Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

Tips on Stretching Piercings and Gauging Earlobes

The following tips on stretching piercings are specifically aimed at gauging earlobes, where earlobe piercings can be enlarged to very large sizes to incorporate many different types of ear jewelry including awesome flesh tunnels.

Stretching piercings has been popular in many civilizations throughout history, taking many forms from gauging earlobes to stretching labret and septum piercings. In the very early periods of history the materials used were wood, stone, bone, horn, shells, claws and talons, shaped and carved to facilitate stretching piercings.

The oldest known incidence of humans gauging earlobes was discovered in 1991, in a glacier in the Otztal Alps between Italy and Austria, where a 5,300 year-old mummified body was found with tattoos and an earlobe piercing of between 7 mm and 11 mm diameter. Although the method used was known for definite, this may have been carried out by a method known as dead stretching, where progressively larger ear jewelry is forced through the hole that gradually increases in diameter.

Preparation

In preparation for gauging, make sure that you have a good anti-bacterial soap without perfume. Then you will need a sea salt solution – make it using three tablespoons salt in just enough water to dissolve it, and at least enough to bathe your earlobe in. Never use hydrogen or any other peroxide as antiseptic – the soap and salt solution are enough.

You will also need some warm water to bathe your ear with before each phase of ear stretching, or you could alternative have a warm shower first. This softens the ear and helps prevent tearing of the skin/scar that could lead to bleeding.

Finally, you will need some lubricant: avoid Vaseline or any other mineral oil or petroleum-based lubricant. Most tips on stretching piercings recommend emu oil and jojoba, each of which offers gentle antiseptic and skin conditioning properties while acting as a perfectly adequate lubricant.

Gauging Earlobes

When stretching piercings, the two recommended methods are the taper method and the Teflon method. The taper method involves inserting a tapered rod or pin into the piercing, the narrow end being of the same gauge as the piercing, and the broader end one gauge down. The size of the taper is that of the desired gauge of piercing. So if your piercing is 16g, the taper will be a 14g taper, ranging from 16g to 14g. These are equivalent to 1.2 mm to 1.6 mm.

Never use a taper any more than one step down. However, since piercing gauges are always even numbers, one step down is 16g to 14g or 12g to 10g. Also, as the gauge figures drop, the actual diameter increases. So while 16g is 1.2 mm, 10g is 2.4 mm.

There are a number of different types of taper, including a tapered pin on ear jewelry, so you simply insert ear jewelry tapering from your current gauge to the new one. The problem here is that a fully tapered pin will not stretch your ears evenly – the pin has to be of the same diameter all the way through, or your piercing might also be stretched with a taper.

To overcome that, you can use an insertion rod, which is a tapered rod of about 3 inches. After warming your ears with the warm water or shower, and washing them with anti-bacterial soap, apply the lubricant to the taper and slowly work it through. Once it reaches the thicker end, follow it through with ear jewelry of the new size, and you are done. Wipe off excess lubricant and clean the ear with anti-bacterial soap and then some of the salt solution.

An even safer way is to wind a layer of non-adhesive Teflon tape round the pin of your ear jewelry and push it through the lobe. If you can see any space at all when you pull on the ring, then you can safely do this. Wait until the ear has accepted it then do it again, and so on until you have reached the new size, when you can use larger ear jewelry.

If there has been any severe pain or the piercing bleeds, then you must stop immediately and allow the piercing to heal properly before trying again. If you try stretching piercings too soon, before they have fully healed, then you can tear the skin and even have a blowout, both of which will make it difficult to stretch again.

Gauging Earlobes: After-Care

After-care when gauging earlobes is fairly straightforward. It should not be so much a matter of tending after a piercing until it heals, but more keeping it clean, and turning the new sized jewelry now and again. You are waiting until the ear has accepted the new size of hole permanently so that you can perhaps change the hole diameter once more. The stretched skin has to be allowed to thicken and get harder – give about three times longer than your original piercing took to heal. If you want to use a flesh tunnel, then you can continue stretching piercings until the diameter reaches an appreciable size.

Done properly, and following the above tips, stretching piercings is safe and relatively easy to do. Many extend the diameter of their piercings this way, and gauging earlobes is likely the most popular form of pierce stretching carried out at the moment. Take your time – waiting is difficult, but if your ear is not ready for the next stretching it will likely be damaged.

The History of Body Piercing – Interesting Facts

Piercing is an ancient form of body modification. Almost all the cultures have practiced it at some time and nowadays piercing is extremely widespread in Western Europe and America and is rather popular in other countries.

Ancient Egypt is recorded to be the first place where pierced mummified body was found. The ear piercing it has is said to be done more than 5000 years ago. There were large gauge plugs in the ears of this body. Certain types of body piercing in ancient Egypt were restricted and even the royal family followed those rules. The interesting fact about navel piercing is that only Pharaoh had the right to have his navel pierced. And any man who got or was going to have his navel pierced would be executed. Egyptians from the higher class had the right to wear earring, displaying in such way their wealth.

Even in the Bible there are some words about the piercing. In Biblical times piercing was a sign of attractiveness and status.

Romans pierced their body not for the sake of beauty but for practical purpose. They had their nipples pierced in order to signify their virility and strength. Pierced navel of men symbolized patient dedication to the Roman Empire and courage and even Julius Caesar had pierced nipples. Gladiators had genital piercing through the head of the penis to prevent serious injury in the combat. They tied the organ back to the testicles with leather stripe that was hold by the ring in the penis.

