Without fanfare but with a giant leap of faith for the fine art medal industry, the Greco family of Connecticut has quietly built America's newest plant for the creation of medallic art and highly detailed metal casting. Investing time, sweat, love and an eye to the future, the family built a specialized plant in New England for design and production of medals and sculptural reliefs.
While the plant is spanking new, Greco family members are longtime craftsmen in the rarefied field of bas-relief reproduction and art metal patination. In fact, family patriarch Hugo Greco, celebrated his fiftieth year in the field in 2005. In 1955, he joined Medallic Art Co., then of New York City, and rose rapidly through three production departments to be foreman of the finishing department before the firm moved to Danbury, CT in 1972.
The new plant is located in the Francis J. Clark Industrial Park on a curving road along the gentle rolling hills in southwestern Connecticut in the quiet hamlet of Bethel. The new plant is the third move for Greco Industries since its founding in 1986.
High quality medals and trophies are most prominent among the products the firm manufactures. No pot metal and quickly machined items here; all products are made from sculptors' models. The firm's client list is an impressive who's who of renowned organizations. Greco Industries has worked with the National Collegiate Athletic Association for nearly 20 years, creating trophies and medals for the athletes of America's collegiate competitions. The NCAA National Championship Trophy that has been held aloft by the winning teams has been proudly crafted by the firm.
Those NCAA trophies are relief casts mounted on two-foot tall walnut plinths. They are given a custom patina finish, a permannet coloring of the surface metal, before being mounted on the wood trophies. Over the years, Greco has produced thousands of these trophies for the NCAA, spanning the nearly 3 dozen sports competed by the athletes of the member colleges of the NCAA.
A recent production is the Carnegie Hero Fund Medal, an award that the organization bestows to civilians across America and Canada for acts of lifesaving, heroism and bravery. Greco Industries is proud to produce these medals for the Carnegie Foundation as it enters its second century of honoring ordinary people doing extra-ordinary acts in the preservation of human life.
The medal front is a portrait of their benefactor, Andrew Carnegie, with the reverse bearing the recipients name and deed. This part of the medal is quite a challenge, with each one being not only different, but also at the insistence of Andrew Carnegie, the letters of the inscriptions are raised. This requires a special insert die to made for every medal that is produced.
One of Greco Industries specialties is the production of reliefs made by electrodeposition. The end product of this process are call galvanos, in honor of Luigi Galvani, an Italian Scientist, who in 1791 became the first person to observe electric current. Electricity is required to deposit tiny particles of metal onto the mold or pattern, and over time the metal builds into an exact reverse copy of the sculptors model.
Gold, silver and copper - any metal that conducts electricity - can be electroformed. But the number of variables, composition of the solution, its pH factor, its temperature, amperage of the current , preparation of the pattern, all must be carefully controlled by the expert Greco craftsman.
The process, which appears mysterious to some, requires knowledge of metallurgy, chemistry, physics and art. It all takes place in large tanks filled with an electrolyte solution in which the pattern is immersed and wired to conduct a mild electric current.
Bronze metal patination is another of the firm's specialized talents. The process is similar to coloring bronze statues. An acid solution is applied to the bronze object - medal, galvano or statue - that chemically alters the surface metal. Colors are typically green or brown, but virtually a rainbow of metallic colors can clothe the naked copper or bronze skin. This is not a coating, but a permanent, protective, attractive surface.