and our new shop was right in the centre of it all at the corner of James and York Blvd.  We couldn’t have been more excited to be part of it. 


Our “Get Hammered at Supercrawl” special featured flash art by Cottage 13 tattooers Bryce, Os and Caroline as well as a contribution by local artist Gord Puller.  All designs were “hammers” or hammer related and lucky customers walked away with a piece of Cottage 13 history as well as a permanent reminder of our great city. 

Tattoos by Caroline

Tattoos by Caroline

Get Hammered tattoos by Bryce.

Get Hammered tattoos by Bryce.

Get hammered tattoos by Os.

Get hammered tattoos by Os.

In her forth year of involvement in the Supercrawl Fashion Zone, Yolanda Pierces presented her newest fashion show entitled “Love’s Secret Domain”.  A molten mix of metallics and lingerie inspired looks embody this steamy collection.  With opening performance by local performer Sapphyre Poison heating up the runway it was a show not to be missed!

Featuring Blackline Accessories by designer Leann Parker.  These tantalizing pieces of up-cycled rubber and hardware lend a conspicuous BDSM edge to the clothes. Blackline Accessories are available for a limited time at Cottage 13.  

The Big Move

Our dream is about to come true!  After 17 years of conducting our business on Hamilton’s King St. West and after almost a year of a rollercoaster ride awaiting the completion of our new home we are finally ready to announce our eagerly anticipated move to James St. North!

Since opening the shop in July 1999, King St. West has been our beloved home.  We have witnessed the ups and downs of the street as new, hip businesses like Screeming Mimi’s, Metro, Flatspot and Serendipity once were our neighbours.  

Article from 2003 about the King West Neighbourhood.

Article from 2003 about the King West Neighbourhood.

An old article in the Spec from the early 2000’s about this blossoming part of King St. West drew comparisons to Queen St. West in Toronto.  Andrew Little, owner of Cottage 13, even took a position as Chairman of the King St. West BIA to help facilitate positive changes in our little community.  However, the bureaucracy of political life did not agree with him and he gave up his position to better focus on his job as tattooer and shop owner.  As the landscape of our neighbourhood evolved we witnessed the ups and downs of the street.  Slowly, the small businesses around us either closed or moved away and the street became populated by fast food …we affectionately named it “shawarma ally”.  The final nail in the coffin was the dedicated bus lane that put a tremendous amount of strain on small businesses due to loss of street parking. We outlasted many of our neighbors through the bus lane fiasco.

 Business owners Andrew and Yolanda speculated for a number of years on moving to the James St. North area but felt that most of the spaces were too small to meet our needs.  We heard through the grapevine that the building near the corner of James and York was about to undergo a major renovation. 

Our prospective home in its raw state. Nov. 2014

Our prospective home in its raw state. Nov. 2014

Preliminary meetings with the owners/developers rekindled our hope for a space where we could grow as well as be surrounded and supported by other successful, creative businesses.  The decision to move is less about a bigger space than about becoming part of a community that inspires us and will allow us to flourish creatively and personally.  Our original move date was slotted for August 2015.  However, due to construction issues and a major change in the plan for the building our August move was delayed almost a full year.  Through all the curve balls thrown in our direction we held fast to our dream of moving and persevered with our plan.  Even though aspects of this dream have changed, our determination has paid off.  We absolutely can’t wait to share our new space with you and be part of monthly Art Crawls on James St. North.  

Bryce Huffman's Mural in Carter Park

On Sunday, June 12th the City of Hamilton will celebrate the art of Bryce Huffman as the Stinson Community Association unveils his mural that now decorates the basketball court of Carter Park, a lovely green space in the Stinson neighbourhood in downtown Hamilton. 

Bryce’s mural proposal was chosen by the City of Hamilton from among 33 submissions.  Many months of preparation and diligent work has resulted in this colourful representation of the qualities, characteristics and stories of the neighbourhood.


 The Carter Park mural is a unique blend of sports and animal imagery suggesting a youthful depiction of park life.  Bryce’s style is ubiquitous in his tattoo and fine art.

The mural includes a snail with a soccer ball shell and basketball mushrooms,

a blue bird sporting a baseball cap sitting on a baseball bat branch with a nest full of baseballs

and a squirrel holding a football acorn.  

The building in the background is the Hamilton Collegiate Institute that was destroyed by fire in 1948.  

Bryce is no stranger to large mural projects.  His artwork also graces McLaren Park on John St. and adds a bright and edgy element to the Beasley neighbourhood.

Bryce has also been commissioned by local businesses to add a touch of street art to their buildings, including a garage door for Earl’s Court Gallery on Ottawa St. with an octopus genie and Bike Locke now located on Dundurn St. with a bicycle-riding turtle.


