(I hope it goes without saying that what follows is a personal stance only, and I cast absolutely no judgement on people who make different choices – ethics are complex, personal, and multi-faceted, and we should all trust one another to make the best decisions for ourselves and our circumstances.)
I’ve mentioned before that I have complicated feelings about leather as a material. I love the look, the feel, the smell… but it also poses an ethical dilemma. I don’t eat meat and have recently been changing aspects of my diet to move closer to veganism, and for a long time I’ve only purchased vegan and cruelty-free cosmetics. So if I don’t eat animals, is it ethical to wear or use products made from them?
Even though leather is a meat industry byproduct (kind of, it’s actually more complex than that), I still worry that buying it supports that industry – even indirectly. The process of leather tanning is also environmentally problematic… though so are many leather alternatives made from polyurethane and similar plastic-based materials.
There are no easy answers to any of this, and I don’t have a hard and fast personal stance on leather for myself yet. I’m leaning towards continuing to love and use what I already own, but not buying any more new items. But that could change.
I share all this to provide a little context to my interest in faux-leather, leather-alternative, and vegan-friendly kink gear. Like this Saffron Layer Paddle from Sportsheets that I’m reviewing today, courtesy of my new friends at Self&More – a woman-owned, gender-inclusive and body-positive sex shop.
Sportsheets Saffron Layer Paddle
The Saffron Layer Paddle comes from Sportsheets’ Saffron range of vegan faux-leather kink products in black and red. It features three layered straps which are coated in fuzzy suede-like material (also vegan) on one side. The stitching is strong and holds up under use.
The paddle is black and red, which are pretty much the quintessential “kink colours”. The outward facing surfaces are red, and the front side of the handle features a polka dot design.
The Saffron Layer Paddle features a loop handle which you can wrap around your wrist while you’re wielding the paddle, or use to hang it for convenient storage. A small tag bears the Sportsheets insignia.
This paddle is 12.2″ long from tip to tip, and 2″ across. It’s super light, which makes it comfortable to hold and easy to wield. I don’t really top very often but on the rare occasions I do, I like toys that I can use until my bottom has had enough (as opposed to when my weak arms give out!)
Its Bark is Worse than Its Bite…
This probably isn’t a paddle for serious pain players, as the impact it delivers is on the gentler side. Pro tip: if you hit with the longest layer impacting the body first, you get a more impressive sting. The impact is pretty surface-level. Since the paddle is so light, you’re unlikely to get any significant thud out of it.
This is one of those paddles that sounds worse than it is. Thanks to the three layers smacking together, it provides a loud and satisfying THWACK even without putting much force behind it. If you’re looking for something that sounds impressive without needing to actually hit very hard, layered paddles are the way to go!
Paddles are one of the safest impact toys you can play with (floggers are slightly more dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing, and whips are yikes-just-don’t-go-there-without-expert-tuition!) You’re really unlikely to do any damage with a light paddle like this one, so you can play without worrying – even if you’re a complete beginner.
Just remember the golden rules: never hit the joints, spine, lower back and kidney area, head, or face. Aim for fleshy and padded areas like the butt, thighs, and shoulder blades.
This is a well-made and reliable basic piece that will serve you well and last a long time if you take care of it. If you’re new to kink or prefer playing on the lighter side and are looking for a vegan-friendly paddle, this is a solid buy.
It’s no secret to my readers that I love small, independent, women-owned-and-run businesses, especially when they sell exclusively body-safe adult products. That’s why I am proud to be an affiliate of The Pleasure Garden Shop, a homegrown (pun intended) online feminist sex shop right here in the UK.
I must first apologise for the delay in getting these reviews out – my health (physical and mental) have taken a nosedive since the beginning of the year and Mr CK has been unwell too. As such I am woefully behind on testing and writing about everything! But no matter – we’re here now.
I was really excited when Francesca, owner of The Pleasure Garden (who I interviewed recently!) reached out and suggested a series of mini-reviews of kinky products that might appeal to people looking to explore BDSM for the first time, along with some handy tricks and tips on using them safely. This is the first of such a series – let’s take a look at what was in my very exciting parcel when it arrived…
Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs
People who have seen me getting my sexy on will know that I kink super hard for leather. (Yes, I know, as a vegetarian this makes me a horrible hypocrite – don’t @ me!) Good quality leather also tends to be expensive, which is probably why I don’t own that much of it.
So the Bound Noir Slim Wrist Cuffs had me squeeing for joy! Not only are they super stylish, made of soft black leather with gold coloured metal accents, they’re also an absolute steal at £32.99. I’ve seen leather cuff sets go for £100+, but there’s no need to spend that much when these are so good! They come with a removable connecting chain with clips at either end, and each cuff has two D-rings – so lots of ways to fasten your sub to something (or to themselves) should you desire.
These cuffs feel super luxurious to wear. The leather is really soft and supple, and just gets softer with use as you break them in. I’ve worn them for well over an hour before, including in a session where my wrists were above my head. They remained comfortable the whole time. The gold accents give an elegant feel. The perfect accessory for any sexy outfit!
They’re super adjustable. They have 5 notches, and there’s no reason you couldn’t get an extra one put in if you wanted to. (Take them to a professional leather worker, you could ruin them if you try it yourself!) The adjustability means they’ll work on most bodies. I have tiny wrists so I use them on the tightest setting. But I’ve also used them on people with much bigger hands/wrists than me with no problems at all.
Leather Wrist Cuffs Tips & Tricks…
Experiment with different positions. Not everything will be comfy for everyone. Clip your partner’s hands together behind their back, hook their arms around the bedpost, tie their hands to something above their head.
