The California Prize medal was hand-crafted by Vallejo California metal artist Heidi Nahser Fink with assistance from Peter Morenstein, Cirecast, Inc. who helped Ms. Fink with the mold-making process. Ms. Nahser Fink cast the medal in a process that required a number of painstaking steps. Below, you will find a brief overview of the proces that produced the beautiful, detailed medal that is the California Prize.
The process begins with sketches of the work in an effort to capture a sense of the symbolism and images that will compose the finished work. The sketching is an iterative process as the individual features of the medal are finalized.
From the final a sketch, a prototype is created. Ms Nahser Fink constructed the prototype by cutting, shaping, and joining various pieces of metal precisely as she wanted to finished piece to appear. Once completed, the prototype is a piece of sculpture in its own right.
The prototype is then used to create a mold, or "negative," of the final design. To hold the prototype still while the mold is drying, it is embedded in clay.
The mold is then poured and allowed to dry.
From the mold, a wax "positive" is created. The wax positive is then surrounded by a molding compound that can withstand the necessary high temperatures. Molten silver is then poured into the final mold. For each medal cast, a new wax positive must be created, as the wax is melted – or "lost" – during the casting process
Once cooled, the raw silver medal can then be polished and finished.
The final result is the beautiful and distinctive symbol that is the California Prize.