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My Pie in the Sky

Well, my first fascination with scarification was way back when I was a child, almost 10 or 11 years old.  I used a sewing needle and scraped a small symbol into my upper thigh.  I was fascinated with it, not necessarily the pain, though, it was more about the blood.  I was amazed that my body had that much in it, and then I was only dealing with a few lines no bigger than one inch square in total area.  I remember that it healed well and there's still a scar, nearly 13 years later. 

The decision to try it all over again was something that felt almost natural.  I am into body mods, particularly piercing and I like seeing things that you don't get exposed to very often.  I live in mid Georgia and, aside from trips to Atlanta or out of state, are pretty much the same old mundane tongue and navel piercings and bad tattoos.  A friend of mine was interested in getting a tattoo and I sent her to BME's website to get ideas or inspiration or whatever you may want to call it.  She instead found something that set me off on a new tangent!  I had read and looked at a few scarification pictures but this was a skin removal and it really captured my attention.  It was simple, just a heart with an outline that tapered (slightly larger near the top on one side, larger at the bottom on the other) on the sides.  I didn't realize then how difficult it would be to find someone to do this sort of thing (but I did have a good idea).    

Now, I am an avid do-it-yourselfer but I did realize this was something best left to professionals.  Therefore, I looked for a professional, not just someone who would do it but someone who was truly good at it.  Unfortunately, the closest I could find was in Virginia, a bit further than I could really go at the moment.  I hit up BME's QOD and asked Ryan Ouellette ("Lord of the Blade," and a gracious one at that!) if he either knew someone closer who did scarification or if he had any good advice for someone wanting to try it.  He replied quickly and his response affirmed how I felt.  I would love to have a professional do it but with sufficient research and good quality supplies, I could probably achieve a satisfactory result and learn a lot in the process.  Sooo, I surfed on over to the BME shop and purchased a pair of scalpels.  I got the size 11 and 15, since that was what Ryan suggested using in his article and I heard others mention starting with a 15.  I'm prone to trying new things but it helped to have a starting point, since I have never given much thought to scalpel size!   

Ah, the wait...  For future reference, ordering from the BME shop is a painfree experience (compared to what you intend to do with your purchase) and it arrived all the way from Canada to Georgia in a week's time.  Great, I can live with that.  It's quick but also gives me a cooling down period to ensure I really wan to try something.  During the week's wait, I researched more and more (in addition to several month's worth before buying anything) and I really was feeling quite confident about my ability to slice my own skin up.  I know it has to be more difficult to do something like this to yourself, but I also feel like that way I can get an idea of what's going on (feeling each layer of skin pop) and track the results.  I am way more analytical that anyone I know on medical issues and, well I admit it, I'm the perfect guinea pig!   

Finally, the day arrived and I got my package in the mail.  I went to our nearby pharmacy and purchased cleaning and wound care supplies.  I got home and realized I didn't know what design to do.  I had very expensive supplies, was raring to go, and had nothing to draw.  Since it was my first attempt at cutting, I didn't want anything complicated – I just wanted to make sure I could actually cut myself and do it in a straight line!  Luckily, I save everything and, looking back in my computer files, I located something I've wanted done for a long time and haven't ever done.  It was a simple symbol, recognizable to all those electronics dorks out there.  Second, it would fit perfectly where I wanted my first experiment to go.  I wanted it on my lower leg (right, since it was easier to get to) right above my ankle.  The design is the electronic schematic diagram for the ground.  It's basically a straight vertical line with a horizontal line at the bottom.  Below the horizontal line are two more horizontal lines, progressively smaller than the first one.  Very simple with straight lines and very elegant.  It means a lot to me in that I am a science dork and it also had a deeper between the lines meaning.  Not only was it just an electrical symbol, but it was also a way of keeping myself "grounded."  My ego tends to get ahead of myself at times and there are moments you need to remind yourself where you are and where you're going, touching your feet to the ground and taking a moment to remember your presence is only a mere fraction of all that there is.  Okay, enough of my psychobabble...you just want to read about the cutting, right? 

Yeah, it's not the best way to do it and I really want to push anyone wanting a scar to pursue a professional.  However, I am fascinated in the process and learning, as well as having the art for myself.  After washing my hands, leg, and shaving the area, I set up a spot on my bed where I could sit comfortably with my leg folded in front of me, exposing the inner part of my right calf.  I laid my leg on a pillow onto which I put a garbage bag (no blood soaked pillows, thank you) and paper towels to keep the blood contained.  I had no idea how much to expect so it was a good start.  I opened up the surgical marker and drew out the design using the little ruler that was included with it.  It took no more than a minute and I walked around, looking down at it to make sure it was straight.  After deciding I was happy with the placement, I sat back down, folding my leg back up into position.  Then, I set the camera rolling so capture it much larger than lifesize for all eternity!  Donning gloves, I opened up the first scalpel, the #11 and began to lay down a first cut on the design.  It was surprisingly smooth and painfree compared to what I had expected and only a few small beads of blood came up.  Once I was somewhat happy with it, I opened the larger scalpel (#15), which has a curved blade and is MUCH easier to cut with in my opinion.  I think it's better to start with the smaller one to get a good idea of the pattern but the larger one was so much easier.  As soon as I swept it over the lines (way too effortlessly for the damage one could do), I felt how the skin popped away and even started pulling the skin away so I could gauge how deep the hole was.  It was fascinating to observe yet be a part of at the same time.  I went over the design a few times, as I am not familiar with how much pressure should be used and how deep one should go.  The intersection of the vertical and horizontal line was in particular fascinating because there was a small bit of skin still separating them and I took the larger scalpel and smoothly and swiftly cut it apart.  I felt that bit more than the entire design!   

Once the design was sufficiently deep in my humble but inexperienced opinion, I cleaned it up with Bactine and covered it.  I was just about to go to bed so I didn't want to bleed everywhere.  Walking around the room cleaning things up, I didn't even notice anything.  Cat scratches hurt worse than this!  It's been one day and it still bleeds from time to time, especially when cleaning it because I will pull the skin apart a bit.  I can't wait to try a skin removal but I think I'm going to add a bit more to this design.  I think I'm going to wait a little while to observe the healing (yes, there will be photos...) and see how my depth and pressure should be adjusted.  Once I feel pretty decent in the cutting itself, I will try a skin removal on a very small stripe or something.  I have a feeling it will be a different experience altogether!  

Well, it was a fascinating experience and I do recommend that if you are up to do a lot of research and do it properly then it might be just as good for you.  If you're not up for the research, please go to a professional!  I am looking forward to trying many more things out myself!

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 May 2006
in Scarification

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Artist: I+did...
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