Art from My Body

November 29, 2009

In honor of The Pierced Consumer’s one-year anniversary, I’ve been doing some cleanup and some tinkering.

I’m excited to add the Flickr widget, which will show the latest photos from myFlickr account.  It’s not very flexible, they seem to be added as I add them.  They show up on the right, under the links and stuff.

Right now I did a series of photos from my own tattoos with my iPhone.  The iPhone is notorious for having a crappy camera, but you can do some really cool things with it regardless.  I think this set came out really fantastic! Check out my Flickr stuff here:

Art from My Body by Cloud.

More Meta

–I’ve also changed my header, as  you can see.  That’s my beautiful Maya Organic “Earn Your Wings” earrings which I’ll probably feature more once I can wear them, lol!

–Edited the About Page and added new  photo of me getting pierced at the bottom.

–Overhauled the Body Piercing Basics Page, with new photos and new blurbs.

–The “Links” and sidebar were getting too cluttered, so all the links are now consolidated under “Click Here.”

–am trying out the cloud tags.  Appropriate, don’t you think?

–finally, I’ve added a widget to my delicious bookmarks.  I’m still tinkering with this!  The first one you’ll see there (right this minute) is a gallery I did of black and white body art that uses other people’s photos.  Since most of these are not using creative commons licenses, please click the link:

Gallery:  Body Art in Black and White

–fin

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How to Save Money on Body Jewelry

November 27, 2009

Bargain Box

I’ve looked and looked for a nice jewelry box to put my jewelry and tools in, to no avail.  I wanted a large compartment below to put tools, tapers, etc. in, and all of the “jewelry” boxes I find are too small, too fancy and weird for body jewelry (I’m not putting my barbells in a cherry veneer armoire).  So I found this box at my local Hobby Lobby on sale for 50% off!  Making it a true bargain  box for $2.50.! You can find bargains on body jewelry, too, if you look.

First, a word of warning:

DO NOT compromise on the quality of your initial piercing jewelry, or jewelry to be worn in unhealed or troubled piercings. This includes when you are in the process of stretching.  You are trying to convince your body to heal around a wound, and therefore you need highly polished, well machined simple jewelry from an appropriate material for your new piercing.  This means high  quality stainless steel, titanium, stainless steel, glass (or gold or platinum, but this post is about saving money.)  For your initial jewelry purchase, ask your piercer what brands and grades of piercing jewelry they carry, and buy the best starter jewelry you can afford! This is very important for healing your piercing, and not a place to be cheap!

Well-healed piercings can usually wear a wider variety of body jewelry. In fact, you can spend quite a bit of money collecting wonderful jewelry for all your holes.  I never recommend cheaply made, inferior quality body jewelry, but in stable piercings you can compromise a bit, if you know what to look for.

In honor of Black Friday, here are some ways to save on body jewelry: (Note:  Some of the specific deals and offers described are time limited, so if you come across this blog post much past Black Friday 2009, they will be gone.)

Ask Your Piercer

Your first piece of jewelry should normally be purchased from your piercer.  You should never compromise on quality, nor should you choose a piercer or studio on price.  However, it never hurts to ask if your piercer is offering any special deals or discounts. For instance, some piercing studios will offer a second piercing or jewelry at a discount.  They may have some jewelry they are willing to let go on sale, too.  Studios generally buy they jewelry wholesale and mark them up in accordance with standard business practice.  This gives them a little wiggle room for negotiating.  If you develop a good relationship with your piercer and are a good customer, they may be willing to discount your jewelry a bit–it never hurts to ask.  Don’t be obnoxious about it–remember that jewelry sales can be an important part of a piercing studio’s income (and we want to keep those good studios in business!).

