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Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

What They Were Really Doing: Part 1

As promised, here's another peek behind the scenes as to what really happens at Apple Awards when the boss is gone (which, to his relief, is pretty much the same as what happens when he's there.) 

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Several clipboards were up on the order board the day I dropped in.  Stacey, Kate and Bill were all occupied at their stations. I thought Kate's project was interesting and different from the "apple" theme I'd seen so often.  

She had a number of metal plates with scrolled edges lined up on her desk and was watching another one go through the laser engraver.  The plates were one element of retirement plaques being made for a major organization in the eastern U.S.  Each one was taking about 10 minutes to engrave and she had over 40 of them to do.  That's a lot of minutes.  

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These plaques also had an emblem with a logo, that was to be applied to the circle on the metal plate.  And to finish, the metal plate was to be mounted on a dark walnut wooden base. The many details of this product took a lot of attention and focus (Kate's specialties).

All the information about this plaque, including its custom logo was digitally stored and will be available for future orders as well.  That is one of the conveniences that Apple Awards offers its customers, aiming to please, as usual. 

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All That Glitters Is Not Gold

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Some of it is brass. Polished to a high sheen, brass is beautiful, reflective, rich and mimics gold. It is actually an alloy of copper and zinc. Copper can be combined with many other minerals in various proportions that give it different properties – brass being one alloy that is used a lot for items that are cast with a mold, like the brass apple featured as an exclusive item at Apple Awards. Because of it's unique properties brass is also used for musical instruments, many kinds of horns, cymbals, and bells.

 

The brass items obtained wholesale at Apple Awards are bought in various stages of finish. However, the Apple crew is very particular about their brass apples and bells. Small scratches and dents that might pass muster elsewhere do not make the grade at AA.  Brassmaster Randy has devised his own finishing methods. In his shop area with special gadgets he applies a beautiful satin finish to the brass items which makes them less susceptible to scratching and easier to care for. Each piece that needs attention gets milled and hand polished before going on to the next steps.

 

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 One of the most popular brass items at AA, bells, come in all sizes. After being inspected and polished, they are ready for engraving and are taken to the laser engraver. Online, customers can choose the size of bell they want, then layout their desired engraving and personalization on the Apple Award website. The new website allows them to see what their finished award will look like.  A software program allows Kate to transfer the information to the engraving machine and one at a time the bells are engraved.  It's a process...

 

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To finish the bells, handles of hardwood and brass clappers are put in place. A final cloth polish takes care of any smudges or fingerprints. The bells are boxed for delivery.

 

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Other places you might find brass at AA - sheet brass is used as the background for engraving placed on plaques and award bases.  Some decorative touches, such as the stems on crystal and marble apples are brass and some trophy figures may be brass as well.  (And of course, you can almost always find the "top brass" sitting in his office or somewhere on the premises...) Hats off to the usefulness of beautiful, bright brass!

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Etching, the Process

I was hanging out at Apple Awards one day when some crystal apples were being prepared for a client. The etching process was being done and I found it very interesting. By definition, etching is a type of engraving done with a corrosive material, sometimes acid, but in this case, very fine sand. Think of it as a small version of sandblasting where the sand actually marks the smooth surface of the glass. Couple the process with computerized graphics and you have a beautiful way of personalizing the crystal apple.

This process takes place in a dedicated workroom at Apple headquarters. Much like a photographic darkroom, it has special lighting and no windows (mysterious aura descends...) The client's logo and award wording has been laid out via computer and is now being developed onto a special film which will become a stencil. The developer is rinsed off in a water bath and the result is a sheet with multiple patches of the personalization which can be peeled off and placed like a template on the surface to be etched.

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The surface in this case is the clear crystal apple. The patches are carefully placed by hand, and the surface of the apple around the patch is protected with masking tape. The apples go back into the etching room and, one by one, they go into the etching chamber. This small chamber is accessed through hand holes so the operator can be protected while handling the etching wand. Thick protective gloves are worn. The etching sand is directed at high speed over the surface of the apple and marks the areas not protected by the stencil. Voila! An etching is created. The stencil is washed off and the apple is cleaned and packaged.

 

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As you can see, there is some careful hand work given to each award created in this way. Large orders take skill, time and patience and even small orders get focused attention– commodities that the Apple team members are happy to provide.   

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