Tips on Stretching Piercings and Gauging Earlobes

The following tips on stretching piercings are specifically aimed at gauging earlobes, where earlobe piercings can be enlarged to very large sizes to incorporate many different types of ear jewelry including awesome flesh tunnels.

Stretching piercings has been popular in many civilizations throughout history, taking many forms from gauging earlobes to stretching labret and septum piercings. In the very early periods of history the materials used were wood, stone, bone, horn, shells, claws and talons, shaped and carved to facilitate stretching piercings.

The oldest known incidence of humans gauging earlobes was discovered in 1991, in a glacier in the Otztal Alps between Italy and Austria, where a 5,300 year-old mummified body was found with tattoos and an earlobe piercing of between 7 mm and 11 mm diameter. Although the method used was known for definite, this may have been carried out by a method known as dead stretching, where progressively larger ear jewelry is forced through the hole that gradually increases in diameter.

Preparation

In preparation for gauging, make sure that you have a good anti-bacterial soap without perfume. Then you will need a sea salt solution – make it using three tablespoons salt in just enough water to dissolve it, and at least enough to bathe your earlobe in. Never use hydrogen or any other peroxide as antiseptic – the soap and salt solution are enough.

You will also need some warm water to bathe your ear with before each phase of ear stretching, or you could alternative have a warm shower first. This softens the ear and helps prevent tearing of the skin/scar that could lead to bleeding.

Finally, you will need some lubricant: avoid Vaseline or any other mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricant. Most tips on stretching piercings recommend emu oil and jojoba, each of which offers gentle antiseptic and skin conditioning properties while acting as a perfectly adequate lubricant.

Gauging Earlobes

When stretching piercings, the two recommended methods are the taper method and the Teflon method. The taper method involves inserting a tapered rod or pin into the piercing, the narrow end being of the same gauge as the piercing, and the broader end one gauge down. The size of the taper is that of the desired gauge of piercing. So if your piercing is 16g, the taper will be a 14g taper, ranging from 16g to 14g. These are equivalent to 1.2 mm to 1.6 mm.

Never use a taper any more than one step down. However, since piercing gauges are always even numbers, one step down is 16g to 14g or 12g to 10g. Also, as the gauge figures drop, the actual diameter increases. So while 16g is 1.2 mm, 10g is 2.4 mm.

There are a number of different types of taper, including a tapered pin on ear jewelry, so you simply insert ear jewelry tapering from your current gauge to the new one. The problem here is that a fully tapered pin will not stretch your ears evenly – the pin has to be of the same diameter all the way through, or your piercing might also be stretched with a taper.

To overcome that, you can use an insertion rod, which is a tapered rod of about 3 inches. After warming your ears with the warm water or shower, and washing them with anti-bacterial soap, apply the lubricant to the taper and slowly work it through. Once it reaches the thicker end, follow it through with ear jewelry of the new size, and you are done. Wipe off excess lubricant and clean the ear with anti-bacterial soap and then some of the salt solution.

An even safer way is to wind a layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape round the pin of your ear jewelry and push it through the lobe. If you can see any space at all when you pull on the ring, then you can safely do this. Wait until the ear has accepted it then do it again, and so on until you have reached the new size, when you can use larger ear jewelry.

If there has been any severe pain or the piercing bleeds, then you must stop immediately and allow the piercing to heal properly before trying again. If you try stretching piercings too soon, before they have fully healed, then you can tear the skin and even have a blowout, both of which will make it difficult to stretch again.

Gauging Earlobes: After-Care

After-care when gauging earlobes is fairly straightforward. It should not be so much a matter of tending after a piercing until it heals, but more keeping it clean, and turning the new sized jewelry now and again. You are waiting until the ear has accepted the new size of hole permanently so that you can perhaps change the hole diameter once more. The stretched skin has to be allowed to thicken and get harder – give about three times longer than your original piercing took to heal. If you want to use a flesh tunnel, then you can continue stretching piercings until the diameter reaches an appreciable size.

Done properly, and following the above tips, stretching piercings is safe and relatively easy to do. Many extend the diameter of their piercings this way, and gauging earlobes is likely the most popular form of pierce stretching carried out at the moment. Take your time – waiting is difficult, but if your ear is not ready for the next stretching it will likely be damaged.

