The words “plastic jewelry” sound so 1980s, right? Well it’s exactly that type of jewelry that’s been making a huge fashion comeback lately, but unlike those funky fresh, hot pink hoops from the days of In Living Color, this stuff ain’t your mamma’s throwbacks. Lucite and acrylic have come a long way, baby, and in the 2010s they’re about to bust out larger than life.
You may remember some pretty awesome lucite necklaces and earrings that have been bolstering this trend over the past couple years, like the beautiful Keith Haring creation from Beyonce’s “Move Your Body” video, or the “Classic Lucite Heart Collection” from Betsy Johnson. Lucite gives a fun and youthful look, and provides a plethora of styling options. From translucent tinted lucite, to mirrored, to brilliant chalky brights, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Watch as Lee gets a bridge piercing from James at American Skin Art in Buffalo NY. The needle pierces the flesh around 57 seconds into the video. The area is first cleaned. Then the proper jewelry is chosen based on anatomy, and the entry and exit points are marked and checked by both the piercer and the person being pierced. Lee reclines on the table. Then the area is clamped and a 14 gauge hollow needle is inserted, corked, and then chased by a 14 gauge straight titanium barbell. This is the second time Lee is getting the bridge piercing done. This makes it a little bit more painful than the average bridge piercing, due to old scar tissue. Still, it seems to be very little pain considering.
The horizontal surface piercing located on the bridge of the nose, between the eyes is called the Bridge, the Erl, or the Mid Brow piercing. The technical term for the tissue between the brows and above the nose is the glabella. You can get this piercing placed from the top of the brows to right above the bridge of the nose. A straight barbell or a small curved barbell can be used for this piercing. It is important that the placement is straight and the jewelry is a proper fit. This piercing is named after Erl Van Aken, an actor and early body modification pioneer, who had the first known bridge piercing from the famous shop The Gauntlet.
In order to receive a proper bridge piercing, the person being pierced must have sufficient skin in the right area, enough to pinch between the fingers. Your piercer must be very sure that you have sufficient padding between your jewelry and the underlying structures of your face as well; it could cause a lot of problems, including bone loss, to wear incorrect jewelry. Even with proper placement, procedure, and the correct anatomy, there is unfortunately a somewhat higher rate of rejection and chance of scarring.
It is a piercing urban legend that getting your bridge pierced will make you go cross eyed. If you do happen to notice the jewelry out of the corner of your eye that means the bar is most likely too long. Many people who wear corrective glasses or sunglasses do not think they can get this piercing due to aggravation from the glasses rubbing. Again, this is not true; if pierced high enough the piercing will not interfere with wearing glasses one bit.
The gauge of the needle and jewelry used is determined by the piercer based on how much tissue is available. For the initial bridge piercing it is recommended to use a 14 or 12 gauge barbell. The placement and gauge of the jewelry contributes to making the healing time a bit longer than an average piercing. It takes up to 4-6 months or more of proper care for this piercing to properly heal. You can use a straight barbell or a small curved barbell for the initial jewelry, and initial piercing jewelry is always longer to make space for swelling. The first time you change your piercing or downsize your jewelry, you should definitely consult your piercer.
Keeping the area free of harsh cleansers and moisturizers, anything scented, makeup, and hair is advisable during healing time. It is also very important to strictly follow your professional piercer’s aftercare guidelines. Cleaning the area regularly with salt water or a product such as H20cean is usually recommended. The bridge piercing is a very unique way to embellish an already beautiful face. With proper care, it can be very rewarding and gain lots of attention and compliments due to its rarity.
In this day and age, almost everybody has at least one piercing, tattoo, stretch mod, or some other form of what can be considered body modification. Things that were once considered strange, or even extreme, are becoming commonplace as all types of mods find a foothold in our culture. There are still certain modification experiences that only a chosen few take part in though, and two of these include the suspension and the energy pull.
