The Colourful History of the Art and Use of Artificial Flowers

Whatever they’re made from, it’s a widely known fact that artificial flowers are here to stay forever. And not only do they look attractive, but they enhance and beautify our spaces as well. But have you ever wondered where these gorgeous decorations came from? Where they all started? How they looked before humans have perfected the art of creating and using them? Today, we’ll show you a brief history of how artificial flowers came to be along with the materials people have used to create them over the years…



Faux plants have widely varying types. There are those that are mass-produced, which relatively lack the realistic appearance of real flowers; there are also high-quality types that are indistinguishable from their natural counterparts. The latter are so highly detailed and artistic in their manufacture, and the care with which they were made can be easily seen and appreciated.


Materials used

The materials that have been used through the millennia have ranged from stained horn shavings and painted linen in ancient Egypt; silver and gold in ancient Rome; rice paper in ancient China; cocoons of the silkworm in Italy; coloured feathers in South America; and tinted shells and wax.


In modern times, the materials and techniques in use include formed and carved soap, wire-framed nylon netting, injection plastic mouldings, and ground clay. Since 1970, polyester was used as the primary material in manufacturing faux flowers. Most of the artificial flowers found in the market today are made from polyester fabric. The artificial wreaths made in ancient Egypt were produced from thin horn plates that were stained with various colors. Sometimes, the ancient Egyptians also used leaves made from gilt, copper, or sometimes these were silvered over. Meanwhile, the ancient Romans used wax. The level of excellence they exhibited here has not been duplicated even today. Crassus, a Roman general and politician, used to give victors in games crowns made from artificial silver and gold leaves.


In modern times, the Italians became renowned for the exquisite taste and skill they exhibited in manufacturing artificial flowers. Those produced by the American, French, and English craftsmen soon became famous as well. Meanwhile, in Asia, the Japanese and Chinese displayed exceptional dexterity in the same art. The artificial flowers they made early on, which were crude first attempts, came from variously coloured ribbons that were twisted together and then attached to pieces of small wire.


The first half of the 1800s saw Emma Fürstenhoff, a Swedish artist, internationally recognized in Europe for the wax flower arrangements she made, using a technique that was considered novel in contemporary Europe.


The 20th century saw Colefax and Fowler, through the efforts of Constance Spry, develop and promote the exquisite but expensive technique of creating wax-coated artificial flowers. Their method was based on the paraffin-coated artificial wax flowers invented during the Victorian era. These variants were used to decorate homes, rooms, hats, and were also sent as thank you gifts


In due time, the use of ribbons was replaced with the use of feathers, which were more delicate and had different shades of colour. The plumage of South American birds was used in making artificial flowers because of their brilliant colours and permanent tints. South American natives are known to have successfully practised making beautiful feather flowers. Today, if you want to see an example of artificial flowers made of feathers, the London Zoo has a collection made from hummingbird feathers.


The evolution of artificial flower making is an ongoing process. New techniques and materials continue to be discovered and invented, and the skills and craftsmanship of manufacturers still continue to improve. But if you’re looking for artificial flower arrangements, stems, plants, and gifts that are considered one of the best, look through Forever Flowering’s selection of artificial floral decor.

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