Look, ma, no hands!

As I’m talking about microdermals added to tattoos (like the googly eyes by Joeltron) in ways that actually make sense and add to the preexisting tattoo rather than just making it the laughing stock of your body’s ink neighborhood, I wanted to share a piece that jumped out of James Rajewski’s portfolio at me. James works at Infamous Ink (infamousinknc.com) in Charlotte, NC by the way. When I first saw this little project, I wondered what I was looking at because even though it’s just a normal microdermal with a decorative flat bead, the color choice almost makes it look like a tunnel going down into the body (bringing to mind Lukas Zpira’s inset transdermals). Too bad it’s not, you’d only have to make it about twice that size to create a holder for miniature watch components. Either way, this is another one of those nice but deliriously rare examples of a microdermal-tattoo combo that works well, in my opinion.


Googly Eyes FTW

I’d say 100% of the time when I see microdermals added to the eyes of a tattoo, it transforms the tattoo from something potentially tough looking into something hilariously goofy. I’d say 99% of the time, that is not at all the intended consequence, and the wearer is blissfully unaware that they’re a little silly looking. The wonderful thing about this example, pierced by old BME friend Joeltron of First Blood (firstblood.com.au) and tattooed by Naepier “Kooky and Spooky” Jenkins (naepier.com), is that for once the whole thing works — and works so well — and is actually supposed to be in that wonderful self-aware 1%.

Click for the big uncropped version.


SkinDiver Project resurrected as Scarification

About three years ago Baz Black of Dundalk, Ireland did a heart-shaped jewelry project on his girlfriend’s arm using SkinDivers (a simplified variation on the microdermal that looks a little like a labret stud). It healed well, but after three years she was tired of them getting caught on things all the time and decided to remove them. During the removal, since Baz knew that she was going to have some scars from the project no matter what, he suggested that they could improve its appearance by using a dermal punch to convert the piercing project into a skin removal scarification project. I think he came up with a nice way of breathing new life into a dying mod.


Six microdermals at 76

Back in May, Buddy Williams (of Ancient Ink in Antelope, California) had a 76 year old woman walk in off the street. She wasn’t brought in by a grandchild that she was trying to impress by being the “cool granny” — she was just another normal customer thinking about getting a piercing. She asked Buddy about his microdermals, and wondered if he could do some for her. So he did, giving her a set of them. Since then she’s come back again to add more of them. There have been some longevity issues with the microdermals, with them not lasting as well in her skin as they normally would (three have been replaced), and we agreed that’s probably due to her older skin being less elastic than that of a younger person.

Nonetheless, it’s always wonderful to see stories about how body modification is one of those things that reaches every possible demographic and is one of those pure human experiences that everyone can enjoy. It’s also got the good “moral of the story” that you should never make assumptions about the person walking in the door of your studio — maybe they’re there to yell at you for piercing their grandkid, but more likely they’re another good customer waiting to happen. And I think that the fact that I’m even making this comment is an important lesson on ageism. Should I even be noticing this at all? Shit. Now I feel guilty.


Update on my macrodermal project

I’ve been asked to update about my three experimental macrodermals, or “large gauge single-point pocketings”, that I’ve had on my leg for about seven months now if I remember right (although it might be less). Since I don’t think I’ve showed them on ModBlog before, let me quickly explain what they are and how and why I did them. First the “why”. About five years ago I had a large benign bone tumor removed from my right leg just below the knee. In the process of removing it, significant nerve damage was done to the leg, which had the side effect of making a portion of my leg on the inside of the calf starting just above the ankle, acutely painful and hypersensitive to touch, as well as causing it to be discoloured, have dry, scaly, scarred looking skin, and circulation problems leaving it feeling cold and dead. I really got to despise it — and with time and my subsequent genetic medical problems (unrelated to this issue), I have gotten to completely despise my body, which has become an enemy that cripples me and leaves me in great pain. One of the ways that I fight back against that is with body modification, because this gives me a sense of control, fulfillment, and perhaps even revenge, and makes me feel like I’m in control of my body again, rather than it being in control of me. The stranger and more exotic the modification the better. In addition, in the case of this particular part of my body, it had become physically ugly to me, and I wanted to reclaim it on that level as well. I know this modification isn’t beautiful or aesthetically ideal on any level, but it is a huge improvement in my eye and mind.

