Silk and other artificial flowers that are manufactured today are extremely difficult to distinguish from their natural counterparts. Most of the Silk flowers that you see today are hand made and are imported from Thailand, China and Honduras where the careful hand labour required to make the beautiful decorations is more readily available.
For many years, Florists looked down on artificial flowers, or ‘permanent botanicals' as a trained florist would say, as inferior. But today because of the rising popularity in easy maintenance home decorations, the silk flower has seen a boom in sales.
The tradition of making artificial flowers is hundreds of years old, and it is believed to have originated in China, where the Chinese mastered the art of working with silk, and then went on to create spectacular floral replicas. The Chinese, however, only used their artificial flowers for artistic expression and were not responsible for turning silk flowers in to a business. As far back as the 12th century, Italians began to make artificial flowers from the cocoons of silk worms, and they started selling them. The French then decided to follow their European neighbours and by the 14th century silk flowers were the top of the French craft list.
The Victorian era was when the flower industry seriously started to have an impact, as the Victorians loved to decorate every surface in the home with flowers or ornaments the need for artificial and natural flowers was demanding. Artificial flowers were now being made out of a variety of materials including satin, velvet, calico, muslin, cambric, crepe, and gauze. Other materials used in the making of the flowers were wood, porcelain; palm leaves and metal were also hugely popular. Human hair was used occasionally to made flowers to commemorate the deceased.
The 1920's and 1930 was the time that the florists started to stock artificial flowers, and they used the products to suffice when cut blossoms were in short supply. In 1940's celluloid became a popular material for artificial flowers, however, after its highly flammable properties, and some decidedly dreadful fires, importation was promptly banned from Japan. Plastic soon became the popular choice for artificial flowers and is still a highly popular choice today.
Artificial flowers are more popular today than they have ever been, and these days rather than looking down on them, florists actually incorporate, plastic, silk and natural flowers all together in bouquets, to compliment each other through, colours and textures.