PEOPLE was behind the scenes as the SAG Awards' statuettes were poured in Los Angeles ahead of the big show

By Deirdre Durkan
January 22, 2019 06:28 PM
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The SAG Award statuettes are ready to be handed out!

Ahead of the SAG Awards on Sunday, PEOPLE went behind-the-scenes at the American Fine Arts Foundry to see how exactly the show’s iconic green statuettes are made.

“The statue … isn’t too specific and is open to interpretation,” SAG Awards Committee Vice Chair Daryl Anderson told PEOPLE. “The sharpest and most detailed part of it are the masks. The arms and chest are more developed and finished than the feet, which have no toes, and the face has no nose, mouth or ears. It suggests that something flows from the masks, from role playing, that will eventually fill out and complete the figure.”

25th Annual Casting of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Burbank, USA - 14 Jan 2019
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Under the direction of Brett Barney and Angel Meza, skilled craftsmen transformed the statuettes from molten to metal. Inside the factory, located on an industrial street in Burbank, workers wore welding masks to begin the unique process.

The coveted award was originally designed to be displayed as a fine art sculpture, and the first step in its creation began with a red silicon and plaster mold of the statue, which was prepared with heat. Hot wax was then carefully poured into the mold to avoid bubbles, then removed.

Next, workers examined the solid wax figure for any imperfections and expertly eliminated them before the figures were dipped into a ceramic material.

25th Annual Casting of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Burbank, USA - 14 Jan 2019
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Wearing protective clothing and mittens, the workers poured molten bronze into a wax mold, which was designed more than two decades ago. The molten bronze, which was heated to approximately 2,000 degree Fahrenheit, resembled lava as it was poured into the hollow mold.

While watching the statues get made, Crazy Rich Asians star and SAG Awards Ambassador Harry Shum Jr. compared the process to becoming an actor.

“Anything that is created from basically scratch, from something to nothing, I think really shows the journey of an actor,” he explained. “You get to play this craftsman, you get to craft whatever you want to make. It’s a beautiful process and celebration of work.”

25th Annual Casting of the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Burbank, USA - 15 Jan 2019
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

After the bronze cooled, the casting mold was hammered away and the statue sand blasted.

And in its final steps, the statuette was given arms and copper nitrate was applied to give it its green hue.

Over the years, many actors that haven taken home the honor have commented on the statue’s whopping weight.

“The actors are not faking it when they are like, ‘Oh my God, these are so heavy!’ They are definitely a workout to hold,” actress Elizabeth McLaughlin told PEOPLE, before adding that the award is 16 in. tall and weighs 12 lbs.

The 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Pouring Of Actor Statuette
Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

“I love the actor on it because he has both the masks of tragedy and comedy and he has this motion of, ‘Which one will he wear today?'” she added. “I think that is very encompassing of the journey of an actor. You don’t know what you will play on any given day.”