This story is over 5 years old

Stick 'n' Burn

Now that we're confident you all have homemade tattooing down, we thought we'd take the next logical step and explore the fine art of home branding.

by VICE Staff
Oct 2 2007, 12:00am


Click to enlarge

Now that we’re confident you all have homemade tattooing down, we thought we’d take the next logical step and explore the fine art of home branding. Essentially this involves using a scalding hot implement — in this case a soldering iron — to burn a pattern or picture into the skin of a willing person, with the intention of creating a beautifully permanent scar a.k.a., a brand.

To perform our branding, we chose Collette because she is a talented jewellery designer and artist who owns her own soldering iron and has a small amount of experience as a brander. Our friend Pierce volunteered as the victim and we thought he’d be perfect because he’s got really pale, delicate skin. He also claims to know an ancient Samurai mind control technique, which allows him isolate parts of his body, thereby minimising pain.

At this point we should point out that we don’t see this as a ‘How To’ article but rather a ‘How We Did It’ article and if you have a better or different method then you should probably stick to it.

Turn the soldering iron on so it can reach its desired 450 degrees Celsius (that’s ten times hotter than the sun) before you begin. While it’s heating up, you should start drinking heavily and get to know each other better. If the person being branded is hairy, then now is the time to give them a shave. Pierce has the chest of a twelve-year old boy so we didn’t need to.

Next you are going to need to prepare the following list of equipment. If you don’t have all of it then the branding will not work and you will die horribly. This is very important. You need:

1. A soldering iron. 2. Face masks to stop the spread of diseases and infections that can be passed from one human to another via the fumes from burning flesh. Seriously. 3. A wooden spoon to bite on especially if you think the person being branded might need it as a coping mechanism. 4. Anaesthetic — in our case a bottle of cheap absynth (which doubles as a great steriliser btw). 5. Emergency First Aid stuff. We chose Savlon, Cotton Buds and Panadol. If you can get your hands on some tea tree oil then that would be even better as rubbing that behind your ears can cure anything. Even Gangrene and AIDS. 6. Smokes. You’re probably not going to be able to sit through this in one go, so get some cigarettes even if you don’t smoke so you can ask for breaks without looking like a pussy. 7. Jelly Beans. If you try this without jelly beans, you will regret it.

We figured that the soldering gun would be sterilised naturally via the heating process but overlooked the fact it was old and possibly still had traces of lead on it. As such, it’s probably a good idea to give the gun a good clean before you start. We assume that any lead remnants are now swimming around in Pierce’s bloodstream and are no longer our problem so we’re not going to think any more about it.

Now you need to decide what your permanent skin picture is going to be. Pierce wanted a bike but we were concerned that the level of detail involved wouldn’t translate well in the swollen scar tissue arena so he settled on a Fido Dido-esque self-portrait that he drew in between nervous puffs on a cigarette.

At first Pierce wanted to get the portrait of himself branded onto his face but we were wise enough to realise that this was just the absinthe talking and convinced him to get it on his stomach instead. Now you need to draw the design onto the skin with a permanent marker.

Give the brandee one last drink and then lie them down and place the wooden spoon in their mouth and tell them that it probably won’t hurt that much. Try not to glance to the right as you say this.


Click to enlarge

Ok here’s the fun bit. Slowly begin to trace the outline of your design with the burning hot end of the iron. You don’t want to drag it across the skin too much so we found that short, quick strokes worked best. Collette’s former branding experience came in handy here and she explained that she was only going to give Pierce second degree burns. Basically this means that she stopped short of inflicting third degree burns so we were all spared seeing Pierce’s fatty layers and he was spared the nasty infections that generally result from such intense burns. It was totally win win. Even through our masks, the smell of burning flesh was pretty dizzying so we’d probably recommend having some kind of burning oils on hand to mask this.

Finish off the design and tell them it looks great. Really great. If for any reason they are not happy with it, tell them that it will probably fade away and be back to normal in about six months. Again, don’t look to the right.

The Jelly Bean step was supposed to be after the antiseptic step but Pierce couldn’t wait so we let so we let him have a couple for his show of endurance.

You now want to give the wound a bit of an antiseptic wipe before you patch it up. We used the Absinthe because the Savlon was looking all crusty and old. Pierce said it hurt more than Syphilis.

Nice and hygienic.

Cover the brand with a clean plaster or bandage to give your new design a fighting chance to heal and compliment each other on a great job.