His figure is unmistakable. Resplendent. Glamorous. And the most desired within the film industry. It is the silhouette of a naked man, golden skin, with his arms crossed holding a sword on a film reel of five spokes that represent the original branches of the Academy: actors, directors, screenwriters, producers and technicians.
With its black base, it measures just over 34 centimeters, weighs 3.85 kilograms and needs no introduction: the whole world knows what they are The Oscar Awards. What perhaps very few know is how statuettes are made.
94 years after its birth, this Sunday, March 27, the precious sculpture will once again capture all eyes. “And the Oscar goes to…” (“And the Oscar is for…”), the phrase coined as a symbol of the previous step to enter the stellar constellation of Hollywood, will be heard again and again during the gala that will take place will develop in Dolby Theater of the city of Los Angeles.
And those who are winners in the Californian night will have in their hands a award molded in an almost handcrafted way, made of solid bronze and plated in gold.
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The elaboration processat the height of the lights that characterize Hollywood, is in charge of Polich Tallix, a fine art foundry located in Rock Tavern, New York, which in 2016 replaced RS Owens, another prestigious American company (from Chicago) dedicated to making trophies that, using Britannia Metal and gold plating, had been making statuettes since 1982.
The Academy’s quest in dealing with this change was to return to the award’s artistic roots, art deco stylewhich was originally designed by Cedric Gibbons, the artistic director of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, and sculpted by George Stanley.
This is how the statuette of the Oscar Awards is made
Using a Oscar award Cast bronze from 1929, the craftsmen of Polich Tallix restored the subtle features of the mother sculpture through digital scans, also generating a modern pedestal. The digital Oscar was 3D printed and modeled so it can be cast in wax.
Thus, each wax statuette is dipped in ceramic, then cured and cooked in a fire of more than 800 degrees Celsius, a process in which the wax melts and leaves only the carved shape of Oscar. Next, the piece is covered in liquid bronze at almost a thousand degrees centigrade, it is allowed to cool and is sanded so that it is well polished.
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Epner Technologya well-known Brooklyn company, is in charge of galvanizing with a layer of 24 karat gold every Oscar award. The bronze of the bases of the statuettes receives a smooth black patina that is polished by hand to achieve its satin finish and, after the award is presented, a polished bronze plaque is attached to the center, where the name and identity will be inscribed. winner category. The production time of 50 of these traditional trophies is three months.
Oscar Awards: The Tale of the Uncle by the Name
One of the great mysteries surrounding the coveted statuette is Where does your name come from. The most widespread version originated in 1931, when the then librarian of the Academy and later executive director Margaret Herrick saw for the first time the “Academy Award of Merit”, such is its original name, and commented that it reminded him of his uncle Oscar.
Although the nickname became popular after Sidney Skolski will use it in his journalistic column to talk about the award for best actress Katharine Hepburnthe Academy did not use it officially until 1939.
How the war affected the creation of the Oscars
Due to metal shortages during World War II, the Oscars were made of painted plaster between 1942 and 1944. Once the war ended, the Academy invited the winners to exchange the plaster figures for others made of gold metal.
a priceless prize
Since 1950, the statuettes were legally protected so that cannot be sold without first offering them to the Academy for the established price of one dollar. If the winner refuses to accept said provision, the Academy will keep the award.