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The Etching That Joins Us.

I've always limited myself to tattoos and piercings. Piercings being the favorite of mine, I accumulated well over 25, including a 5 piercing genital project from the time I was 18 to age 21. So it came as no surprise that I spent a lot of time at my shop of choice, Rings of Desire, in New Orleans, Louisiana. For years I had known about their Etching service, but scarification was just never on my to-do-list. So time went by and I busied myself with my piercings. I always told myself a scarification would be saved for something special and meaningful (the beginning of my excuses!), but until that day, I would just leave it as an afterthought and admire my piercer's Etching and my accidental scars in the mean time.

In the summer of 2004 it became apparent that I found my reason to get a scarification. My cat, Shnitzal, of 16 years was winding down and finally began to act like a cat of her age. I knew my time was limited with her and anyone who knew me, knows that she was the love of my life. She was a feisty kitten and gave me some of my very first scars when I was a little kid. To which I still carry with me today. So I thought it only fitting that in her memory, I would get a scarification in the shape of a paw print, something that would truly mean a lot to me. On October 19 of 2004, Shnitzal died of kidney failure.

I knew the Etching was what I wanted. Unfortunately I didn't feel that I was ready for it, or more or less I was afraid of the unknown. I made excuse after excuse to get out of booking my appointment. With the completion of my genital project I felt like I had a lot more confidence in myself that I could make it threw the procedure. So Finally on March 28, 05 I said enough was enough (I had also run out of excuses!) and I went to ROD with design in hand to book my appointment. I talked to Angel for a bit and then got down to business. Jen (the artist and piercer), Angel and I looked over my design, we talked size, design speculations etc. Lastly we discussed a date which was to be on April 18th. Jen instructed me to put lotion on the area several times a day, and to of course stay away from alcohol and caffeine 24 hours before the appointment.

On the days leading to my appointment I spent a lot of time going over the website information on Etchings. Since there are different techniques to giving a tattoo gun scarification, each giving different results, I decided to talk to someone who had experience with Jen's technique and see what he did for aftercare. So with James's advice and the suggestions from the Rings of Desire website I gathered some of the "aftercare" supplies that would be needed including a huge bottle of 70% Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol, a Buf-Puf, and lucky me I already had a 2lb bag of sea salt lying around at home. Just those 3 items alone proved to be mentally painful, and James's words rang clearly in my head "scrub it till you cry" and "You will curse my name and all that is holy it hurts so fucking bad." (referring to the salt scrubs) James meant well, and I value his honestly but he painted a picture I could have done without, but his results speak for themselves, so I knew what I had to do. Looking back at those quotes, I had to laugh because it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be in my head.

The day before my etching I spent my time applying lotion to the back of my leg above the heal where the design would go like I had been doing for the last 3 weeks. I decided to let my leg hair get long enough to be plucked and the day of the appointment I plucked all of the hairs surrounding the area and then shaved so I wouldn't have to deal with hairs growing into the etching while it was healing.

I had arrived at the shop on time though just barely thanks to traffic and lack of available parking. Angel gave me the paper work to fill out and copied my ID. While Pat took my money (50 bucks, including a second session if I needed it, not bad at all!) and Jen set everything up. I took a seat and waited for the word everything was ready, all while trying not to fall asleep because I didn't get much sleep the night before. Once Jen was ready she grinned and with a cynical "Muhahahaha" she lead the way to the room where it would all be happening. She knew I was nervous before I even got there due to a friends tip off and couldn't resist teasing me a bit, which I was grateful for because it helped me relax a bit.

