Buying Silk Flowers:
What You Should Know
Before Going Shopping

Silk flower combination

Here are tips on buying silk flowers based on price or quality, how to get more for your money, where to find artificial flowers, and a description of supplies needed to make an artificial flower arrangement or bouquet.

Buying Silk Flowers: Price Versus Quality
Obviously, there are vast differences in the craftsmanship and price of silk flowers. That old saying is still true — you get what you are willing to pay for.

Although we collectively call them silk flowers, artificial flowers, plants and foliage can incorporate many different materials these days. Silk, polyester, parchment, velvet, latex, special coatings and finishing treatments...there is something to suit everyone's tastes and design ideas. Year round, you'll have lots of choices when buying silk flowers.

In the low price range, a silk stem might have only a single blossom and nothing more. Another could have several blossoms with a few leaves attached. Stems are made of molded plastic. There are few or no wire inserts in stems, branches, petals and leaves to aid in shaping.

Overall height could be from 8 to 12 inches. Retail price per stem might be from 69 cents to a few dollars, depending on the construction involved for the type of flower.

Artificial flowers in this price range are generally found in variety stores or department stores. They are acceptable in many arrangements, but be warned that lower priced silks are limited in realism and 'workability.'

For a higher price you can get more realistic reproductions. These higher-end silk flowers may have wired petals, leaves and branches. You can bend and shape them to look incredibly lifelike. They can have very long stems, measuring up to 2 feet and more. Petals and details may be hand-painted. The stems may be hand-wrapped with a natural colored floral tape. Retail price per stem can range from $4 to $8 or more. Again, this depends on the construction involved for the type of flower.

You can find these quality silk flowers in flower shops and the better floral craft stores.

It's nice to have choices, and in recent years artificial flowers have been pushed to even higher levels of realism. The cream of the crop even goes by a special designation — 'botanically correct.' Careful attention is given to every shape and detail. Blossoms may be coated in, or molded of, latex to give them a 'real feel' and finish. Fuzz may be embedded right into stems and leaves. Although latex elements may not be wired for extra shaping, that is probably not necessary at this level. When buying silk flowers of this highest quality, you get a true and faithful reproduction of the real thing. Astounding!

These top-level artificial florals may be found at the consumer level, but are more readily accessible to floral trade professionals.

'Silk' flowers really have come a long way! Take a quick look at this article on the history of silk flowers.

Buying Silk Flowers: Get More for Your Money
How? Try to buy economically. For example, instead of buying silk flowers with one large blossom, consider using a stem which offers several blossoms of slightly smaller size. As a bonus, this stem may include a bud or two and usually offers more foliage.

This is especially important when you are a beginner, since a multi-blossomed stem will provide much better fill. I repeat: try to buy stems with MULTIPLE BLOSSOMS AND LEAVES — it will be MUCH easier to create a full bouquet with minimal effort.

If desired, you can cut this stem apart and use the separate pieces as individual items in the centerpiece. (This is explained in the Stem Measuring and Cutting section on the 'Silk Flower Arranging: Must-Know Basic Techniques' page.)

When you are comfortable with cutting stems and adding extensions, consider purchasing flower 'bushes.' A silk flower bush contains a generous amount of blossoms and foliage in a single unit. Many are available with a variety of blossoms and colors in one bush, in combinations that work well together. The price/count of an artificial floral bush compared to a like amount of single silk flower stems usually proves to be quite a bargain.

I recommend that you use less expensive, but not shoddy, faux flower varieties during your practice period. Attractive medium-priced silk flowers can always be used again in later arrangements. Shabby, cheap-looking flowers can stick out like a sore thumb and will detract from the overall beauty and realism of an arrangement.

Click here for tips on choosing flowers and colors for a design.

Be sure to check if anything is on sale. Discontinued, close-out and slow selling items can save you money.

A note on availability: inventory is sometimes cleared around August to make room for upcoming seasonal items, and afterward, new products for next year are displayed.

Perhaps, in August, you are deciding on silk flower centerpiece elements for an anniversary celebration in October. If you require several dozen of a chosen item in the near future, make certain that you will be able to acquire the item in quantity when you are ready.

Unknowingly selecting and buying silk flowers that are about to be discontinued can send you scurrying to find similar replacements at the last minute. Not fun, especially if you showed a client a sample design and they love it as it is! If you are able, purchase what you need now in quantity and store it.

