Artificial flowers are often seen in a number of homes, establishments, hotels, resorts; in both residential as well as in commercial places. These reproductions of genuine flowering plants are often used to decorate and enhance the beauty of a given setting in a home or office setting. Some institutions such as the Harvard University also makes use of artificial flowers for the purposes of scientific research and to illustrate the various plant life and vegetation of the region, for instance the collection of glass flowers at the university.
Since ancient days, the art of making artificial flowers has been regarded as a highly skilled and an extremely ingenious concern. In Egypt, materials used in manufacturing artificial flowers included slivers of stained horn and multi-coloured linen. In ancient Rome, fine shavings of silver and gold were used to make artificial flowers while in Italy silkworm cocoons were used. Ancient Chinese made use of rice paper to make decorative artificial flowers while people in South America made use of tinted shells, wax and coloured feathers.
Modern technology has introduced a number of ways of producing artificial flowers from a range of substances, but the most popular material that is currently used to make these flowers continues to remain polyester fabric. Some unique techniques in making flowers involve the use of sculpted or moulded soap, nylon gossamer elongated over wireframes, ground clay and factory-made injection plastic modellings.
The artificial flower industry, in today's times is a highly specialised industry that involves numerous and various processes in manufacturing the flowers. There are thousands of artificial flower factories in the Guangdong province of China near the Pearl River Delta that have been established from the late 1970s. Hundreds of 50-foot containers of artificial flowers made from polyester fabric are shipped and distributed across the globe from China.