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The professional floral fakers at Faux Floral teach us the tricks of the trade.
They call it a “fauxmance,” but Ashley Johnson and Leah Balderson put some real love into their work as experts in the art of fake florals and foliage. The sisters-in-law opened the doors of their Vancouver faux florist in 2019—in previous work as interior decorators, the two had come to personally appreciate the wide range of quality blooms on the market. The right faux arrangements can offer some seriously low-maintenance beauty; the wrong products, on the other hand, could take a space into tacky territory, fast. “A fake flower shop sounded crazy, but she convinced me over a glass of wine,” laughs Johnson.
And so, Faux Floral was born. Designers and restaurateurs came a-knockin’, looking for floral solutions that didn’t need replenishing—ideal for both the environment and budgets. Johnson and Balderson scour supplier warehouses and trade shows and sources to curate a boutique packed top to bottom with ultra-realistic foliage and florals. “We get asked often where we get our flowers from, but that’s a secret recipe,” says Balderson.
What they will open up about, though, are the secrets to creating a faux-floral arrangement that both fools and delights the eye in equal measure. Here’s how to fake it and make it.
Finding the right fake flowers starts with knowing what you’re trying to imitate. “Colour is a big thing: do your research and make sure what you pick are colours that are natural to that varietal,” says Johnson. She also recommends making sure the leaves have the proper veining and are the right shape. A great stem goes a long way, too: quality is all in the details.
“There’s that idea people have that faux is what your grandma used to have, really nice fake flowers exist,” says Johnson. The top-tier fake flowers out there may cost more, but they’re made with a “natural-touch” material that Johnson describes as feeling “kind of wet.” Cheaper flowers made of silk or synthetic materials can catch the light in unnatural ways and be a dead giveaway that they aren’t the real thing.
Before you start designing, consider where you’ll be placing your masterpiece. Is the arrangement going on the centre of the table, or up on a shelf? If you’re not able to view it from 360 degrees, don’t waste your time fluffing and primping the very back. Knowing the viewing angles will allow you to craft a shape that pleases the eye.
A glass vessel or vase will be a dead giveaway that your plants are fake. Instead, opt for an opaque container to hide the wires or foam that you’re using to hold your arrangement together.
Handle each stem individually and make sure it’s unfurled attractively and that they aren’t too flat or too wrinkled—conditions that are “tell-tale giveaways,” says Balderson. “Fluff them, shake them, bend them, and make them look natural.”
The trick to building a realistic looking arrangement is to avoid uniformity. Mix in different lengths of stems, and bend leaves and petals in varied directions. Nature isn’t perfect, so your bouquet needn’t be either. “What you don’t want is a big ball of flowers,” says Balderson.
Sprinkle dirt, moss or rocks on the very top to add a touch of realism. “A mix of fake and real is the best,” says Johnson. Pro tip: incorporate dried eucalyptus or other hardy ‘real’ plants in with your faux stems to further up the illusion.
Ready to try creating your own work of art? Book a workshop, or go wild at the Faux Floral stem bar.