A hook suspension, also called simply “suspension,” basically involves the placement of one or more large gauge piercings, often performed using special hooks. This type of temporary piercing, generally referred to as “play piercing,” should only be performed by a very experienced professional, as an acute knowledge of anatomy and physiological mathematics is required. After the appropriate number of hooks have been placed, they are then attached via ropes or cables to a winch or an apparatus that will be used to lift the individual off the ground, effectively suspending them in mid air.
There are several common types of suspension, each distinguishable by the placement of the hooks and the shape of the body once lifted. The “coma” for instance, is a suspension in which piercings are made along the front of the torso and thighs, so as to give the position once lifted of laying down. The reverse of this posture in which hooks are pierced through the back side of the torso and legs is called the “Superman.” And the “resurrection” involves two rows of hooks through the stomach, giving the impression of rising from the grave. Some other less practiced types of suspension include the angel, the ballerina, the cannonball, the chair, the fetus, the lotus, the scorpion, and even the winged monkey.
An energy pull involves similar sets of temporary piercings, but rather than suspending the body from a cage or other apparatus, the hooks are attached to a heavy or immovable object. In many cases, this object will be another living thing, whether it be a tree, or another human being, or several. The true meaning behind energy pull rituals in the sense of traditional practice is to pool the energy of those living entities involved towards a common goal, such as the formation of a specific shape, or the evolution of the life energy towards a more balanced flow.
As the current modified generation looks to the primitive roots of their body manipulations, even these more extreme types of body mod are beginning to spread, and the suspension community can only continue to grow.
Of all the creatures in nature, the butterfly is amongst the easiest for we humans to identify with. But what puts it up there with man’s best friend? Put simply, the butterfly is special because of what it once was: an ordinary caterpillar.
In their larval stage, as caterpillars, butterflies aren’t much to look at. Their chubby, grub-like appearance could even be considered dowdy. After a short stint inside the cocoon though, a creature of considerably more beauty emerges. Newly reborn, with long graceful limbs, a slender torso, and brilliantly patterned wings, the butterfly is truly a sight to behold. And it’s exactly that magical ability to transform that makes these dainty insects so inspiring.
Given the modern beauty aesthetic and the bevy of ever-changing celebrity looks, it’s no secret that today’s women are becoming masters of quick change proficiency. The art of the makeover has risen to new heights. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that nature’s maverick transformer has become inextricably associated with femininity.
Although the classic white moth and the monarch butterfly are arguably the most recognizable of this flighty species, butterflies, just like women, come in all beautiful shapes, colors, and sizes.
The tree of life has carved out a place in modern mythology over the years, becoming a highly recognizable symbol of the interconnectedness of all living things. Far more interesting though, is how this potent image also featured in almost all ancient civilizations in one way or another, and how it shaped the culture of body modification through tattooing.
The concepts adherent to the tree of life mythos are very universal. To many ancient civilizations, the deciduous trees in their native habitat were a very visible metaphor for the great cycle, representing youth (budding in the Spring), adulthood (the abundance of Summer), twilight (the weakening of Fall), death (Winter), and eventual rebirth. Furthermore, those trees that bore edible fruit could sometimes be seen as a gift from the gods, and may have been imbued with preternatural powers.
A mystical tree that anchors the life cycle, gives life, grants immortality, or connects the world of the living to the realm of the gods is present in the spoken or written legends of ancient Persia, Egypt, India, and China. Amazingly, this same type of great tree was also an integral part of the central folklore of the ancient Norse and Celtic societies, thousands of miles away. And even further abroad in the Americas, many Mesoamerican cultures, including the Aztecs and the Maya, also retained powerful legends of the “world tree,” or a life tree that connects the world of the living with the domain of the gods as well as the underworld. Even the pre-Columbian tribes of the American Northeast that later became the Iroquois nation passed down a creation myth that mentions a divine tree.
Although all of these civilizations and more acknowledged the tree of life in their central mythologies, it’s those tribes that advocated tattooing who would most shape the way such a tree was drawn or represented. Perhaps most notably, the pagan tribes of ancient England and Ireland, collectively referred to as the Celts. These groups were often tattooed, particularly their holy men and those of the warrior class, and the tree of life featured prominently. Though over the centuries there were many incarnations of the tree in different styles of tattoo art, two of the most common are a blooming tree with knots in the trunk or roots, and a leafless tree whose branches and roots interconnect to form a great circle.
