My first branding experience
For years I have been fascinated with all forms of body decoration. I love watching documentaries about body modification, looking through tattoo magazines and talking to people about their personal experiences. Two years ago I finally decided to get my own work done. I got one tattoo on my back, which I have planned to add on to later, but I wanted something more. I couldn't decide on another ink picture; it took me 21 years to design the one I have! I wanted to do something different for my second attempt, so I started thinking about branding. My ex-boyfriend has two brands, one that he did while I was watching, which at first I admit I thought was crazy!! It really smelled bad (like charred rotted meat and burnt hair) and the sound of searing flesh was really freaky!! Over time as it healed I began to enjoy the brand; I picked the scab many times so that it would scar nicely. Once it was healed it looked great and I wanted one. I thought about it for a while, and then 2 months ago I decided to do my own. I wanted to have it in a place where I could see it, since I can only see my tattoo in a mirror and I have to crank my head all the way around!! Because I am right handed I decided to put it on my left arm (also, I figured that if I ever have to shake the hand of anyone important, you know, when I grow up, I can keep my other arm out of sight!). Once I knew where I would put the brand I had to design it. I decided on 3 circles (oOo) to represent the strong bonded trinity between my parents and me. I bought some copper pipefittings from a hardware store: one ¾ of an inch for the ends, and a 1 ½ inch for the middle circle. I asked my girlfriend to help me with it, which she was totally into (she likes to inflict pain!!) We heated up the pipes with a blowtorch and I marked the place for the first circle. Just before she was about to do it, my dad suggested that I try a smaller "test burn" because it would probably hurt more that I expected. (he told me about a time when he was burned with hot metal and he still remembers the pain!!) I started to worry, so I took his advice and tested my arm with the head of a nail. After we heated the nail and I stretched out my arm, my friend lost her nerve, so my dad had make the first strike. I braced myself for an intense surge of pain, and I was not disappointed! It hurt like HELL for the 3 ½ seconds that the nail was melting my flesh! My dad was surprised that I didn't flinch or even make a sound (in my head I was screaming!!) I admired my new "dot" and I realized that I would have to change the design from my original plan. I tried to come up with something that suited small dots, and then I thought about my birth sign. I'm a Leo and I already knew what the Leo constellations looks like, so I mapped it out on my arm, all 15 stars!! We were doing the burns outside so that it wouldn't smell too much. I kept a bowl of ice cubes to use to cool off after each one, and I needed a minute to psych myself up for the next. It had been half an hour by the time the last "star" was imprinted. We brought all of our "tools" inside, and my first branding experience was over. The next morning I carefully washed my arm in the shower, I thought the hot water would make it hurt but it didn't. The burned skin was crusty and yellow; there was a red ring around every dot. It started to get tender and a little sore over the next few days but only when it was touched. I kept it clean and covered with antiseptic ointment until I started pulling off the scabs when they were wet. They peeled away with a little bit of blood and pain but I wanted to have predominant scars when it was all healed. When people at work saw it for the first time, they told me I was crazy! Most of them don't believe me when I tell them I did it on purpose, (that has become really annoying, because I have to spend 10 minutes trying to convince everyone that I am serious!!). After the initial shock, most times people will just shake their head and tell me I'm nuts, but then they remember that I'm still just me, crazy or not!
I tell the customers that it was a grease burn to avoid any aggravation, I am surprise to see how many people just grab my arm and demand to know what happened, (what if I was burned in an accident and I'm really sensitive about it?) I didn't realize how often I would have to justify myself and explain why I did it. I do love my brand, I look at it and touch it all the time, but I wish that society would be more understanding about personal body expression. Despite all of the hassles I've faced with having this brand, I still plan on getting my circles done, once my arm it fully healed. Luckily I have understanding parents, and crazy friends, that will always support me, and appreciate my personal expression.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 June 2001