Cattleya Sculpture

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A new fascination with orchids has brought me to the Cattleya. These orchids are utilized in many hybrid form because of their showy blossoms. The plant itself caught my attention, specifically as it would exist in it's natural habitat, high in a South American rain forest canopy where lots of sun and less water and nutrients are to be exploited. That explains the thickened stalk or pseudo-bulb, a storage system. This sculpture is incomplete, but the general theme carries. My intent is to include many stages along one rhizome, so there is one with just a hint of life peeking out of the bract, then one with several buds, one with a bud and two blooms, one with a stem but the blooms are past, and finally (hidden in this view) a leafless back bulb.
The blossoms are created using a recycled 1 1/2" heavy walled copper fire line from a steam plant. There was lots of annealing needed to shape the 1/16 " thick copper, something new for me. The remainder of the plant is basically mild steel sheet, and rod. The pseudo-bulbs are made in half and welded together, the buds are made in thirds, like an orange peel. There will be considerably more air roots, and the missing column in the blooms will hide the nut.
I'm happy with the color of the copper flower parts, but the steel needs color, maybe a light rust and then BLO to seal it.Any ideas how to get a light rust free of scale?
Frank Cattleya Orchid sculpture, not quite finishedCattleya Plant Sculpture: Cattleya Orchid sculpture, not quite finished

copperjoe's picture

Frank, that is a beautiful

Frank, that is a beautiful piece! I like the contrasting colors like it is, it really brings out the flower heads. If you want a rust color then I would use some of the patina's from Sculpt Nouveau's, you can basically get any color that you want just by mixing some of the patina's. Can't wait to see the finished piece.


Can't never could do Nothing!

Frank Castiglione's picture

Too Shiny

Hi Joe,
Thank you.The raw steel just seems too shiny for me. Hopefully the rust color won't dilute the contrast.
I've never tried a commercial patina, maybe it's time,eh?
I really like the effect you achieved with your Stargazer Lilly.

bigfootnampa's picture

Nice looking work Frank!

Nice looking work Frank! For a refined rust finish repeated applications of an accelerator (such as a vinegar/salt solution) can be applied (preferably hot) and followed by boiling in water. This is a process called rust bluing which you can probably google for more in-depth info.

Frank Castiglione's picture


Hi Bigfootnampa,
Thank you.I've tried regular bluing and failed to oil it well enough which ended up an even brown . Then I BLO'ed it which made a dark brown that looked like leather. If I can achieve this with vinegar and salt then BLO , that would be fantastical, indeed. Thanks.