Cartilage Surface Piercing

A friend forwarded me these pictures expressing concern after seeing them in someone else’s portfolio. I’m not going to out the person who did them (in part because it would involve shaming my family’s hometown), because I do agree this is not advisable. Anyone with a cartilage piercing knows how finicky even simple cartilage piercings can be to heal — how slow the process is, and how resistant the tissue can be to allowing a proper fistula to form. Surface piercing on the cartilage increases this risk exponentially, and is asking your body to do something it’s just not evolved to do. Simple rejection is the most likely, although it carries a strong risk of infection and permanent damage to the cartilage and ear structure. I’d urge a quick perusal of the BME wiki entries on Ear Collapse and Cartilage Swelling.

That said, I have seen cartilage surface piercings heal before, so I can’t tell you that it’s impossible. Just risky. For that reason, I would urge that if someone actually does want to insist on having such a piercing done, that they need to be extremely aware of what’s going on with the piercing — personally my feeling is that this is the sort of piercing that should only be done by those with a ton of experience, or better yet, someone who works in the industry so their coworkers can help them clean and keep a close eye on it. Of course I hope the wearers got lucky and these piercings actually healed, but more realistically, I just hope they made it through this experience with a minimum of damage.

The Matilda Piercing

Rick, who describes himself as “an old and rusted piercer from Rome, Italia” (currently at The Ten Bells), wrote me with a photo of a unique piercing he did a while back and was wondering if it had a specific name. It’s basically a vertical lobe, but done with an unusual placement. The jewelry is a curved barbell, so the jewelry is barely even in the ear, and is almost more of a surface piercing on the neck that just happens to exit between the anti-tragus and tragus. He calls it the “Matilda Piercing”, and I’ve never heard another name for it, so that’s good enough for me!

A new way of thinking of lobes

You don’t see lobe projects much, mostly because placement on a lobe is generally done to allow stretching… But when the client is sure they’re not going to stretch, you can have fun and do some pretty placements like this one that Courtney Jane Maxell of TRX in St. Louis did. All three piercings were done with 2mm bezel set emerald green CZ’s from Neometal, and the client has a matching 4mm one in her helix as well. I know, you’re surprised that I’d post a nothing-gauge lobe to ModBlog, but still, this is something you don’t see every day.


0ga Tragus Piercings

Tobias, who you may know not just from here on BME, but also if you take part in the tattoo and modification forums on Reddit, said that ever since he saw the 0ga tragus I posted back in 2008 he worked toward it. At that point he was wearing itsy-bitsy 16ga jewelry in each ear, and over time he’s stretched them to that 0ga that first inspired him. Success! He currently wears skin-color Kaos Softwear silicone jewelry in it, which I think is perfect because it makes it look even bigger. He adds, “to this day, it still amazes and wows people, and they’ve become my absolute favorite piercings.”

My old friend David also wears BME a 0ga tragus — two of them as well, one of them in each ear, although he wears matching 0ga Anatometal steel tunnels. That’s David’s “Dumbo ear” (his words, not mine) there on the right, and Tobias is on the left. By the way, if you like this, check out the 1/2″ tragus I posted just a little while later.


Speaking of ears: pawprints and geeks

A while back Ryan Ouellette of Precision Body Arts ( invented an incredibly clever combination ear piercing project that captured everyone’s imagination that saw it. He took four flat round ends for toes and a flat heart end for the footpad, and combined them with five needles to make the cutest little ear project. That’s his hear on the left. As is no surprise, others are starting to ape it, because it’s a super idea, with the example on the right being done by Beans of Dragon FX Kingsway (, giving full credit for the idea to Ryan of course — this isn’t a “look at the plagiarism” entry. Both are beautifully executed and I have no doubt that in each case the wearer are being driven nuts by the number of compliments they’re getting.


While I’m talking about ears, I have to also share with you this little “GEEK” ear tattoo that Fabio Ryuk Nini, owner of Only For Friends in Italy had done by Chiara Callegari, one of the tattooists at the shop. There’s something just really charming about it that I thought fit the character of this entry nicely. I also wanted to draw your attention to his tragus, which I assume has lost a piercing, but is actually much more interesting for its misadventure, having a little “notch” taken out of it by the experience. Neato!


Orbits within orbits

I might not normally post such a “simple piercing” (which this isn’t), but I’m on a science-high when it comes to the word “orbit-anything” after reading a few days ago that a whole slew of new extra-solar planets have been discovered, at least a dozen of them in the habitable zone of the stars they rotate around. This most recent set is a mix of super-earths (rocky planets like the Earth, but a little larger) and small gas giants (which could easily have moons capable of supporting life). One of the many things that makes me want to live as absolutely long as possible is all the new extrasolar planets we’re discovering, and the new space telescopes we’re putting up capable of imaging them — capable of actually taking pictures of planets around other stars. Eventually we will find one with the telltale nighttime energy use, like when you look at the Earth at night from space. I am 100% certain that intelligent alien life will be confirmed (if not communicated with) in my daughter’s lifetime, and that it will be on a large scale.

BUT GETTING BACK TO THIS PIERCING… This is a just wonderful placement of a nested pair of orbitals in a helix done by Shaun Benesh of Primo Ink in Grand Rapids, MN. For any piercers or technique obsessed readers, He adds that in an ideal world he would have placed the rings a little higher up the ear, but she had some giant blood vessels that he had to avoid. Shaun gave this client one of those piercings that sits in a wonderful niche — “safe” enough for the mainstream office, but something that will still “wow” piercing fans.


Jewelry for Vampire Killers

I’m totally geeking over this super cool piercing done by Lee McFarland, a piercer at Oak City Tattoo & Piercing in North Carolina. It’s actually a quite standard piercing when it comes right down to it, a three point industrial done with very clever placement and great looking custom jewelry by Body Vision. The whole thing threads together and “fakes” the blades/arms of the cross going through the helix. I have to admit it would be awesome if it was pierced through big full-size slots, but all things considered, this is the responsible way to do this that’s more likely to have success for the client. Superb work. Looks like there’s one piece of bar (the one on the “blade” end) that’s going to have to be shortened and perhaps have the angle slightly altered, but this is a simple matter — better to have erred on the side of too long than have it be too short and wreck the piercing.

Click to zoom!

Odd Helix-nub Piercing

Tye Olsen (who I think most BME-regulars have known for years) of Tyetanium in Waterdown, Ontario, had a girl come to him with a funny little bump on the back of her helix — note that this is natural, not the scarred result of a piercing or anything like that. She’d gone to every piercer she knew and had been turned down, but Tye decided to do it for her for just the cost of the jewelry since he couldn’t guarantee it would be anything but fun… And she loves it, as does he!