Fine Art: Sculpting HDU With Master Artist Brett Steeves

One of the most impressive projects we’ve seen at Coastal Enterprises is the hand-carved sculpture of wild horses sculpture featured on our home page. We’ve always marveled at the skill required to bring such a beautiful piece to life, and when offered an opportunity to interview its creator recently, we we were overjoyed!


The artist, Brett Steeves, also known as “Somers”, is a freelance artist out of western New York. Largely self-taught throughout his 35-year career, Brett is also an Indiana University and Herron Art School alumni. His studio often collaborates with designers on a wide variety of projects. A client in Southwestern Florida mentioned to him that the high ceilings in their home left a rather large blank wall crying out for something to fill the void. As a solution to this issue, Somers designed and fabricated (entirely by hand) the magnificent sculpture featuring a herd of wild horses.


Beginning with three 4″ x 4′ x 8′ sheets of Precision Board PBLT-15, Somers shaped and carved the herd of wild horses in Bas-relief. The final pieces were primed with FSC-88WB Primer/Filler and coated with PB Hardcoat, before a faux finish was applied to create the appearance of a stone carving.


The sculpture was received well and fit right in the the designer’s vision and choices for the home. According to Somers, “Whenever I’m challenged with a sculpting project, my ‘go-to’ product is Precision Board. I can rely on it to withstand the elements and provide my clients with sculptures that will outlast anything else.”


Many commissioned sculptures created by Somers begin with Precision Board. These life-size dolphins were shaped with PBLT-4 so they would be light enough to be held up with monofilament line.

dolphins 1

This multi-media sculpture required faux stones. Once again, PBLT-15 to the rescue!

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Currently Somers spends much of his time working directly with designers and sculptors creating innovative ways to infuse artwork into every possible application. You can catch up with his ongoing news at

A faux Precision Board wine barrel and wall art..

wine barrel end

24k Gold Leaf Masterpiece!

Have you ever wondered how gold leafing is done? We had the opportunity to speak with Francis Bastow, Owner of Donehere Inc., located in Newark Valley, NY and he shared a couple of his most recent projects, and some gold leafing tips with me. Having been involved in the signage/bronze industry for most of his life, he is now retired and strictly does high-end work for churches.

Many of the projects he does involve gold leafing and lots of it. Francis has done work in churches all over the country, and most recently completed 2 separate Seraphim’s for churches in Warren, OH and Binghamton, NY.

Historically, many of the art pieces inside churches are done using basswood. Unfortunately, over time, humidity changes cause basswood to crack. On these last two churches, Francis opted to try Precision Board Plus HDU because it holds up well in extreme temperatures and will not absorb water.

These particular Seraphim’s were designed using ArtCam and routed from Precision Board Plus PBLT-18. Francis then primed them using FSC-88WB Primer/Filler. He then proceeded to the gold leaf stage. While many sign makers use 17k gold when gold leafing signs, Francis prefers to use 24k, which is pure gold. The benefits of using 24k gold leaf are that it will not tarnish, especially when touched by people.

Starting out, he applied sizing to the primed Precision Board Plus – he prefers a “slow” sizing, giving him more time to work. Once the sizing was applied, he knew when it was ready to apply the gold leaf by pressing his knuckle against it, and feeling it slightly stick to the surface. According to Francis, this is an old-timers trick. He then painstakingly applied the 3.5″ squares of 24k gold leaf until the Seraphim was completely covered. Once it was finished, he then applied raw umber to highlight the darker areas for definition.

You can see a  great guide on gold leafing by Sign & Digital Graphics here.

Additional info can be seen on Francis’ website at: