by Gerrie Blum
Most often, when
people first want to try out the sensations of spanking, it is accomplished
with the bare hand and usually over-the-knee or in the bed. It is
a very intimate and "up-close and personal" kind of activity.
And, needing no equipment, it can be impromptu. But ...Pretty soon
the spanker starts to hurt almost as much as the spankee! He or
she wants some respite. Or the insatiable "leadbottom"
wants more, and more and ... as you know, the average hand is full
of small, delicate bones and only lightly padded. The average butt
is round and has big bones under the surface. This is the one of
the main reasons for adding implements to the play.
For novices, play-at-homes and just about everyone,
the paddle is the easiest and most convenient implement to use.
It is small enough for over-the-knee positions, is firm enough to
be accurate, and is effective in many different shapes, designs
and materials. Usually it is broad, has a handle of some kind and
the "business end" is either round or square.
When we first started exploring
the wonderful world of BDSM, and were ready to progress from plain
over-the-knee hand-spankings, our first improvised implement was
a Japanese rice paddle that I had brought back from my travels.
Light-weight bamboo and small, it made a satisfying "cracking"
sound, while keeping sensation all on the surface. It could be considered
a paddle because it was firm, but it was too light to deliver the
thud that paddles are usually used for. Soon we graduated to something
a bit more forceful, and bought a ping-pong paddle at our local
sporting goods store. (It seems that it is not unusual to buy just
one. Tournament level players carry their own equipment.) One side
was smooth rubber and the other was knobby. An interesting combination
A popular material for paddles historically, has
been wood. Many of us can tell stories of the wooden spoon, or the
hairbrush (backside to backside, if you will) or the ruler, that
still hold fetish value ever since childhood. The fraternity paddle,
made of varnished wood with the letters engraved on one side has
been used on the butts of pledges for centuries. And in the English
"public schools," some disciplinarians used paddles instead
of canes. To increase their effectiveness, they would drill holes
in the wood. When the paddles struck the body, the air between the
paddle and the skin was forced out and the skin was drawn into the
hole, making a blister. The practice of making attractive paddles
that are sensual, beautiful and designed to be used on adult people
is a more recent development, of the last ten to fifteen years.
My personal preference is for leather, mainly
because it "gives" more than wood and is more forgiving
of error. Leather can be as firm and authoritative as the heaviest
hairbrush, especially when made of boot-sole leather and/or laminated
for mass and weight. Or the leather used can be can be lighter in
weight and "smacky" like my souvenir rice paddle. (It
is regrettable that Asian cookery now favors the modern space-age
plastics for rice paddling. Genuine bamboo ones can still sometimes
be found in Asian food and house wares markets.)
Among the leathers used for paddles
is a wide variety of sensations: from the slickness of patent leather
to the knubby texture of sting-ray or sharkskin. Even among the
bovines, there is a difference in texture and sensation between
smooth cowhide and the more robust bull hides. You will even find
paddles with shearling or rabbit fur on one side to contrast with
the hard, smooth leather of the other surface. Paddles of any variety
are usually an economical choice as well. A top-of-the-line paddle
is usually less expensive than a plain flogger. (See Issue #24
for Flogger design.) One caveat: try to steer clear of paddles
that have a strip of steel down the center to maintain the stiffness.
As the paddle mellows with use, that strip becomes a ridge and before
you know it, you are really hitting with a narrow piece of covered
metal rather than the broad surface of a paddle. One of my acquaintances
tells of the time that she was using such an implement, and the
piece of steel cut through the stitching at the tip and went sailing
across the dungeon! Fortunately, no one was hurt unintentionally!
Which also underscores the major difference between paddles and
straps. Paddles are made to be firm and stay that way with continued
use. Straps are more flexible, and get even more so with use.
Straps also have a history and fetish value. Some
readers might remember Daddys Belt, or the razor strop from
Our first floppy implement was
a fly swatter! You know, the ones on a metal handle with
a floppy, holey slapper. It too was easy to control and small enough
to use in the bedroom. The sensation from the swatter was quite
different from the ping-pong stingy compared to thuddy. Straps
are longer and narrower as well as more flexible than paddles. Most
are straight and rectangular. Some may be on wooden handles although
the "blade" is made of leather. To add to the design elements,
they can also be shaped, with rounded ends or split like the Scottish
taws. The Taws as known by schoolboys in Scotland, was made by toasting
leather over a fire, thereby hardening it, and then cutting a slit
about one-third to one-half the distance to make it more flexible;
in a sense, hitting twice or thrice with each stroke.
These days, straps can also be made of rubber,
which is a whole different "animal." !! Rubber is different
in that it leaves a "memory" after each stroke, thereby
building the effect cumulatively more sharply than leathers. Neoprene
rubber is very durable and is easy to clean and care for. Get out
your auto tire cleaner and its as good as new in no time.
And, rubber is an "acquired taste." My observation in
the scene is that people are not "wishy-washy" about their
attitude towards rubber implements in general, and rubber straps
in particular. You either love it or you hate it! There isnt
much middle ground! So, if you have been limiting your play to hand-spankings,
or to floggings or to bondage, perhaps now is the time to expand
your horizons and include a paddle or a strap in your next scene.
There are a wide variety of implements out there,
just waiting for you to find them. Enjoy!
Adam and Gillian have
a wide assortment of paddles and straps in all price categories
and all are of the highest quality.