Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Forged Iron Acupuncture Needle Guide Tube

Recently, I was asked to make an iron guide tube for a more sedating effect.  This seemingly simple project had two challenges.  The first is that when forging the hammered texture of the tube one side is being struck by the domed face of the hammer while the other rests on the flat face of the anvil.  This simultaneously textures one side while removing the texture from the other side.  I overcame this problem simply by forging it on a soft piece of copper which conformed to the texture of the tube without damaging it, yet giving enough resistance so that a decent texture could be achieved in the first place.  The second challenge was that I had never tried to drill the barrel of an iron tube before so I was very unsure if it could be done.   The drilling went extremely well, but took a great deal of time.  Unfortunately the amount of extra labor involved in making these tubes bypasses the inexpensiveness of the iron used, so their "value" will be determined by the therapeutic benefit gained through the experiences patients and practitioners.  I very much like the way these tools look.  The contrast of polished ends with rough forging is amazing.  They do feel very different than silver.  They have a hard smoothness, while the silver tools tend to feel much softer in the hand.  I do think a forged texture on a silver tube would be unique!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Gold and Silver Teishin Duo Pendant

Gold and Silver Teishin Case
Here is another version of the neck needle or teishin pendant.  Initially I was going to make this case for 3 teishins, but instead I decided to make it sized to fit one 18k gold micro teishin and one slightly heavier silver teishin.  This particular client had requested these tools for treating her son.  I like the idea of symbolizing those closest to us by elements of the jewelry we wear.  In this case, she has both a son and a daughter.  The yin (silver) and yang (gold) duo; a powerful combination.  Keep them close to your heart and protect them.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Iron Sedation Teishin

Iron Teishins
Recently, I was asked to make a set of iron teishins for meridian sedation.  I have been quite obsessed with iron over the last few years.  From a toolmakers perspective it is amazingly versatile, in that it can be worked hot in many steps without damaging the integrity of the steel itself, while the resulting form can be heat treated very specifically for whatever that tool was designed for.  I also really love the way forged iron tools look. The oxidation colors can range from yellow to purple to black.  Each hammer blow leaves a nice texture and story of the tools creation.  These more organic colors and textures contrast beautifully well with the highly polished surfaces of the tools.

The timing of making these tools was perfect because I have been making knives lately and learning a lot about metallurgy and it seems to tie in nicely with Chinese medicine as well.  It was through the work of Knife maker; Ed Fowler, that I was introduced to very sophisticated forging and heat treating methods that result in knives that surpass durability and edge retention tests of other blades made with less specific and labor intensive methods.  In short, each hammers blow and thermal cycle has the potential to benefit the performance of the blade and is forever recorded in the molecules of the blade itself.  Theoretically, the more hammer blows and thermal cycles the better the resulting blade. From the perspective of a craftsman this is what gives me life, knowing that the hand labor and care that is put into each tool is recorded forever in that object.  This is in contrast to a tool that is forged by a machine, often forged in one single strike and thermal cycle; lifelessly and with minimal thought.  These same ideas from the perspective of an acupuncturist makes me think about our own blood's capacity to "store memories" in Chinese medical theory.   Could it be the iron in our blood that gives it the ability to store memory? I do believe that metal objects do seem to carry the energetics of their owner from a kindof sentimental perspective.  Because of irons more organic and rapidly oxidative properties, it may have a stronger ability to record these stories.  In contrast, metals like aluminum have been linked to Alzheimer's disease somehow disrupting memory.  Aluminum works very differently than iron and lacks the ductility, integrity and warmth.  We are surrounded by metals with powerful properties that may be benefitting or disrupting our health.  Furthermore, the way these objects are manufactured (and the love that is put into them) may affect their subtle nature.  Lastly, beneficial metals may be alloyed with other metals in unnatural ways that disrupt our systems.  For example; stainless steel has chromium added to iron so that it is more corrosion resistant, disrupting the irons natural oxidative and more organic nature which seems to resonate better with our own bodies biochemistry.  This is why acu-practitioners such as Shaun Sutton (Author of "How Toxic are My Trousers") have rejected the use of stainless steel in their acupuncture needles as well as all other aspects of their lives.  We live in a time of great technological advancement and we have learned to manipulate the natural materials of the world.  We do so single-sightedly without truly understanding the more subtle changes and toxicity of those materials.  While our technology is changing rapidly, our bodies evolve much more slowly and were adapted over millennia to only natural materials.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Copper Multiple Tool Case

Acupuncture Tool Case
I have been asked many times to make complete kits of tools and cases and finally decided to make a case that could hold more than one tool.  These cases can be made out of copper or silver, but I really like copper because it results in a beautiful and durable case that will not be too expensive to produce.  I dressed this one up with some machined rings and a citrine gemstone setting on the lid.  The case is 3/4" in diameter and a little over 3" long.  It is lined with walnut wood that has five sections drilled for teishins, guide tubes or zanshins.  I like the wood liner but drilling the long ports for the tools is very difficult and inaccurate.  Future cases will have several sections created by using small copper tubes for them.  This should also use the space in the case more efficiently and allow storage of more tools.