Following a recent resurgence in traditional tribal styles of tattooing, both of these representations as well as many more have once again become common. Although the methods of tattooing are far different, the beauty of its symbolism remains the same, and the tree of life is likely to continue on in body art for millennia to come.
Today is Twilight Zone Day, and to celebrate the history of this awesome nod to retro noir television, we’re breaking out the black and white, so get ready to get down Sci Fi style. Retro fashion is usually simple and sweet, but the Twilight Zone represents the darker side of all things 1960s. These fun black and white plugs capture that gently creepy, Hitchcockian feel, but with the modernized twist of hyper-realism (’cause we all know the Twilight Zone is all about the twists)! Wear them with your favorite Jackie O shades and shrunken motorcycle jacket for a nod to yesteryear with a little right-now edge.
I remember being a teenager and having someone from a car yell “FREAK” at me as I walked by; it really made me think about the word and what it meant. Even though it was meant to be derogatory, I have always taken it as a compliment. If being a freak meant that I loved shock value and standing out from the crowd then I was ready to wave my freak flag proudly. I have always been interested in the culture of the modified. Many people view body modification as a rite of passage, and some as a pure act of self expression. Body modification includes common procedures such as piercings and tattoos, but it also means much more. Some people take it to the next level. These people are real life “freaks” (and I say that with love and awe, not to be offensive). Sideshow performers, oddities, and truly beautiful weirdos; they are not afraid to be themselves and celebrate the fact that being different is beautiful.
The art of circus performance is an age old tradition. It was popular in the Victorian era and revolutionized by PT Barnum and the performers of the Coney Island circuit in the early 20th century. The freak show has always been a main attraction in the old time circus and carnival scene. Individuals who had physical oddities were displayed for entertainment sake. Extremely small and large people, women with beards, people covered in tattoos, biological rarities, physical deformities such as missing or extra limbs, Siamese twins, or whatever else made someone stand apart and made them worthy of being classified as a freak would generate huge crowds full of curiosity. People were willing to pay a pretty penny to sit and stare at these medical wonders with absolute awe and utter amazement.
Modern side show freaks are having a resurgence in popular culture while reviving and innovating old traditions. The side show has transformed and is now more focused on performance. The freaks voluntarily use their bodies as malleable canvases and tools for entertainment. For the sake of political correctness and the humane treatment of all the world’s creatures, the new freak show is based on performance and voluntary body modification rather than physical abnormality or disability. In the modern era, it is obviously distasteful to recognize and mock physical deformities. Modern side shows employ only those who work hard at their unique craft and know how to manipulate their bodies expertly. It is a way of life.
I am a burlesque performer, which has always gone hand in hand with the sideshow entertainment world. Many performers in the burlesque world modify and decorate their bodies with things such as corset training, tattoos, and piercings. During my career I have been lucky enough to perform with two different traveling sideshow circus troupes: The Cockabilly Roadshow from Coney Island and more recently The Hellzapoppin Sideshow Revue from Texas. Helzapoppin Side Show Revue is the biggest current travelling sideshow troupe, and they have been on tour with Ozzfest and more! I can’t believe that I have shared the stage with contortionists, sword swallowers, those who lay on nail beds, participate in play piercings, those with large amounts of tattoos, fire breathers, hook suspensionists, sword walkers, glass eaters, and I even met a woman named Boobzilla who smashes bricks with her chest. Chelsea NoPants, of Helzapoppin swallowed swords, breathed fire, and walked on a ladder of swords the night I met her. She was able to bend a normal coat hanger that was inserted into her throat like a sword. She also participated in play piercing by having darts thrown at her body. It is really an out of this world experience to be part of a show like that.
