Iconic Emmy Award statues made ‘old-fashioned way’ by hand with ‘grit, hard work, sense of quality’

Ahead of the 71st Emmy Awards set to air Sunday on FOX, an engineer from the company that makes the iconic statues provided an inside look at the meticulous process of making each one from start to finish — by hand. 

“One of the exciting things here at R.S. Owens is the traditional craftsmanship, the Americana way of doing things, the old-school way in continuing to use some of the equipment that was designed and utilized from the 30s and 40s—the golden years where everything was made entirely by hand," said Joseph Petree, who is the sales and design engineer at R.S. Owens & Co. “Our mold library dates back to 1938 and we’re proud today to be able to use the same molds and the same equipment that we’ve used, in some cases, for up to 75 years,” he said. 

“We at R.S. Owens have been fortunate enough to create the image for the last 38 years,” he said. “We’ve made them all entirely by hand.”

The process starts with virgin metal, which is heated at the company’s furnaces to approximately 700 degrees.  

From there, an operator ladles the metal into a steel mold. Once the casting cures, for approximately 20 to 30 seconds, it’s solid enough to be removed from the mold.

After the casting process, the statue goes to the deburring department, where they grind and deburr each of the statues by hand. 

After the first steps of polishing are completed, the famous Emmy neutron ball is added to the top of the statue.

“Each neutron ball is soldered together by hand consisting of six pieces,” Petree said. 

Then, the statue goes to the electroplating department. 

The series of alloys that are applied to the statue starts with zinc, copper, nickel, pure silver and finally “a nice layer of 24-carat gold.”

The statue then becomes personal in the engraving department. The Television Academy sends the company information on the awards and nominees. The company produces plates for every nominee because “nobody knows who is going to be the final winner,” the engineer said. 

After the statues have been checked for quality control and approved, they are sent to the assembly department, where they are carefully put together. 

“After she’s (the statue) assembled and quality-control checked for the final time, she is then placed in a box designed specifically for her and then wrapped and shipped to the event,” Petree said. 

The statues are made the “old-fashioned way” with “grit, hard work and sense of quality,” he said. 

The “71st Primetime Emmy Awards” will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday, Sept. 22 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. PT, on FOX. For more information, visit www.emmys.com