Burned, cut, rubbed
Sean wanted to try out some new branding techniques, so I lent him the back of my left calf. My friend was with me for a weekend and she reluctantly went with me. She thought it would be disgusting, horribly painful: kind of like branding an animal. (She's an activist.) It was pretty cold out and walking to the bank sucked, and we made a stop at the book store.
The design I chose was flash, and Sean stenciled it. It was simple horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines to create a nice looking tribal-like piece. After my adventure to the bank, everybody crowded in the piercing room and I lay down on the table. Sean disinfected my leg with a product that does not contain alcohol and got the cautery pen ready.
I have a branding on my stomach, so I figured this wouldn't be much worse. After the first couple of lines I got used to it and it felt pretty decent. It hurt less than my stomach. We had incense going because of the smell of burning flesh and everybody was wearing a mask. Lyndsay was watching and Sean let her do a couple of small lines.
Everybody was wearing appropriate protection at all times.
After about a half hour it was done. Sean went over a few spots and it looked great. My leg was bright red with charred flesh. I didn't know the hell I got myself into. My aftercare is to scrub as hard as I can with steel wool until all the scabs are off and its bleeding. When you have a branding the length of your leg (regardless of how short you are) and fairly thick, it hurts.
After a couple of days it got bad and I could hardly walk. Then it got to a point where I HAD to walk. I couldn't put much pressure on it and when I was out with my mother I'd just amble in circles. I scrubbed and scrubbed and got a good scar out of it, but it didn't last. I'm very pale. It took over a month to get rid of the scabs. I could pick at them at one point, which was also pretty painful.
I decided I wanted to tattoo around it, or get an ink rubbing. I decided on the ink rubbing so it would still be scarification. Sean suggested a medium shade of blue and I agreed. My friend had my camera and Sean got to work.
The cutting of the scar tissue was fairly painful and I actually prefer to be branded. I could feel my skin rip, and hear it too, which was actually pretty funny. It didn't bleed much, which is weird for me, but after a while it was done. Sean accented the outside lines, he didn't go over every little thing, and it looked good.
Time for the ink. He poured enough blue ink to tattoo everyone in the world on my leg and rubbed it in. It burned really badly for a couple of minutes and faded.
The next day I made it bleed by mounting my unicycle wrong, and I was afraid I'd lose the ink. I treated it like a tattoo. It was sore, but not as bad as branding it, and it healed quickly with very little ink loss. It looks good, it isn't perfect, but that's the result I wanted.
There is a lot of different opinions on aftercare for brandings. My personal favourite, and the one I use is ripping off the scabs and scrubbing with steel wool until everything bleeds. This isn't painless, it hurts quite a bit and the pain lingers. I find the pain in brandings lasts a lot longer than in cuttings, especially when its a high motion area, like your calf.
For ink rubbings, I treat as if its a tattoo. When I get home I gently wash the excess ink off, cover it in Webbers, a thin layer, and leave it. It tends to get a bit more sore than a tattoo and the results aren't as precise, but it still looks pretty good.
Those are my ways of taking care of brandings and ink rubbings, take it with a grain of salt because it definitely varies person to person. This took me a lot of experimentation. Scarification is a permanent modification and shouldn't be considered to be something to play around with. I've seen a lot of people etch with a razor and leave a blob as a scar.
Scarification is an art and proper tools, practice and patience are needed. I would not do a scar on myself and I don't suggest it. Other scars I have are a flaming star on my stomach, an ink rubbing of a jumping horse on my ribs, an ink rubbing of nautical stars on the back of my left arm and (black) stitches on my left wrist.
I hope this was helpful for those who read it.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 04 Aug. 2005