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web Piercings

Hand Piercings, Finger Piercings, and Hand Web piercings are all very rare and rather extreme. In fact, if you are even considering getting one of these piercings, you are truly one of the brave. The pain varies, and in fact usually there is minimal pain involved with the piercing, but the aftercare of these particular piercings is only for the stringent at heart.

Your hands are two of the most active places on your body. They are constantly in motion, they are full of germs, and they are very sensitive (all those nerves running through our hands help the brain process pain, pleasure, and temperatures). A contemporary phenomenon is getting the surfaces on your hands pierced. I’m not against these piercings at all, but more than most piercings, it is important you understand the risks before committing to the piercing.

Hand piercings are all surface piercings, so they are susceptible to the usual suspects – migration and rejection. Your hands are chock full of muscles, tendons, and nerves, so the constant motion of your hands don’t exactly work in your favor. Generally, the less disturbed the piercing area, the quicker and more successful the healing. With hand piercings you will not have the luxury keeping a hand “protected”. It will be exposed to the elements, germs, daily stresses, and abuses straightaway. For this reason, only get a hand piercing if you are willing to do the following.

First of all, you must clean it religiously. Your piercer will recommend cleaning it somewhere around three times a day with a warm saline solution – don’t skip this step! The saline helps keep the piercing site clean and free of buildup. You will have special instructions concerning which soap you can use, what moisturizer you can use, what liquids or gels you can’t put on your hands (Neosporin is always a no-no), ad infinitum. Smoking is definitely discouraged with a hand piercing, for the cigarette smoke that will inevitably drift around it will irritate your new piercing and prolong the healing. You must also be sure to keep the piercing site clean, not just from germs, but from dirt, trash, food, etc. Remember, you have a very delicate piercing that is being assaulted from all sides, so be careful!

Your lifestyle may have to change as well during the healing period. Besides not smoking, you shouldn’t be wearing gloves (they can tear the piercings out) or engaging in any activity that may put your hands at risk. If your career heavily depends on using your hands, you may want to think about getting one of these piercings extra carefully. Your everyday life will be affected by this piercing for at least a year – which is the general healing time. If you’ve never had a body piercing before, this probably isn’t a good one to start out with!

Now that the risks are known, and you still want to go ahead, here is what you can expect! For starters, don’t get pierced with a ring or hoop. You are just begging for it to get ripped out! Your hands touch too many objects everyday and a ring jutting out will get snared on something and it will be gone before you know it. Your piercer and you will decide if surface bars or curved barbells are best for your piercing location (which is largely determined by the shape of your hands, exact location, and lifestyle). It is not uncommon to have to get refitted a couple months after the piercing, for the swelling should have gone down enough to where you might need new jewelry to lie closer to the skin.

For hand piercings, the location can be almost anywhere. Surface bars will almost always be used, and the pain might be a bit intense. Rejection risk is high since there is not a lot of skin or tissue to penetrate, but with care this can be a relatively long term piercing.

Finger piercings generally don’t hurt nearly as much as they look, but these too have a high risk of migration. Generally pierced at the base of the finger to look like a ring, surface bars or barbells are used. The finger will swell after piercing, and is highly prone to infection, but by following the right aftercare and being super careful, you just may be able to make this piercing last a good long while.

Hand web piercings might be the most popular of the hand piercings – the webbing between each finger (especially between thumb and forefinger) is very thin and not hard to push a barbell through. It is also prone to rejection and migration, and infection is a very real possibility. This piercing should not affect your mobility (none of these piercings should affect any of your body functions), but the hand webs are major points in acupuncture therapy, so if you talk to an acupuncturist they probably won’t be keen on you receiving a piercing this area. There’s no western scientific evidence that piercing your hand webs will hurt you, but if you follow eastern medicine and science, you may want to hold off on web piercings.

All in all, piercings on the hand are rather extreme. They require constant care, zealous protection, regular cleaning, and even then it’s not a guarantee that these piercings will last. Yet, if you want to push the boundaries and your lifestyle affords it, you can try to get a piercing on your hand. For many people who successfully have them, it’s their favorite piercing!

What’s the Difference Between 2D and 3D Anyway?

