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Mmmmm, what's cookin' honey?

I don't recall exactly when the idea of getting a brand crossed my mind. I know that I had seen someone with a frat brand when I was all of about 13, but it hadn't made much of an impression on me at the time. I guess that I became aware that I knew someone that could do it in November of 2000, and decided that it was something that I wanted by March of 2001. The choice seems remarkable simple as I look back on it. Something had happened to me, and I wanted to remember it. It's hard to explain the thought process to someone that doesn't already understand. Hmmm. At any rate, let me see if I can explain. I had a remarkably painful emotional experience that lasted perhaps four months, maybe a little longer. In many ways,, it is still continuing. But I digress. I had allowed myself to fall into an emotional trap, and was having a remarkably hard time climbing back out of the pit. Due to the nature of the experience (yes, I am being vague on purpose; if you really want to read about the exact experience I am referring to, got to http://iam.BMEzine.com/?Nyarlathotep and read all of my journal entries), I wanted to have something more than just a memory of it. I wanted to make sure that I wold always remember exactly what had happened, and not let the fog of time get in the way of this clarity of vision. So I needed something that I could see and touch to remind me of my pain. It seemed appropriate that there should be physical pain to accompany this event. Once I had decided that I wanted and needed a brand, the choice of the brand itself was simplicity. I determined that I needed to get a brand of an hourglass, both as a symbol of time passed, and the symbol of the black widow spider and her poison. When approached Jim with the idea of giving me a brand, he was interested. See, Jim likes doing brands; that's his idea of fun. He told me that if I could draw something up that he could use as a stencil, he would be happy to do the brand. I started out with a simple design, but had to take it back to the darwing board several times. The first time, the lines at the middle of the hourglass were too close; once the scarring was complete, the centre would be a shapeless blob. He drew up a few alternate shapes, and then gave me an idea of how wide the final scarring would be so that I could get it drawn exactly as I wanted it. (FYI, he was using stips of stainless steel that were about 1/16" thich, and the final scars should be about 3/8" wide or so.) I finally got a shape drawn up, he approved it, and we set a date. Meanwhile, I had been getting a little nervous. Jim had told me that if you moved during the strike, then the scars would be blurred out, wider than expected due to a double strike. He suggested that I find some people to help hold my arm down, but I couldn't think of anyone to help. So I started thinking about using EMLA cream so that I wouldn't feel it. (Ironically, this was counter to my original desire to feel massive amounts of pain...) During the final planning phases, I went to Canada and bought a tube at a pharmacy. Once I got home, I patch tested it on my hand (thank you Shawn!:), and then decided to see how well it would dull the pain of the brand. After I had the patch on the back of my hand for about an hour, I placed a pair of hemos on my stove, in the burner, and heated them up until the were just short of red. Then I drew a line across the back of my hand with the heated steel, right through the anesthetized area. Nothing. I could see the blisters forming, and I could feel the hemos dragging as the caught and burned skin, but I wasn't able to feel a thing. Newly confident, I prepared for the brand. On the morning of the brand, I woke up early, showered, and carefully applied a large patch of EMLA to the brand site. I was supposed to meet Jim at his house, where the brand would have been done outside, but due to rain, it had to be done inside at the shop he works at. Inside, we walked down to the basement and set up ventilation. Jim then stenciled the design on my arm. The brand was to be done in a total of 20 striked. As soon as the stencil was was applied, he started working out a way of restraining my arm, just in case the EMLA wasn't enough. We also enlisted the help of PJ (one of the tattoo artists there) to help hold my shoulders and forearm. Satisfied that I wasn't going to move on him, the torch was lit, and everything began. I didn't even feel better than half the brand. Most of the area being branded had been inderneath the EMLA patch, and so was completely numb. I had, however, missed some of the back edge. I clearly felt those strikes, and, honestly, I was disappointed that I had chosed to use EMLA at all. The pain was very bearable, and I feel like I could easily have done the entire brand without even needing someone to help hold my arm still. Within twenty minutes, the brand was complete. The skin had an odd charred smell to it that is impossible to describe, and no blisters had yet formed around the edges of the charred area. As payment, I left Jim the nearly full tube of EMLA. Although he was willing to do the brand for free, I felt like I had to give him some form of payment, even if it wasn't a lot. It has been nearly a week since I got the brand. Sleeping on that arm is a little uncomfortable still, but it has never woken me up to roll over on it. It felt stiff for a few days, but I'm used to it now. Blisters had formed around the charred area by the next morning, and I had popped and peeled as many as I could easily get to by that evening. They look pretty ugly now, but it should all help the scarring. Sometime this week, I expect to scrub the scab off and start irritating the brand. So, was it a good experience? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it again? Definitely, only without the EMLA this time. I am looking forward to having this as a life-long reminder of pain.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 31 May 2001
in Scarification

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Artist: Jim+Raimar
Studio: Old+Town+Tattoo
Location: Saginaw%2C+MI%2C+USA

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