There are natural freaks and self made freaks. A “natural freak” has a genetic abnormality that shapes their performances, and a made freak has undergone body modification to gain their current physical configuration. These people prove that nothing is impossible. Many forms of body modification have their origins in the freakshow, even way back into antiquity. The current popularity of freakdom has broken into the mainstream once more. Tattoos , piercings, and extreme modification take center stage on this new wave of popularity. Extreme body modification is becoming more and more common and even accepted. Layered full body tattoos creates interesting characters and transforms a normal human into almost a cartoon superhuman. Subdermal implants, injections, and piercings that are stretched to great lengths are also gaining popularity.
Famous Side Show Performers/ Body Modification Stars
-Eric Sprague, aka The Lizardman , has sharpened teeth, a full body tattoo of green scales, split tongue, sub dermal implants on his brows, and stretched ear lobes.
-Dennis Avner, aka the Catman, surgically modified his body to resemble a tiger. Dennis is currently the world record holder for most body modifications.
-Etienne Dumont- Living Art- has tattoos from heat to toe, silicone implants in his head, nostrils and lower lip stretched, and he wears Plexiglas plugs in them to see through.
- The Enigma- has horn implants, a plethora of piercings, a full body puzzle tattoo, and he has the work of over 200 artists on him.
-Katzen the Tiger Lady- has extensive body tattoos and wears whiskers attached via piercings on her face. (Katzen is the German word for cats.)
-Rick Genest- full body zombie tattoos and other body modifications.
-Julia Gnuse- aka the illustrated lady, has 95% of her skin covered in ink.
-Lucky Diamond Rich- most tattooed person in the world.
-Elaine Davidson- the most pierced person in the world.
-Pauly Unstoppable- is heavily modified with large stretched piercings and dermals; he is always changing form, and is the first man to ever get tattoos on his actual eyeball.
You do not have to go to the boardwalk on Coney Island to view the side show anymore. You can check out one of the touring acts or even just browse the interwebs. The age of the internet gives a more broad and endless audience to the sideshow. It is a whole new arena of fame. Photo sharing sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest have sky rocketed the careers of many body modification superstars. These sites celebrate the unique and the unimaginable. Television is also jumping on the bandwagon. The A&E show called “Freakshow” features performers and human oddities that are heavily modified and performing death defying feats.
I have seen power drills inserted into nasal cavities, insertion of Fakirs through skin, sword swallowing, glass eating, laying on a nail bed, and so much more. It amazes me that these fantastic humans know exactly where to place skewers through the flesh or swords in their throats so as to not bleed or damage any muscles and organs. The performers are able to manipulate and move their organs out of way. The human body is truly a miracle to behold; it is magical how it can be molded and what can be done to it. Things that I once assumed were impossible are not; it just takes practice, skill, and dedication. Normal is only what you make of it, and self expression and culture can transform someone into a true masterpiece.
Buying necklaces is super fun, but when it comes down to the specs, sometimes it’s difficult to decipher the lingo, like with necklace closure types. So we’re here to make sure that you’re never left guessing again. Here we go!
There are literally dozens of closure styles for necklaces and bracelets, but as long as you know the basic few that are used the most, chances are you won’t have to worry. The common necklace clasps are: the spring ring, the lobster claw, the magnetic clasp, the toggle closure, the fold over clasp, and the ball chain closure (sometimes also referred to as a butterfly).
Most necklaces will have either a spring ring or a lobster claw, but many everyday situations necessitate the use of other styles. For example, those who have arthritis will often find spring hoops or claws too difficult, so a magnetic closure can be the perfect solution. Likewise heavier, multi-layered necklaces may require a more durable, heavy-duty closure, like a toggle.
So now that your brain is swimming with necklace knowledge, it’s the perfect time to test out what we’ve learned… by going shopping!
The recent Met Costume Institute Gala saw a surge of well dressed celebrities, with a little extra edgy oomph surrounding this year’s big theme: punk. Or more specifically, “Punk: Chaos to Couture.”
Although many celebrity ensembles rocked the Met (including very pregnant reality star Kim Kardashian’s head to toe flower bomb) what really takes center stage at any punk soiree is the hardware, and this year’s jewelry additions certainly didn’t disappoint. The usual parade of studs and spikes took on new life paired with unexpected fabrics and more modern splashes of yellow gold replacing the standard cold steel. Even more amazing were the additions of several media normally reserved for anything but punk, like feathers, pastel beading, embroidery, sequins, silk, and tulle.
