Statuettes of the 88th Academy Awards will be cast in bronze as it was originally made for the very first Oscars in 1929. The Academy announced that a new manufacturer will exclusively create its iconic Oscar statuettes starting with this year's awards.
New York-based Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry has got the new contract for making the Oscar statuettes. Returning to the Oscar's fine art roots, the company will hand-cast the statuettes in bronze before giving it its 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 a statement. "The new statuette exemplifies impeccable craftsmanship and the enduring nature of art."
However, the statuettes are not being crafted in solid bronze like those presented at the initial Oscar ceremonies. Using a cast bronze Oscar from 1929, Polich Tallix artisans have restored subtle features of the original sculpture, the Academy said.
"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," it explained.
"Each wax statuette is coated in a ceramic shell that is cured and fired at 1,600F, melting the wax away and leaving an empty Oscar-shaped form," it said, adding that the statuettes are then cast in liquid bronze, cooled and coated with a permanent layer of 24-karat gold.
Designed by George Stanley, the first Oscar statuettes were originally made of gold-plated solid bronze. Within a few years the bronze was replaced by britannia metal, which was plated in copper, nickel silver and finally 24-karat gold to make the statuettes, according to the Academy.
An interesting twist to the making of Oscar statuettes happened during World War II when the statues were made of painted plaster for three years due to metal shortage. Following the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones.
The overall size of the new statuettes to be awarded at 88th Academy Awards remains the same. At a height of 13.5 inches and weight of 3.5kg, the new Oscar retains the basic physical characteristics of its immediate predecessor, the gold-plated britannium statuettes which had been made by Chicago-based R.S. Owens & Company since 1982, the Academy said.
The Oscars 2016 will be held on 28 February at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood and will be aired live on ABC Television Network at 7pm ET (1am BST).