Comparison Shop

Always check different retailers for the item of jewelry you are shopping for, including shipping!  Look for deals on shipping.  This can be tedious and time-consuming, though:  maybe I’ll feature some discounts in future posts to help you out.  Steel Navel and BodyArtForms offer free shipping (via USPS mail) on orders over $25. Many retailers also offer freebies and perks with orders–free o-rings, stickers, gauge cards, and even free jewelry!.  Those gauge cards come in handy, believe me!

Sales, Clearances & Seconds

Most online retailers will have a sale link or bin.  Jewelry seconds are also offered sometimes, particularly by manufacturers.  These seconds may be mis-sized slightly, or have irregularities or imperfections, but they might be all right for your purpose.

Steet Navel has both a Sale page and a Clearance Page. BAF also has a Sale page and a Clearance page. Clearance deals are limited and go fast, but you just might find the perfect jewelry for your hole.

Body Circle Designs frequently has sales.  Right now they are having a “Huge Holiday Sale” offering 20% everything.  They are also offering deals on overstocked items. Body Circle Designs manufactures and sells awesome, super  polished, extremely  high quality jewelry.  Highly recommended!

BodyArtForms is offering 30% off Anatometal Super Gemmed Eyelets through November 30. Great deal on these coveted and rather expensive pieces!

One Tribe runs Current Specials–always worth a look!

Newsletters, Special Offers, and Contests

Sign up for all the retailer newsletters you can.  To varying degrees, these newsletters will have special offers for loyal customers.  Some online retailers reward loyal customers with “points” earned, early discounts, or contests.

The winner in this category has to be Steel Navel; the great people at SN are creative in thinking up special offers and contests for their customers.  They have a ton of free stuff to choose from when ordering.   Contests, Twitter Fridays, and special surprises if you participate in their forums.

Tribe Rewards: From Tribalectic.com.  Earn points by uploading pictures and participating.  100  points=$5 off

BodyArtForms, one of my favorite all purpose retailers, has: “free basic mail shipping on orders over $25 (for jewelry only in the USA & Canada). We offer Free jewelry on orders over $30, 4 free black o-rings, a free gauge/measurement card, and a free BAF sticker.”  BAF is also running a Print Ad Contest for a $250 jewelry prize.

Used Body Jewelry

People do sell or trade their body jewelry.  As people go up or down in gauge, retire their piercings, or just need to clean out their jewelry box, they put their used body jewelry up for sale.  I myself would never purchase used body jewelry in acrylic, wood, or organic materials that could not be sterilized in an autoclave, though, and I would take any used jewelry to my piercer for autoclaving first.  (Please keep in mind there’s a difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing, and protect yourself!)  Steel Navel offers Classified Ads for forum members.  Other sites may have special boards where people discuss trading, bartering, or selling used body jewelry.

Discount Retailers

Type in “save money on body jewelry” and you’re likely to get a score of cheap ads and marketing come ons.  You can find all the inexpensive “belly rings” and acrylic jewelry you want.  You can save money buying cheaply made, imported jewelry by shopping discount retailers, or buying from mall shops, Wal-Mart, etc. You can save money by shopping Ebay–maybe.  I personally don’t buy this kind of stuff unless it’s for limited wear in healed piercings or emergency replacement jewelry. Keep in mind there’s a lot of cheap crap on the market, of uncertain grade and poor finishing.  If it looks cheap, and the price is too good to be true, consider it second tier jewelry; that is, not to be worn long-term or in new or healig piercings.

As you can see, my bargain jewelry box has plenty of room for tools and –oh! Shh!  Someone’s sleeping!

Note:  I am not affiliated with or compensated by any of the jewelry retailers mentioned.

fin


Happy Birthday!

November 22, 2009

The Pierced Consumer is One Year Old!

Wow!  I can’t believe it’s been one whole year this month since I started this blog. Lots of blogs don’t even make it that far. I’ve seen a lot of “bodyart” blogs which are either “buy my jewelry” pitches or “my journey into body art” ramblings, and I’m glad to offer something different, something apart from now-standard experiences and endless photographs of ears and navels.   This isn’t a bullshit blog, and I hope I’ve made some good contributions on body piercing which inform and entertain.