Baubles ranged from the understated, to the otherworldly, and as with any surprisingly modification-friendly fete, left us smiling at the prospect of finally having our alternative lifestyles understood by some major fashion houses. Rounding out some of the night’s favorites were Marc Jacobs, Topshop, Valentino, Givenchy, and Stella McCartney. Tattoos were left openly on display, with beautiful art highly visible on Paloma Faith, Kelly Osborne, Nicki Minaj, Lena Dunham, Eve, and several others.
To steal the new cleaner, post-punk style that was in full view at the Met Gala, ear cuffs, tarnished or antiqued chains, solid black spikes, natural stone jewelry, and oversized rings are all an excellent jumping off point. Pair with asymmetrical lines, geometric cut-outs, and well-tailored leather, and you’re on your way to fashion stardom.
No matter what your style is you can find adorable ear candy to express yourself. From fun and playful, to natural tribal nomad, to classic glamour, and even work ready accessories, there’s a trend that is ready and willing to be your new signature style. Indulge in these brand new styles and find out what you need to buy this summer.
Statement Chandelier and Drop Earrings
Chandelier and drop earrings are perfect for a feminine and romantic feeling, They look fabulous with updos for a prom, wedding, red carpet, or any black tie or special occasion. Supersized chandelier earrings in gold or silver with precious or semi precious stones (and diamonds) are statement earrings. Victorian, floral, or geometric are common themes. Anything with a vintage feel is also a great classic staple in any girl’s wardrobe. Be ready for a raging party, classy special event, or even a fun girls’ night on the town.
For those of you with stretched lobes, there are now plugs that come with glamorous dangles already on them. It’s awesome that jewelry is being made to accommodate those of us who want to have the appeal of stretched ears as well as the glamour of pretty dangly earrings.
Au Natural Ear Wear
Wooden and stone earrings are popular for many reasons. The tribal look, bohemian, and with dread locks, etc. is everywhere right now. Natural bone, stone, and wood plugs and hangers look fantastic with this style. If you don’t have your ears stretched, wooden or bone stirrup earrings will give you a similar look. Stirrup hanger earrings are awesome; they are slightly larger than a regular earring, so some very minimal stretching is required. You line up the earring either side of your lobe and then insert the small stick-like piece through the hole so it is held into the ear.
Earrings featuring bone or stones like turquoise, jade, onyx, and amethyst are very popular right now as well. They look great with coordinated body jewelry and accessories. The southwest/native/tribal look is not going anywhere anytime soon. Going organic is more than just a dietary choice, natural stone and wood jewelry is also healthy for your piercings.
Neon and Mirrored Lucite Earrings
This eye catching trend is certainly 1980s and 1990s inspired, but with obvious modern updates. The introduction of vivid candy-looking plastics and fluorescent materials along with mirrored Lucite is a fantastic modern approach in keeping with the current fashion scene. Bright jewelry looks amazing with clean, modern fashion. Neon yellow, green, and pink are among the more well used neon colors this year. Geometric designs look amazing in these materials. Chevrons, circles, diamond shapes, and triangles are among the more popular designs currently.
Nice Spikes and Snakes
Two more themes that are everywhere this season are anything with spikes and anything with snakes. Spike jewelry and anything with snakes are two things that are normally considered more hardcore or bad ass, but now these trends are everywhere. They do not have the same meaning. Snakes commonly represent sin and temptation but now represent couture and high fashion. Serpentine accessories have been seen in most high end collections. Long, linear snake earrings can even be delicate and girly accessories.
Until recently spiked jewelry has been reserved for the punk and grunge community, but now it’s a little softer and more feminine. Women and men of all ages look great and feel more comfortable in spiked ear jewelry than ever before. Spiked hoops, studs, or spike covered saddle plugs can be paired with a sweet floral dress and pastel colored hair and makeup for an interesting new look.