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Lobe Piercings in the UK

Lobe piercings are probably one of the most common piercings in the UK, and more than likely one of the first ever attempted piercings on mankind. Piercings have been around for thousands of years, and there’s much debate about the oldest ever one. There have been many sources stating mummies dating back to 5000 years ago have been found with their ears pierced (however some sources can date back to 12,000 years ago), or even stretched! Archaeological evidence of the mummy Pharaoh Tutankhamen shows that he had his ears pierced, and many pairs of earrings were found alongside him in his tomb.

Different cultures have different reasons why they choose to pierce their lobes, and different methods by which they do it. Ancient civilizations across the world, from Africa to Asia, have been known to use body modifications to determine social status or function as spiritual protection. The oldest mummified person, Otzi the Ice Man, had pierced earlobes. Some of the first documented lobe piercings were among native African and southeast Asian tribes that pierced for spiritual purposes. Wearing metal ear piercings was believed to prevent bad spirits, due to the belief that spirits and demons were repelled by metal. Ancient Romans were also believed to have worn studs in their ears.

Of course, lobe piercings were not the only piercings that date back across eons, but in this blog post I’d like to look more into how lobe piercings became commonplace in the UK, and how they became so popularized. 

William Shakespeare

Christianity had a huge impact on body modification, with the church considering it to be pagan and against God’s image. This view contributed to body piercings in the western world becoming underground. At some points in history, only those on the outskirts of society had their body adorned with such metal and jewelry. However the tradition of lobe piercings in the western world can be sourced back to being symbols of wealth, power or status. During the renaissance era, men started to adorn their ears with earrings to show their nobility. Every nobleman would have at least one piercing, and typically larger diamonds and pearls were worn to show off one’s wealth. This was a really good way to become known on the marriage market. On a famous portrait painting of William Shakespeare, you can clearly see a golden ring threaded through his lobe, and even portraits of male monarchs at the time, such as Charles 1, you can see beautiful earrings, such as pearls.

Charles 1

Its also noted that around the same time and possibly even earlier, earrings were also worn by sailors. There’s many theories surrounding why; including it helped their eyesight, to signify their bond with the sea (like a marriage), and also being a symbol of accomplishment of sailing the world. Another one was that because they were solid Gold rings, they could fund their funeral after they died.

A famous portrait showcasing lobe piercings, is the oil painting by the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, commonly known as the girl with the pearl earring. 

But when, why, and how did lobe piercings become as popular and as normalised as we know them to be now, especially among women and young girls? Well, all eyes are on Queen Victoria for starting this trend. The pre-Victorian era saw a general decline in earrings due to the changing fashions of the time, as chic coiffures (headscarves) began to cover the ears. However, Queen Victoria began to adorn her ears with pendant style drop earrings, and long earrings set with many luxuriant gemstones. Because the Queen had significant power and influence across Europe, she had a huge direct effect on fashions of the time. we soon saw lobe piercings once again be in vogue, with the pendant drop especially favoured.  She reintroduced this practice during her Coronation as she wanted to wear a pair of very rarely used earrings from the Royal collection and so had her ears pierced for the occasion. 

Much later on, after World War 2, around the 1950’s there was a boom in the economy and women started spending more money and time focusing on their looks, and this is where we see another surge in the ear piercing trend. Typically it was a single lobe, and surprisingly it was a lot of clip on piercings. Over the years the trend of ear of single lobe piercings stayed, (whether real or fake), and choices of jewellery saw a demand in larger, showier pieces. Rings in the lobes were also a hugely popular choice.

During the late 70’s and 80’s ear piercings started to become more popular in general, especially amongst gay men and teenage girls. This is where we see a trend of multiple lobe, and upper ear piercings become in demand. The large statement pieces became replaced with much smaller earrings made of gemstones and pearls. During this decade was when we saw another increase of men having their lobes pierced. George Michael is an excellent example, as he adorned his piercing with a simple gold ring. 

However there was a lack of brick-and-mortar piercing studios during this time, and at-home piercings were quite the norm. Over time, piercing studios began to pop up around the UK and become more normalized. The second ever piercing studio in the UK was the London Piercing Clinic. The founder and owner was the famous Mr Sebastian – The father of the UK body piercing industry. Despite not being the first, they were the first ever studio to have a high street presence and address. Set up in May 1988, it helped to make waves not just across the piercing industry, but in popularising and normalising body piercings across the UK and in popular culture.