The Stinson Community Association will host a BBQ with local artists and kids painting at Carter part on Sunday, June 12 to celebrate Bryce’s contribution.

 We’ll be the tattooed freaks cheering him on!


Vespidame Fashion Show by Yolanda Pierces

On April 22nd Cottage 13’s proprietress and piercer, Yolanda presented her newest collection for her fashion label Vespidame.  “Tempest in the Garden” was presented at the Glamour in the Hammer fundraiser for local charity organization The Good Shepherd.  An evening of food, music and fashion, celebrating the best of “Made in Hamilton” art and design.  

This is the second year Yolanda has participated in this spectacular event showcasing 8 of Hamilton’s best restaurants and 8 local fashion designers.  

The collection entitled “Tempest in the Garden” was inspired by the Garden of Eden…but not the tranquil, sublime Eden we expect.  Eve has just taken a bite from the forbidden fruit…storm clouds gather and darkness overcomes the garden as she reaches for something to cover herself from the tempest.


photo by Andy Burleigh on location at the Gage Park Tropical Greenhouse with model Amy.

photo by Andy Burleigh on location at the Gage Park Tropical Greenhouse with model Amy.

Vespidame models walked the runway to a sold out crowd at The Cotton Factory in one of Hamilton’s classiest, most dazzling events of the year.  Featuring make up by Jenna Smith-Panko of Glitter and Gore Makeup Artistry and caught-in-a-storm hairstyles by Stina Scott. This collection embraced the riot of colours in a garden paradise complete with snake, moth and peacock characters.


Model Alessandra offers a bite of the forbidden fruit. Featuring tattoos by Os Paredes, make up by Jenna of Glitter and Gore Makeup Artistry and hair by Stina Scott. 

Model Alessandra offers a bite of the forbidden fruit. Featuring tattoos by Os Paredes, make up by Jenna of Glitter and Gore Makeup Artistry and hair by Stina Scott. 

photo by Andy Burleigh of dark and stormy "Lilith", model Kylie sports tattoos by Chris Hall.

photo by Andy Burleigh of dark and stormy "Lilith", model Kylie sports tattoos by Chris Hall.

Kaylaa wears freshly picked flowers from a midnight garden and a bustier with original silkscreened art by Bryce Huffman. Photo by Andy Burleigh, glasses courtesy of Advanced Vision.

Kaylaa wears freshly picked flowers from a midnight garden and a bustier with original silkscreened art by Bryce Huffman. Photo by Andy Burleigh, glasses courtesy of Advanced Vision.

Cottage 13: The Name

If you’ve ever wondered where the name “Cottage 13” came from, this is the story:


We originally came across the reference to “Cottage 13” in a CBS Reports Documentary entitled LSD: The Spring Grove Experiment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIOysM1briU


In 1965 the Spring Grove Hospital, in Baltimore, Maryland began a federally sponsored program to provide experimental treatment on patients using LSD.  The experiments were undertaken to assist those in desperate need of help for emotional disorders and addiction.

Within the context of the experiment a handful of patients were treated with the drug not as a cure but as a tool for psychotherapy.  These treatments were undertaken in an outbuilding of the main hospital called Cottage 13.


The treatment was more faith healing than scientific medicine, not unlike a shamanic experience.   The room was furnished with familiar objects and photos relevant to the patient.  Patients were subsequently led on a journey with the objective of working though their issues via the powerful LSD experience resulting in an emotional break though, surrender and ultimately a resolution to their problems.  Although somewhat anecdotal, patients in this treatment program claimed to be reborn.  Their lives transformed, the transcendental experience had the power to completely change their behavior. 


Our choice to assume the name “Cottage 13” reflects on the changes that can result from a powerful experience, not unlike tattooing or piercing.  Although many people simply get tattooed or pierced for esthetic reasons, the transformation often transcends the body modification and symbolizes a more profound, psychological change: an acceptance or acknowledgement of your true self.  It is often cathartic; like purification through a painful experience that can leave you renewed and restored.  It can change the way you see the world and the way the world sees you. 

Many people claim tattoos and piercings are addictive


cure your addiction at Cottage 13!

Hello World!

Feb 10, 2016


Welcome to our new website!  We are excited to showcase our outstanding work on a new site with a new look.  A huge thanks to Andrew at Factor(e) for helping us develop this site as well as Claire Dam for her wonderful photography showcasing our models and their tattoos.  A shout out to Ryan, Rebecca and Sarah our beautiful models who seriously knocked it out of the park! 

We encourage you to explore our website and check back for regular blog updates.