The History and Culture of Stretched Ears

People have been decorating and making changes to the appearance of their bodies since recorded history began. This has taken many forms through the ages, such as tattooing, piercing, stretching, scarring, branding, muscle sculpture, hair styling and many more, and for almost as many different reasons.

The three major purposes of these forms of body modification have historically been tribal (to display allegiance to one tribe or group of people), in war (to scare the enemy and distinguish friend from foe), and for fashion and perceived beauty. Ear stretching has been popular for centuries, but this popularity has increased in Western culture in recent years.

For some, there is a profound spirituality in the protracted process of stretching ears, while for others it is fun and more involved than simple ear piercing, and the fact that fewer people do it adds to its appeal. Others have their own reasons, but irrespective of these, stretched ears have always been part of human history and will continue to be so.

Reasons For Stretching Ears

Just as with other forms of body modification or enhancement, people have historically stretched their ears for a number of reasons. For some cultures, this represented a coming of age, while for others it was carried out to enhance beauty or sexuality. Throughout the ages it has been used both for religious reasons and to protect the subject from witchcraft or evil. Ear stretching is still carried out all over the world for a variety of reasons, including those mentioned above.

If you travel to Africa, you will find that stretched ears are common among many indigenous peoples, including the Maasia in east Africa, the Mursi in Ethiopia, and it is also carried out in some Asian countries such as Thailand. In South America, stretched ears are common amongst the Huaorami of the Amazon Basin, but you generally need go no further than your own hometown to see some excellent examples of ear stretching. Stretched piercings and flesh tunnels are now a common form of ear adornment for Western youth.

Icemen and Pharaohs

One of the more famous examples from history is Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300 year-old mummified body found in the Alps between Austria and Italy. In addition to several tattoos, Ötzi had an ear stretched to around 7 mm – 11 mm diameter. The giant Easter Island statues display stretched ear lobes, the likely reason for them being known as ‘Long Ears’. The story goes that the statues were carved in honour of the original inhabitants of the island representing them with the earlobe stretchings that were part of their culture. When a different tribe arrived on the island, they were known as ‘Short Ears’, and were forced into slavery by the Long Ears. Eventually there were more Short Ears than Long Ears, and the latter were overthrown and the statues toppled over.

In Egypt, the boy king Tutankhamen is represented as having stretched ears, and his famous golden death mask features holes that can take 10 mm diameter bars. The processes used to stretch these famous sets of ears are not known, because there are many techniques that can be used. It is likely that primitive stretchings were carried out using wooden plugs or bamboo, and although a few people like to return to these early methods, they are not recommended today for health reasons.

Stretching Ears is Not Reversible

If you are interested in stretched ears, there are certain factors of which you should be aware. The first is that it is generally permanent. Once stretched, your ears stay that way. The holes do not heal over like a normal ear piercing, so make sure that you are happy with having stretched ears for the rest of your life. There is time at the beginning to stop and allow your ears to heal back to normal, but once the diameter reached 10-12 mm, it is too late and the hole will not close up. Another is that it takes time and patience. You do not visit a piercer and come out after an hour or two with stretched ears!

If you have decided that you want it done, you are advised to have the procedure carried out professionally. Yes, you can go it alone, but a professional will provide you with the best results, and it will also be safer. It will be quicker if your ears are already pierced, because otherwise you will need that done first and then wait up to 8 weeks for it to heal. Then you can start of the stretching, or gauging as it is often referred to.

That is because the diameter of the needles used is referred to as their ‘gauge’. The gauge of a needle drops as the diameter increases, so that an 18-gauge needle is small – in fact, that’s the gauge of an average initial piercing. Once you reach a 2 gauge, the diameter is that of a pencil and so on down. An 11 mm hole is 000-gauge (actually 11.11 mm or 7/16 inch).

Ear Stretching Should Not Be Rushed

As already explained, ear stretching is a slow process, and you should never try to rush it. If you try to rush, it will likely take longer eventually because unless the ear has time to get used to each lower gauge it won’t heal properly. You might then have to start all over again. Gauged ears should not bleed and there is distinct procedure to follow. Fundamentally, you increase the diameter of the piercing in small steps, allowing healing between each step. A common way to achieve this is to use an insertion taper, where one end of the taper is the same diameter as your existing hole, and the other side is of larger diameter.