I can’t always say it’s been smooth sailing, like when I made a very unflattering remark about a well-known belly dancer’s tattoo and she responded.  Not everyone agrees with my opinions, either.  That’s fine with me.  Do your own research and come to your own conclusions.  I’m not posting daily like I did in the beginning, which I knew wouldn’t last, and there have been some noticeable gaps when I just can’t think about body piercing; ’cause I’m just that kind of a flake. But I’m still here so I guess I haven’t given up yet.

In honor of this anniversary, here is a recap of some stats:

Top Five Posts:

  1. Body Piercing Basics
  2. Aftercare in Detail: The Dope on Soap
  3. Traditional and historical:  The Nose Piercing
  4. Book Review: Kat Von D High Voltage
  5. Mayan Body Piercing:  Keeping the Universe Alive

My busiest day was November 17, with 283 views, which is the day the Do’s and Tattoos review was noticed.  I’ve had over 34,400 hits overall, and the average in 2009 is a little over 100 hits per day.  Now, these numbers are pretty pitiful compared to some, but I’m still pretty happy.  Readership has gone steadily up. I’m a slow writer, and it’s a narrow topic.  I’m not trying to sell anything here except for better body piercing practices.

There are some important posts which I’ve yet to write:  a risks post, for example, since there are indeed serious risks to consider and avoid in body piercing; another is a piece on Aztec body piercing, which should be coming up shortly.  Historical posts seem to be popular hits, and it’s an area that interests me, so you’ll probably see more.  My choice of things to write is sometimes impulsive, and I’ve made no effort to completely cover every area of body piercing.  For that, we now have The Piercing Bible, by Elayne Angel, and for that reason, it’s been a very important year for The Pierced Consumer.

I would like to thank everybody who is reading.

For those of you who have been fans, commented on my posts. tolerated my self-promotion, here’s a little something for you.  I was fooling around trying to get a birthday shot, and this one came out, well . . . completely inappropriate!


fin

Ed.


Piercings in Shangri La

November 20, 2009

The Lost Caves of Mustang

Okay, maybe they are still searching for the fabled Himalayan paradise, but the search has resulted in some startling finds.  On November 18, 2009, PBS aired two shows, Secrets of Shangri-La and Lost Cave Temples of the Himalaya. I found them really fascinating, but of course the FIRST things I noticed were the depictions of stretched earlobes on the artwork painted on the cave walls.

Mustang (pronounced MOOSE-tong, as far as I could tell) is a tiny former mountain kingdom between India and Tibet.   It’s politically part of Nepal, but culturally and ethnically Tibetan.  Archeologists have found numerous caves, especially in upper Mustang, which have the potential to hold hidden treasures–if they can only get to them.  First, they need permission from the government, which is very rare.  Then, they have a 60 mile trek on foot from the nearest town to get to the region.  THEN they have to climb up crumbly, unstable rock to the nearly inaccessible entrances to these caves.

Endurance and technical rock climbing skills were required to reach the sites, not to mention the bureaucratic hurdles and problems with the locals.   It’s a pretty impossible task, but the rewards are great.   These caves range in purpose from large dwelling complexes, with multiple rooms, and transversing corridors, to tiny monastic hermitages, and sacred temples, or kabums. In many of these, they have found thousands of early Tibetan texts written on daphne paper.  In one cave, the documents found pertained to the older religion, and were secreted away when Buddhism spread from the lowlands of India,around the 8th century.  Awkward for the adherents of the old religion to keep around, but too sacred to throw away (kind of like porn), they were merely dumped there, to accumulate centuries of dust and guano.

In many of the caves, they have found wall art showing ancient Tibetan script, and sacred icons, as well as depictions of sacred Indian and Tibetan avatars.  In one cave,  there are 55 panels showing the story of Buddha’s life, thought to date from the 12th century.  Many of the figures painted wear earrings in enlarged lobes, either heavy hanging ornaments, or tunnel-shaped jewelry.

