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Branding By Blair

I first heard that people rather than cows could be branded in 1996 when I went to New Tribe in Toronto and saw it on their business card. I'd already had some piercings, but something about this really made me curious. More than curious in fact; I was in love with the idea that people could be branded in a safe and aesthetically pleasing way.

I couldn't stop thinking about the idea of being branded and how it would be a spiritual, physical, and aesthetic experience all in one. I wasn't sure about the healing process or the safety, so I spoke with Mikey at New Tribe.

He showed my his brands that were done improperly, and those that were done properly. He explained that done improperly, they could really cause problems. Finally, he explained that there was only one man in town that was really qualified, and that was (the now famous) Blair. I thought that it was very kind that Mikey referred me to another artist at another studio, rather than take the job himself. To this day I respect that and have found that there are many kind and considerate people in this community like him.

Blair worked at Tat-a-Rama in the remote west end of Toronto at the time. I went out to see him for a consultation. I looked at his portfolio and the equipment he would use, and Blair explained how branding wasn't that painful, and how people react to being branded, and how the scars heal differently on different people. He told me to think it over and if I was sure about it, that I could make an appointment.

It wasn't long until I made the appointment and had the date set. The day of the branding I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. I meditated for most of the day. At the time was going through a more spiritual phase of my life, so I was focused on certain mantras and the whatnot, and with the idea of embracing the burning sensation and perhaps leaving my physical being.

I got to Blair's studio and we got down to business. Blair asked me if I wanted incense on or if I wouldn't mind the smell of the burning. I decided to let the smell be a part of the experience.

Blair traced out the design on my shoulder: a plain circle about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. The reasons for my design were plenty, and the farthest I'll get into the meaning of that is that it had something to do with unity and infinity. The tools that were to be used were simple: A blow torch, a vice grip, and a small piece of metal with a straight edge. That small piece was held in the vice and a series of small overlapping strikes would make the round scar.

Laying down, I started focusing on my breathing, waiting for what I saw as an opportunity to experience something I never had before. Then I heard the blow torch turn on and pretty much everything I was trying to focus and defocus on went out the window.

Blair asked if I was ready, and I said yes. My eyes were closed. The first strike hit and all I remember is a flash of white light, a very very loud sizzle, and a sensation that was like pain, but also beyond anything I could describe as pain. It was very quick and wasn't uncomfortable.

The next two strikes came in rapid succession, and after five or six strikes, I was beginning to heat up, and the endorphins were running dry. It was painful...not to the degree of yelping or jumping, but it was uncomfortable. I think at this point I knew that I could take a strike so I just allowed myself to relax and let Blair do his work.

I think he must have sensed my tolerance waning, because Blair started making idle chitchat. This took my mind of the pain, and after a minute or two, the endorphins kicked in again, and Blair finished up.

I can't remember the next few moments that clearly. I got up and looked in a mirror, or maybe I just looked at my shoulder, but whatever it was, I remember I liked it. The circle was pretty much perfect, a thin ring of darkened, charred skin. It hurt a little but basically I felt fine.

Going home I just sat by myself and relaxed. As far as aftercare goes, there isn't much to it.

My brand started getting really yucky and a yellow pussy sort of liquid was seeping out of it. That liquid would get stuck to my shirt, and that would pull off the scab, and then it would bleed a bit.

After a while my friend, a pharmacist, got worried and brought some cream over to put on it and some bandages. It worked wonders and my brand healed quickly. Later, after talking to Blair and a doctor, I found out that the pus like liquid wasn't pus, it was a natural secretion that a healing burn makes. So in the end the cream I used made the brand scar less.

That was okay though. I have very light skin, and the circle on that shoulder is a nice, subtle scar, that I love very much to this day.

The best part of my first branding was that both the experience and the brand itself make me happy to this day. I've since maintained a friendship with Blair, and I must say that in addition to being a great artist, he's also a great guy.

When I look in the mirror and see my brand, now about five years later, I am satisfied and happy.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 10 Aug. 2002
in Scarification

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Artist: Blair
Studio: Tat-a-Rama
Location: Toronto%2C+ON%2C+Canada

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