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Zen Branding

Chris had been my piercer when he began a ruckus in State College, PA where he petitioned the local board of health to begin branding. It launched into a huge campaign with his face even appearing on the front page of the local newspaper. Chris won in the long run and was able to safely begin the procedure on his own, not associated with any studio due to the insurance liability.

I asked Chris to brand me as a twenty-first birthday present to myself. I chose the celtic trident design (I did not steal it from "Charmed" I had dreamed of that design for years). The brand is placed just below my breasts and is probably about two inches across and one inch tall. It is truly beautiful.

So, why a brand? At the time I had had a lot of tattoo work done on my back and wanted something on the front of my body, specifically this design, but I didn't want some black work there. It just didn't seem right. The idea of a brand gave me the opportunity to enjoy my art in such a different way and I was immediately on board. After the lengthy healing process, you are left with a flesh toned inconspicuous art work. When it had all healed, I had gone to my yearly breast exam with a nurse practitioner with whom I had worked with. She had only seen it during its crusty period and during the breast exam she could not stop talking about how great it came out and touching it. I had to tell her to pay attention to my breasts!

It was January when I had the procedure done. Chris had already done three conch piercings for me and knew my pain tolerance and how I could sit for a procedure. Chris's approach is to have the client really embrace the whole experience. I remember during my first procedure with him he said something to the effect of the piercing costs the money, it's the endorphin rush that is free. And so we began. Obviously I had to be topless (but I wore a sweater around my shoulders since it was still January and damn cold). Chris is extremely conscientious about cleanliness and went through everything about the procedure with me, cleaned his instruments in front of me and showed me how the cautery pen worked. And so we begin...

The experience itself was incredible. People ask me if it is like getting a tattoo and I can't answer that because any experience like that is different for each person. Chris worked on the design an inch at a time which took about three seconds per stroke. I concentrated very hard on my breathing and just relaxing my chest and back as much as possible. Chris would have me inhale deeply and then on exhale he would count the 1-2-3. On the one it seems like your body doesn't really realize what is going on. By two it's a strange painful feeling and by then on three you are about to burst when suddenly the pen is lifted and you feel nothing. The process was very slow as I readied myself for each stroke through breathing and relaxation. The funny thing that I remember was constantly looking up at Chris's chin and thinking that his goatee looked like a little head with a nose and mouth and all...weird. Anyways, the only annoying thing about the process is the smell. Ever burn your hair? Well, flesh smells the same so we angled a fan to get it moving in a different direction than our faces.

When the process was over I couldn't even move. The breathing and relaxation that I had concentrated so hard on was like a serious meditation session and that was accompanied by all the endorphins and crazy responses my brain was shooting out. I think I was actually more relaxed than I had ever been in my life and I felt wonderful. I really can't even describe it.

The aftercare is where it gets tricky in that it is nothing at all like a tattoo or a piercing. Where with the two former you want them to be happy and heal with out any irritation, the whole point of healing the brand is to mess with it so it will scar. I hope I'm remembering these directions correctly, but as I do remember, you have to let the brand scab and then remove the scab and repeat this three times. I was talking to another guy who had gotten a brand and he told me about picking his scabs off and how awful it was. I wasn't about to sit around and pick at my scabs for hours so I formulated my own scab removal plan. When the scab had sufficiently formed I would soak a bunch of gauze in hydrogen peroxide, tape it around my chest and sleep on it. The next morning the scab would just fall off in the shower as the hydrogen peroxide would pretty much dissolve it during the night. I don't know if this is recommended as I have not seen much literature on branding but it certainly worked for me.

I couldn't have been happier with the results. Unfortunately, Chris moved away so I have not had the chance to create a new masterpiece but I am hopeful that some day I will find another artist who creates the same zen experience that Chris did.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 25 March 2005
in Scarification

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Artist: Chris+Prybola
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Location: State+College%2C+PA

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