The top prizes in Mobius Awards are statuettes designed as a continuous strip – the Mobius strip. Sounds simple, but not so. When introduced in 1986, the statuette was described this way:
“…the abstract form of the statuette, like communications itself, is perceived differently by people from various aspects and points of view. The visual imagery of the sculptural design is a testament to the creativity of the advertising industry.”
The statuette reflects an exchange of ideas and attention to detail that makes for successful work in any field, and Mobius Awards has given out more than 600 of them in the past 10 years.
Getting the award to First Place and Best of Show (Grand Prix) winners requires a lot more than just boxing it up for mailing. Long before a winner gets a hand on a statuette, it has been touched by professionals at five companies.
The starting point is with R.S. Owens in Chicago, which does the casting. Mobius Awards started in Chicago and was still there when the statuettes were first handed out, which makes Owens a nice fit.
Today’s statuettes are cast from a mold that began as a model tweaked by a sculptor to ensure the shape could be cast and polished.
“The simplicity of the design belies the extremely complicated process it takes to make the statuette,” says Mark Avenson, VP of marketing at Owens. “The mold has to be able to part correctly to get the sculpture out, and the loops have to be precise to be reached on the inside for both polishing and 24k plating.”
After the clay mold was approved, a plaster cast was made to determine proper fitting and where the mold would be cut. The plaster pattern was pressed into wet sand, and steel was poured in to produce the permanent mold. The parts needed to fit together to ensure a tight seal, along with grooved vent holes. Handles were added to allow a foundry worker to assemble the mold while wearing heavy padded gloves.
Each year, new statuettes are created by pouring molten zinc into the mold opening. After the sculpture cools and is removed, its surface is polished to a mirror finish.
At this stage, the award is inspected, degreased to remove impurities, and electroplated with copper to seal the exterior. Nickel electroplating follows for erosion resistance; this also smoothes out tiny imperfections and gives a rich luster to the final coating. Between steps, the sculpture is buffed and degreased.
After the nickel layer, the sculpture is plated in fine silver, which gives it a bright sparkle. Next come the final coatings of 24k gold and a protective lacquer. Yes, its finish is golden, like the works it applauds.
The Mobius strip is now on the way to becoming your statuette. First, it needs a base and your name and company information engraved on a plate, and a special box.
Next Installment: Putting it all together
By Sandra Brown Kelly, Manager, Media Relations