Suzanne M

The tooling issue

September 11, 2011

Two months ago I mentioned a scene that I witnessed at a Showboat party. It's about my good friend R who tried to make a girl react to his flogger, more or less in vain. I'll quote the essence of it:

R. is whipping the young lady. She has a nice body, she keeps her glasses on during play. But what strikes me is that she doesn't squirm, she doesn't scream, doesn't make a sound. I whisper to Bee that if I were whipping that young lady, I'd whip her harder and harder until she squirms, screams, safewords, or all of the above, or I'd whip her in half.

This scene kept me thinking, until I saw them play again, at the same venue, last Friday. As it turns out, the issue was not in the lady. It was in the tools. But let's start at the beginning.

Bee and her new boyfriend asked me if I could make them a cane. I promised them I would, I missed a play party where I was going to meet them, then I saw them at a party but I hadn't made the canes. Last week I finally found the time and the energy to make some canes. It seems like a simple thing, to cut a piece of ratan and call it "a cane". But first, ratan is crooked and bent, you have to straighten it. People will tell you that you can simply steam them and straighten them properly while they're hot. But how to steam them? When I first tried, I used an electric water cooker in the shower cabin. I had shortcircuited the safety so it kept going, but I underestimated the time it would take to run out of water, and my bathroom half burned down. Now I have a better way, gently taught me by my friend John of Anonymous Leather, which includes real hot steam and pipes and hoses. The next thing is you want to make it look nice. The cane should either have a bent end so it looks like a walking cane, or it should have some kind of handle to provide a proper grip. Following Anon Leather's model, I give my canes a leather handle. I used to make these out of black leather, but recently I've started to make the handles in various colors, to go with your outfit. Putting the handle on seems simple, but as the cane is not perfectly straight and the width varies slightly, even over one inch, you have to carefully measure and cut the leather and put it on so it fits well. Sometimes it doesn't, so you have to cut and fit again. Thin leather is easier to fit on, thick leather makes a better handle. At the end there's a little loop. You can put your little finger throught it to make sure the cane remains firmly in your hand.

I went to the party with Miss Nika, and I decided to make her a cane with a bright red handle to go with her red corset. I brought some more canes, so Bee would have a choice, and usually I don't get to carry them along for very long. So, when R showed up with the same ladies he was with two months ago, I was happy to give him one of the canes. He took it in his hands, inspected it carefully, looked at this particular lady, and smiled.

"It's very flexible, this cane".
"It is. I buy the ratan in large quantities, and this lot is more flexible than I'm used to. But it turns out it makes very good canes".
"I'm sure it does. And we'll see, later tonight, won't we?"
The lady looks at the cane, she doesn't smile, I don't know what to make of her.
"But first, we have to say hello to everyone, we'll see you later in the play space, won't we?"
and off they go, R and his entourage, hugging and kissing everyone. In the mean time I have an interesting conversation with one of the photographers. I had seen him before, taking pictures very diligently. He doesn't just take pictures quickly, lots of them, with lots of flashlight, like the other photographers, but he takes endless time to concentrate on a person, or even a part of a body, from various angles, then takes a picture, and what I liked most, he then studies the picture he has just taken with something like a frown, as if he thinks "by golly, have I taken that picture?". He shows me some pictures he has just taken from a lady who's sitting at the bar, next to us. The picture shows more than herself, her body, it shows like her soul, her aura. It's beautiful.

"I want to catch the moment", he explains. "I want to catch a person the way they really are. I do a lot of fashion photography, which is fun, but it's plastic. Taking pictures at this party kind of compensates for the other work I do."
I see what he means. I have had my picture taken very often, during the internet bubble when I had a software company and I would have my picture in every internet magazine every month. The magazine would send a photographer, and they would all work differently. Some took only five minutes, some took a half day for a tiny picture, some would talk to me first, some would never speak a word. But they all produced very distinct pictures. I'm sure that magazine editors recognize photographers from every single picture they take.
He takes some pictures of Miss Nika, but then tells us that the lighting is not good. He wants to take the pictures in the play space, where there's more light. Two hours later, when we're watching people play, I see him take a few pictures of Miss Nika, who is so much watching the play that she doesn't notice her picture being taken.

The people we watch are a couple I have seen before, when I called here "the lady in hotpants". Now she's wearing a bright red mini skirt, 8 inches long - so you can hardly call it a skirt - and her boyfriend is dressed similarly, wearing a red pvc skirt and bra and top. We've seen them in the lockers befefore, him putting on stockings upside down and backward, his girlfriend watching, shaking her head.
"No honey, that's not the way to do it. I showed you a couple of times, you shouldn't put them on that way".
Now part of his clothes have gone, he's tied to a rack, and growling when she hits him with her leather whip. In the next station, I see R positioning the lady against the rack. Sanya is with them, then she joins us on the sofa at the side. I love to watch people playing from one of these sofas, and even more so in the company of good friends. Sanya whispers in my ear.
"You saw them play before? She didn't move, it's as if she doesn't feel any pain, as a top it would make me feel uncomfortable."
"I remember. I discussed it at length with Bee, and I wrote a few paragraphs about it in my account of the party. I found it disturbing."

R stands in front of the lady, he's looking at the cane, he's bending it, almost joining its ends. He waves it, feeling the balance, makes it go "swoosh!" a few times. Then he looks at the bottom of one particular lady, and grins.

"Did you hear that? She squirmed, and she made a sound!"
Sanya is excited. Then there's a scream. And a few swear words. The "issue with the lady" turns out not to be about the lady herself. It's a tooling issue. You hit her with a leather strap or a whip or a flogger, she remains calm, however black and blue her behind gets. Even with just a cane, she's not excited. I suddenly feel very flattered that this cane does the job properly. My cane.

Later, she sits between Sanya and me on the sofa. Her behind black and blue, with nice red stripes. Still later, I ask her about the cane, she has been caned before, hasn't she? She tells me that the cane that R used before was different, it was not varnished. But mine aren't varnished either, so I think she's referring to the fact that the other cane was peeled, and mine are not. R told me that in the end, the peeled cane broke. It must have been made of inferior quality ratan, or it lost its structure in the peeling. I decide to put more time in studying ratan, the varieties of it, the quality, and the effect of peeling. It would make a nice experiment to have a collection of canes, made of different qualities of ratan, made in various ways, and test them on "certified test bottoms". I'll keep you posted.