Isn’t it obvious? Well, apparently not quite, when you consider how many people are still struggling with this topic!

The first concept you must grasp is that 3D means 3 dimensional and 2D means 2 dimensional. Now before you think I’m stating the obvious, let me go on to say that the 3D and 2D in animation refer to the dimension in which the animation was created. Ahhhh. The plot thickens eh?

For 2D animation, everything happens on a 2 dimensional platform. Pictures are flat, without depth and offer only one perspective. Objects and characters are usually drawn without the subtle soft shadows we see in real life and colours have few varying shades. In 3D animation, everything happens on a 3 dimensional platform. Pictures have depth and offer multiple perspectives just like in real life and have soft subtle shadows casted on the objects and characters within.

In 2D, characters look cartoonish and unrealistic. In 3D, characters can look cartoonish but realistic at the same time.

Another way to think of this is to think in terms of a painting and a sculpture. 2D is a painting, and 3D is a sculpture. 3D introduces “depth perspective,” so we not only see a rectangle (2D) but a CUBE (3D). You may also want to think of it like being the difference between a photograph of a glass of water (2D) and being able to reach out and actually pick up the glass of water (3D).

Typically, 2D involves “drawing,” or movement on, say, a flat surface (sketch pad, etc.) or in the vertical and horizontal planes. 3D involves “modeling,” i.e., creating objects in 3-dimensions using a computer software, residing in an expansive virtual environment, complete with lights, reflections, other objects, shadows, etc.

You could start training yourself by comparing a cartoon like Bugs Bunny, Aladdin, Lion King (2D) to “Toy Story 1,2 & 3, “Finding Nemo” and “Incredibles” (3D). If you have not watched any of these great cartoons, you should grab one right away or be branded a Neanderthal forever!

Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials

The most important thing to keep in mind after your body piercing has been performed is that you have essentially just sustained an open wound, and you should be caring for it exactly like you would a surgical wound or injury. That is, with the same kind of care, cleanliness and attention that you would to a serious injury to make sure that you don’t scar or get an infection. There are two different types of body piercings to consider: non-oral and oral.

Non-oral body piercing aftercare Keeping your piercing clean can’t be stressed too much! It just can’t. Twice a day, every day, without fail. No excuses. Use a mild antibacterial soap that doesn’t have fragrances in it, such as Provon® Antimicrobial Lotion Soap or Satin® Therapeutic Skin Cleanser, both of which are approved by the Association of Professional Piercers (APP). The best place to clean your piercing is usually in the shower, where the warm water will help you loosen and remove those crusties around the base of your jewelry. Use a cotton swab or a Kleenex to remove these, and then throw the swab or Kleenex away. Never use a washcloth — these things are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria! The same for bath towels after your shower! Then, with clean hands, gently cleanse the area with the soap and turn the jewelry so that the soap gets in the piercing and let this sit for a minute or two. After rotating it again, rinse thoroughly with warm, clear water. Make sure you get all of the soap out to prevent irritation. The rinsing is very important, so try to be thorough without irritating the area. It often helps to cup your hands and drizzle water over the area, since the shower stream can be a little too hard to aim directly on the area. Don’t forget your sea salt soaks After cleansing, a sea salt soak helps to draw out any piercing infection and impurities while soothing the area and calming any inflammation that may be present. Mix about ¼ teaspoon of sea salt with 8 ounces of warm water. Using a disposable cup, soak your piercing in this for ten minutes the first time, and five minutes each time after that. If your piercing is in a location that makes this difficult, apply the solution with cotton swabs, tissues or some other disposable product that’s soft and clean. Never use a hanky, washcloth or any other item that is going to be reused. Always pat your piercings dry with cotton balls, cotton swabs or tissues — don’t rub them, pat them. This reduces irritation and possible tearing of the skin and helps promote healing. Although it seems to be a minor step, keeping your piercings dry is actually an essential part of piercing aftercare because it reduces the opportunities for bacteria to breed (they love a warm, moist place to play). If you aren’t sure about mixing your sea salt soaks properly or it’s too inconvenient, there’s a new alternative on the market that’s less messy and is portable. H2Ocean® Piercing Aftercare Spray is a pre-mixed sea salt solution containing lysozyme, a natural antibacterial that is gentle to the skin. Simply spray it on the area and allow to drip dry; it’s easy to use because of their patent-pending compressed air delivery system that produces a fine mist. This product is guaranteed to heal navel piercings in only a month and a half if used regularly and is highly recommended by numerous piercing communities like BME and Prick magazine. H2Ocean® also comes in a portable size for your pocket or purse, which makes piercing aftercare away from home easier. X-pressions Piercing Aftercare Spray is also available for both oral and non-oral body piercings and is a mild antibacterial solution with purified water in a non-aerosol, pump spray with a pleasant, peppermint flavor. Once a day (not more often, because you’ll be unnecessarily irritating the area), check that the ends of your piercing jewelry are firmly screwed on. But wash your hands with antibacterial soap first. And now, a few “don’ts”

