Artificial flowers are becoming more popular in homes and businesses. In the past, restaurants and offices have used them before, but these have tended to be the cheaper versions. Recently, a higher class of realistic artificial bouquets has made the acceptance of this type of décor more acceptable. In fact, it is becoming harder to differentiate between real and artificial plants.
Yet, modern society is not the first to use artificial flowers or foliage. Throughout history, people have sought to create duplicates of real flowers and plants in various materials. The ancient Egyptians created magnificent floral wreathes. They used a variety of metals and animal horn to achieve the necessary affect. They cleverly stained the horn and made leaves for these plants from silver, copper or gilded gold.
Later the Romans created their own take on artificial creations. They formed their flowers from bees wax. They also used other substances. In fact, instead of crowning victors in the games with wreathes made from olive or palm branches, the former member of the Roman triumvirate (with Pompeii and Julius Caesar) and provincial governor (until he was executed), wealthy senator Crassus used ones made from precious metals. These delicate looking victory wreathes were comprised of gold and silver leaf.
From the Middle Ages
Over the centuries, various individuals and countries have elected to create synthetic flowers for artificial bouquets, posies and wreathes. While some have unfortunately been made of hard plastic, others were delicately made from papier-mâché, ribbons or silk fabric. For a time, feathers were used indiscriminately because of their softness and coloring. Feathers come in all shades and gradations making them ideal for complex natural coloring. Those feathers derived from birds in South America were popular choices for exquisite renditions.
Many countries held their position for producing fine flowers to comprise artificial bouquets. In the 12th century, the Italians utilized silkworm cocoons to create artificial blooms. They dyed them to give them the appropriate colors. The French, particularly in Paris, borrowed the technique from the Italians. They soon had surpassed them. The French, in fact, dominated the artificial flower market by the 14th century and retained it until newer methods came along.
Victorian England and the 20th Century
Under Queen Victoria, everyone around the world quickly used artificial flowers as daily décor. Artificial bouquets and flower arrangements covered the surfaces of tables and hung from doors and mantelpieces. Materials expanded to include more luxurious fabrics including satin, velvet and crepe, as well as unusual substances e.g. hair.
In the 20th century, technology began to introduce more substances. While plastic was both a bane and a blessing, silk flowers continued to be a success, particularly among florists of the 1920s. After the war introduced such things as polymers and polyester blends and fusions, more natural-appearing flowers made artificial bouquets a thing of realistic beauty and elegance. The result has been a resurgence in the use of artificial flowers as part of home décor, landscaping and special occasions, including weddings.Save
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