Sal Orlando likes to assemble his small stone figures from colored stones with strong veins

Sal Orlando: “Snail’s Pace.“

The Californian artist follows an unusual path for sculptors

As a sculptor, Sal Orlando takes an approach different from that of most of his fellow artists: he assembles most of his works from pieces of stone, adding individual elements to form a whole, unlike the usual method of working, in which a form is carved out of an existing raw piece. Together with the diverse colors and structures of the many types of stone, this opens up an enormous palette of design possibilities, in addition to the respective form that he creates in his work.

Is our impression correct that more and more artists are moving into this terrain? Is the reason for this that more and more stones with bright colors and exotic structures are appearing on the markets? We are talking about onyxes and marble from Iran, Turkey, and China. Other types with a similar effect, such as granites and, more recently, quartzites from Brazil, are probably less suitable because they are extremely hard.

Sal Orlando: “Underwater Scene.“

Sal Orlando’s work is essentially based on the effect that he does something with the stones that one would not have expected. The most beautiful example is the Clownfish, known from the movie: the red comes from a type of alabaster from Utah, and the white is provided by a marble from Turkey. A resin is added for the black lines. A polish makes the object shine, just like the fish in its habitat in the reef.

It is also typical of the other little animals or the stone flowers that they appear effortless: like their models in nature, they seem to have arisen by themselves – which often leads to people having little respect for the originals.

Sal Orlando: “Butterflawed.“Sal Orlando: “Calla Lilith.“

With some of Sal Orlando’s objects, however, you can sense the work that went into them, such as the butterflies with their fine steel frame.

He likes to expand the possibilities of the stone with technology, for example artificial light: “I also play with illumination, lighting the stone from within, allowing it to come alive at night, as other art goes to sleep,“ he replies to our questions in an email.

He also makes use of technical assistance elsewhere: the fins on the clownfish are attached with magnets, as he reveals in a video on the website: he could hardly send the object any other way.

It is also important to him that viewers can touch his sculptures. His objects have a visual and a tactile component, he writes.

Sal Orlando: “Emergence.“

Sal Orlando is a typical career changer, for whom the necessary skills initially blocked his path into art. Creative work had always fascinated him, but “I struggle with drawing and sketching and I’m not naturally talented in that way,“ he says in a side note in an email.

He only came to his artistic career by chance and then by a long way: during a walk on the beach of Catalina Island off the coast of California, he once picked up a piece of stone and then shaped it with a pocketknife. It was soapstone, and it made this creative activity easy for him.

However, he never lost sight of his creativity during his subsequent work in the hospital and real estate business.

Sal Orlando: “Feminine Wile.“

Then he took part in the California Sculptors Symposium, where there are week-long courses for beginners to experts. “I have not had a formal education in art. It is mostly self-taught by trial and error,“ he writes without anger about the effort that was demanded of him.

Today he no longer needs to sketch, as he makes his objects without any sketches or models, and therefore describes himself as a “direct carver.“

At the moment, he seems to be busy with something else, because selling is not his thing: “My art is filling my house and I do not have much room for more, haha,“ he laughs via email. He needs someone to sell it, he adds.

Sal Orlando

Sal Orlando.

(31.01.2024, USA: 01.31.2024)