No one really knows much about the people who lived in these places or how they lived.  Due to the limited access and restrictions on scholars, we are only slowly finding out.  I wonder if they will find some ear ornaments beneath the centuries of bird poop, bones, and relics in those caves!

You can watch online at PBS here: PBS Presents Lost Cave Temples. Here is the page at National Geographic:  “Shangri-La” Caves Yield Treasures, Skeletons.

Why is Buddha shown with stretched ears anyway? Beats the heck out of me.  A casual (very casual) internet search provides an amusing smorgasbord of suggested reasons:

  1. he was a wealthy prince who wore heavy jewelry as a status symbol;
  2. he was a monk and that’s what monks do;
  3. it increases perception;
  4. it’s a message to his followers to talk less and listen more;
  5. it indicates longevity; or that
  6. it was just a stylistic convention and he really didn’t have stretched ears!

What the true story is, I really don’t know at this point, but it bears further study.  I realize that my personal library and research does not contain any information on this region’s jewelry, and I am looking forward to learning more. Remember, this is just a blog post, not a research paper!  Do your own research!

Some links for you:

Wikipedia page on Mustang

PBS.org

National Geographic

Blog: The Himalayan Universe (where I got the second pic of the caves)

fin


What do Timothy Leary and Stretched Lobes Have in Common?

November 17, 2009

Some thoughts on stretched lobes:

Some friends of mine were talking about stretched earlobes.  They’ve seen  people wear large diameter plugs or other jewelry in their lobes and They Just Don’t Understand.  They’re ugly! They’re gross! Why would people do that? Tattoos seem ubiquitous these days; piercing of multiple body parts has caught on, but what’s with these giant stretched earlobes? (“Stretched” is usually considered the proper term, over “gauged.”  Not necessarily by me, but I thought I’d mention it!)

Piercees like to stretch their piercings for fun.  Stretched piercings are unique, it’s pleasurable to do things to your piercings, and there’s the shock effect, which some piercees enjoy and cultivate.  There’s nothing quite like a fashion or a look which requires real effort to achieve, and which few other people can wear.  It’s understandable that people would want to wear and collect some of the really beautiful jewelry for stretched ears that is now on the market. I’d be the first to applaud the innovation and artistry being exhibited by the people making some of these wonderful pieces, like the folks at One Tribe.

But are these good enough reasons?  In my opinion, yes.  And no. There’s nothing wrong with getting a piercing because it looks cool or to identify yourself with your peers.  I don’t want to be hypocritical–my earlobes are stretched moderately, and I plan to continue stretching just a bit more, in part to wear certain jewelry.   But I see a couple of problems in the trend:

1) Past a certain point, this is a permanent alteration to the body. Just like visible tattoos, facial tattoos, full sleeves, etc., these types of body mods should only be undertaken by mature individuals who have a good idea of how their life will play out and how they can support themselves. Surgical reconstruction isn’t cheap, and some people with large stretched lobes may find their employment options marginalized or reduced.  Not a good combination in today’s economy.

2) Too many people are stretching way too hard and fast. Not only does this result in a whole host of adverse consequences to the ear (blow out, cat butt, permanent disfigurement), but doing it this way fails to honor the journey and experience.

Stretching piercings are a way to honor those who have gone before us and to connect with a spiritual grounding in the past, and to the natural, primitive part of oneself.  As a part of Modern Primitivism, and a growing desire to align with all the peoples of the world, Westerners began to stretch and wear ethnic or primitive inspired jewelry.  In a similar matter to other historical trends in body piercing today, this practice has been influenced by hippie culture, punk fashion, sexual identity, and the media, but has strayed quite a bit from these ideals.   Timothy Leary and the other early drug gurus  explored drugs to connect with something greater, to explore the inner hidden reaches of the mind and spirit.  With the availability and passage of time, the transcendent has whittled down to the mundane, and people mostly take drugs now merely to get high, without a thought to expanding the consciousness.  In terms of the fashion for stretched ears, most people now just want big lobes to wear big, fancy plugs, with no thought for history or meaning.

