first part of my forearm branding
So about September '03 I found BME on my lunch break at work and was instantly drawn to the Scarification section and was fairly astounded that anyone could possibly go through any of it. I've got several tattoos and been pierced a couple times but scarring seemed unreal.
After several months of reading stories and checking for updates almost daily at work(I had no home computer at the time) I became obsessed with branding and what it would feel like or look like with my skin type once healed. It got to the point where I was thinking about it at least 20% of the time for about a month.
I had no idea where I would find someone to do a branding and didn't have much hope of actually getting it done. After reading the FAQ page I decided one of the shops in town(I should point out that since getting my branding I've moved across the country and without a way to get in touch with the artists and asking consent I don't feel right mentioning their names or the shops they worked at) that was about 2 blocks from town would be a good shot in the dark place to ask. I built up the nerve about a week later and when I got to the shop the first person I talked to i asked if they knew anyone in the area that did branding and his response was: 'oh, i do branding'. HAHA! success. He was the piercer at the shop and after talking to him I found out that he had done several strike brands and was planning on getting a cautery pen about a month later. At this point I had no design idea and said I would come back in a month with an idea.
A month later I had a plan to get a band around my forearm near my elbow. When I went back to ask about getting an appointment I was put off and told that if I wanted to set up an appointment that the artist could borrow then cautery pen from one of their other locations in another town and do it. This was all in January and after much waiting for tips and one cancelation we were ready to go for easter weekend. I had wanted to do it on a Friday so that i would have a weekend to recover before work but I was becoming impatient and said yes to a saturday night to get it overwith.
The time came and I had already decided to change the design to make it into a bit of a teardrop affect. The idea being that their would be a point on the top of my forearm and instead of rounding out on the bottom to go to change the curve of the line and have it meet in another point on the bottom. When we drew this out it wasn't sinuious and looked off-centre. I loved it. I was instantly happier with this design and we made it longer so it stretched from the top of my wrist to almost the inside of my elbow.
Ready to get started and one of the tattoo artists at the shop asked if he could watch which I had no problem with. I am by no means a very tough guy and I was really really pleased that I didnt flinch the first time the pen hit my skin. The pain of getting this done is hard to describe. By no means unbearable it hurt quite a bit, the outside of my forearm near the wrist especially because after some awkward position changing on both our parts I was willing to just hold my arm up unsupported and let him do that part to make it easier for him. This was a hell of a test of will to not be holding on to anything and not flinch. I was working as a welder at the time and the smell of my own burning flesh I won't say I was used to but it wasn't really an issue to me during my branding, but it was fun to watch a couple tattoo artists come in, turn greenish while watching and leave.
After getting through the whole design it was a bit shallow and he asked if I would mind going over it again. I had no problem with it and we started again. My feeling was that it didn't hurt right then because of the cauterized nerves and I didn't think it would be too bad. I was wrong. It hurt more on the second pass and I again opted to hold my arm up to do the outside of my wrist. All was done and again he asked to go over it one more time(in hindsight this should have thrown me off but at the time I was a little pre-occupied). So one more time we went over it and we were done. Note: If an artist needs three passes to do a cautery brand he probably is not very confident. And the third pass hurts.
When I got home that night I scrubbed it out with peroxide and a toothbrush to get it really clean. The only aftercare I really did was wash it several times a day and after about a week pulled the entire scab out while in the tub(much bleeding). After that I only pulled a scab when it was ready to come off.
The first three days or so afterward when it started to scab and the area closest to the brand showed burns were pretty painful. The skin felt very tight over my whole forearm and it was hard to bend my arm in any way. It started to loosen up after that but was still extremely hard to move for about 3-4 weeks after the procedure. Once the scab all fell off it was very dry but the colour in the first couple months was amazing. An incredable shade of pink that changed to purple and degrees inbetween depending on temperature and conditions. It was hard at work because I had a very physical and dirty job but totally worth every second of pain.
My branding was a statement to think outside the norm and I love talking to anyone that asks about it even when the question is: 'What the fuck happened to your arm?! Hey Bill, check this guys arm out!'. It isn't a symbol of anything or a real design, it's just a branding and I love it and suggests to anyone thinking of getting a branding to go for it.
submitted by: agnostic
on: 17 Nov. 2004