Front Range

High Notes

February 2013

Glitz and glamour are at the heart of this month’s Grammy Awards in Hollywood, but the winners each have a little more bling than everyone else thanks to one small-town Colorado sculptor. Since 1992, John Billings and his three-man team have handmade nearly 9,000 Grammy statues out of their Ridgway workshop, Billings Artworks. They typically send close to 250 polished gramophones west to California each year, but that number can balloon to more than 400 when a winning artist has a throng of producers
and sound engineers (e.g., Carlos Santana). The coveted awards take 15 hours of labor apiece and are made of a zinc-aluminum alloy known as “grammium”—a term Billings coined himself. “I heard the Oscars were made of britannium. I looked that up and found out it was just tin,” he says. “But britannium, like grammium, sounds so much more regal.”