Oscar Statuette Gets a Face-Lift

Oscar - P 2016
Courtesy of Dorith Mous / ©A.M.P.A.S.

This year's statuettes will be produced by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry and will be hand-cast in bronze before receiving their 24-karat gold finish.

The Oscar statuettes that will be handed out at the 88th Academy Awards on Feb. 28 will be produced by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry, based in Rock Tavern, N.Y., the Academy announced Tuesday.

Polich Tallix is new to the Oscar game — since 1982, the statuettes have been manufactured by Chicago’s R.S. Owens & Co. And this year's Oscar will restore what the Academy said are "subtle features" from George Stanley's original design.

In turning to Polich Tallix, the Academy said the statuettes, which had previously been cast in a pewter alloy, will now be hand-cast in bronze before receiving a 24-karat gold finish.

“With the help of some 21st century technology, we’re able to honor the Oscar’s proud beginnings,” Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in making the announcement. “The new statuette exemplifies impeccable craftsmanship and the enduring nature of art.”

Using a cast bronze Oscar from 1929, Polich Tallix artisans have have gone back to Stanley’s original sculpture, which was based on sketches by MGM art director Cedric Gibbons.  “With this project, we’ve been entrusted with continuing a great tradition,” said Polich Tallix founder-CEO Dick Polich.  

As described by the Academy, Polich Tallix started its Oscar-making process by creating digital scans of the 1929 statuette and a modern-era pedestal base. The digital Oscar was then 3D-printed and molded so the form could be cast in wax.  

Each wax statuette is coated in a ceramic shell that is cured and fired at 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit, melting the wax away and leaving an empty Oscar-shaped form. The statuettes are then cast in liquid bronze at more than 1,800 degrees, cooled and sanded to a mirror polish finish. 

The figure portion of each Oscar is electroplated with a permanent layer of reflective 24-karat gold by Epner Technology, a renowned high-tech specification electroplating company in Brooklyn. The statuette’s bronze base receives a smooth black patina, which is hand-buffed to a satin finish.

The time required to produce 50 statuettes in this manner is about three months. 

And the overall size of the statuette remains the same, with a height of 13.5 inches and weight of 8.5 pounds.

The Academy will continue its long relationship with R.S. Owens to service existing statuettes and create other awards for the Academy, including plaques for its annual Scientific and Technical Awards.