Since the rise of social media since the late 2000s, body modification and especially body piercings are becoming more and more accepted and popular every day. It doesn’t take long once walking out of your front door to spot someone with their ears pierced, whether they be a man or woman. Often you might notice multiple lobe piercings, or even multiple or various piercings scattered across the ears. And here at Rogue, we perform lobe piercings on people as young as 8, and our eldest client was 92. Lobe piercings are becoming more versatile as we go along, with a huge range of jewellery and placements now available. Gone are the days of a standard single lobe piercing – Now we are getting creative with stacks, triangles and other styles of ear curations.

You can book your appointments via our website – Click HERE to book!

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Thank you for reading! We will be back next Friday with another blog 🙂

— Jay <3

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Piercing apprenticeship in a UK APP studio.

6 months into my 3 year piercing apprenticeship.

It’s officially been 6 whole months (and a bit) since I started my piercing apprenticeship here at Rogue, so I’m writing this blog detailing my time so far here. Mainly so I can document how far I’ve come and what I’ve achieved, but it’s also good for those of you wanting a piercing apprenticeship to really know all the stuff that goes on, even before you pick up a needle. Piercing apprenticeships (especially good ones) can involve a lot more than initially expected, and your day to day activities can majorly vary from what you may have considered.

 So let’s start from the beginning, before I was allowed anywhere near the inside of the piercing room there were a million and one things I had to learn, and my first memory was spending an entire day doing the Blood-borne pathogens training. The BBP training was an online video course set up by the APP that I was able to do from the studio and from home. It was 8 hours in total, in which I had to watch videos separated into different topics, such as donning and doffing PPE, the difference between contaminated, clean and sterile, and Epidemiology and Exposure Management and then answer questions about that section. This was my first sort of introduction into keeping myself safe at work, preventing cross contamination, and working in a sterile environment.

My first week also consisted of a lot of shadowing, and watching Aiden prep for piercings, watching the piercings happen and how he uses different techniques. 

I also spent a lot of time with Kat, learning how desk works! At first it started off with doing the post office runs, and learning the aftercare speeches, taking trips out to get stuff for the shop, learning all the different jewelry, even learning how to take photos of jewelry. This also included how to set up the shop in the morning, and close the shop at the end of the day. Everything from doing the helix tests, hoovering and mopping, running the water distiller etc. It was really surprising to find out how much stuff went into everyday life of piercing, without even doing actual piercings! My favorite example piece to talk to people about is changing bins! Because of contaminated waste, there’s a whole procedure to safely change out the clinical waste bins to keep yourself safe, but also prevent any type of cross contamination. It definitely was not something I expected to have to learn. 

The biggest challenge that completely exhausted me, was when I first went through the process of cleaning and sterilizing the jewelry, while doing stock takes, and making sure everything is still in date. It has become a huge part of my day to day work life now here at rogue, but when i first started the task i spent a solid two days doing it, and it was a lot mentally! Now I don’t think twice when doing it, and can do it a lot faster and with greater precision.

The first few months of my piercing apprenticeship were very repetitive as I learned the ropes! Every week I had a new section of information to study and learn, as Aiden had written a sort of learning manual for me! Each week was a new section, which I had to read through, physically demonstrate, and then answer a small quiz! This ranged from lots of things, from sterilizing jewelry and tools, to learning COSHH and MSDS safety protocols! 

My favorite stuff I started to learn along the way, is the ongoing learning of piercing history! The traditions, culture, heritage, and the origins of body piercing. It’s really amazing to learn where piercings have originally originated from in different cultures of the years, how the industry as a whole has made body piercings very westernized, and how over the years it’s slowly started to become more socially accepted. The learning of piercing history is not something you can sit down in a day and learn, it’s an ongoing teaching session through your career, and that is genuinely so fantastic to me. 

The month leading up to Christmas was a very interesting time! Rogue introduced another guest piercer to the shop, which was the lovely Krista! This was my first time meeting another member of the industry outside the studio. This was really interesting to me because Krista is not a UK piercer, she’s a traveling piercer, and a resident in Honolulu, Hawaii! Her whole vibe and atmosphere is so kind, caring, friendly and energetic! Definitely a little bit different to the calmer, quieter, more ‘introverted’ UK atmosphere. It was an absolute pleasure to work alongside someone who works in a slightly different manner, with different experiences. It’s always exciting to meet other industry members and learn new things! 

