Sensation play is essentially the use of non-sexual stimuli to illicit a sexual response. Pain can be a part of sensation play, but so can temperature, light touches, and electrostimulation, among others. In my kit, the Wartenberg Pinwheel reigns supreme in the realm of sensation play, and I think it’s one of the best things to happen to BDSM since the invention of rope.
Wartenberg Wheels, also called Pinwheels, are tools with a long handle connecting to a wheel of spikes that rotate as you push the pinwheel along. They are usually made of stainless steel and have an aesthetic perfectly suited to both torture aesthetics and medical fetishists.
The original Wartenberg wheels were used by neurologists to test nerve responses. However, they’ve been out of use in the medical community for a while and have been gleefully picked up by the BDSM scene as a part of sensation play.
But, for beginners, how do you use them to best effect?
While sensation play is often performed blind-folded to give the thrill of surprise at each new touch, I recommend using a Wartenberg Pinwheel without a blindfold. Just look at the toy. It’s wicked looking. Seeing it coming towards you while you’re restrained and unable to stop it gives so much more anticipation than just feeling the pricks of it while blindfolded. Pull the toy out of its case in full view, give the wheel a spin with your finger, or run it along a piece of your own clothing (on a gloved hand, as above, this is particularly striking.)
The pinwheel is a quite easy device to use, which makes it great for newbies. Just roll it along the skin. Slow rolls or quick ones and using different pressures (most pinwheels are slightly blunted and will not break the skin when using, but test yours on your arm to see what pressure level feels comfortable.) Focus on non-genital areas at first–the soles of the feet, the wrists, the throat, the sternum, and the inner thighs are all great targets. When you’re ready, a long, slow line from the stomach to the genitals and on from there. You get the idea.
Like any other piece of kit, clean your pinwheel before and after each use. Usually the pinwheels come in stainless steel, which can be tossed into a dishwasher, boiled, or simply scrubbed to get it clean. If you happen to break the skin during use this should prevent infection, but of course you should sanitize the wound immediately. The cut will probably not be very deep, but use your best judgement if the wound is in a sensitive place or the receiving party has a medical condition that needs to be taken into account.
To find Wartenberg wheels you can look on the websites of Fetish retailers or very simply on Amazon. They can also be found in versions with multiple wheels–Spanking.co.uk sells a three row wheel, Kink Lab sells a seven row version while Master Series produces a nine row model. For more advanced players, models that couple the sensation play with electrostimulation can be found for slightly higher prices. If you are looking for an easy pervertable, look into Tracing Wheels, which are a piece of sewing kit ideally suited to the ask.