“How An Oscar Statue Is Made”

August 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

“The Oscar statuette was designed in 1928 by Cedric Gibbons.  MGM’s chief art director and one of the Academy’s founding members.  Fredric Hope, who was then Gibbons’ assistant, created the original Belgian black marble base, and artist George Stanley sculpted the design.  The California Bronze Foundry hand-cast the first statuette in bronze plated with 24-karat gold.

Today the statuettes are manufactured in Chicago by R.S. Owens & Company using a metal alloy called britannia.  After the initial casting, artisans buff the statuette’s rough surface, leaving a dull pewter-like finish. Polishers then give it an even smoother shine to prepare it for electroplating.

Electroplating involves dipping the statuette into several different liquid solutions, each of which contains a different sheet of metal. An electric current imparts a positive charge to the metal and a negative charge to the Oscar, causing tiny ions of the metal in the solution to bond to the statuette.

The Oscar is first plated with copper to prevent corrosion.  Then nickel is plated over the copper for adhesion.  A silver layer provides further protection against corrosion, as well as a bright and shiny surface for the final layer: 24-karat gold. Once electroplating is complete, the Oscar is sealed with a heavy coat of lacquer.

Each statuette is then engraved with a unique identification number behind it’s heels-a practice that was started in 1949. Finally the Oscar is mounted onto its base, which currently is finished with black nickel plate. It will receive an engraved gold nameplate once its future owner is announced.

At its official height and weight, the Oscar stands 13 1/2 inches tall and weighs 8 1/2 pounds.”

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