The return of silk flowers

Faux Is the New Fresh

The term “silk flower” has become a generic reference to a craft that’s been around for hundreds of years. Over its long history, the art of recreating the beauty of perishable flowers into a more permanent form has brought us everything from luxurious silk flowers to downright tacky artificial flowers made of plastic.

Nowadays, the vast improvements in the quality of flowers is a driving force behind the resurgence of the humble artificial “silk” flower. Interior designers across the country have deemed faux flowers and plants as one of the hottest trends this year.

Origination of Silk Flowers

While the production of silk itself originated in China, the Italians were first to make and sell silk flowers as early as the twelfth century. The French soon followed, and, by the fourteenth century, became masters of the craft.

As the French Revolution ended in the late 1700s, many displaced flower artisans brought their craft with them to America. In the late 1800s during the Victorian era, there was a surge in silk florals—a time where they adorned most women’s bonnets, and an overdone style of décor was the norm where every table and mantelpiece bore flowers.

When the 1900s rolled around, artificial flower making was a blossoming art form (yeah, a cheesy pun there). Artisans introduced new materials beyond silk such as crepe, gauze, muslin, velvet, among others. Some even used wood, porcelain, metal, and wax. To commemorate deceased loved ones, artisans would sometimes use human hair to make flowers.

Handicraft to Manufactured

The assembling of artificial flowers began as a respectable craft for women when the art first arrived in America. As popularity and demand grew, the art of artificial flower making shifted from a handicraft to a factory produced industry. Manufacturers were mass producing silk flowers for extensive use in wedding and ball gowns, shoes, bags, and many other forms of fashion items.

By 1920, when fresh cut flowers were in short supply, florists began adding artificial ones to their repertoire. Soon, a trend toward wreaths and ornaments using false fruit flourished. Then, a downward trend hit the industry with the introduction of celluloid in the 1940s.

Celluloid—the first synthetic plastic material developed in the 1860s—became a popular material for artificial flowers. Unfortunately, the synthetic was highly flammable, causing several disastrous fires and prompting a ban on import of the material in 1950. It wasn’t long, though, before a new useable plastic would come along.

The advent of new polymers and urethanes in the 1960s led to the use of colored thin sheets of plastics to make flowers. Mass production of plastic flowers overwhelmed the industry by the 1970s. Sadly, this is when manufacturers compromised the quality and realism of the craft. The new plastic look was not as attractive as its predecessors, and it created a distorted view of what flowers look like. People shunned the awful tackiness of artificial plastic flowers.

It has taken quite some time for manufacturers to rise again following this low point in their history, and for Americans to regain interest in artificial flowers.

Artificial Flowers Today

Proving everything old is new again, faux flowers are on the rise again. Recent advances in fabrics, finishes, and manufacturing techniques are producing products that far surpass any from the past. Silks and other artificial flowers manufactured today are stunningly real looking. Most often, people find they need to touch these faux flowers and plants to distinguish them from nature’s own.

Manufacturers are giving painstaking diligence to ensure the botanical correctness in design, color, and feel. A cotton-polyester blend is a popular choice for construction of artificial flowers, as well as paper, cotton, parchment, among other materials. Plastic continues to be a mainstay in production; however, makers reserve its use for the stems, berries, and other smaller parts of flowers. And innovative technologies are making artificial flowers ever more lifelike. For example, permastem or permasilk technology fuses flowers to their stems producing a more durable, functional, and lifelike flower. Velvet Touch technology produces flowers and plants with a soft, velvet-like texture and dried look. Real Touch technology uses a mixture of fabrics and plastics to create flowers that have a true, realistic look and touch to them.

There is no question that today’s faux flowers are the new fresh look in home décor and designs. People are again falling in love with these beautiful representations from nature that are conveniently low-maintenance and everlasting.

Faux Is the New Fresh

Artificial flowers took a turn for the worse with its unrealistic looking plastic productions. Most folks would stay clear from these tacky flora pieces, or, more disastrously, put these tawdry items in the corner only to gather piles of dust. I would n-e-v-e-r recommend adding a cheap, plastic plant or arrangement to any décor. However, have you seen or felt any modern artificial flowers lately? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. The materials used have come a long way. They look incredibly realistic and so perfectly imperfect that you’ll have a tough time telling them apart from their real brethren.

Admittedly, I’m obsessed with the natural, real look and feel of faux plants and flowers. Truth be told, I have nearly 40 of these gems all around my house, ranging from tall trees to small arrangements.

I love the color and vibrancy of flowers and plants and find their natural beauty and earthy charm to be relaxing. Unfortunately, I don’t have a green thumb or a lot of time to dedicate to the care of the real thing, which is why I use silks.

For a relatively small investment, I use these faux pieces to change the entire look and feel of my décor. Silk trees easily fill a barren or empty space and flower arrangements dramatically change the appearance of a room. And there’s no need to stress or fuss over watering, fertilizer, sunlight, or tender loving care. I just need to remember to dust the ever-so-convincing leaves and flowers off every now and again.

I spent the last couple of weeks adding hundreds of faux plants and flower arrangements to the shop so others could enjoy as much as I do. Check out these silk flower arrangements and faux plants and trees to see how life-like these amazing products truly are. A custom design is also available if you’re looking for something specific to fit your décor.

In the coming weeks, I’m planning to add single stem silk flowers, berries, plants, and accessories for the hobbyists who want to create their own beautiful arrangements, gifts, and ornaments.

Until then, I hope you have time to browse the new Silk Flower Collection added to the site this week.

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