Vanda Orchids

I feel so enthusiastic about these orchids, that I wanted to share them with you all!  I'm a newbie when it comes to making them, and had avoided vandas and oncidiums (mostly out of fear).  So, I bought Scott Clark Woolley's DVD set and cutters, figuring that having the right equipment and the proper guidance would be essential to success, especially with sneaky, fiddly sugar orchids.  Unlike peonies, which I adore making from sugar, and which have so many petals that a multitude of beginners' sins can be concealed amid the frilly abundance, vandas (and other types of orchids) have only two petals, three sepals, and a very delicate throat.  In other words, each component has to be just right.

I watched the DVD two evenings ago and attempted these orchids yesterday. The only thing that isn't botanically correct on these is the orchid buds you'll see in one or two photos -- I was so absorbed in the process of making vandas that I wasn't paying attention during the part of the DVD where Scott demonstrates how to pinch the gumpaste ball in THREE places to make the bud casing.  Mine have four creases.  Doh! 

Aren't they pretty?  Vandas are native to India, China, and Malaysia, but have found widespread cultivation due to their attractive and long-lasting blooms.  Apparently, a happy vanda plant blooms every three to four months, and the flowers last about 6 weeks in a tropical climate.  Since Seattle hardly has a tropical climate, I love that I can bring these beauties into my life in everlasting sugar form.  Vandas come in many different colors and pattern variations, but here are some particularly lovely lilac ones -- these are real! -- from photographer Elizabeth Campbell: