Archive for Plugs and Gauging
Ever heard of the art of cup stacking? We have, and you’re about to see what happens when the BodyCandy staff goes pop culture crazy. We’ve re-invented the cup stacking phenomenon and upped the ante to a whole new level, with the first ever attempt at an awesome new pseudo-sport: plug stacking.
You heard right. That’s the stacking of tunnel plugs in fun and fancy patterns. It might sound like we’re just goofing off, but this is actually quite a bit harder than it looks. Will we be able to create the perfect tunnel plug pyramid? You’ll just have to watch to find out.
Wanna get in on the action? If you have stretched lobes, loads of plugs or tunnels, and a little extra time on your hands, see if you can beat our best. Just post a link to your plug stacking video in the comments, and we’ll see if anyone can steal the title of Champion Plug Stacker.
Beginning many decades ago, body modification has been on a slow upward climb in terms of acceptance in Western culture. But what about the forms of modification that were already in practice around the world, long before piercing and tattoo parlors started springing up in the U.S. and Europe? In a way, the modern primitive movement is a revival of those practices.
We all know about piercing and tattooing, and have probably at least heard about dermal implants and scarification, but while watching a modern primitive performance, it suddenly becomes clear that “body modification” encompasses so much more than just these things. The sculpting, shaping, adornment, and contortion of the human body in any way can also fall under this umbrella, and this is where primitivism finds a foothold. Practices thought of as primitive in nature because they’ve been largely rejected by modern society become a part of the mix, including tribal rituals from all over the world. The stretching of the human neck by use of rings, branding, implantation, the surgical sculpting of bones, corsetry, suspension, stretching of piercings, splitting of the tongue, and tribal tattooing, are just some of the things that are considered modification.
Fakir Musafar, often referred to as the father of the Modern Primitives movement, and himself having coined the term, is known for practicing these elements and more in a less traditional, shamanic sense. Like many everyday people who have more mainstream piercings or body art, a core belief behind the primitive desired to be modified is simply that it’s transcendent to know what modification feels like. In a world that some see as fairly desensitized, experiencing any feeling completely, even pain, can be an expression of spiritualism. In another sense as well, the ability to sculpt our bodies into what we want them to be is one of things unique to human beings alone, and in many ways can be thought of as connecting us as a species.
As many once rejected practices find their way into the realm of societal acceptance, the primitives movement adopts more extreme forms of modification to remain outside the norm. And although we might not all be running to the parlor to get a brand or a subdermal implant, the future of piercing art promises to be interesting and beautiful.
As we become more ecologically conscious, as well as more proactive concerning our own health and wellness, Americans and others around the world are discovering the benefits of natural body jewelry. And one of the best organic materials out there for stretched piercings is, of course, wood.
Aside from being lighter weight than metals, and needing far less processing than plastics, wooden plugs are also healthier for a stretched piercing than most other materials. Because the wood is porous even after being sanded or polished, it allows the stretched skin or “fistula” to breath, which then in turn eliminates foul odors and lessens discharge. And beyond that, wood comes in such a variety of tones and densities, that the style variations are almost endless.
Because most natural wood products are polished rather than coated, they can be re-polished with natural beeswax or organic oils like jojoba if they begin to loose their luster, allowing them to last for years of wear. And older pieces or those that are no longer worn can be painted, used as garden decorations or for crafts, or even repurposed into other jewelry, adding to their sustainability.
Some of the gorgeous organic woods commonly used for plugs, tapers, or stirrups: black wood, coconut wood, ebony wood, blood wood, cherry wood, sawo wood, iron wood, crocodile wood, palm wood, olive wood, and sono wood.
Staying ahead of the fashion curve into the 2012 year promises to be a difficult task, but thankfully (unlike most portions of pop culture) the cinematic influences poised to bolster the piercing and jewelry world give us something both exciting and helpful: previews! Some of the most anticipated new releases that are sure to filter into new body jewelry fashion crazes are already showing us peaks of what’s to come. Just take a look.
When I first heard that there was an English language remake of one of my favorite foreign film series headed for the theatres, I was a little bit annoyed to see new actors playing the characters I’d come to love.
