Artist Nathan Sawaya, who made the props, tells PEOPLE all about his coveted creations

By Patrick Gomez
Updated February 23, 2015 07:45 PM
Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Usually everyone at the Academy Awards hopes they’ll go home with a gold-plated Oscar, but this year it was all about the Lego versions of the iconic statuettes.

“The great thing about Lego is everyone loves Lego – from adults to the kids,” artist Nathan Sawaya tells PEOPLE.

Sawaya, 41, says he was recruited by the Lego Movie directors Christopher Miller and Phil Lord to construct 20 Oscar statuettes out of Lego pieces to be used as props during the star-studded performance of “Everything is Awesome“, which was nominated for Best Song on Sunday.

“I didn’t have a lot of time,” explains Sawaya, who says he only had “a few days” to complete the statuettes – each consisting of “about 500 Lego pieces.”

“It was just about coming up with a nice design that was accurate to the size and scale of a real Oscar,” Sawaya says of designing the statuettes in his Los Angeles studio, which he says is stocked with over 4 million Lego pieces. “I didn’t have a real Oscar to work with so I was just looking at images online and kind of putting it together. I was pretty much just slapping the bricks together and gluing them together and making it work.”

Sawaya – who was practicing corporate law until ten years ago when he decided to follow his passion and become an artist – says it was “surreal” to see his work on the telecast.

“It’s been really exciting to watch the photos and seeing people still clutching their Lego Oscars at the parties after the show was over,” he says.

And though the requests for statuettes have been rolling in since the telecast on Sunday, Sawaya says don’t expect to be able to order one from him – at least not yet!

“Of course the Academy protects the Oscar very closely so I’m not selling them,” he says. “But I have submitted the design to Lego and maybe we can work something out where Lego can produce it as a kit and we can get the Academy to agree and something really cool can happen.”

Relive the Oscars Red Carpet in 90 Seconds