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.

Formal and Informal Page Layouts Formats for Designing

A page layout is an art of arranging or organizing text and images (illustrations, symbols, photographs etc.) on a page or pages to create a desired and pleasing effect. A well-designed page attracts the reader’s attention and presents the material in an easy to read fashion. Modern page layout offers the Graphic Designer with many options that make his/her work very attractive, effective and unique.

i. Formal / Symmetrical layout:

This is a format that is divided into two equal parts to achieve balance. It is achieved when an imaginary vertical centre line divides the layout and each side of it contains an equal amount of copy text and illustrations. It expresses dignity and stability. The formatting “toolbar” on the computer has commands or operations which help designers in organizing their page layouts such as in typesetting their work according to specification. Examples are the Justified, Unjustified and Centered layouts.

• Justified: In this arrangement, all lines have the same length and are aligned to form a straight line at both left and right or flush left and right. Word spacing is adjusted so that each line fills the entire measure. It is the commonest format and is very easy to read. However, its demerit is that it contains a lot of hyphens.

• Unjustified: The lines of type in this format is either flushed left and rugged right or flushed right and rugged left. The flush left is common and easy to read but flush right is not popular and is difficult to read.

• Centered: Type lines in this arrangement appear rugged at both ends. The lines centered on an imaginary vertical line making it symmetrical. It is a good layout format for headlines and certificates.

ii. Informal Layout

It is also referred to as Asymmetrical Layout. This format has an informal balance. Each side contains unequal amounts of copy text and illustrations. Informal balance gives the artist the freedom in placing the different types and elements of design using personal opinion and taste. It is often difficult to read. Examples of the informal layout are contour, run-around and inclined layouts.

• Contour: In this style, each side contains unequal amounts of copy text and illustrations in an undulating form (move in a wavy pattern).

• Run-around: In this format, each side of the layout contains unequal amounts of copy text and illustrations in a circular form.

• Inclined: In this layout style, each side of the layout contains unequal amounts of copy text and illustrations which are slanted to either left or right (diagonal pattern).

Tribalogy – Drawing With Both Hands at the Same Time

For the greater part of my life, I have been drawing with my right hand only. Several years ago, I had an idea for a fun artistic challenge. One day, I decided to include my left hand into the drawing process. I refer to this as “Simultaneous, Two Handed Drawing”- the act of drawing with both hands at the same time.

You might be asking, “how could this be possible and how can you focus on both hands at the same time?”. The answer is this: the same way you drive a car, play an instrument, or type on a keyboard. We train our brains to function and operate in a way that allows us to accomplish specific tasks.

The truth is that everyone can draw with both hands at once. It’s simply a matter of the willingness to learn, as well as being inspired to take on the task. Everyone is different, and we all have abilities that make us unique.

For me, I have been drawing my whole life and I have been heavily inspired by the lines and shapes prevalent in Tribal art. I have practiced drawing, painting and tattooing tribal designs for, literally, thousands of hours in my life.

My goal has always been in developing a fundamental understanding for the science of interacting lines and shapes on a surface. Incorporating my other hand in the art creation process seemed to be the next step in connecting with line art on a deeper, more spiritual level.

Drawing with both hands seemed to allow me to get even closer to becoming one with the lines and shapes that I created. I started to draw tribal art with both hands at once, and Tribalogy was born. After creating several simultaneous, two handed drawings, I noticed my hands making similar movements on the paper, and new drawing techniques were born.

These include Hand Mirroring, Hand Independence, Detachment, Alternating, Overlapping,Tempo, and so on. The drawing methods would come to me, as though they had always been there, and as if I was uncovering them through drawing experimentation. Drawing with two hands seems to hold a lot of answers regarding the art creation process. It feels like I am closing an electrical circuit, allowing art to flow freely into the design, then back into me.

I believe that an artist who creates art with one hand is just as close to their art as the two handed artist. Incorporating my other hand seems to be the missing force in my individual process.

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!