  • Don’t ever put hydrogen peroxide or alcohol on a piercing — they are too drying and will delay healing.
  • Don’t ever use Neosporin on a piercing — it can actually trap bacteria. Read the label; it actually says, “Not for puncture wounds.” Guess what? A piercing is a puncture wound.
  • Don’t ever remove your piercing jewelry before the piercing is completely healed, which may take months or up to a year. If you suspect a piercing infection, see your piercing professional or doctor first.
  • Don’t sleep on your piercing until the initial healing phase is over.
  • Don’t wear tight clothing over your piercing during the initial healing phase.

Oral piercing aftercare During the first three to six weeks after an oral piercing, rinse your mouth with an antibacterial agent after every meal to kill bacteria and make sure not tiny food particles aren’t lodged around your piercing just waiting to fester and turn into problems later. There are several excellent products on the market for this, including APP recommended Biotene and Tech2000 Dental Rinse; these have the proper ingredients and have the right potency to get the job done without being too strong. Don’t bother with mouthwash, because it’s not strong enough to do anything but cover your bad breath, which won’t be much consolation when you have a swollen, tender tongue because of improper aftercare. You can also use a commercial antibacterial rinse, but dilute it so that it isn’t too strong. If your tongue develops a whitish or yellowish look, your mouth rinse is too strong and will slow healing. Sea salt rinses … ahh! Mix the familiar warm water solution of 8 ounces water to ¼ teaspoon sea salt and swish this in your mouth for 15-20 seconds after drinking anything other than water and after smoking. It’s not only an aid to healing, but can be very soothing to the pierced area. If your oral piercing is sore or swollen, you can find some relief by allowing crushed ice to melt in your mouth. Popsicles, ice cream and the like also work, but will need to be followed up, like everything else, with a sea salt rinse (or H2Ocean®). Brush, brush, brush You can keep your tongue and piercing as clean as you want, but if you don’t brush your teeth well, you’ll still have millions of bacteria in your mouth. Try to brush your teeth three times a day during the first several weeks of healing. Buy a new soft-bristle brush that will be gentle on your piercing. Don’t use a brush that you’ve already used before your piercing, as it will harbor old germs. You should also gently brush the balls on the ends of your piercing jewelry to prevent the natural build-up of plaque on your jewelry. Oral piercing “don’ts”

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum or use snuff or rub during the healing period; these increase the risk of piercing infections astronomically.
  • Don’t play with the piercing jewelry or click it against your teeth; this can cause cracking of your tooth enamel.
  • Don’t engage in any activities, including kissing, that exchange body fluids during the initial healing period of several weeks.

General tips to improve healing success Proper piercing aftercare is the primary reason for a successfully healed body modification, but your overall health and how well you take care of yourself is also a contributing factor. If you are run-down or your immune system is compromised, you will not heal as quickly and you will be more prone to infection. For that reason, you should keep in mind a few things whenever you have any kind of piercing in order to help ensure that your piercing aftercare measures are given the best chance of success:

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. Eight glasses of day at the very least.
  • At least eight hours of sleep a night
  • Try to limit the amount of stress in your life
  • Vitamin C and Zinc supplements to help speed the healing process
  • Lots of fruits and vegetables, and a multi-vitamin if needed
  • If the pain bothers you, take Ibuprofen. If you are comfortable, you are less likely to fidget with the piercing.

