On February 28th the eyes of the world will be on Hollywood to see who takes home the iconic Oscar statuette at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony. The Oscars are given out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an organization of roughly 6,000 film industry professionals, at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, but the statues themselves are made on the other side of the country—right here in the Hudson Valley.
Beginning this year Council of Industry member Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry, based just a short drive from Newburgh in Rock Tavern, New York, will assume the responsibility of creating the individual statues presented to each year’s winners. For the past 33 years the statuettes have been manufactured at a Chicago trophy company where they were cast in britannia metal and gold plated, however, Polich Tallix will introduce a new process that returns to the Oscar’s fine art roots. Now, the statuettes will be hand-cast in bronze, just as they were in the ceremony’s early days, before receiving its 24-karat gold finish. The Oscar was designed by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons (The Wizard of Oz) and originally sculpted by George Stanley. Polich Tallix intends to restore the subtle features of George Stanley’s original sculpture.
For the restoration process the company started by scanning a classic Oscar from 1928 as well as the modern Oscar used in 2015. These two scans were then blended to make the 2016 design, which was then 3-D printed in wax. A mold of the wax print was made and used to make the modern wax version for each statuette, each of which were then dipped in a ceramic shell slurry. Once the shell is cured, it is fired in an oven at 1600° F. Bronze at 1860° F is then poured into the hot ceramic shell and allowed to cool overnight. When it’s at the appropriate temperature, the bronze castings are broken out of the ceramic shell. The castings are then sanded to a mirror polish finish and electroplated with 24 karat gold. The statuette’s base, also cast in bronze, is given a smooth, black finish. 50 of these statues were produced for the Academy over a period of about three months. So be aware that when the Oscars are broadcast live to over 225 countries and territories, people around the world will be seeing some of the Hudson Valley’s finest craftsmanship on display.