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branded

Ok, well I'd been considering a brand for some time but had been a bit cautious as I have keloid skin and get large scars easily. I know that's sort of the point, but in my previous experience with cuttings, I have one particularly large scar on my left arm that has been uncomfortable, bordering on painful since I did it in May of 1999. I'd seen web based videos of cautery brandings being performed, but they all tend to be close up views, and (maybe this is just me) it would be cool to see a facial expression in there too, to gauge how painful these things are. Anyway, I digress.

We'd ordered a Cautery tool from BME for our studio to have a play with and get a feel of the branding process. It always makes sense to use these things on yourselves in order to get a feel for technique and for the pain involved. It makes sense to know yourself how it feels before anyone else does. That's something I've always believed in, whether I've been tattooing or piercing people. It gives a good ability to empathise with people and the trust situation that they put themselves in when in your studio.

I was the designated guinea pig for the branding (which to be honest, I was quite happy with). It took me a little time to work out where it was going to go though. The top of my right arm is fairly full with tattoos, so I decided on the top of my left arm. I wanted the brand to go next to my largest scar, although as I said, that scar is sometimes painful, and so I was a bit concerned that the brand would have an ill effect on the existing scar. (Pain wise more than anything).

So, next came the design choice. I wanted something small as a tester really, and decided on an eye of hours. It's a symbol for protection and so it seemed like an ideal choice of design for the process I was going to go through.

Okay, so I had a design and a body part. I made up a stencil, pretty much the same as a tattoo stencil which we put on in the correct place. I have to say that of all the mods I've had, this was the most nerve wracking. When you think of a burn, you automatically think of a very, very extreme pain, and this is what I was expecting. I'd decided that if it was going to be too painful, I could at least stop and just have a line if need be.

Daz, our other tattooist was the first to try the cautery tool. The first contact with the tip eased my nerves entirely. I can safely say that it was the least painful of all my mods. Shaz then had a try with it, as we were a little unsure on the strokes needed to carry out the lines within the design and Daz was a bit shaky through nerves. The cautery tools itself only really has a limited use because it tends to go cool fairly quickly, and so it needs to be removed from the skin and re-heated. Pain in the arse, but a good introduction to branding.

I then had a try myself, which was cool. Much easier than tattooing yourself, as you don't need to get the skin tension. I was surprised at how easily the tip burns through the skin. I guess I was expecting a little resistance, but there wasn't any. The only uncomfortable part of the procedure was the sickly sweet smell of burning skin. It was quite interesting to note that your skin sizzles when being branded. I'd not even thought about this happening, so was a little surprised at that.

So the immediate result was a strange looking indent, complete with charred bits. I'd read elsewhere that the two recommended methods of healing are a) leaving it alone entirely. This would result in a light scarring, or b) pick the scabs or soak them off with salt water. I decided I should pick the scabs and see what the result was. The first result was a fucking sore arm in bed as I tend to sleep on my left hand side. It remained painful for three or four days, but then calmed down a little a I got used to it.

It's now about 3 or so weeks later and almost all the scabbing has come off and I have a cool red indented scar. I'm a bit surprised that the edges of the design are very sharp and clean looking, because I was expecting a little bit of blurring due to picking the scabs.

I'm really happy with the end result and am definitely going to have more, and possibly bigger pieces done.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 25 April 2002
in Scarification

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