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Self Branding Experience

First off, I'd like to declare that I don't endorse, nor do I encourage self-branding. It's probably much safer and much more sanitary to have a brand done professionally. The reason I chose to do my brand myself is just because of my nature. I have this thing where I feel uncomfortable having it done by someone else. (All 4 of my piercings were done by myself using a sewing needle and the mirror.)

I have been interested in body modification since I was about 10 or 12 years old. I always wanted to get my ears pierced like the rock stars. Then I progressed gradually to more severe body modifications. When I was about 16 I remember reading a story in Sports Illustrated about a branding done by a fraternity on all it's members. When I saw the picture, I immediately knew I wanted to be branded even though I knew nothing about it. I began searching for information on branding, but couldn't find much other than articles talking about how bad or how dangerous it was. Well, I had to find out for myself what it was like then. I remember the very first time I attempted to brand myself, it was with the metal edge around the top of a cigarette lighter. I lit the lighter and held it for a few minutes to allow it to get hot and then I pressed it against the top of my hand. It left a faint smiley face design on my hand and I was instantly amazed. I had to find a way to make a larger more visible brand. I was hesitant to use a coat hanger because I thought the pain would be unbearable. The next best thing I could find was a paper clip. For my first brand with the paper clip I just bent one end of the clip into a circle and bent the other end up at a 90 degree angle to act as a handle. I decided to place it on my arm, just below my shoulder, so my mom would not see it. I generally don't walk around the house with my shirt off so it wouldn't be a problem. I wiped my arm down with an alcohol swab, then began to heat the paper clip with a small weather proof cigarette lighter (the kind that's like a small hand torch). When the entire circle of the paper clip was red hot, I pressed it onto my arm in the appropriate place and held it. I was really surprised by how painless the whole thing was. I was sweating nervously before thinking of how painful it would be, but it was not any more painful than my allergy shots were. I held the paper clip against my arm for about 15 seconds, just long enough to make sure the design was even. Then, when I pulled it away, it hurt quite a bit. This is because the skin melted to the clip and it ripped away a layer of skin when I pulled out the clip. I looked at my new brand and thought, "wow, I'm probably the only person around here that has a brand." I thought I was so cool. I showed the brand off to everyone. Most people asked the ever present question "Didn't that hurt?", and a few of my better friends asked how I did it, as if they wanted to get one. So, I told them I would show them the next weekend. I decided I wanted to do something a bit more elaborate for my next piece. I decided I would do something that I wouldn't necessarily regret in years to come, my initials. A few hours before I went to my friends house, I began preparing the paper clips. This brand would take 2 paper clips, one in the shape of a J and one just in a straight line. I bent the clips until they were perfect, then I marked the place on my other arm where I was to place the brand. I tried to center it the best I could using a mirror. When I was satisfied with the placement, I gathered my various tools and was off to my friends house. We all gathered around the coffee table in the living room. I laid out my tools on the table and began by swabbing my arm with alcohol. The whole time I was explaining everything to them, like a teacher in a class. I started with the J shaped paper clip, heating it up, then placing it over my arm, lining it up, then pressing it against my arm. This time I pressed a little harder, and only left it on for about 5 seconds. This one was much less painful. At this point they were all in awe of me. I finished the brand with 4 strikes of the straight clip. After I was done, my friends all decided they wanted to get brands of their initials, so I got some more paper clips and proceeded to brand my four friends. It was like a symbol of our friendship, and I felt so cool around them because it was my idea. The 2 guys were branded on the arm, below the shoulder, and the 2 girls decided to place the brand on the inside of their ankles.

To this day, three years later, I still haven't had a professional brand, but I do have a few more of my self brands. My most recent brand is the initials of a very special girl that I placed symbolically over my heart. I must say this brand was a bit more painful than all the brands on my arms.

Once again, I do not endorse or encourage self branding. Professional branding is definitely your safest way to go. Now that I look back on it, I'm surprised I didn't get any severe infections due to the lack of sanitary materials used in the process. I attribute the lack of infection to the constant use of peroxide and neosporin. If you do choose to self brand yourself by these means or by others, I encourage you to be very careful, clean, and take care of the brand. Neosporin and peroxide worked well for healing all my brands.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 Oct. 1997
in Scarification

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