Where to Find Silk Flowers and Floral Supplies
As you start out, buying silk flowers and supplies locally is best. This way you can check out the quality and see what elements are wired to allow shaping. In another article, we'll discuss buying discount silk flowers on the web and buying silk flowers wholesale from catalogs.

You can find floral supply sources in your area listed in a local telephone directory. Look under the heading 'Artificial Flowers', 'Silk Flowers', 'Floral Supply' or similar, such as 'Flowers, Plants & Trees-Artificial', 'Flower Arranging' or 'Craft Supplies.'

If you prefer to do an internet search for local suppliers, use a targeted search phrase in quote marks, such as "craft supplies Dallas, Texas".

Most of these suppliers will carry everything you need to make silk flower arrangements and should have a good assortment of quality silk flowers and related products.

Stop in and visit some florists, too. Although their focus is on fresh flowers, you might be surprised to find that they may also offer selections of good quality silk flowers.

Department stores, variety or discount stores may have a small display of silk flowers, usually of low quality. You might want to practice some of the techniques with these less costly items first.

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Silk Flower Centerpiece Handbook

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Buying Silk Flowers: Your Friendly Neighborhood Shop
If you find a local silk floral craft shop where the staff is friendly, knowledgeable and patient, you are very fortunate! These people can be a fantastic resource for you. I have found that they will gladly share their wisdom and experience when you are buying silk flowers from them.

Don't be shy about introducing yourself. Learn their names and let them know you are very interested in floral crafting, and that you would welcome any advice they might offer. Become a familiar face. Stop in often, even just to look around and see what's new. If the shop's assembly area is viewable, ask if you can hang around and watch when the creation of a floral design is in progress.

Buying silk flowers in quantity usually qualifies for discount or 'wholesale' pricing. Once you become known as a regular customer, you might ask if you can get a discount even if you if you are not buying silk flowers by the dozen. As a 'preferred' customer, you might also persuade them to lend or give you floral and container catalogs to take home. (Don't forget to ask for the price lists. They may be printed separately.) Ask if they have any extra catalogs on hand, or if they can get some from their suppliers. These can be a tremendous visual aid in planning floral designs!

Supplies You Will Need
Here is a list of the supplies you will need to start making silk flower arrangements:

A block of this serves as the foundation for the centerpiece. It comes in large sheets (3 ft. x 1 ft. x 2 in.) or packaged bricks,in white or light green colors. Unless a transparent container is used, color makes no difference since the styrofoam will be covered with moss in most cases.

Cling Clay, Double-sided Foam Mounting Tape, or Hot Glue Gun
The styrofoam block needs to be secured inside the container. There are several ways to do this.

- Most popular: a gummy, adhesive clay-like substance that comes on a roll (Cling Clay or other names)

- Double-sided foam mounting tape also works very well for securing styrofoam

- Some crafters prefer to use hot glue for strongest, permanent bonding

Dried moss can be used to cover the styrofoam for a natural look. It comes in loose pieces or flat mat shapes, in shades of green and brown. You can buy it by the bag. Spanish Moss, which looks like curly spaghetti, is also available in several colors.

Various types of containers, such as baskets, vases, etc., produce different visual effects.

Silk Flowers and Foliage
Requirements vary. Choosing design elements and buying silk flowers is half the fun!

Floral Tape and/or Paddle Wire
These are used to bind loose items, such as single leaves, to a stem. Or, bind a group of items together before attaching to a stem. You can also bind an extension (either stem wire or remnants of trimmed stems) to a stem that is too short.

The paddle wire is very flexible and easy to use.
The floral tape is made of a sturdy paper, which when slightly stretched, releases a light-tack glue from its pores and sticks to itself. It works well and looks nice. It comes in green, brown and other colors.

You don't need to buy both right away. Choose the one that you feel comfortable with. (I started with the floral tape.)

Cutting Pliers
To trim stems (from any hardware store).

A Knife
To cut the styrofoam (a steak or butter knife is fine).

Exactly what do these silk flower arranging supplies, and others you may need, look like? Visit this Silk Floral Supply Picture Guide for photos, descriptions and usage tips!

Buying silk flowers and supplies to make your own centerpieces and arrangements can be an adventure. But now you have an idea of what to look for.

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