What are silk flowers?
Silk flowers are versatile creations, an art form is hundreds of years old and is believed to have been started by the Chinese, who mastered the art of working with silk. Not all artificial flowers are actually made of silk and a variety of materials can be used. For more upmarket silk flowers as well as silk, rayon and cotton are the fibres of choice, polyester has become a favourite choice of flower makers because it accepts dyes readily and is very durable, also soft latex materials using natural colourings and botanically correct detailing. Most use real touch technique to give the flower an authentic look. The silk flowers can be so realistic that many customers at first believe them to be fresh. From pistons to petals, carpals to stems, nothing about them looks artificial. However the name ‘silk flower’ has remained to describe most of the artificial variety. A good quality plastic is used for the stems, berries and other parts of flowers. Many of the individual silk flowers and stems are now imported from Thailand and China.
How are the flowers made?
The designer begins with nature and will use the parts of a real flower as a model. The cutting tools used to make the petals are also modelled on the ‘real thing’. White silk, rayon or cotton fabric are used for the petals and the petals are cut to different sizes and shapes to make one flower head. The petals are dyed and the dyer uses thin brushes and cotton balls to touch colour onto the silk petals starting at the outer edge and working towards the centre. Dyeing one silk petal can take up to an hour or more. To give the petals curves and wrinkles a mold and heat is used. Some petals and leaves are stiffened with fine wires. The wires are inserted by hand and glue fixes them in place. Flowers, sprays and leaves are assembled individually and several may be used on one stem. The wire is covered with floral tape which is self-sticking. The process is complete when the individual flowers and leaves are added to the stem.
How is a silk flower arrangement made?
I look to nature for inspiration – it can come in many forms e.g. a walk in the countryside where wild flowers and berries grow on the hedgerows; a field of poppies; a cluster of sweet peas in a friends garden to name but a few. Other inspirations come from holidays abroad where the exotic flowers can be found. I am interested in art so a painting, for example, from a Dutch still life can inspire a design. Once the silk flowers, and the vase to compliment them, have been chosen it is a matter of placing them together to please the eye – as well as the individual flowers, colour plays a large part in the design. Once the silk flowers have been arranged and placed in the vase, sometimes with stones in the bottom to keep them secure, they may need to be tied or held in place temporarily with wires, which will be removed when the design is ‘set’. When the design is complete the ‘water resin’ is poured in by using a plastic tube and funnel so as not to disturb the flowers or splash on the sides of the vase. The design then needs to be left undisturbed to harden – this can take between 3 days to 3 weeks depending on the size or contents of the arrangement and the temperatures involved. When set, the wires etc. can be removed and the stems tweaked into place. Sometimes the stems of the silk flowers e.g. orchids in a planter, can be secured in oasis and a topping of stones or moss is used to cover the fixings. Resin is then poured on top to hold the stones in place or, alternatively, a hot glue gun can be used to fix the stems securely.
What varieties of silk flowers are available?
The range of silk and artificial flowers available is immense. Take roses for example there is an enormous choice of silk blooms, not only in the variety and colour but how they can be presented in different stages of development from buds to full bloom on a single stem. Most flowers found in the garden are available in silk and the range and choice of exotic flowers is increasing. Twigs, berries, pods and green foliage that can stand alone or compliment an arrangement are available in abundance.
How long will they last?
New technology like the permasilk processes that fuse flowers to their stems and makes them more durable, means that the adaptability and beauty of silk flowers has much improved over the years.
They will not die like real flowers and are virtually maintenance free- the artificial water will never need topping up and, once ‘set’ in their container, the flowers are there forever The soft-touch variety and the flowers made from latex, like the calla lilies, can be kept clean by a gentle wipe with a damp cloth and if the arrangement is kept out of direct sunlight (which can, over time, fade the colour on some of the petals), or extreme temperatures (which can affect the water resin), then the arrangement should be ‘ever-lasting’.
How much do they cost?
The cost of the arrangements include the flowers and the vase complete. Prices start from approx. £10.00 up to £200.00. Bespoke orders are priced individually and discussed with the client before completion – we can work within a budget if this is required. We will also sell individual stems on request.