Aves Studio creates popular sculpting products like Apoxie Sculpt, Fixit Sculpt, and Critter Clay. They are one of the first companies I contacted as I was planning which products I would carry in my toy store. I got my first of many surprises when I found out that their base of operations was less than an hour away from me, just across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. Instead of having my first shipment delivered, I decided to drive to Aves Studio in Hudson, Wisconsin and learn more about them.
I got another surprise as I made the left turn into their parking lot and saw that they specialize in taxidermy as well. In fact, I would later find out that taxidermy was the inspiration for many of their most popular products. David Brummel is the founder of Aves Studio, and he began wishing for a better sculpting product while working on a taxidermy project in his dad’s basement when he was 11 years old. He founded Aves Studio in 1976 in Troy Township, Wisconsin.
I received a third surprise as soon as I opened the door to their studio:
In addition to showcasing their sculpting products, the public area of Aves Studio is also a museum of their taxidermy creations. I had never seen so many stuffed animals in one place before. I am no taxidermy expert, but every one of these creations definitely looked as if it could still be alive. There were even creatures of legend on display, like the mythical jackelope:
Soon after I entered and had a chance to look around, I was greeted by Amber, an Aves Studio employee and also the owner’s daughter. She showed me their product area, and gave me the history of their first product, Apoxie Sculpt. Her father studied animal science, biology, and chemistry in college, and shortly after college he came up with the substance that eventually became Apoxie Sculpt. The “A” in Apoxie stands for atypical – as the best combination of epoxy and natural clay. It is sculptable, durable, non-toxic, and hardens overnight without baking.
She showed me a photo album of sculptures that their clients have created with Apoxie Sculpt, including the head of the alien in Alien: Resurrection and the decorations on the swords in Braveheart. This album had tons of really impressive work in it.
I was not allowed into the manufacturing area of their studio, as they have to keep their manufacturing techniques a secret. However, Amber did provide samples of all of their products for me to test. One of these was Aves Safety Solvent. I have used their Apoxie Sculpt for years, and I have always used water for smoothing it out and cleaning my tools. Satefy Solvent works much better than water, and I really liked the smooth surface it gave the final product.
Another product was Fixit Sculpt. Amber explained how this compound has more natural clay in it than Apoxie Sculpt, which means it resists sagging and drooping better. It also has a 4 hour working time as opposed to 2 hours. It feels much more like clay, and is very different to sculpt with. I think it will take a while to get used to. I took a small sample home with me, but I plan on buying a larger quantity later and seeing how it performs for Minimate use.
If these two products stand up well to regular use in customizing, I will be adding them to the store, as well as posting my impressions here at the Factory.
Amber gathered my order together and I headed back to Minnesota again. I am really glad that I visited their studio in person, and got to see all the different things that people are doing with their products. Amber was very friendly and helpful, and the taxidermy aspect of their studio was a pleasant surprise.
We have already sold a lot of Apoxie Sculpt at our store, so I’m sure I will need to place another order soon. Instead of having it shipped to me, I might just make the journey back to their studio of wonders again.