In the ancient tribes of Maya, Aztecs and American Indians tongue piercing was a part of their religious rituals. They believed the blood-letting ritual of piercing of the tongue bring them closer to their gods. Septum piercing in the Maya and Aztec warrior tribes was done to frighten the enemies. They also wore gold or jade labrets in their lips to show their attractiveness and to enhance sexuality. In the Solomon Island and New Guinea septum piercing was also widespread. They used bone, feather and tusks for that purpose. So did women in Central and South America. The holes in their lips were stretched to incredible sizes and that was believed to be very attractive.

During Dark Ages Medieval church restricted piercing and this type of body modification died down. But during the Renaissance piercing was back. It was widespread among the sailors to pierce one of the ears. Firstly, it showed their long-distant adventures and secondly the gold earring was the price for the proper Christian burial of a sailor who died in the shipwreck and was found on the shore. Noble men during Elizabethan era had at least one ear pierced. Pierced nipples with sparkling rings and chains joining both nipples were common with royal women. The upper crust of society in Europe at that time and later pierced their nipples and genitals both for aesthetic purpose and delightful pleasure.

The Victorian age piercing was the time when piercing began to become popular with new strength. Prince Albert piercing is named after the husband of Queen Victoria Prince Albert who had his penis pierced in order to wear the tight-fitting trousers that was very popular at that time. Later other types of genital piercing became popular both with men and women. At the end of the 19th century almost all women had their nipples pierced. During the first half of the 20th century ear piercing as well other piercings almost died out and piercing regained its popularity in the 1960th when hippies began to wear nose rings. Later the interest in body piercing grew and celebrities, singers and sport stars began to do and to show their piercings. And nowadays all imaginable types of piercing are available.

Tragus and Anti-Tragus Piercings

Tragus piercings and anti-tragus piercings are becoming increasingly popular – in fact, tragus piercings are now one of the most common ear piercings around. Ear piercings are the most familiar form of Body piercings and the tragus and anti-tragus are fresh expressions of the mundane ear lobe piercings.

The tragus is a thick little piece of cartilage that juts out from the ear canal. To get an understanding of the exact location of the tragus, place a finger by the outer corner of your eye. From this point, trace the finger back, in a straight line, until you touch your ear. The first piece of your ear you will feel is your tragus. You should be able to grasp this little nub between your fingers – this is where the piercing will go through.

There are all sorts of misconceptions about the tragus. Some people may try to tell you that piercing your tragus will affect your balance – that is simply not true. Your balance is affected by fluids in your ear drums, which are located deep within your ears, and are far away from any pierce-able surface. The tragus does not have anything to do with your balance, so don’t be fooled by uneducated people who might try and tell you otherwise. In fact, the only purpose a tragus has is to hold your headphones (such as the standard iPod headphones) securely in your ears; and once pierced, there are thousands of headphones to choose from which will not irritate your piercing. Honestly, the tragus has nothing to do with your ear, your hearing, or your balance. It is just a flap of cartilage – perhaps if humans developed sonar and echo-location the tragus would be useful (super developed traguses help bats use sonar, for example) – but alas, on our species, it’s just a surface begging to get pierced!

The tragus is recommended to be pierced with a captive bead ring, but a barbell will suffice. The reason rings are almost always preferred for the initial piercing as opposed to barbells is because rings tend to heal quicker, better, and more securely. Once healed, you can use any type of jewelry, even typical jewelry normally reserved for ear lobes. Your piercer will help you choose which gage is right for you (and by the way, expanding the tragus is not unheard of, but rare), mark the location on your ear, and push the needle right through. Some piercers may put a cork behind the tragus to “catch” the needle, some piercers just use clamps to aid the needle through, and yet others just use their hands. Each piercer is different, so they will pierce according to their style. Clamps are the most common method, and many people report that the actually clamping to secure the skin hurts more than the piercing! The tragus piercing should be painless – there aren’t a lot of nerves there – but some people do feel slight and temporary pain. Because it is so close to the ear, some people even say they hear a little “pop!” sound as the needle pushes through. Should you hear a little noise, it’s nothing to be concerned about. Once the needle is in, the jewelry is slid into place and secured, and you are done! The whole process, from prep to finish, shouldn’t take more than five minutes.

The tragus does take a while to heal – sometimes up to a year to be fully and completely healed. Many people irritate their new piercing by placing their dirty cell phones up to their ear or by sleeping on the ear with the piercing. I suggest NOT doing either of these for at least the first six months. If your piercing does become infected (and it shouldn’t with proper aftercare), soak it in warm salt water, don’t touch it with your hands, and perhaps (using a q-tip) rub some diluted tea tree oil around the piercing. Never use any sort of rubbing alcohol, for this will irritate and scar your piercing. Your piercer will give you a complete rundown of what to expect and how to handle your new piercing though, so pay attention to their advice.

The Anti-Tragus is very similar to the tragus. It is pierced the same way, the aftercare is the same, and the healing time is the same too. To locate your anti-tragus, place a finger on your earlobe (generally where someone’s first ear piercing would be) and with your finger, draw a straight line up. The flap of cartilage you come to before the empty space is your anti-tragus. Your tragus and anti-tragus are located very close to each other, and the anti-tragus is just opposite of the tragus. Just like the other piercing, this piercing does not affect your hearing or balance. The anti-tragus is rarer than the tragus, mostly because many people don’t think they can get this area pierced, but it can be pierced and it does look great when healed. Curved Barbells and captive ring beads are used most frequently in these piercings.

If you are considering an anti-tragus or tragus piercings, be sure to use a licensed professional. Once it is fully healed, the way your ornament or decorate the piercing is completely up to you, and the jewelry possibilities are endless!