Just like no crying in baseball, there should be no competition in body modification.  It should be an individual choice and a personal experience.  In competing for the largest ears or the fanciest collection of plugs, piercees have forgotten the journey.  The commitment it takes to stretch slowly for healthy ears should be honored and celebrated; and the end result savored.   Impatiently shoving large jewelry in to wear the bling not only destroys lobes, but diminishes the piercing, in my opinion.

***

Coda: In reading this over, I wanted to stress that I think people can do what they want to their bodies, and I don’t think it’s a requirement that all body modification projects have deep meaning. But I do think some thought and care into the practice, especially if you are permanently modifying your body (unlike most piercings, which are durable but usually not permanent in the same sense as a tattoo, for example) is the mark of a well informed, thoughtful piercee and appreciated and cared for body art.

First pic from Gabriele’s Photostream at Flickr.

Second pic from Gusjer’s Photostream at Flickr.


Redo?

November 16, 2009

Just a note to say I got some very strong negative comments on my blog post about my visit to Do’s and Tattoos in my hometown. I’m sensitive to reactions about “reviews” such as they are, because I really am not out to piss people off.  I want to be fair, but I also want to advocate for better piercing practices and better educated piercees.

I’m so glad that there are loyal fans making the effort to support their favorite studio.  This is the first time anyone has really cared enough to write, so it speaks well for them.  It wasn’t even a particularly bad review, imo, and I want to stress that I was treated very nicely by the owner.  I stand by my statements, as far as they went, but I didn’t get a chance to really do a full review on their piercing services (since no piercer was in evidence during business hours, which was one of my comments), but they might deserve a second look. Maybe they were simply having an off day. We’ll see.

I did get some comments in the vein of “where do you get off writing such things” and “you don’t even have any piercings.”  Well, I’m just a person with a blog and an opinion, albeit a person with multiple piercings (which is why we have an About page). My advice is to take any review or blog post with a grain of salt, make up your own mind, and if  you don’t like it, start your own blog!

Do’s and Tattoos should be glad to have fans!  But the apostrophe still bugs me.

Edited a bunch of times, ’cause I’m a bit upset.


Earrings for Sensitive Ears

November 15, 2009

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Do you have trouble wearing earrings?  Do they make your earlobes sore and itchy? Have you given up? Try body jewelry!

This pretty little girl (who belongs to mhowry’s photostream at Flickr) is beaming because she just got her ears pierced.  But could her jewelry be making her  vulnerable to a nickel allergy, or even lead poisoning?  Nickel allergies, a type of contact dermatitis,  are on the rise. It can develop immediately, or over time.  Jewelry worn in or against the body, especially earrings, is often cited as the cause.  According to the Mayo Clinic:

Nickel allergy is commonly associated with earrings and jewelry for other body piercings. But nickel can be found in many everyday items — from coins to necklace clasps, from watchbands to eyeglass frames.

The little girl pictured above probably got her ears pierced at the mall with a gun, and will be wearing lots of cute, inexpensive earrings of the type found in every accessory store.  Putting aside the problems associated with healing such a piercing with the typical crappy aftercare provided, because I’ve talked about them before, there are problems associated with the composition of the earrings themselves.  Even if the piercing heals and everything seems fine, after years of wearing this type of jewelry, anyone can develop an allergy to the metal.  I have talked to many women who lament not being able to wear earrings anymore, because their bodies have become sensitized to them.  Dealing with the pain, redness, bumps, and blisters that can result from nickel allergies can be disheartening, to say the least.  Such pierced ears can become infected, or abandoned and left to close up.

