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An actor's best friend -- and how they're made

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Warning: this is a geekified installment of PopWatch (think EW meets the Discovery channel). I got up at 6 yesterday morning to make it out to this teeny shop in Burbank called the American Fine Arts Foundry. Taking place there was the pouring of the Actors, a.k.a. the 16-inch tall guys that will be given to actors by actors at the, er, Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 28. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how these 12-pound statuettes are made:

First, a silicone rubber mold with a fiberglass casing provides a hollow wax impression of the original sculpture. A few coats of heated wax are then poured into the hollow casing. (This made me think of Paris Hilton. ‘Cause she was in House of Wax, not because there’s a hollowness… oh, never mind.) The foundry guys then break it into two parts (see Slide No. 1), and examine it for flaws.

The wax Actors are then stabbed with rods — ouch! — so that air will be able to escape while the bronze flows in (Slide No. 2).

The wax model then gets a super-facial for five days: it’s dipped in a solution and coated with sand every day. The end result: a sandy ceramic shell — not exactly the result you’d want for your face. (Slide No. 3)

After the wax melts inside, the guys in the astronaut suits pour 2100-degree molten bronze into the shells. (Slides 4 through 6)

The solid bronze Actors are broken free from their ceramic coats (Slide No. 7) and given a patina or green-black sheen (Slide No. 8). After about eight weeks, they’re finally ready for their close-ups and a new owner (Slide No. 9). I, for one, wouldn’t mind sitting on Brad Pitt’s shelf; trust me, he’s even better looking in person.

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