Ask a Piercer:
Mandolynne & Kaspa of Amulet Arts

Meet Mandolynne Hopkins and Michael Kaspa of Amulet Arts, the first and only studio dedicated to piercing on New York’s Long Island. With a focus on exquisite jewelry and curated ears, Amulet Arts has gained a celebrity following, and the team has traveled around the country offering ear parties - everywhere from NYC and the Hamptons to Dallas and California.  

Read on to learn about piercing trends, choosing the right jewelry for your piercing, and what you should know about the piercing process.

Tell me about yourself. How and why did you get into piercings? 

Mandolynne: Hi! My name is Mandolynne and I am the co-owner of Amulet Arts in Patchogue, New York. My passion for piercing began over twenty years ago. As a student working on my BFA, piercing to me was math, art and science all rolled into one. Although I completed my Bachelor of Fine Arts with my thesis focused on body modification, I packed away my application for the Fakir Intensives and entered the corporate world. I still sought out training via videos, taking BBP (bloodborne pathogens training), first aid, CPR and even attending Fakir Musafar and Cleo’s lecture/ritualistic piercing ceremony. 

It wasn’t until 2006 that I attended my first APP conference. In an industry that was dominated by men, I was drawn to the powerful women who inspired me. A few short months later, I sought out a formal apprenticeship with the outgoing APP president. No stranger to hard work, and not going to let anything stand in the way of my dreams, I worked full-time at Microsoft and completed a thorough apprenticeship until I was able to make piercing my career. Now, I am a 10 year business member with the APP, a Gemological Institute of America Applied Jewelry Professional graduate as well as a Pro Team Member with Buddha Jewelry Organics.

Kaspa: Hello. My name is Michael Kaspa, I’ve been a professional piercer for 19 years (20 years in July 2021), and the co-founder and co-owner of Long Island's premier body piercing and high-end jewelry gallery, Amulet Arts. I’m a Gemological Institute of America Applied Jewelry Professional graduate, a proud member of the Association of Professional Piercers, a performing artist, and a sponsored artist on the Buddha Organic Jewelry Pro Team.

 Fun fact: Kaspa is the only piercer in the state of New York on piercing pioneer Elayne Angel’s Piercing Bible referral list.

What trends have you been seeing for piercings or piercing combinations?

Mandolynne: Stacked lobes, chains and dangles all continue to be a trend, as is quality over quantity. People are choosing one or two well placed piercings with genuine gemstones set in gold as opposed to several in titanium. 

Thoughts on push-pin vs screw style flat backs? 

Mandolynne: Both have their place - you just have to know when to choose the right tool for the right job. For example, an 18g press-fit (or push-pin) style makes it easy for clients to change the look of their nostril piercing, but I wouldn't put a 7mm diamond on a press-fit post, as this would be too large for the press-fit.    

Also, absolutely no butterfly backs, ever, since they harbor dirt, germs and bacteria, while stabbing you in the head.

What piercing(s) would you recommend for people getting their first cartilage piercing? Why?

Kaspa: For the ear, I’d recommend helix and conch piercings. The helix is a good starting point for people not accustomed to piercing. It offers a wide selection of jewelry options, and it’s a classic look. The conch is more of an advanced piercing, but it’s still an easy piercing to care for. It is one of our favorites.

Mandolynne: Before I can answer that, I'd have some questions for my client about their lifestyle.  

Do you wear earbuds daily? If so, maybe now isn't the perfect time for a double tragus. Are you dyeing your hair a different color every 6 weeks? Maybe not a triple forward helix. Do you ride a motorcycle? How about not a 10mm prong set in a high helix. Boxing? No industrial piercing for you. I recommend that you get what you like, as long as your anatomy and lifestyle are well suited and you can take care of it properly during the entire healing period.

✨ Mandolynne and Kaspa's Advice to You ✨

What should you know before you get pierced?

Mandolynne: Do your research! First, find a well-skilled piercer, check their credentials, then trust what they tell you. Many of us have dedicated our lives to this profession. We have two piercers in our studio with over 35 years combined experience, and we still do continuing education.

Here at Amulet Arts, we are located on an island, so our local clientele needs to know that fresh piercings should not be exposed to lakes, oceans and swimming pools. It's never a good idea to introduce bacteria into an open wound, which is exactly what happens when you go for a swim in the Great South Bay with a brand new navel piercing. Pro tip: a large waterproof bandage can help - just cover your new piercing with the bandage.

What should you bring with you to your piercing appointment? What decisions should you have made beforehand?

Mandolynne: Have a meal prior to arrival so that your blood sugar levels aren't low. Bring your state issued valid photo ID, and make sure there are no drugs or alcohol in your system. If you don't bring a smile, don't worry, you will leave with one!

Most people think they have an idea of what they want until they see just how many options are available. We walk our clients through the entire process and offer custom curations, so you don't really need to make a decision beforehand. Just book an appointment, come in, meet our staff, give us an idea of your style and lifestyle, and we can help you from there.

Kaspa: Bring your ID, and if you're a minor, your parent with all the proper paperwork. Bring a good attitude, a listening ear, and a snack to have alongside a drink. As for decisions, just the decision to get pierced and where you want to get pierced. 

How long should I wait before getting another piercing?

Mandolynne: You do not want your body trying to do too many things at once, especially during a global pandemic! Wait the full healing period before adding more.

Kaspa: It depends again on the person. I always recommend that you allow healing to be mostly done before adding new piercings. If you have under 5 piercings, and depending on the location of those piercings, it can be anywhere from the next day to a six month waiting period.

If you are prone to scarring, what extra precautions should you take - for both your piercing and your aftercare?

Kaspa: Make sure you follow aftercare procedures. Also, make sure your jewelry is the appropriate size for the initial piercing time, and as well as the downsizing stage. Do your best to keep your piercing away from all trauma as best as you can and invest in a neck pillow for sleeping. Don't touch your piercing with dirty hands, and stay away from oils and creams.

What are your best tips in cleaning the piercing area during its healing time? Are there particular products you’d recommend?

Kaspa: Find an accredited APP practitioner or studio and follow their aftercare instructions. Simple saline and antimicrobial soap (when advised by your piercer) are going to be your best friend for healing piercings and keeping them healthy. 

What are some things that customers should absolutely avoid while their piercing is healing?

Kaspa: Rubbing alcohol, antibacterial soap, along with any products you use for cleaning that aren't sterile. Avoid Q-Tips, cotton balls, benzyl chloride, oils, and creams, tea tree oil, Bactine, Neospoprine and your best friend with the 30 jacked up piercings that never heal - stop listening to them. 

What should everyone know about aftercare?

Kaspa: Stay on top of the suggested aftercare given to you by your piercer. Don’t take days off or stop when you think it looks fine. Follow all instructions to the T, and ask questions if you aren't clear on something. Make sure you come in for your check-ups and down sizes. 

See more of Mandolynne and Kaspa's work on Instagram at @amuletartsny

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