sketching with blades
First of all, a note on hygiene: I will not tell you how to keep yourself safe. I'm not qualified to do so, and frankly I'm all for careless people removing themselves from the gene pool.
I don't use body modification as (i think) many people do. My cuttings are neither wide nor deep, and heal almost invariably without scarring. I keep photographs, but I do not remain "modded" from any experience for more than about a month. This is the story of my last cutting, now almost completely gone after only about two weeks.
I've been an artist for as long as I can remember. My father paints, and there were always art supplies around while I was growing up. My style is hesitant, using lots of lines to sketch the images and designs I want. This style and my own skin (which doesn't hold scars even from major cuts) lend themselves to a kind of modification that is fine (in the sense of "thin," and "involving detail") and impermanent.
So I was sitting in class one day and it occurred to me that I had no idea how to draw a rose. Certainly its cliché and I'd never get a rose tattoo, but there were two things that made me want to play with the idea. First, I feel like there's a huge value to taking clichés and trying to personally discover their meanings, to figure out what the first people to latch onto those images saw and felt in them. Secondly, I wanted to feel the feeling of being cut, and the endorphin rush that followed, and I wanted to practice cutting curves (at some point I'll be good enough at this to do an ornate geisha on my torso).
After a couple days, when the nagging idea of "rose" became to persistent to ignore, I went online and started looking up photographs. I found a couple I liked, and began sketching my designs on paper, trying to stylize the images into a few graceful curves. I've found that it's important to consider "dot gain" when cutting even thin lines--they expand, and the fine detail never stays fine enough. Once I'd drawn my flower enough to be comfortable with it, I grabbed my tools and headed for the area where I'd be cutting my design.
Here's where I'm going to be a little vague, as I don't recommend my method of cutting to anyone. First I sketch the design on skin, then I use straight blades to cut it in. Each blade only gets used for a few cuts, after which it is appreciably duller than it initially was. Used blades get thrown out CAREFULLY. NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE, SEVERAL PEOPLE WILL HAVE CONTACT WITH YOUR TRASH BEFORE IT'S GONE. DON'T RISK THEIR HEALTH. Use biohazard boxes.
This design took me about twenty minutes, though in the past they've taken as long as an hour. Once the endorphins start flowing, it becomes much harder to hold a razor to cut steadily, and that sacrifices quality. An abundance of sharp blades helps alleviate this. So does good planning. Mostly however, it's good to have a design that can be finished in one sitting, and a setup as comfortable as possible. I've found that different areas heal at different rates; my upper legs take the longest, up to four months for the last red marks of a thin cut to disappear. Next is the lower torso, which usually takes one to two months. My upper chest, arms and hands heal very quickly, usually within a week or two (though I don't touch my hands and arms much--visible designs would make my life awkward)
My aftercare is obviously minimal. Between not having much damage in the first place and not trying to promote scarring, there's not much I'm motivated to do. That night, as soon as I was finished, I went out with some friends and stayed up late with a goofy smile on my face.
As you can tell, I'm not very hardcore about modifying myself. Judaism teaches that your body is on loan from god and you may not do anything to permanently disfigure it. I'm not sure most rabbis would find my excuse valid (that I do nothing permanent) but that's between me and god. I find the basic idea appealing for a simple reason: I don't want to permanently use up space because I want to have a continuing relationship with the way my body looks. This way I can be the artist of all my own skin, and need not be saddled with permanent reminders of my early practice work. This is probably the "play piercing" of scarification mods, but it's one I'm happy with. Among my greatest influences are the Japanese ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world." These are images of everyday, devoid of the weight of ritual meaning, and only meant to be aesthetic.
submitted by: Anonymous
on: 11 March 2006