For over 20 years, laboratory owner Michael Kazmer, Kazmer Dental Lab, Lancaster, CA, has nurtured a passion for Iaido, meaning "lightening draw," a Japanese samurai's martial art of the sword and way of life that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries. Requiring a concentrated discipline of both the mind and body, the most important element for mastering Iaido is the development of zanshin: a calm, reflective state of mind.
"Iaido is a discipline of steel, the mind and the body. You don't get startled, you just react. You don't think, you just do," says Kazmer, who is a fourth degree black belt and has studied with some of the masters in the field. It has taught him control, patience and concentration, which have also helped him in his lab. "If I have a difficult case, instead of getting frustrated, I work my way through it and, in what feels like five to 10 minutes, two to three hours go by," Kazmer say. "Iaido carries over in everyday life."
Kazmer teaches Iaido classes, and about a year ago, he took his passion one step further and began to create customized, ornamental components--called Menuki and Fuchi-Kashira--for Japanese sword handles using metal and porcelain. The Menuki aids the grip of the sword and the Fuchi-Kashira is the collar and end cap on the handle.
Kazmer, who has a background in fine arts, begins by sketching out the components based on the design requested by the customer. He then fabricates the pieces using a proprietary process that's similar to techniques used in the laboratory. "I use a variety of porcelain colors and stains and I'm branching out by doing detailed inlay work." Kazmer says. "No one else is making components with porcelain so mine are unique."
Priced between $200 and $400, the Menuki and Fuchi-Kashira take anywhere from eight to 24 hours to create, depending on the complexity of the design. Kazmer is trying to take his designs in a new direction and offer customers more traditional options, such as ancient Japanese religious symbols, family crests and marine themes, as opposed to the more modern designs on the market today.
"I just have fun doing it. It breaks up the monotony of doing crowns all the time. I draw from all my knowledge--the art world, the sword world, Japanese culture and dental technology. I'm as limited as my imagination."
For more information on Kazmer's custom creations, call 661-722-5149.