This can be in the form of a stud that you wear until you are ready for the next size up. The next stud will have one end at the current diameter and the other at the lower gauge (larger diameter). That is pushed through and secured, and you wear that until the next insertion, and so on. If you keep your ears and jewellery clean and sterilized between sessions using anti-bacterial soap or saline solution then you should heal fine between each session – allow about two weeks between sessions.

Take the Advice of the Pros

It is very important to follow the advice of the professionals, and do not try to cut corners. Many people have ruined their ears by failing to be patient, so don’t let that be you. Follow cleaning instructions to the letter, both during and after the entire stretching process. There are many different types of ear jewellery available for stretched ears, including flesh tunnels, bars and rings.

There is also a wide choice of materials, from wood or plastic to gold and platinum. Many prefer glass while others find Teflon best, particularly if they suffer allergies. Niobium, surgical stainless steel and titanium are also popular materials for stretched ear jewellery.

Keep in mind that not all can be worn indefinitely, particularly the porous materials such as wood, shell and some plastics that can harbour bacteria, yeasts and fungi. Such jewellery should be regularly removed and thoroughly cleaned and sterilized. Ear stretching sets you apart from the usual crowd, and can be a very distinctive form of ornamentation. It is something that few people regret having done.

Conch Piercings

Conch Piercings are located within the hollow space of your ear; it is called a conch piercing because of the resemblance it has to the conch shell. Literally pierced right through the center of your ear, this is not a very popular piercing (as far as numbers go), but people who have conch piercings (and other bod mod enthusiasts) absolutely love them!

Conch Piercings go through the thick cartilage located directly in the middle of your ear. Because there is a copious amount of surrounding tissue, migration or rejection risks are nonexistent. If you are looking to begin your first foray into body piercing (outside of traditional ear lobes), this is a great piercing to start with!

Experienced and reputable piercers will not have difficulty in piercing your conch. Unlike some other ear or body piercings, there aren’t any strange angles, bends, or specific equipment that must be used. The piercing is a straight shot using a simple, basic, sterile piercing needle. The Conch is one of the easiest places to get pierced.

Once you and your piercer agree that a Conch is right for you, your piercer will recommend the best jewelry – it usually is a captive bead ring for the initial piercing. And just to forewarn you, the gauge (that is, the thickness) of the jewelry might appear to be rather large. Don’t be alarmed! These piercings call for jewelry of a larger girth, and it won’t hurt anymore than if it was pierced with a smaller gauge. Once your piercing has healed (it will take about a year to be fully and completely healed) you can replace it with a myriad of affordable and fun jewelry. The first three to six months are very crucial in the healing process, so take good care of your ear!

Your piercer will mark your ear with a marker to denote where they think it will look best on you; once you have confirmed or rearranged the position, your piercing will happen. Clamps are usually used (all they do is secure the area from moving), and a straight piercing needle will push through on your exhale. It is a very fast procedure, and your jewelry will slide in your new hole. Once your piercer has finished securing the piercing, your ear might feel a little hot and your heart may be thumping rapidly, but that is just the adrenaline and endorphin kicking in. Enjoy it while it lasts – many people live for that thrilling feeling! The actual pain ranges from person to person, but most don’t feel any pain. Like so many piercings, this one looks more painful than it actually is, so don’t be nervous!

You can get more than one piercing in your Conch, and then it’s called a Conch Orbital. Basically, an Orbital is two separate piercings joined together by one piece of jewelry (please see my orbital article for more information). You can also get the Conches in both ears pierced but I would suggest staggering these two piercings so as to ease the healing process. For example, for about 3 months after your piercings, you really shouldn’t sleep on the ear with a pierced Conch; getting both Conches pierced simultaneously may therefore interfere with your sleeping patterns and may lead to prolong healing in both ears. Discuss with your piercer if a conch orbital is right for you – if you think you may want one in the future, alert your piercer so that they can give you a piercing in the right location.

