Alpha Studios: Technology Meets Traditional Craftsmanship

CNC is a technology used in many studios today when shaping Precision Board Plus HDU, high density urethane. When large scale or multiple pieces are required, CNC is an excellent choice. The craftspeople at Alpha Studio in Irvine CA have the capability to CNC, but in some instances they prefer to utilize traditional hand skills to generate their pieces.

When Alpha Studio meets with a client for the first consult, they have them bring appropriate photos, sketches, sizing and colors that the final object will contain. From the provided information, Brett McKim, the lead sculptor, will begin to sketch the shapes on the HDU. He prefers to use 12 – 20 pound Precision Board Plus HDU depending on the end use of the sculpture. “Most often, the sculptures are used to pull silicone RTV tooling from, so the higher density material (PBLT-20) is wonderful.”

When a particular client requested a clear cast urethane “flame” for use in their interior fireplaces, Brett McKim knew just what to do.

Brett goes on to explain:

During the initial consult, the client was present during the initial sketching and carving so that they could provide input as to how much detail was desired. The flames were created fromPBLT-20 using a 6” knife and some sand paper. A completely smooth surface in this application would not have been as interesting as a textured surface since a textured-gloss surface plays with the light and color. After the master was sculpted, it was coated with a layer of polyester primer. The polyester primer was applied in such a way that it left a course texture on the surface of the Precision Board Plus. For the gloss portion of the equation, an automotive clear coat was applied prior to tooling.

3 Gallons of silicone RTV tooling material was used to create the mold of each flame. The castings were created from two-part urethane clear casting resin and wisps of color were added for a more realistic appearance. In total, there were 12 cast.

“We use Precision Board Plus in many different applications and choose our densities per the project we are doing,” says McKim.

For other interesting and versatile projects by Alpha Studio, check out their web site at or call (949) 748-1549 and speak to Brett McKim.


Safety first

I used hemp rope through an antique pulley to hang the barrel sign. I frayed and knotted the rope appropriately. While the sign was plenty secure I decided it needed a little more – just to be on the safe side. The eye bolt on the barrel was welded to a steel frame imbedded into the sign. It would go nowhere. I bought some braided steel cable with matching hardware to act as a safety. I threaded it along the rope, through the pulley and looped it over the beam before fastening it back to itself. It looked pretty good but the wire was bright silver and needed toning down to disappear. I used a small brush to dab a little dark brown paint on it. That did the trick with little effort. In the dim light it is all but is invisible.
The lighting is right for the mood we are creating but lousy for taking picutres. I used additional light to snap these.
Stay tuned for more around the pub soon…

Published with permission from Source.