This non-traditional craft has acquired a lot of attention as an effort on the part of the government to finding new avenues of employment for the unemployed. The challenge is to use common – often waste – materials and transform them into artistic and marketable wares. Foreign expertise and training is also been aspect of these non-traditional crafts; Japanese influence is visible in artificial flower making.
A minor craft, this has become very popular in recent times due to its attractiveness and myriad uses. This is a non-traditional craft practised dominantly by women. The knowledge-base for this family-based craft, craft has been acquired mainly from foreign expertise or from local instructors.
The range of flowers include roses, chrysanthemums, anthuriums, and the like. Natural-looking leaves are also made; these are often used to decorate flower pots. A wide array of products like wax flowers in poplin, velvet, stockinette, and multi-coloured sprigs, branches, creepers, and festoons of foliage are being made. The materials normally used for this craft are crepe paper, painted paper, or stiff cloth. Another category in these artificial flowers is the dip-in-liquid flower range. These flowers require a special liquid for dipping the separately turned out petals and leaves. This method gives a glass-like appearance to the flowers, thus enhancing its beauty in the floral décor.
Of late there has been increased interest in artificial flowers from the tourists; efforts are underway to make the flowers and foliage look as natural as possible. A lot of training programmes have been organised by the government. Young girls are taught the art of making artificial flowers and plants at training centres in Mirigama and Ratnapura, run by the Sri Lanka Handicrafts Board. Raw materials such as silk are supplied by these centres.
This craft can be expanded to a great extent as new materials, designs, and ideas are introduced. A lot of artificial flowers and plants in plastic have been imported into the country from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore; in response to this challenge, local craftspeople have been making efforts to improve the quality of their products. A lot of inputs have gone into producing better designs in eye-catching colours.
Artistic and talented women thus find an opportunity to earn a substantial income as these artificial flowers and foliage. Crafts like these can help rural women to a great extent as a self-employment opportunity which are a means of alleviating their poverty. In addition to local and overseas demands, these artificial flowers and plants are in great demand by the hospitality industry. Tastefully designed and dainty floral arrangements have come to form an integral part of contemporary interior décor. The demand for such products go up significantly in the festival season.