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into the skin

Into the Skin

Some would say it's my preference in music that influence me, some my choice of lifestyle; who knows what other stupid reasons people make up to justify my expression and need for change.

The fact is I've been enjoying altering my physical form since before I was legal. This meant, of course, that it either had to be done by some shoddy shop that doesn't really care about these things or that I would have to find some way of changing myself by myself.

When this started (I can't even remember how long ago, probably about 5 years or more) it didn't have that much significance. It was cutting for the sake of cutting. For the pain. For the badge. For the experience. And not very worthwhile badges at all. A latticework of lines marring my chest and random marks up and down my arms which only served to back me into a corner and make me feel small and petty when questioned about them. This had to change.

I don't know what caused it exactly, but it was like an epiphany of sorts. One day I just realized that if I was going to mark myself permanently it should be more meaningful, more artistic, and something that would serve not to provoke questioning, but to add beauty to the canvas I inhabit.

I gathered the necessary tools: rubbing alcohol, one fresh pack of razor blades, a candle, lighter, pliers, and a paper clip (just in case I decided on a branding instead of a cutting). The music was cranked to a neighbor annoying volume and getting me pumped (for some reason Skinny Puppy's The Process always puts me in the mood for pain). For something this primitive, I thought, this should be as natural as I can get it- so I stripped, exposing every possible inch of myself for the changing.

I stood in front of the mirror for a long time, flesh bared for the marking. I was waiting for it to come to me. I knew it would. It would have to be something out of my subconscious. Something that my primitive, deeper self wanted.

I ran the edge of the new razorblade over my skin hoping either reflex or the blade itself would know where and when to strike. Eventually I made some light cuts via this method. They ran over my left shoulder, one a hook that began at the front of the shoulder and ran into a curl that covered the side. The other a straight line above the first running the length of it to the point that the arc of the hook started.

This was right. I could feel it. It was almost ready. But it needed a little more. I could see it right away. I got a straight pin out, soaked it in alcohol, and topped the design with a series of six punctures that ran the length of the straight line. It was beautiful. This was what I wanted. Now to make it permanent.

I picked up the razor again, the raw sounds and lyrics of "The Process" fueling my desire for blood. The cuts were done slowly. I savored the moment. Savored every cell separating from its natural state, creating something new. Something beautiful. I did the hook shape first. It was a little difficult because of the curve. I had to change the angle of the blade a lot, which I wasn't used to, having only done mostly straight cuts before. Soon it was done, however. I went over it a few times to make sure it was deep enough. Then I started the second line. This one was easier, obviously. Straight line- been there, done that, got the scars to prove it.

The punctures that ran the top of the design presented a dilemma though. Although the pinholes were deep and would probably leave some kind of mark, they were barely visible. I would need something else. I went and searched the tool room for something appropriate and came up with a nail with a large enough head to make a good scar. The cutting was now turning into a multimedia project that would include both cutting and branding.

This was also something I was used to, having done some minor brands using paperclips bent to different designs. These were done much in the style of my previous cuttings though and now it was time for something real. I lit the candle and, holding the tip of the nail with the pliers, proceeded to heat it until it glowed red. A few quick strikes with the makeshift branding iron and the 6 once small punctures were significantly improved to 1,1/2 cm diameter circles burned into my shoulder.

It was done. It was perfect. I was a better canvas.

To date it has lightened in colour quite a bit and I plan to go over it again, probably just by branding. The process I went through, however, was improper and very dangerous, unbeknownst to myself at the time. I just wasn't thinking. Alcohol and/or the small flame from a candle are no substitute for an autoclave. I was also informed at a later date, that if wire is used for brandings it should be of the non-galvanized type. I was extremely lucky it didn't get infected and that it healed so well. As I've grown and added more and more mods, I've become aware of the adamant need for sterility in doing any kind of mod. I can't stress that enough. I recommend to anyone interested in modifying themselves that they put in a good amount of research and acquire the PROPER tools for the job. Self modification is a truly wonderful thing and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. There is a real connection made inside yourself when it happens and I understand the desire to go t hrough this process on your own as opposed to the often impersonality of having a professional do it (not that I would want to deter anyone from going to a pro- better to have someone with that much experience and knowledge in some cases). Just be safe doing it..... or be as lucky as I was!

p.s. i'll post a pic as soon as my home computer is up and running


submitted by: tribecanada
on: 15 Nov. 2001
in Scarification

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Artist: myself
Studio: my+bathroom
Location: +

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