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Scalpel Lovin'.

Getting branded was a huge turning point in my life. Intentionally scarring my body while spending years trying not to leave a mark seemed counterproductive. However, I love scars. I love the stories they tell and the fact that scarification is a form of body art that, in my opinion, is the purest form of body modification; the results are a product of what your own body produces (with the help of the scarification artist, of course). I have always been in awe of the work Brian Decker has done. I've gone to him for work before, and wished to have him complete the scarification piece I've started on my chest. After a consultation with Brian about what I wanted done, he sent me a sketch of a hibiscus flower that we were both happy with, and we were set. The brand on the center of my chest, which was done by Blair, is quite bold. I wanted something delicate to balance it out, which is why I chose two hibiscus flowers. Also, the hibiscus is the national flower of South Korea, and my Korean heritage is a big part of my life.

A major concern for me was placement, but Brian was patient with me and we talked through everything. Another issue was size. I'm 4'10", so I don't have much room to work with, but I didn't want the flowers so small that you couldn't make out the detail. We shrunk the original drawing a bit, but with the way Brian drew it, no detail was lost. The next issue was placement. If it was lined up with my throat, like my brand had been, it would look lopsided in relation to my brand, so we just lined it up with the brand and used the center of my chest (between my breasts) as a reference point. Brian was very exact and used calipers to ensure proper placement.

With the stencils on, I got down on a massage table as Brian got ready to start the cutting. He autoclaved anything that would be touching my skin, including the paper towels he'd be using the wipe away the blood. I've never had a scalpel to my skin before, and I was a bit nervous, thinking that I would be there with tears streaming down my face. Scalpel ready, Brian made the first cut, and asked me how I was feeling. I was pleasantly surprised that it felt just like getting an outline of a tattoo. Brian said it best with, "It feels like dragging a safety pin across your skin." What I was not aware of was that he was merely "scratching" out the outline first before going back to them to open up the lines and make them deeper. They were sort of like reference lines, so Brian knew where to cut. After he was done, he rubbed anesthetic over the cut and covered it for a few minutes to help it set in. Now, I know there are many people who do not use any form of anesthetic when getting work done and you have my respect. However, I am a huge baby about it. I've been tattooed in some pretty painful places, like my tummy and both sides of my ribcage. You'd think I'd be able to deal with the pain, but really, I complain non-stop. In fact, when doing one of my rib-pieces, I had to be bribed with a stress ball and lollipop just so the artist could finish doing the outline, so I was more than happy that Brian provided a numbing agent. While we were waiting for it to set in, I realized that I had to pee. We didn't want the plastic wrap to fall off, so without thinking, I put my hand on top of it. Brian told me to be careful and not to touch anything with the hand that I'd just contaminated, when I realized what I'd done. Trying to pee and wash your hand with use of only one hand is not a good time. I knocked over a lot of things. I had to get my friend to help me tie the strings on my sweatpants.

Brian sprayed down my hands with a disinfectant (maybe Madacide?) and we were ready to roll. Brian had already started cutting when I asked him if he'd started yet. I felt nothing. It was great. Apparently, my skin opened up nicely and because he knew how well I scar, he didn't have to cut too deeply. The center of the flower would be removed, and I think that was the weirdest part for me. It wasn't painful or anything, but I could hear him cutting away the skin, and it wierded me out because I couldn't feel it. After about 2 hours, Brian was done. He covered it with saran wrap to keep it from drying out and scabbing up and we took a break. After the break, we got started with everything again. It was pretty much like the first one except I made Brian apply more anesthetic. It wasn't that I was in pain, but whenever I felt something, I equated it with pain because I had become accustomed to not feeling anything. Whenever Brian's doing work on me, he's always very concerned with any discomfort I may be in, which is why I place so much trust into his hands. This occasion was no different and he got out the anesthetic and I stopped complaining.

In total, the pieces took from 4 – 5 hours. I was beyond happy. If I could, I would've hugged him when I saw the finished pieces. Brian used different cutting techniques to achieve four "layers" of scarring. The outline of the flower itself was cut deeper to make it stand out. The veins of the flower and the detail work were lighter. Flesh removal was used for the area of the flower that would be solid color. Brian also made scratches not unlike cross-hatching to add texture and depth to the flowers. I got cleaned off with Technicare and green soap, got covered in saran wrap and was good to go.

Brian told me that the first shower would be brutal. I didn't know what to expect, but when I stepped into the shower and turned on the water, I knew exactly what he meant. It stung like a beast. I didn't know if I should start cursing or start crying, so I stood there with my angry face and shook my fist in the air. I lathered some antibacterial soap into my hands and very gently cleaned off the blood on the cuttings. Out of the shower, I patted them dry with paper towels (which I brought into the bathroom with me), applied antibiotic ointment and covered it with saran wrap. It's recommended that you keep your cutting covered for 10 days and also irritate it, but I did not want a huge, blown out scar like my brand. I felt that if I did, the delicacy of the flowers would be lost. After four days, I said goodbye to the saran wrap and let it scab up. It's been almost three weeks since I've been cut and the scabs have fallen off. I am incredibly happy with the piece and can't wait to complete my chest piece with tattoo work. If you would like to view the work, there are pictures in Brian's portfolio in the Scarification section.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 06 Sept. 2006
in Scarification

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Artist: Brian+Decker
Studio: Pure+Body+Arts
Location: Brooklyn%2C+New+York

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