The one thing that’s undeniably amazing about MGM’s rehash of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo though, is that the original image of it’s pierced, tattooed, and sometimes mohawked heroin is left intact. The fashion impact? Plain silver hoops like those worn by Rooney Mara (who got piercings in her ears, eyebrow, nose, septum, lip, and nipple for the film) are already on their way to a comeback, but once the remake drops just before the new year, they’re likely to become an even hotter commodity.
2012 will be another lucrative year for fairytale film with Universal Pictures’ Snow White and the Huntsman, slated for its U.S. release in June.
Adding a new darker and more empowered spin to the traditional tale isn’t even a risk with actors like Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth (the huntsman) and Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart (Snow White), and neither is the choice of accessories. Wide band rings reminiscent of armor have already begun a slow fashion climb, but leading up to the premiere their aesthetic value might just skyrocket.
Another genre that’s still going strong is that of the super hero, as Marvel’s new undertaking, The Avengers (set for a May release) promises action, suspense, and a slew of A-list character reprisals.
Among those lending their faces and/or vocal skills to the film: Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Thor and Loki, Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow as Iron Man and Pepper Potts, Chris Evans as Captain America, and Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis, just to name a few. For it’s fashion say so, we’ll be seeing more of the same, as black leather, bullet caps, and plugs bearing super insignia are certain to stay strong well into 2012.
Other upcoming blockbusters that may lend piercing and jewelry fashion a hint of magic in the coming year include the Amazing Spiderman, the Hobbit, reimaginings of Jack and the Beanstalk (Jack the Giant Killer) and Hansel and Gretel, and the latest installments to the Dark Knight, Ghost Rider, and Men in Black franchises. Only time (and box office ratings) will tell.
Hey guys! Today we’re celebrating el Día de los Muertos, or as we would say, the Day of the Dead. Sounds kind of spooky, right? WRONG. We’ve got a lot to learn!
El Día de los Muertos is a national holiday celebrated in Mexico and parts of Central and South America, and it actually takes place para dos dias (two days.) Wouldn’t it be super awesome if Christmas lasted that long? I’m a little jealous, not gonna lie.
Anyways, the Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. Those dates might ring a bell for some of you, because you may have heard of the Catholic holidays called All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, (which also take place on November 1st and 2nd) and yes, there is a connection.
Day of the Dead celebrations can be traced far back to the native cultures of Mexico, like the Aztecs. Even back then, almost three thousand years ago, it was common for people to have rituals celebrating the deaths of their ancestors.
So you may be wondering, why the two day celebratory instead of just one? Well, in most regions of Mexico, the babies and children, los ninos, who have passed away, are honored on November 1st. Some people may refer to this as “Día de los Inocentes,” the day of the Innocents, or “Día de los Angelitos,” Day of the little angels. Then, on November 2nd, the adults who have passed are honored.
The celebration is planned throughout the entire year. Hours, and in some cases days, are spent preparing and making the celebration a beautiful one. Most people spend about three days cleaning and decorating the graves of their loved ones. Private altars are also built, and generally, the favorite foods and drinks, pictures, and other things that are reminders of the deceased are placed on the altars.
Offerings, or “ofrendas,” are usually set up in the home as a welcoming gesture for the spirits, and many decorate with orange marigolds called cempasúchitl, which are said to attract the souls to the offerings. Some traditional foods that are offered are el pan de muerto (bread of the dead), and sugar skulls, or “calaveras.” They taste like candy and are often made of marzipan. Toys are given for the souls of the children, and mezcal, an alcoholic drink, is offered for the adults.
In keeping with tradition, skulls, flowers, and Catrinas (representations of a female skeleton connected to the goddess of the dead) are the most common symbols used in decoration and accessories during the modern celebration. Many celebrants wear masks, various renderings of the Catrina, marigold wreaths, and jewelry with skulls and bones, and some even paint their faces.
The Mexican Day of the Dead is not just a predecessor to the modern Halloween, but an age old tradition that continues into the modern era. We all have ways of honoring our ancestors and deceased relatives, but in Mexico they spend two days doing it in style. How will you celebrate?
