Come Feb. 22, Hollywood will be fêting the stars who take home the Oscars—but there’s little chance any of the acceptance speeches will thank the guys who made the statues. From Martin Vega, who melts pewter alloy for the hardware, to Eladio Gonzalez, who gives Oscar his signature shine, the AP lifts the curtain on the Chicago factory behind the icon.
After melting down bars of high-grade pewter, Vega pours the 780-degree liquid into a steel mold, then dips the 8½-pound man several more times into various metals, including gold. Like beef, Oscar is cured for days to avoid any air holes. After Gonzales gives him a bath and a blow dry, Oscar is ready for his close-up. Says one sales manager of the statue, “not bad for an 81-year-old man.”