Enshin Ring Part Two

Sterling Silver Enshin Ring
Recently, I was asked to make another Enshin ring.  The last one I had made was made with three different parts (a ball, dome, and shaft) that were soldered together.  Since making that one, I have really wanted to make a one piece design with flowing curves between the elements of the design.  This one was made first by carving a wax model, then casting, and further refinement and sizing by diligent filing and sanding.  This curved shape of this Enshin allows it to fit a bit more securely in the fingers and allows the ring to fit a greater range of finger sizes.

The day I finished the ring, I had a two year old girl come in for treatment. This particular girl has been poked and prodded all too much in her lifetime by medical people, so she can be particularly challenging to give a complete treatment to. Fortunately, she responds very well to acupressure and needle-less acupuncture techniques and it doesn't take much to improve her symptoms.   On this day, she was shy to get treated with a teishin so I used the Enshin ring instead.  The ring fit comfortably in my hands and with the dome portion on the palmar aspect of my fingers I was able to just hold her gently while allowing the dome stimulate the points of her abdomen, arms and legs.  I also found I could grasp along the meridians of the arms and legs while simultaneously supplying direct pressure to specific acu-points. This is a very versatile tool.  One thing that I was surprised to notice is that I wanted to use the small ball end more often when stroking the meridians, while I used the dome more often for direct pressure (actually both the dome and ball work well for direct pressure).  It is counter-intuitive that the dome would not work as well for stroking or rubbing techniques because it's gentle curve seems to lend itself to that use.  The larger surface area of the dome creates more friction so does not glide as smoothly as the small ball.  This is especially notable on skin that is sticky or moist.  Of course, the small ball is more yang and dispersing when used in this application so carefully matching the technique to the diagnosis is imperative.

I look forward to making more rings in the future.  I think that incorporating texture and fluting into the dome of the Enshin ring could facilitate more active techniques.  Stay tuned because I have really been wanting to make a derma roller ring!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A "Quiver" of Teishins Pendant

Pendant Teishin Case

Of all the tools I make, the neck needle pendants have been the ones that bring the biggest smile to my face. First off, they are just really neat. You could say they were beautiful as well, but the best way to describe them is that they just have a high "cool factor".  they are even cooler because of what they represent.  Just as we would never go on an extended wilderness backpacking trip without a first aid kit, we are expressing the importance of our medicine in a "don't leave home without it" kind of way.  This shows that we actually see what we are doing as medicine and expressing outwardly a desire to help those in need, not just when they have an appointment but when they need it.  How fitting that this miniature first aid kit resides next to our own hearts.   Because this one holds three teishins, I am calling it a "quiver."  Which reminds me of the ancient Japanese art of Kyudo or archery.   One philosophical idea from Kyudo is that the goal of Kyudo is not that the arrow must hit the target, but that the arrow pierces the heart of the shooter himself.  I think this is a wonderful idea; to believe that our acts should penetrate our very souls.  When creating work like this simple teishin case I feel like I get a glimpse of this part of my self and it gives me much joy.

This case was designed for a massage therapist (I do hate to use that limiting term for this particular client because she has learned so many other techniques and devises very intricate and specific treatment plans for her patients), that uses teishins as well as a diverse array of other treatment techniques ranging from yoga to ultrasound, crystalline sound therapy, tui na, reiki and too many more to list.  I was a bit confused at first because she wanted three identical teishins.  It turns out she has much more co-ordination than I and uses several teishins simultaneously during her treatments.  This case was made a bit differently than my other neck needle cases which are machined entirely from a solid piece of silver.  This case was fabricated from multiple layers of tubing and round bar.  Even the threads were fabricated from coils of wire instead of being cut with a die.  This results in a very attractive and durable thread.  The pendant itself is around 2.5" long, and houses three 16 gage by 2.25" teishins.  I think I will be making myself one of these, maybe with the trio of a gold, silver, and copper teishin.  Now that will be cool!

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Barreled Acupuncture Insertion Tube

This is also one of the oversized Acupuncture tubes with a 4.6mm diameter and 70mm length.  It has the diameter reduced throughout the center section to about 4.1mm so that only the ends that contact the patients skin and the practitioners oshide maintain the full diameter.  This was modeled after some steel tubes that one of my clients particularly liked.  His tubes had more of a angular/mechanical and "trumpeted" appearance, with a greater reduction in the midsection.  I wanted to maintain a little more softness and roundness to this subtle accent.  I also chose to call this effect barreling.  This is a term used in archery to describe an arrow that has been tapered and reduced in certain sections to improve its aerodynamics, and penetration.  I did not think I would like this shape, but after handling it, I have quite come to like it.  The indentation where the diameter swells fits perfectly to the thumb and middle finger when holding the tube or performing one handed reloading. The relative extra mass at the ends makes the tube want to spin in the hand during reload very smoothly.  This is very fun and functional.  I still have a personal preference for smaller diameter tubes as long as they have ample mass.  Fortunately, this feature could be built into my normal diameter tubes as well for the best of both worlds.