Once we got in the room I put my things down and Jen instructed me to take off my left shoe and sock and roll up my pant leg. She asked if I was allergic to several different things, which I wasn't so we proceeded. She had me to lay down on my stomach, of course I had to be difficult and try to maneuver around my Christina piercing so it wouldn't get irritated from too much pressure. Once I found a semi comfortable position Jen scrubbed my leg with alcohol and then had me get up again to place the design. I stood on a stool where Jen pointed out different placements and explained what could happen to the design if it were placed to far down, we eventually decided on the design being about 3 inches above the heal and centered. Jen rubbed something on my leg, which being my nervous, I-just-want-to-get-this-over-with self I didn't think to ask what it was, though assuming it was something to make the design adhere to my leg. She placed the design and had me go look in the full length mirrored doors, to everyone's amusement the easiest way to get a get view of the design without it moving when I turned my body was to bend down and just survey it in-between my legs. The entire time Jen was being great and making jokes which made things go by fast. Once the prep was done I went and got back in position on the reclined chair, Jen slipped a large pad under my leg to catch any liquid and then she squirted my leg down and that was my que to get ready as she reached for the tattoo machine. My boyfriend, Michael who I had dragged along was busy taking pictures. I herd the buzz of the machine and I braced myself for the worst, but it honestly wasn't that bad, or so I thought. She quickly got threw the design and at first I thought that was it, but not to my surprise I was wrong. For the next 15 minutes or so Jen went over the design several times making it very raw. The boyfriend had become very amused with my facial experiences at this point and got lots of shots with me "\Ãw€ë

at my best, biting my arm in pain. But the pain was very tolerable similar to the outline of a tattoo but a bit more intense. I thought I'd be very jumpy or squirmy but I wasn't, I felt very comfortable with Jen and she made sure to remind me if I needed a break or some water to just let her know. She gave me a 2 minute warming when she was almost finished which turned out to be the worst of the procedure. Once I was done we agreed the best part of the procedure were the bloody pictures and Michael got the hit and took some more pictures. After Jen cleaned off my leg and did my first alcohol scrubbing and a few more pictures were taken she bandaged me up with a nonstick covering and a self adhesive bandage.

Once I was good to go we talked a bit more about aftercare. We chatted about the pains of salt scrubs and how after that, the alcohol will feel good comparatively. A tooth brush (new of course!) was brought up into the mix and the thought of that on a fresh wound wasn't to pleasant, nevertheless I picked one up anyway along with the self adhesive wrapping and the nonstick coverings. From my short experience thus far, putting gauze over the scarification and then wrapping it up for whatever reason is not very fun when it comes time to take the gauze off resulting in having to soak that body part that its adhered itself to in water in order to get it off. Nonstick bandages are a good thing!

After 1st alcohol scrubbing, cleaned up and ready to be bandaged.

The Etching is now 8 days old. Every night I bandage the design to keep it clean since I have a cat who likes to sleep in my bed. I've also found that wearing pants and walking is not a nice combination and can get very uncomfortable resulting in a lot of limping or clutching the back of my pant leg to hold it out from the design. Either way I look pretty silly. So I've come to learn that when I go out, I bandage the piece.

My aftercare so far is draining, for lack of a better word. My first scrubbing that I did was an eye opener to say the least. I pour a good amount of alcohol over the design and then with a Buf-Puf and some Provon I scrubbed the area, rotating back and forth with the alcohol. At that point I was in a lot of pain so I "thought" if I poured some water over the area that would soothe things down, after the water hit, and I screamed bloody murder I came to the important conclusion, water is BAD for a fresh scarification. I scrubbed the Etching till I started to shake and when I felt that I was done, I was weak in the knees when it came time to stand up. Repeat this two to three times a day and I was good to go! Salt scrubs, oddly enough weren't nearly as bad as I expected it to be. I found that if I just poured the salt over the wound and allowed it to sit for a few seconds then that was quite painful, but if I began scrubbing it as soon as it was applied then it was much more tolerable. After scrubbings were done the piece would ooz for a while, which got to be slightly messy.

5 days old and just scrubbed in all its oozing glory.

My scarification is now a month old and I love it! Its fascinating to watch it change so much in just a short period of time. I'll be getting a second session due to an unexpected interruption in my third week that rendered me unable to properly care for the design for an entire week, but thats a whole different store for a different day. Until then good luck to those caring for your scarification and to those who are still considering it, what are you waiting for!


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 27 May 2005
in Scarification

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Artist: Jen
Studio: Rings+of+Desire
Location: New+Orleans%2C+La.

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