Stretching yourself to the limit

Be free all worthy spirits, and stretch yourselves, for greatness and for height.

–George Chapman

Today I’ve spent a bit of time focusing on the work of the artists that make up our community.  Specifically the works of one artist, but the idea is there.  What doesn’t get discussed a lot on ModBlog is the DIY aspect of the modification community.  Now the DIY modification enthusiasts range from the simplest of piercings, to some of the hardest modifications and play sessions that are covered by BME.  Due to the nature of the broad spectrum that DIY covers, it is impossible write a post about every aspect without getting complaints from people about writing the longest ModBlog post ever.  What I do hope to do is feature DIY stories more frequently as there are a tremendous amount of photos of  DIY modifications in pretty much every category of photo.

For today, I thought it would be nice to go with something simple.  Now the headline may be a bit misleading but it will make sense if you follow along.

So, what would you say is the most popular form of DIY modification?  In all honesty, I don’t have any numbers to back me up, but I think a safe bet would probably be lobe stretching.  I think it is safe to say that the majority of people with stretched lobes have at some point performed the stretching themselves, probably without even realizing that they were adding their names to the list of DIY modified people.

A lot of what makes the DIY movement so significant is that it is taking the next step in control over the body.  While everyone getting mods is doing it for their own personal reasons, they all are in essence changing their bodies to what they want, primarily through the help of practitioners.  What DIY means to many is the opportunity to make the changes that they want but by their own hands.  This means that by performing any mod by yourself, you are singlehandedly pushing the limits of control you have over your body, changing it to what you want it to be.

One person in particular who was kind enough to send in an image of a DIY modification is IAM: tiny.vertebrae.


From what I can tell, it appears she’s using a piece of wood to stretch out her own lobes.

So while lobe stretching is fairly common when it comes to DIY modifications, it is still a process that is being undertaken by those who are choosing to modify themselves under their own power.  I know someone is thinking it, and yes this isn’t the limit in which a lobe can or has been stretched, but in the moment captured in the image, the stretching is pushing the limits of what came before.

32 thoughts on “Stretching yourself to the limit

  1. Yikes!
    wood cant be good! unless maybe its lacquered
    but regardless, this lobe looks angry!

  2. Yeah wood is SO not meant for stretching, especially wood that looks like that. That is one angry looking earlobe.

    Anyway I’m all about DIY mods so long as people are smart and relatively safe about it. I definitely prefer doing certain things myself, like stretching, I really dislike having someone else stretch one of my piercings. In fact I think I’ve only ever had it done once, and it was with my philtrum.

  3. @Vomit: Thanks for mentioning the safety aspect. I knew I forgot a paragraph when I had finished the post, but I couldn’t recall what it was.

    Yes, if you are thinking about practicing any form of DIY modification, please take the time to look into all the risks, as well as how to go about performing the mod safely.

  4. People should never ever stretch with wood, or wear wood in a fresh piercing!

    I have a lot of respect for DIY! I did most of my own stretching but there were certain things I couldn’t handle on my own. When my 0g DIY septum was ready to be stretched, I had my artist stretch it to a 00g for me. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, I would have passed out or something, I’m too slow and needed it to be fast and over with!

    Props to people who can do things themselves!

  5. I love DIY! All of my piercings with the exception of my dermal anchors were DIY (tragus, eyebrow, labret, tongue, nipples, naval) and the ones I haven’t retired remain healthy and happy. Having complete control over the entire experience is very important to me (I also don’t have the means to pay $60+ per piercing when I can buy presterilized equipment for less than 20). :)

  6. this is why our shop refuses to carry tapers for sale cuz then people buy em, go home, and do this

  7. Your shop could sell them and just inform people and make sure they are using the tapers properly. Otherwise they’ll just buy them someplace else and still be uneducated.

  8. 9. Agreed. Also by not selling tapers a person might get the idea of using something even less ideal or worse to stretch with. I don’t know how common it is or was but before tapers became popular and available I know a lot of people using pen caps and sharpie marker caps to do it – and that was a “good” way compared to the others (pencils, pens, straws, plastic tubing, large safety pins, clothes hanger wire)
    I was genetically lucky I guess, I went from a 18g pierced ear to a 12 just by wetting down everything and sliding the new earring in. It was a bit tight feeling for a week and then fine. I was able to move one size up every couple weeks just because of how my ear adjusted until I got to an 8, then I used tapers to get to the 00g I have today.

  9. That lobe looks SO ANGRY, yikes!!

    I’ve DIY stretched my lobes, but have used teflon tape + tunnels (or glass plugs) to do it, and haven’t really had any problem. My right ear is being stubborn right now though. :(

  10. I should mention that tiny.vertebrae has uploaded other images that you can see in the stretched lobes gallery that were taken after this image, and her ears are doing just fine.