Krista also repierced my bridge piercing for me, and introduced me to marking piercings as she helped me and let me draw the markings for my own bridge! This was my first proper physical introduction into piercings, rather than just watching and learning, and being really involved in my own piercing was really gratifying. 

Coming back from christmas was very exciting, it was the first introduction of me picking up needles! We originally started with larger gauge needles and sheets of foam, looking at how bevel theory works and how to pierce without removing tissue, just displacing! Working with larger gauge needles initially was very helpful in terms of being able to see what I needed to do and how to do it with the shape of the needles! This then gradually moved on to me piercing bananas and oranges. I pierced the fruit with the skin on and off. This is because it was similar to working with skin in terms of feel and movement. Working with the skin on helped me get a feel for depth of layers in the skin, and also the toughness of skin. 

And then, it was time! I got to do my first ever piercing! Aiden got to be my first ever client as such, and we started off nice and easy with a helix piercing! We did a mid helix, with Neometal high polish threadless balls! He talked me through the entire process, showing me how to mark, how to work with the client, how to check my angles, and where to place my fingers for my own safety! I was definitely nervous, however I also felt super confident thanks to all the gradual training, and when it was done I had every right to be confident! For a first ever piercing, it was super impressive. The angles were super nice, and it came out straight! There was a slight bit of bruising during the healing process due to my technique, but definitely nothing to complain about for number 1!

That first piercing was then followed by a second helix piercing on Kat! I was definitely more nervous for this one, probably due to the adrenaline rush from the first one, but this time it was a much smoother process, and healed even better! And then Gemma also enlisted her trust in me, and she let me do my first ever conch! This was then followed by Gemma piercing my flat for me, learning new techniques! And then later in the week, I got to perform a double lobe piercing on Breo, which was slightly more challenging due to Breo already having stretched lobes. It was a really good bonding moment for the studio.

And then, we got to open my calendar and I started offering apprentice piercings! Starting off nicely with helix piercings, and then conch piercings! It was really great meeting new clients, and previous clients, who trusted me enough to perform new piercings on them!  I was pretty confident from the start, although I definitely did have my nerves, but I think it was mainly because I have such a supportive and knowledgeable team around me! The most nervous I have been for a piercing so far was my first ever pair of nipples! It was my first freehand piercing, and it was also a slightly different technique than I was used to, and it was also one of my close friends! A lot of pressure! It went pretty well, however I did have to re-pierce one as it did not come out horizontally. Thankfully, my client was super amazing about the whole thing and her patience and kindness was highly appreciated. I’m still working on nipple piercings, alongside nostrils and lobes as well. My favorite lobe piercings I’ve done so far are the couple I’ve done working around already existing larger gauge/stretched lobes. I love seeing the second and love adorned with something small and contrasting to the larger piercing! It’s definitely a style favorite of mine. 

Alongside my piercing apprenticeship with Rogue, im currently being tasked with helping the social media accounts! I’m working on weekly instagram reels, in terms of filming, editing and uploading!  If you’ve been a fan of the current How It Works series, then thank you! Having to be the brains behind it was not as easy as I expected. I used a variety of apps when I first started experimenting with the design of how I wanted the reels to look. I’m still playing around with the design, and trying to make them more inclusive! I’ve recently found closed captions which was a really important addition. I’m also working on building a Rogue tik tok account, which I want to make the vibe for this one a little less serious than the instagram! I want it to be a bit more loose and for people toi laugh and have fun, and see the not always so serious side of the shop! 

We’re currently moving forward to opening my calendar up one day a week for junior piercings! This means I’ll get to work 1 on 1 with clients, without full supervision as I’d have completed my training on these piercings with the current technique! And that’s not the only exciting thing to look forward to this year. In September we are heading to the UK APP conference which is very exciting! It’s going to be a really great opportunity to meet new piercers across the industry and make connections, and to learn so much more stuff! The future is definitely looking shiny.

Good piercing apprenticeships can be very hard to come across, and they’re not necessarily what you think they might be! There’s so much information that really helps further your training than you would think. A good piercing apprenticeship should take between 2-3 years, with a very experienced mentor. If you’d like to understand why, read our other blog post detailing why they take a long time!