Cuffs should be loose enough that you can slip 1-2 fingers between the cuff and the skin, but tight enough so your partner cannot wiggle free. Experiment with different settings and check regularly. If there is any numbness, tingling or pins and needles in the hands, take the cuffs off IMMEDIATELY.
Never, EVER leave a bound person alone.
Store your cuffs flat, not fastened – the leather will degrade quicker if you store them closed.
Bound to Please Hemp Bondage Rope
Ask any rope bondage aficionado about their favourite type of rope, and you’ll get wildly different – but equally passionate – answers. We all have our favourites. I’ve always been a jute fan; I love the smell of it, the feel of it and the way it handles. But hemp is also a really popular choice. So I was delighted to try out this hemp bondage rope from Bound To Please.
This rope comes in 10 metre lengths and 5mm width. I believe this is the most ideal rope thickness for most bondage – any thicker and it starts looking bulkier and less elegant, any thinner and it starts to make ties more painful due to the way thinner ropes cut against the skin. (Not necessarily a bad thing if you like pain, but I don’t suggest tying with anything below 5mm until you’re experienced!) Each length costs £12.99.
“How much rope should I buy?” is always a question beginners ask me. It depends on a number of things, including types of ties and the size of the bottom. If you eventually want to move on to complex ties and suspensions, you’ll need more. If all you want to do is tie your partner to the bed for sex, you can get away with a couple of lengths. As a rough guide, for a TK (Takate Kote or Box Tie, the first formal harness tie most riggers learn) you’ll need 3 lengths and possibly 4 lengths for larger bodies. (If your partner is very petite, you might get away with 2.)
(I should just write a Big Guide to Choosing Rope, shouldn’t I? Okay, coming up…)
The thing I really love about natural fibre ropes, and especially hemp, is the smell. Hemp rope has this slightly undefinable sweet/woody smell and it’s gorgeous. I love tying in a room full of rope enthusiasts because the mix of natural fibres, bodies and sex in the air is just so intoxicating. Natural fibre ropes also get softer and smoother with use, as they are handled and absorb the natural oils from your skin.
Yes, I LOVE this rope!
Rope Tips & Tricks…
Firstly and most importantly, always – ALWAYS – keep a cutting tool to hand. The safest and best tool is a pair of EMT shears, like this, which you can by for a few quid on Amazon or from a medical supplies store.
Suspension looks cool and is great fun, but it is NOT the be-all, end-all. It is also very dangerous if not done properly. Gain proficiency in floor-work before you even think about suspending, and then do it under the tuition of an experienced rigger. Bottoms, this applies to you too – don’t ask someone to suspend you when you’ve never even worn a basic chest harness before.
Rope is for everyone! No matter the size of your body or your ability level, you can do rope if you want to. Listen to your body and be prepared to adjust.
Get some lessons! Rope bondage is inherently risky, and can be dangerous if not done properly. If you’re really lucky, there might be a rope studio near you. Otherwise, see if there’s a Peer Rope event in your area (these are usually listed on Fetlife) or find a trusted private tutor.
Check out some instructional Youtube videos. Ask in your local community or on Fetlife for recommendations, as not all teachers are created equal.
Rope can be a scene in itself. “Tie them up and fuck them” is great if that’s your thing, but don’t discount the possibility of rope for the sake of rope. Some of my most amazing scenes have been rope and nothing else.
To keep your rope in the best condition, coil it and put it away as soon as you can after a session.
This is worth reiterating: NEVER leave a bound person alone!
Bound to Please Silicone Paddle
I’d never used a silicone paddle before, so the Bound To Please Silicone Paddle was an exciting new addition to my impact play collection. It measures 41cm long by 6cm wide and is nice and light to handle. Silicone is super easy to clean and sterilise (just chuck it in boiling water or use a body-safe medical wipe), and as it contains no animal derived materials is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
I tested this one out with The Artist. From what I recall, my reaction to it was a string of profanity, followed by tears (because it hurt so fucking much, y’all). Due to the density of the silicone and the slender design, what feels like a relatively light stroke to the Top can deliver a hell of a sting to the bottom.
This thing is fucking vicious.
I absolutely adore this paddle. But I am an experienced bottom and have been doing impact play for well over a decade at this point. Unless you have a high pain tolerance and a very clear idea of your body’s capabilities and limits, I cannot recommend this paddle to a beginner.
Start slowly. People can take more impact if you build up gradually rather than just whack them at full force straight away!
Remember that the goal isn’t “take as much as you possibly can”. The goal is for both of you to have fun and get something out of the session.
Get clear about what kind of scene you want and what impact play means to you. Playing with punishment is hot to some people, and emotionally painful for others. “Teacher spanking a naughty student” roleplay is a VERY different scene to “I’ve had a terrible week and need you to spank me until I cry“, even though both might superficially look similar.
Learn the safe areas of the body to hit. Upper back and butt = good. Thighs, chest and genitals = yes if you’re careful. Face, head, joins, spine, lower back and neck = absolutely not.
Making your partner count the strokes and/or ask you for them can be super hot. Try phrases like, “Thank you Sir/Miss, may I have another?”
Other recommendations for your beginner kit…
When you’re just starting out in kink, you don’t necessarily want to spend a fortune on kit – especially before you’ve fully worked out what you like! Exactly what you prioritise spending your money on will, of course, depend on your interests. But here’s a few things I think you should consider for your basic all-purpose kink kit…
Thank you to Francesca at The Pleasure Garden for sending me these items to review. Please check out the affiliate links in this post – by buying from The Pleasure Garden, you’ll be supporting a small woman-owned business as well as sending a little commission my way to help me keep doing what I’m doing. All views are, as always, my own.