How One of Hollywood’s Most Coveted Awards Is Made

Hollywood awards season is the equivalent of March Madness for cinephiles across the world. Each year, dozens of organizations, guilds, and foundations hold their own special award shows to celebrate the best films and performances. One of the most prestigious awards in show business is the SAG award, given out by the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Coveted by performers, the SAG awards first debuted in 1995 and has been going strong for nearly three decades.

The SAG award is notably distinct in that it specifically (and expectedly) celebrates the art of thespianism. Naturally, the award itself reflects that. Aptly dubbed “The Actor”, the solid bronze cast award is a statue of a man who is seen holding both a mask of laughter and sadness. Over a dozen SAG awards are created each year by hand, with each award sporting a unique number to distinguish it.

In covering The American Fine Arts Foundry, The Hollywood Reporter was given a sneak peek as to how the SAG awards are created by hand each year by an expert team of awards crafters.

It All Starts with Silicon and Plaster

The first step in crafting a SAG award is by creating a silicon rubber and plaster mold. Afterwards hot wax is poured into the mold to give artists a blueprint to work with. Angel Meza, the production manager behind the foundry compares the pouring of the mold akin to pouring a beer into a pint glass: slow, so less bubbles manifest.

The plaster mold is then carefully removed alongside the silicon rubber once the wax had hardened. From there, the wax statue is removed. However, this early-stage statue lacks The Actor’s iconic arms, where he holds two masks. From there, a team of experts assess the solid wax statue for imperfections such as smudges or seam lines.

The Wax Statue Gets a Ceramic Bath

Once all imperfections are removed, the statue is then dipped into a ceramic material. This is to create a second mold which will then hold the molten bronze that awardees know. Silica sand, a common material to boost structural integrity and accentuate details is later applied to the wax statue mold. The mold will then take eight ceramic baths and be applied with silica over the course of a week.

The Award Begins to Take Shape

After a week of ceramic and silica dips, the mold then meets a scorching flame where the inner wax statue melts away. Molten bronze is then poured into the hollow mold. Once the bronze cools, the award begins to take shape after the mold is broken away, leaving a bronze statue that requires sanding. Thanks to a variety of welding techniques and polishing tools, any imperfections are lifted away, resulting in a smooth bronze statue. Afterwards, The Actor’s arms with the two masks are welded on.

Final Steps Before The Actor Gets Shipped Off to the SAG Awards

The Actor is almost ready. Once the statue has been polished, it will get torched and introduced to chemicals to produce a crisp charcoal look. The statue is later painted with copper nitrate, giving the award its signature green, antique look. After a quick polish, a base of solid granite Is applied. Each Actor is individually engraved with a number to distinguish it. After the show wraps up, winners can take their Actor to an engraving station to display their name and the project for which they won for.

Each industry has its own special set of awards, trophies, and plaques that highlight an individual’s accomplishments. The SAG Awards’ Actor shows just how much hard work and time goes into crafting an award. The next time you receive an award or gift, consider the journey it went on, from thought to execution, to fully understand just how powerful it is.