Signs of trouble Even with excellent piercing aftercare, there will be some swelling at the site of a piercing for a few days. You’ll also have some clear, watery discharge and perhaps some mild bleeding. The bleeding will usually stop within 24 hours, while the discharge may last for several days or weeks. This is simply drainage of the wound and actually helps prevent piercing infection. Signs that the piercing is in trouble include:

  • Discharge that becomes noticeably thicker and is yellow or green in color. This is a sign or infection and should be checked by a doctor.
  • Inflammation that lasts longer than a few days, with redness and irritation. See your piercing professional or doctor.
  • Red streaks from the piercing site and a fever, along with body aches. See your doctor.
  • Hives, redness, itching and irritation around the piercing, which may signal an allergic reaction to the piercing jewelry. Your piercing professional can try replacing it with an alternative metal.
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing after your piercing, or a feeling that your mouth or throat are swelling closed. Seek emergency attention immediately!

So how long does all this healing take? If you perform your piercing aftercare properly, your body piercing will heal cleanly and leave you with a beautiful new piercing with no scarring, migration or keloids. The time it takes to achieve this, however, will vary depending upon what kind of piercing it is. The general timeframes listed below are just for reference. All of these depend upon your individual body’s response, how much stress you are under and a thousand other variables. Earlobe or Eyebrow: 6 – 8 weeks
Genitals: 4 weeks – 4 months
Labret/Lip: 6 – 8 weeks
Navel: 6 – 18 months
Nipple: 3 – 6 months
Nostril: 3 months – 1 year
Septum: 6 – 8 weeks
Tongue: 4 – 6 weeks
Cartilage: 3 months – 1 year Disclaimer: All piercing aftercare information provided herein is for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a guideline for body piercing aftercare, but a starting point in making an informed decision concerning body piercing. If you have any questions or proceed with a body piercing, please be sure to discuss the procedure with a medical or piercing professional and get complete and clearly understood piercing aftercare instructions at that time. Evaluseek Publishing claims no responsibility for the accuracy of this content, which is based on the general consensus of the piercing community, which is constantly evolving and changing. This article on the “Body Piercing Aftercare & Healing Essentials” reprinted with permission.
Copyright © 2004 Evaluseek Publishing.

The History and Evolution of Arrows in Graffiti Art

One of the most important design elements in graffiti art is the arrow. Arrows express movement and energy. In her groundbreaking book “Tag Town”, Martha Cooper photographed vintage graffiti tags in her Washington Heights neighborhood, still visible from the early 1970′s to 1980′s (tags are those hard to read scribbles you see on mailboxes and other surfaces around most cities). Many of these tags contained arrows, as well as stars, hearts, numbers, and crowns. From studying the images of these early tags, we were able to determine that the complex variations of arrows we see in today’s advanced Wildstyle graffiti letterforms originated from simple graffiti tags.

An arrow is an internationally understood symbol that is used on signs to simply indicate direction, as in “Entrance” or “Exit”. In graffiti art, however, an arrow is a powerful, visual tool that is often combined with letters to give them motion and dynamism. An arrow guides the eyes of the viewer in a specific direction. An arrow can project out from any side of a letter, weaving in and out, backwards and forwards, and around in circles, across a two-dimensional surface, creating depth and rhythm. Graffiti artist Ezo says that every graffiti writer has his or her own arrow and it’s true: the variations and design possibilities of an arrow are endless. An arrow can be drawn in all shapes and sizes; thick and chunky or long and spindly, pointy or squared, single or with multiple ends. An arrow can organically follow the flow and direction of a letter, like a vine. Or it can blast off of the side from which it protrudes, like a missile, as in the artwork of “The Rammelzee”, known as Gothic Futurism.

So, early graffiti writers incorporated simple arrows and other basic design elements into their tags to make them stand out and grab attention. From that simple beginning, the arrow has evolved into a multi-faceted, complex and autonomous art object of its own. One New York artist and graffiti writer, Mare 139, actually creates beautiful, 3-dimensional sheet-metal sculptures that contain only arrows, with light and space as parts of his designs. We think arrows are a fascinating and diverse element of graffiti letterforms, providing artists and students with continuous possibilities for innovation and style. We totally love arrows.