  11. Probably just a bit angry from raw wood then…

    As far as DIY goes, I’m a bit double. When it involves a needle, I want a piercer to do it. Because even tho I know my share of anatomy, pathogens, sterilizations and so on, I’m not a piercer and thus it doesn’t feel right to me to shove a needle through my body.
    Stretching however is something I had done only once by a piercer, on my septum. I had bought a new tunnel and I couldn’t get it to fit even though I stretched to the right gauge. Trust me, I felt that taper go through more than just a little bit. Turns out my hole was 0,2 mm too small… And that already hurt.
    But everything else I stretched myself; my lobe, the rest of my septum… And it never really hurt.

    I prefer DIY stretching, because I can feel when to stop, and my piercer can’t.

  12. 14. Thats exactly why I DIY my stretching. A piercer can’t tell if my ears not ready to stretch, I can and wouldn’t want to force it. Thats how tears happen! I always use round-ended glass plugs. For my septum I’ve been custom ordering plugs from glasswearstudios so that it doesn’t need to stretch too much at once, have found it very easy and painless so far.

  13. It almost blows my mind that people even go to piercers to have their piercing stretched for them. I’ve only had that done once as well to get to 10ga and he ended up ripping my lobes, which wasn’t much fun to heal later. I think I was 15 or so. (NOT saying that all piercers will mess up your lobes, just stating my experience with it wasn’t positive.) I’ve also had my lobes scalpelled and then stretched a bit more myself after they healed.
    I did my triangle and septum stretching on my own as well. I don’t know anyone personally who gets their lobes or other piercings stretched for them either, so maybe that’s why it seems so strange to me.
    I see a lot of people who fuck up their lobes trying to stretch them on their own too, though. I’d guess that most of the time it’s because they are trying to stretch too fast. Second, improper jewellery and materials. (Like squishing a silicon tunnel and popping it into a hole that’s too small, oh gawd T__T nooooo…)

  14. “I should mention that tiny.vertebrae has uploaded other images that you can see in the stretched lobes gallery that were taken after this image, and her ears are doing just fine.”

    Rob, I cannot believe you are promoting this. You really need to stop writing for modblog if you think sticking a horrible, sharp piece of wood in an angry lobe is fine DIY. And it just so happens you forgot to mention the risks of DIY. Seriously, just stop.

  15. @Meow: The only information I had on the image was the title “DIY”. There’s no way to assume it was stretched by the wood, or if the wood was put in there just for the photo.

    Either way, the photo and the story are getting people talking about both safe and unsafe practices regarding DIY stretching, You can interpret my words as an endorsement of dangerous DIY practices, but I can assure you that wasn’t the intention. I was addressing the concerns by earlier posters that her lobe was mangled, simply by stating that if it was, it has healed since the photo was taken.

  16. Yea I agree with u guys:bad idea to stretch with organics but I can’t help but still appreciate the picture anyway! I love the contrast of bright colors, her hair and her glasses look really cool together :)

  17. As said before, that lobe does NOT look good at all. :/
    My lobes are 26mm, DIY stretched, and it took me more than five years to get this big. DIY is ok, as long as you do it safely and use your common sense.

  18. I usually say very nice things on these posts – or rather, I lately have been as I am sure I have posted some rude things in the past 7 years I have been frequenting BME but….wtf, those lobes need some major TLC and the wearer needs some major education.

  19. Sorry, just because her lobes are doing alright doesn’t mean in the future she could have some major issues with her lobes! I am glad they’re doing well but still. Sooo many better, easier ways to stretch your lobes than tapering (let alone with porous organics).

  20. i think DIY is classified to who wish to obtain fresh piercings and to those who find ways of solving problems on a cheaper creative rebel attitude. As i was told by past informers who held knowledge of how to do it yourself, gives the individual a safer DIY at home on your own time bases. i have worked my ears slowly up to 1/2 inch with no problem but with a constant measure of safety, basically i did my home work. and maybe at one time i tried the sharpie marker and packed q-tips sticks in my ear till my earlobe felt tight. but i managed to go with the normal best solutions and adding tape worked the best to increase the size.

  21. Ahh gotcha Letty. Makes sense just looks like some irritation but that could just be the picture itself.
    Trip – I only use the taping method. So simple, quick and you’re not tearing your ears up one bit if you do it correctly.

  22. Yeah, she’s using it as a taper and obviously intends on using it as jewelry, since it’s a fresh stretch and I highly doubt it’s a conditioned/safe/oiled wood, her lobes could definitely adhere due to the porousness of the wood, also that shape of it will cause uneven pressure and uneven stretching and all sorts of other issues.

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