How are Artificial Flowers Made?

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Artificial flowers are made in a wide variety of materials depending on the market the manufacturer is reaching. In quantity, polyester has become the fabric of choice by flower makers and purchasers because of lower cost, ability of the fabric to accept dyes and glues, and durability. Plastic is also the material used most often for the stems, berries, and other parts of flowers for the market that includes picks—small clusters of artificial flowers on short plastic and wire stems that can be inserted into forms to make quick, inexpensive floral decorations—and bulk sales of longer stems of flowers that are also less expensive. Artificial flowers are made of paper, cotton, parchment, latex, rubber, sateen (for large, bold-colored flowers and arrangements), and dried materials, including flowers and plant parts, berries, feathers and fruits.

For more upscale silk flowers, silk, rayon, and cotton are the fibers of choice. Wire in a wide range of gauges or diameters is used for firmness in creating the stems (and in stiffening some flower petals and parts), but the wire is wrapped with specially dyed, tear-resistant, durable paper. No plastic is used. Other natural materials such as dried flowers, feathers, and berries are also significant in the upper end market. To make fruit and some berries, specialty suppliers manufacture forms that are precisely sized and shaped to look like the real fruit from mixtures of tapioca or flour base. The forms are sold to the flower manufacturer who dyes them and mounts them on paper-wrapped stems or stalks. All dyes and glues are also derived from natural materials.

The manufacturing process described below features high-quality silk flowers that are sold by the stem and are made for custom decorating, millinery, other fashion accessories, displays, package ornamentation, candy companies, and floristry.

White silk, rayon, or cotton fabric are used for all petals, regardless of their finished color. The fabric is die-cut using the tools described above into the many petal sizes and shapes that go into a single type of flower. The petals are dyed in the first step of a detailed hand assembly process. The dyer uses cotton balls and paintbrushes to touch color onto the petals beginning with the edges of the petal and working in toward the center. Dyeing a single petal can take an hour of concentrated work.

To give them their distinctive curves, wrinkles, and other shapes, the petals are inserted in molds to which heat is applied to press the petals into individual shapes. After they are pressed, some petals and leaves are stiffened with thin wires. The wires are inserted by hand, and glue is touched on to fix the wire in place.

The separate flowers and sprays of leaves are assembled individually, but several of each may be used to construct a single stem. Another skilled worker has taken wire precut to specified lengths and covered it with floral paper or tape that has a waxy coating to make it self-sticking. Finally, assemblers add the individual flowers and sprays of leaves to the stem.
The finished stems are taken to the packing department. Each stem is wrapped in florist’s paper, and the stems are placed in boxes as if they are to be delivered like a bouquet of real flowers. The boxes are sealed and stored for shipment.

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