The jewelry itself is a bar that’s hair over 5/16″ (0ga) with a flare at the bottom (the part that’s under the skin) about 3/32″ of radius past the main body of the bar, sort of like a flat-backed labret stud. The tops are all slightly different “cap” designs which are a single-piece with the rest of the jewelry (ie. they’re not removable or changeable without swapping the entire jewelry). The whole jewelry is hand carved by me out of solid aluminum using my Dremel and then polished — this is a time consuming process that makes me miss having a lathe! I chose to do it in aluminum not just because it is an inert metal often used for medical implants (that whole Alzheimer thing was disproved long ago, so please don’t bring it up!), but because it was light. I actually started the piercing using silicone jewelry of a similar design, but I found it wasn’t healing as well as I’d hoped so I switched materials and it instantly accelerated the healing process.

The procedure itself is not something I’d recommend, but I will document it for you nonetheless. I began by making an incision using a #11 scalpel, into which I pushed a sharpened piece of bamboo perhaps 1/8″ in diameter at its widest point. I held it in place using a first-aid-style pressure dressing, which caused the skewer to sink into the flesh of my leg. Because the body’s reaction was to respond as if it was a skewer, the flesh withdrew slightly and lightly lubricated the wound — without the pressure dressing, the wood would pop right out. Over 48 hours, I quickly increased the size of the skewers until I was at my final size and depth. This was a completely bloodless procedure and relatively pain-free other than the initial incision. Once the hole was at size, I pushed in the initial jewelry, which as I said, was silicone. The advantage of the silicone jewelry was that it was easy to take in and out to examine the healing, and also that the footing compressed as it was inserted and did not traumatize the narrower entrance hole. However, I found that while the body adapted to having the silicone jewelry in place, that it wasn’t truly healing. When I switched to the aluminum jewelry, the healing to a more traditional piercing fistula sped up.

At this point I’ve been wearing the aluminum jewelry for almost two months I think, and they’re well on their way to being completely healed. I had a bit of a set-back after spending two days in a lake without proper cleaning, but it’s fine now. These pictures were taken today. There is minor lymph discharge, but no blood or pus or problematic discharge, nor is there any redness, swelling, or other sign of difficulty. The jewelry is quite solidly in place and, unlike the earlier silicone jewelry, I never remove it. I suspect I could with enough force but I haven’t wanted to risk damaging them. The piercings are comfortable, totally pain-free, and rotate freely and easily in the holes. The entrance holes look very healthy to me, even though the aftercare and cleaning regiment has been woefully dismal and non-existent. Because it’s very painful and difficult for me to get into the shower, both because of my muscle damage and how painful the contact with the water is on my skin (nothing to do with the piercing), I only clean it with soap and water every few days. It has however been extremely tolerant of this.

This is not something I’d recommend anyone replicate as there are probably better ways to create large gauge single-point piercings than the method I’m using here. That said, I hope this is of interest to anyone with a taste for unusual procedures and DIY body experimentation.

Custom Cupcake

Joeltron and Kylie Garth from First Blood in Sydney finally finished a project they’ve been working on for a while, a complete microdermal cupcake (with sprinkles!).  Here’s what Joel has to say about it.

This awesome cupcake dermal anchor project was done over a number of sittings during the last few months. There are 33 in total and we did them in 8 sittings, around 2-3 weeks apart. Super stoked to FINALLY get a picture of them all changed and settled in! If you are wondering, the ‘sprinkle’ (rectangle) pieces were custom made by first cutting down a round disc and then anodizing them.

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