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ouch. the story of getting branded.

Getting branded was always a fleeting thought, but never something I had entirely spent hours, days and weeks pondering. I've always admired cautery pen brandings, but hadn't gone beyond the admiring stage. The thought of the smell of burning flesh never really worked out for me.

And so I flew to Atlanta for the Tattoo Arts festival in 1999 to meet up with my friends from Santa Cruz (I was living in the Philadelphia area at the time.). I figured it would be a great time to hang out with friends that were local, meet up with the West coast people, and possibly makes some new friends along the way.

I got into town before Barry and Sean and made friends with a lovely couple from Sacramento, Mike and Jennifer Hare (how sad to see them split – I'm still not over it!). We chatted about a bunch of random things, and before I knew it I felt as if we'd known each other forever. This has always been the draw for me to the Modification Industry/Community – the strong sense of family and loyalty. The bonds between people are unbreakable in many cases. As an enthusiast/outsider, I have been welcomed with open arms by many. And it is one rather refreshing experience that I have not had in my own profession.

Mike had been asked to do a branding seminar during the convention. It was Saturday evening after the seminar, and Suzie, Charissy, and I were chatting about the whole branding deal. They had already been branded, and I had the opportunity to look at the "finished product" and ask a few questions that managed to satisfy my curiosities as well as some anxieties. They told me that Mike had agreed to brand them that evening, and it sounded like a perfect opportunity for me as well. I would be with some really amazing people I had just met, along with my dear friend Sean. And so the evening began.

I hadn't really thought much about what I would have branded on me, but I knew that my leg was a good spot. I had decided to go small and somewhere more discrete, since teaching elementary school is not the most welcome of environments to body modification. I decided that since I was having a relatively extreme procedure done, I would go for a "fru-fru" heart. I figured that at that point, I had sat through numerous hours of tattooing, multiple lower body piercings, and enough other procedures that I would have a relatively silly design for a brand. It had a hello kitty/girlie feel to it that I needed at that point in my life. Mike shaped the metal and explained the procedure to me. I was a little uneasy about the whole blow torch thing at first, but only because the only time prior to that I had seen one used was when my father had done plumbing....I watched Suzie have her leg branded. It was a most splendid design she had created to symbolize the beginning, a downward spiral in her life, and an end to it. I held her hand through the procedure, because I knew that my baby self was not quite tolerant to pain. Her procedure took about 12 strikes. Mine would take 3. After hers was complete, it was my turn.

I should probably admit right off the bat that I get major anxiety panic attacks before a procedure. (I pity the piercer who did the majority of my piercings – I was practically in tears before every procedure, but he managed to calm me down each time.) As I positioned myself so that I would rest comfortably for my 5 seconds of branding, I had Sean on one side of me Suzie on the other. I started to panic, as usual, and cry. All I can think is, "I am such a freakin' whiny cry baby." And then I remember that I am strong and that I have been through more intense incidents than this one, and I can do this. The first strike was more of a shock than anything. It was a different sensation than anything I'd ever experienced. The second strike was small change, and the third didn't feel like anything.

I more or less hopped up and walked away like nothing had happened. We washed off the area with anti bacterial product (I don't recall which one....it's been awhile), and I was ready to go and partake in a cocktail.

I will tell you that the next 6 weeks of healing were sheer hell. The swelling by the end of the evening was so bad I was barely able to walk. It probably didn't help that I had to cover it at work- between administration and the wacky kids possibly kicking me, it was important to keep it under wraps.

Almost three years later, people barely notice it. I've been asked several times if it is a tattoo that has been removed. I would have liked to see it scar a bit deeper than it actually did, but for the most part I am pleased with the results.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 02 Jan. 2002
in Scarification

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Artist: Mike+Hare
Studio: Atlanta+Tattoo+Arts+Festival+1999
Location: Atlanta%2C+GA

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