For a long time there has been a pretty clear line between what might be considered a standard piercing and what falls into the category of extreme modification. A classic staple of extreme mods has been not only to stretch the expected lobes but, t
o stretch and fit plugs/tunnels into a much larger variety of piercings, specifically piercings of the nose and mouth. From the start there are a few things that have to be done differently in order to achieve the right look, making a whole new style and statement.
I can’t stress enough every time that I mention “non standard” or “extreme” modifications just how ingrained into human nature they are! From as early as 5000 BC and across the entire world, tribes of people began to stretch what we now refer to as labret piercings to accommodate larger and larger wooden disks. Hunters as well, in too many places for me to even begin to list, placed tapered bones into their septum to stretch it to a larger and more intimidating size.
While (some) of the reasoning has been left behind for fashion sense, the nature to find new and unique ways to stretch is simply a part of who we are. As I said there are a few different things that are done right from the start to really differentiate one of these piercings. I’ll use the Medusa as an example. The standard Medusa piercing above the upper lip ranges from a 14 to a 20 gauge hole and is done by going horizontally through the lip (at least aimed that way). Common terminology for the more extreme version is a stretched philtrum, for which it’s important to make the piercing at an angle so that the plugs and tunnels can sit properly at a natural angle instead of straight up and down, possibly causing issues with how they will wear.
It’s a perfect example of how even places that people might not think of can be great locations for stretching. Stretching of the septum, nostrils, labrets, and industrials can all be done and when done properly of course, can yield amazing results. Some that have gone to further lengths of unique style and stretched piercings (of nipples and more intimate nature or to sizes upwards of an inch) work to show that with the right patience, practice and care, it’s less a question of if you can and more a question of if you’re dedicated enough to.
Pioneers like Jim Ward and Doug Malloy helped to forward a level of standards and ability, to make practices like stretching a philtrum or stretching nostrils things that are widely accepted in their procedure, health, and ability to be performed on a large scale. The history of our modern day modification is a different story entirely though.
The largest criticism that these piercings tend to come under is the lack of understanding as to how people function with the larger holes in what are more function-intensive areas. While it is true to a certain extent that once a modification of this style is undertaken there is much less room to heal and go back down in size, there are definitely a huge number of people who happily function in their modified state. What can be taken away from all of this is that, while you can never count out the ways to truly make a singular statement, the more severe you get, you can’t put enough thought and time into making sure that you’re truly dedicated to your modifications. The bigger they get, the more a part of you they become, in the best way possible.
We had another amazing interview this week, with Body Candy staff member and blog contributor Morgan S. Here’s what he had to say about the process of stretching his cool ear lobe piercings:
Body Candy: Hey guys! I’m Kelsey, here at Body Candy dot com, and today we have Morgan here with us, and he’s actually one of our team members here at Body Candy. How are you doing?
Morgan: Pretty good.
Body Candy: Good. So we’re gonna talk about what piercings he has today, and a few questions for him. What piercing do you have?
Morgan: Um, well, I’ve got both of ears gauged right now. (He gestures to both lobes.) I’ve got em both stretched to a half inch piercing so.
Body Candy: What do you like about them?
Morgan: Um, I’ve always liked having that extra little bit of…it’s not just a normal piercing but it’s got that extra little bit of flare that I can kinda mess around with and have my own style.
Body Candy: Cool. When did you get them pierced?
Morgan: I got both of them done, just about right when I turned eighteen. Uh, being in New York obviously that was right when I could.
Body Candy: Do you have any good stories about them?
Morgan: Uh, one of my favorites: I always love the way little kids react to piercings, and tattoos and gauges, and things like that. And uh, I was at a water park once, and I had a little kid that just immediately walked up to me and saw me and just, “Mom, mom! That man has holes in his ears! Is he okay?!” (At this point, both parties giggle a little.) And thought uh, legitimately thought I was hurt or that there was something wrong but, it was the most adorable thing.
Body Candy: Aw, that’s cute. Uh, does your work allow you to wear your piercings? Anywhere you’ve worked since you were eighteen?
