Body Rocks: handmade in Hot Springs, Montana
Posted on 21 January 2016
The skin is the body’s largest organ, says LoriAnne Hancock. “It needs stimulation or it will suffer. Babies and old people will die without skin stimulation,” she asserts. The average human is covered by 15 to 20 square yards of epidermis (outer skin) and every inch of it is underlain by approximately 20 blood vessels and a thousand nerve endings.
Hancock discovered the perfect tool to keep the skin happy and healthy. The term “personal massage tool” evokes images of pink plastic and D cell batteries, but the Body Rock is made of material as old as humanity itself—pottery. The rock never wears out, needs no electricity and is smooth and warm to the touch.
Hancock found the prototype body rock at a primitive hot spring in Idaho in 1996. The palm sized basalt cobble is boat shaped, with a pointed prow, a squared stern, a rounded bottom and a hole in the center.
Joyce, a native woman in LoriAnne’s adopted town of Hot Springs, Montana said the stone was used by generations of Indians as a fire drill holder. This is how the deeply dished hole was worn into the hard stone. The “Ur” body rock was both natural and man-made, as are the 4,460 pottery stones that Ms. Hancock hand formed in her little cottage.
Even the Body Rock’s utility as a massage tool was discovered. Hancock asked Hot Springs clay artist Carolyn Gibson to make 20 duplicates of the body rock because the ever entrepreneurial LoriAnne wanted to sell them as tools to help heal hiatal hernias, a condition that causes acid reflux. She suffered from the condition, caused in part by work stress.
Her friends offered feedback about the Body Rock, saying it was a great massage tool. It mimics a masseuse’s thumbs and hands and allows them to press harder and push deeper. The stone has two points for acupressure and deep tissue massage. The hole allows for easy grip and rubbing on protruding bony surfaces like the knee and skull. The body can be rubbed by the edges or the rounded back.
Hancock says the stone can be used on a partner or oneself. A person can rub sore spots while working, driving or watching TV. One can reach almost every part of the body from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. In a pinch, a person can lay on the stone to massage the back. The Body Rock can be heated in boiling water, on a wood stove or even in sunlight. The stone is glazed so that it is smooth enough to rub on bare skin or it can be rubbed over clothing.
Each stone is hand-crafted, hand-painted, glazed and kiln fired. LoriAnne figures she can make one stone an hour, because there are a lot of steps involved. She personally sells them at the Symes Hotel in Hot Springs for $20 each. Since they are hand-made she numbers each stone. She does not use a mold and has no plans for mass production.
After making stones for five years, LoriAnne wants to move into management. She wants to expand production by licensing the product to other artisans all around the world. It could be a good home-based cottage industry for single mothers, retirees and the newly unemployed. She would rather have hundreds of people make Body Rocks than one machine. People could make the stones anywhere and sell them everywhere, health food stores, new age shops, truck stops and swap meets. She said there are six billion people in the world and she has made only 4480 stones in five years. There is a lot of room for growth.
She wants to train and support stone makers and will sell them a block of numbers so that she has some control over the product. Her business plan involves a lot of trust, but she feels passionate about bringing health to the people. “The stone is just a tool, it is not magical. It helps oneself, it brings circulation and that brings healing.”
Hancock’s most recent stones come with embossed instructions that are stone simple, “Rub me on you.”
For more information, contact LoriAnne Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see her at the Symes Hotel in Hot Springs just about every weekend. She is a statuesque woman with wild Bette Midler curly hair and a big toothy smile. She gives Body Rock demonstrations.