Last Christmas I thought I’d be adorable and get Daddy some presents we opened in private (*wink, wink*). These included a leather strap and, so romantically, a wooden paddle laser etched with the word MINE.
I hadn’t had any experience with paddles prior to that, but their description said “thuddy,” and since I like thuddy, I was on board! He loved the thought I’d put into it, and the first time we used it, we were both excited. After a nice warm-up, he gave me a good tap with it, not even using his full strength.
I was instantly in tears.
That was not quite how I envisioned that experience going. It didn’t get any better the other times he has used it. Pro: he knows what I don’t like. Cons: my thoughtful and beautiful Christmas present became a funny what-not-to-buy story, and he holds the power to bring me to uncontrolable tears at any time.
I realized that I was either going to need to learn some things about imact implements or stop buying Daddy presents of that nature. I chose learning. That’s part of what led me to begin making my own toys.
I ended up in the leather section of a craft store to find a rivet to fix a purse strap the night before vacation and suddenly realized I wanted to play with leather. I wanted the scent in my nostrils, the texture under my fingers. I wanted to create impact implements that suited exactly what I wanted, and I needed to study a lot before I could get there.
I began experimenting in cloth. Goodwill has an excellent selection, perfect for my purposes and much cheaper than a fabric store. After some heavy reading and trial and error, I had a prototype. I found scrap leather to make a second, blended with cloth.
I learned a lot with those first attempts, but the real learning began when I took my creating to leather. There are so many ways to get what you want out of a flogger, and until I began experimenting, I had no idea.
The first time I walked into a leather wholesale store, I was hooked. The scent of the leather surrounding me always brings me to a halt. Inhaling deeply, I can let that scent bring a swirl of memories of motorcycles and men I’ve loved – fathers, friends, lovers. The learning and experimenting only srves to enrich my experiences with leather. I have had to learn how changing textures, lengths, edges and adornments can change the way each flogger impacts.
Weight of material: rabbit fur is lighter than pigskin which is lighter than deerskin which is lighter than cow skin. The weight of the skin is part of what determines how thuddy an implement will be. Of course, floggers can be made of plenty of other materials besides leather, or by combining things with leather. The weight can be negated by other elements, such as how the skin was prepared. Suede gives more thud than veg-tanned skin, which ends up more slappy even at the same weight.
Number of falls: a high number of falls will increase the weight that is descending, creating a heavier thud sensation. Similarly, fewer falls will often result in more sting, though that can change based on any specialized fall treatment, or the length.
Length of falls: this is simple physics. Shorter falls will have less impact because their momentum is less. Longer falls will build up more speed and thus have greater impact. However, it is important to remember that while showy, falls that are too long for the height of the wielder (I personally don’t recommend longer than arms length) can become cumbersome during longer sessions.
Shape of fall tips: the standard shape is a straight cut across the material. That shape tends to thud, which can be combined with the above elements to either bring contrast to stingier features or enhance existing thud. For a more gentle thud, you’re going to want rounded tips instead of flat ones. To create sting at the tip ends, a diagonal slice at the end will do. To really amp that up, double tipping the ends adds to the sting factor.
Additions and raised edges: some floggers may come with braided or twisted falls. By compacting the leather that way they can make a thuddy flogger land even more solidly, but the raised edges bring focus to the inertia and add sting in those sections. The more raised sections which are created in this way, the more sting it will provide when it lands.
Some of these things can be done to a plain flogger sitting in your drawer. If you desire to customize, adding braids or twists will change your flogger. Of course, once you cut into it, there’s no going back, so make sure it is what you want. You can also cut your tips at home, as flat tips are the most common ones. While I recommend a rotary cutter or exacto knife, tip trimming can be accomplished with just a pair of scissors and a decent ruler.
If you’re picking out a flogger for your partner to use on you, oh, say for Christmas, and you hate sting, perhaps that cute flogger with very thin falls and pointed tips isn’t a smart purchase, particularly if it has enough heft to it to really bite. If your partner is anything like mine, you’re going to have a regret story about that present, once you can laugh about it!
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