Morgan: Yeah I’ve never really had…I’ve never really had any real issues with them. Uh I do musical theatre and I’ve done acting before, so I’ve had to use some of the flesh tone plugs a couple of times, being up on stage to blend in with the make-up, but, beyond that I’ve never had any issues.
Body Candy: What material do you like best?
Morgan: Um, I’m very adamant for wood.
Body Candy: How come?
Morgan: Um, I just recently got up to the point of about zero gauge and I started using wood plugs. With acrylics and metals you get a lot of weird (he lifts his hands trying to find the right word)…issues. The body isn’t really used to that sort of material.
Body Candy: Right.
Morgan: With nice wood plugs, with bone, you get really good fits, keeps your ears really healthy and, it just feels really good.
Body Candy: Yeah, that’s cool. And do you like…are planning on getting any more? Any other piercings?
Morgan: Absolutely! In the next couple weeks, um, I’m gearing up to get my industrial done so…
Body Candy: Nice.
Morgan: Definitely excited for that one.
Body Candy: Alright. Do you have any advice for people who might wanna stretch or gauge their ears?
Morgan: Absolutely. Um, if you’re stretching or gauging, anything like that, take it slow, read up on it, and know what you’re doing.
Body Candy: Right.
Morgan: I’ve definitely made that mistake a few times along the road where it’s just, “Oh, I wanna be the next size bigger, shove it in like-” (he uses his hands to mimic forcing a large gauge plug into an ear piercing, and a little giggle starts again)
Body Candy: yeah, I think a lot of people do that.
Morgan: It’s not a good call. Take your time, read up, know what you’re doing.
Body Candy: Alright. Well, thanks for coming in, Morgan.
Morgan: Absolutely, happy to.
And that was the end of another great talk with one our pierced personalities.
To get Morgan’s look: Morgan wears primarily organic plugs and tunnels, like the black wooden ones he has in for our interview.
Of all the throwback styles, each time period offers their own unique style (in the case of the 70s we won’t judge) and what I’m writing about today is how that of the 40s and 50s appeals so strongly to our current day body modification culture. Many people, myself included, find something incredibly enticing about the pairing of the classic idea of a man in a 3 piece suit or greaser fashion with the addition of modern day piercings and tattoo style.
It’s easy to pair the crisp and usually very neat style of the 50s with piercings and tattoos as they allow the overall look to not feel cluttered and messy. Wearing something simple such as a plain or black lip ring or a pair of simple plugs to work with such a clean look allows each to speak for themselves. Mixing something that has an inherent wild or punk feel to it’s presence with something that looks and feels formal and clean, you get a new look that hasn’t come up much before.
This fashion style as a whole is as much of a statement as anything said. Combining expectations with personal expression, mixing a very formal and gentlemanly style with your own way of showing who you are and what makes you an individual, creates a fit that allows both a classic and a modern look at the same time.
An excellent example of the blending of styles (beyond the numerous individuals who live it in form) is the band The Gaslight Anthem, with their cd The ’59 Sound they offer a throwback rock style mixed with modern influences. Seeing their combination of slicked back hair and button-ups with lip piercings and tattoo sleeves helps convey their classic sound as well as its modern day meanings and heart.
With the few simple steps of putting on a nice button up shirt, a crisp clean vest and a pair of working pants you can pull yourself right into a clean and dressy, yet down to business style that’ll take you to a new level of presentation. Someone think you can’t look formal and fantastic with a pair of plugs in or a few tattoos showing? Now’s the time to prove them wrong.
Fashion Photography courtesy of Miss Sophie Glass
All body jewelry items need to be properly sized for the perfect fit, since placement, needle gauge, size and shape of facial features, and general preferences all deviate from person to person. So here are the basic sizing measurements that you’ll want to know for the different types of body jewelry:
Both curved and straight barbells will have a length measurement, and a gauge measurement. Gauge is the thickness of the part that goes through the piercing, and as the number gets smaller in this case, the size gets larger.
Length for these items will be the measurement of barbell length in between the two tips of the piece. For best results, this needs to be measured while both decorative tips are on and securely fastened.