It’s all about the jewelry.

What are you putting in your ears? Most commercial earrings are made with low quality stainless steel, sterling silver, or gold filled posts or wires, all of which contain other metals as alloys.  Silver and gold must be alloyed to make them hard enough to be workable, and jewelers like using nickel because it makes the findings hard and non-porous.   Jewelry findings can be plated in rhodium or gold, which can flake and wear  off. Gold-filled earring wires are plated, eventually wearing off to expose the base metal  below.   Silver is not an appropriate metal to wear in anything but well-healed, happy pierced ears, because it tarnishes. Even gold jewelry can cause problems; 14k jewelry is only 14 parts gold to 10 parts alloyed metal.   Some jurisdictions have addressed jewelry quality with legislation.  The European Union banned all nickel in jewelry sold there since 2000, and  concerns about lead found in children’s jewelry prompted California to pass a similar law.

Be skeptical of jewelry industry claims! Even so-called “hypoallergenic jewelry” may not be. “Surgical stainless steel” is an empty term created as a marketing term by the jewelry industry.  (There are various grades of stainless steel; the best stainless steel body jewelry is manufactured to contain any nickel so it doesn’t come into contact with the skin.) These are the same people who promote the use of an implement derived from cattle tagging that inflicts blunt force trauma wounds (i.e., piercing guns).

jewelry 3335113193_9d01c50082_m

An alternative to try. On the other hand, jewelry made for body piercing enthusiasts is specifically designed for optimum healing and long-term wear in the body.  Quality body jewelry in a small gauge made from implant grade stainless steel, titanium, niobium, 14k or 18k gold not containing nickel, and some high-tech plastics are excellent for wearing in lobes.  Young children and people who cannot wear other types of earrings should take a look at some of the body piercing jewelry out there. Titanium is an especially good choice, because very few people react to it, it’s readily available and relatively inexpensive, and comes in un colors! Regular pierced ears are usually 20 gauge or 18 gauge, and you can buy such jewelry online without having to step foot in a tattoo or piercing studio. Take a look at some of these choices from reputable online dealers:

cbr sn TCBR_TBD_135Try a titanium captive bead ring from Steel Navel.  These Industrial Strength CBRs are high quality, and come in plain silver colored (polish) or anodized in host of colors.  They come in as small as 18 gauge, and 1/4 inch.  The anodized colors will come off in time, and those little beads can be really difficult to deal with, so how about:

Tribe is-fixedbeadring-ss_1181_general

Stainless steel fixed bead rings from Tribalectic. They come in 20 and 18 gauge and are made of high quality, implant grade stainless steel.  These  have a very low chance of causing allergic reactions, and you won’t lose the bead.

Neometal_barbellFor a cutting-edge alternative, you could try a Neometal titanium press-fit barbell from BodyArtForms. You can buy various ends for these little beauties, which you simply push in.

More suggestions for happy earlobes:

This type of jewelry can be a little fiddly to get in and out (a friend with a good eye and a steady hand can  help) but is meant to be worn for long periods of time.  If you find something your ears are happy with, don’t change the jewelry too often. While healing, do not use alcohol, “ear-care solution,” hydrogen peroxide, Bactine, Neosporin, or anything other than a mild salt-water solution, and do not twist the jewelry. Leave the jewelry in, and wash your ears and the jewelry with mild soap and water in the shower.  Dry them well. (For more information on basic aftercare, see my Body Piercing Basics page.)

Don’t be afraid of exploring the world of body jewelry for earrings you can wear if your lobes are sensitive. Take a look through some of these retailers’ catalogs for rings, barbells, and other shapes.  They sell gold, titanium, and stainless steel body jewelry that’s worth a try.

Mayo Clinic Page on Nickel Allergy

State of California page on lead in jewelry ban

News article on lead in children’s jewelry

Pic of various jewelry from Ryheen’s Photostream at Flickr.

fin