Several weeks ago I was contacted by a few of the rudest and most ignorant people I've ever had the displeasure of conversing with. Most of them I didn't bother writing back. These people seemed to be very upset because I sell polymer gauges in my Etsy shop as well as on my company website www.jpjewelsit.com. I was told that polymer is not only dangerous but that the ideas I had for different kinds of designs were "retarded" and "looked like a 4 yr. old made them". Why any grown person would take the time to write me these awful things about items they do not personally like- I have no idea. It would seem to me that these people are in desperate need of something better to do with their time. I contacted a fellow polymer gauge artist and found that she too, had been harassed by such people.
Among many of the hate mail I received was one I'd love to spotlight. In my shop I sell decorative tapers. I was "informed" that a taper is used ONLY to stretch your ears and that if I had my ears gauged I might know what I was talking about. He told me I shouldn't be selling something I do not wear and if I did wear them my "ears would have fallen off by now". He even gave me a link to a wikipedia definition of taper. Well...I actually DO have my ears gauged and I do wear my own work. Yes- I do understand that in modern ear stretching a taper is a word used for something which stretches your ears. The definition I was given was roughly this-
Taper: a spike-like tool used to stretch gauged ears to the next size- usually made out of stainless steel.
Let us take a look at the actual definition of "taper" as found in Websters dictionary.
Taper: 1 a: a slender candle b: a long waxed wick used especially
for lighting candles, lamps, pipes, or fires c: a feeble light2 a: a tapering form or figure b: gradual diminution of thickness, diameter, or width in an elongated object c: a gradual decrease.
Etymology:Middle English, from Old English tapor candle, wick, perhaps modification of Latin papyrus papyrus
Date: before 12th century
Yes- within the modern world of gauged ears taper only has one meaning- but through the course of the actual history of human relations this word has come to mean many different things. I began gauging my ears in the first place because I saw someone wearing a Plastic taper. I love the way tapers look and I CHOOSE to wear them solely for decoration. Instead of following the heard I have chosen to go off on my own and wear something different to express myself... What a concept! So yes, I sell tapers in my shop for healed ears because I personally like them. If anyone else disagrees.... don't buy them- simple as that.
The same man told me that he had many gauges and obviously knew more about it than me- a person who so obviously has none and knows diddly squat... right? He told me that polymer is toxic and I am endangering the lives of my customers with my product. Besides the fact that I am not forcing anyone to buy my product I feel the need to remind everyone here that it is also the responsibility of the customer to research and decide what they are willing to put in there bodies. Non- Sterile wood, stone, bone, clay, dirt, and even animal feces and lard are just a few of the many different materials used for body modification over the millennium by tribal peoples around theworld who were doing this long before it became an American FAD.
Polymer clay is Guaranteed by it's makers to be Non-toxic as long as it is fired correctly. It's used to make many different pieces of jewelry including the many different pairs of gauges I have worn, without complication, for many months at a time. PMC, another clay I use in my studio, stands for precious metal clay. It comes in silver, bronze and gold and again- is used in many different kinds of jewelry including classic earrings worn by millions.
My point is simply this. Setting constraints and boundaries upon art or any type of body modification, especially out of blind ignorance or "know-it-all syndrome", completely defiles their purpose in the first place. Self expression is within the roots of human nature as far back as anyone can remember. Who are you to tell me, or anyone else, what I can and cannot make into or call art, wear on or in my body, or how I should express myself according to your mainstream society?! The whole point of my tats, my gauges, and my art is to express the fact that I am different from everyone or anyone else. If all of you get together and decide to gang up on a fellow gauged person for being tatted or gauged in a way that sets them apart from you- you
are no different than the conformist main stream people you set out to be different than in the first place.Unless of course you just gauged yourself to be like your totally cool and popular friends... then I suppose your staying true to yourself.
Now please enjoy an interview with talented polymer gauge artist-
Thank you Giovanna!