Barbell items include those that are used for tongue rings, surface piercings, belly rings, eyebrow rings, industrials, and some other ear piercings.
Post jewelry (or “studs”) will also have both length and gauge measurements, and will be measured in the same way, by the distance between the respective ends.
This type of jewelry is used for tragus piercings, helix piercings, and other ear piercings, as well as for labrets and monroes.
Circular Body Jewelry
Circular items, like ball captive rings, segment rings, nose hoops, and horseshoe rings, will have a gauge size measurement, but in this category instead of length, you’ll want to know diameter. Diameter is measured as the distance across the widest part of the item from inside edge to inside edge.
Diameter measurements may also be pertinent for items that contain rings anywhere in the general design, like the open portion of shield style nipple piercing jewelry.
When it comes to plugs, the main measurement will be the gauge size. For this type of jewelry, gauges can be confusing, because they start as normal numbers, but change to inch and millimeter measurements after hitting 00.
There are several styles of plugs (straight, single flare, double flare, tunnels…) but to get an accurate size measurement, you’ll want to measure the portion of the item that will actually be in the stretched piercing. For example: single flare plugs will be measured at the thinner end, and double flare plugs will be measured at the thinner portion in the middle.
For more in-depth information on the sizing, measuring, styles, and standards for specific types of jewelry, check out our Jewelry Sizing category.
If you’re stretching your ears at all or are planning on it and have looked at the sizes, you may have noticed that it’s not exactly a straight increase. As the size of the plugs gets larger, the size difference between them gradually grows. For example the difference between 16 gauge and 14 gauge is about .4mm; not a big deal, (you can just pop those bad boys in, right?) . However the difference between even 2 gauge and 0 gauge is 2mm; If you’re not careful and don’t approach things at your own speed, blowouts and terrible things can happen.
In comes Taping. Now, the standard for increasing size is using long tapers, plugs that start small and increase to the end size as you push them in. This makes it easier, but if your ear isn’t ready for the new size it won’t help you a millimeter. The process of taping works to help with that, give you that slow increase but in a manageable way.
Say you’re at 0 gauge and want to go to 00 (an example I use because it’s exactly what I did) and you just can’t get your ear to except the new size. By taking your 0 gauge plug and wrapping around it a single layer of tape (I’ll get into what kind later) you can increase it’s diameter by as little as .5 mm at a time. That’s getting back to the manageable sizes that make this whole thing super easy!
By doing this process in increments, you can get your ear adjusted to the new sizes gradually. Your ear will heal up better and faster having to get used to a .5mm difference 5 times than a 2.5mm difference once!
I promised you I’d get to it; The Tape. I know of friends that have used different kinds of tape (PTFE tape, bondage tape…) and have had success with it because honestly, I don’t think it makes a gigantic difference as long as it’s safe. I personally have only used one kind of tape and it has served me amazingly: Black Vinyl Electrical Tape. For a few bucks at a hardware store I save a huge amount of pain.
The reason I loved using this kind of tape is two fold. One, the outside of the tape. Being vinyl the non-adhesive side of the tape is incredibly smooth. This makes getting it into and out of the ear incredibly easy. Secondly, it’s ability to stretch. Most tapes don’t have any real give to them, the length you cut is the length that they will go. The vinyl tape has a stretch to it which helps out immensely when it comes to placing it on the plug. By stretching the tape slightly and making it overlap itself a little bit in one point, the tape pulls itself tight across the surface of the plug helping to prevent it from coming loose at all.
The generally recommended tape is teflon tape (a medical grade tape that doesn’t have as much give), but if ever in doubt, your piercer can always be an informational resource. There are also various oils out there to help you along.
So there you have it. A few bucks and a wrapping every other day can take you from a lot of pain and discomfort to a relatively pleasant stretching experience. The last bit of advice I’ll leave you with is try not to be too zealous with the thickness you apply at a time. You may wrap the plug once and think “oh no I can totally do 2 or 3 layers at once”. To save yourself some pain, take your time; the extra week will make you much happier with the end result: a healthier and better looking stretched lobe.