The aftercare for the Conch is very easy – not only is this an easy piercing to get, it’s easy to take care of, and it’s easy to find jewelry for it! Soaking your ear in warm salt water (properly called a saline solution) is one of the best ways to assist your new piercing. The next best thing to do is NOT TOUCH your new piercing! It’s very hard to do – it’s a new addition to your body so you will doubtless want to play with it – but don’t touch it! Human hands are covered in germs and bacteria and fidgeting with your new vulnerable piercing can lead to infection. Only touch it when you are cleaning it, and be sure your hands are clean first! Other simple tips to avoid an infection include not putting your cell phone on that ear, don’t sleep on it, don’t use headphones that go into your ear canal, and try to keep long hair away from it (it can wrap around the back) during the healing time (once it’s healed, no big deal if your hair touches it).

Taking care of your Conch is very easy, all it takes is routine cleaning, abstaining from touching it, and common sense! Your piercer will give you a complete rundown, so pay attention. Should any problems arise, return to your piercer and they should be able to provide you with more advice or solutions. Enjoy your conch, and get ready to be the envy of many!

Graphic Design and Its Genre

Graphic design is originally a skilful combination of texts and pictures in advertisements, magazines, books, etc that functions as an effective means of visual communication.

It refers to a number of artistic and professional disciplines which focus on visual communication and presentation. Different methods and devices are used to create and combine: symbols, images, styles and words to create a visual representation of ideas and messages.

To be more precise, it is a creative process where generally the clients, designers and sign-makers put their head together to chalk out a sign, symbol, and design in order to convey a specific message (or messages) to a targeted audience. In a phrase you can say graphic design “Visual Communication or Communication Design.”

A Graphic web design might use visual arts, typography and page layout techniques to produce its final result. Graphic design often includes both processes designing for communication and the products (designs).

Types of Graphic Web Design:

Basically it can be categorized into four distinct categories:

1. Image-based

2. Type-based

3. Image and type

4. Symbols, logos and logotypes

Image-based

This category includes graphic designs to represent the ideas which a company or web designer wants to convey. It functions as a powerful and compelling tool of communication, conveying not only information but also moods and emotions. People also respond to images according to their perception, personalities, associations, and previous experience.

Image based design must cover the entire massage and a few words are allowed if it badly needs. Massage may be conveyed in different ways like: photography, paint, drawing, or graphic.

Type-based

Sometime designers choose words to convey a message in a different ways writers do. They use whether typography or handmade lettering to perform many communication functions.

Image and type

Web Designers sometimes combine images and typography to convey clients’ message to the audience. They use words (typography) and images (photography, illustration, and fine art) to make a complete message.

Symbols, logos and logotypes

Symbols, logos are the highly condensed and microcosm of information or identification of a company. Here some particular Symbols, logos encapsulate a company-profile, its identification, its product service, its goals, mission and vision.

What’s the Difference Between 2D and 3D Anyway?

Isn’t it obvious? Well, apparently not quite, when you consider how many people are still struggling with this topic!

The first concept you must grasp is that 3D means 3 dimensional and 2D means 2 dimensional. Now before you think I’m stating the obvious, let me go on to say that the 3D and 2D in animation refer to the dimension in which the animation was created. Ahhhh. The plot thickens eh?

For 2D animation, everything happens on a 2 dimensional platform. Pictures are flat, without depth and offer only one perspective. Objects and characters are usually drawn without the subtle soft shadows we see in real life and colours have few varying shades. In 3D animation, everything happens on a 3 dimensional platform. Pictures have depth and offer multiple perspectives just like in real life and have soft subtle shadows casted on the objects and characters within.

In 2D, characters look cartoonish and unrealistic. In 3D, characters can look cartoonish but realistic at the same time.

Another way to think of this is to think in terms of a painting and a sculpture. 2D is a painting, and 3D is a sculpture. 3D introduces “depth perspective,” so we not only see a rectangle (2D) but a CUBE (3D). You may also want to think of it like being the difference between a photograph of a glass of water (2D) and being able to reach out and actually pick up the glass of water (3D).

Typically, 2D involves “drawing,” or movement on, say, a flat surface (sketch pad, etc.) or in the vertical and horizontal planes. 3D involves “modeling,” i.e., creating objects in 3-dimensions using a computer software, residing in an expansive virtual environment, complete with lights, reflections, other objects, shadows, etc.

You could start training yourself by comparing a cartoon like Bugs Bunny, Aladdin, Lion King (2D) to “Toy Story 1,2 & 3, “Finding Nemo” and “Incredibles” (3D). If you have not watched any of these great cartoons, you should grab one right away or be branded a Neanderthal forever!