Dyeing silk flowers requires soaking them in a coloring solution. True silk doesn't hold up well to harsh dyes, but most artificial flowers aren't made of silk. Many use a combination of materials, such as polyester and cotton. Determining the material used to make the artificial flowers helps you find the right dye for the job.
Determining the Materials
Knowing what the flower is made of helps you successfully dye it. Most people use the term silk flower to describe any artificial flower, but, although artificial flowers were once made almost exclusively of silk, that's no longer the case. Most artificial flowers at discount or craft stores are made of polyester or a blend of natural and synthetic fabrics. You still might run across some artificial flowers made of silk, so read the tag carefully to ensure you know what type of dye to purchase.
If you're buying online, read the product description for the fabric content.
Choosing the Dye
All dyes don't work with all fabrics, so pair them carefully. Silk is delicate and requires a gentle dye, while polyester is difficult to dye and needs stronger treatment. Read the manufacturer's instructions carefully and follow the dyeing directions carefully. Although products such as acid dyes give you more control over colors, they also require more experience with the dye process. Instead, stick to basic dyes designed to work with your flower fabric.
Dyes can color other items, such as carpet, tablecloths and your clothes. Take special care to protect these items by covering surfaces with plastic and using an apron over your clothes. Use gloves to keep your hands from becoming discolored.
Coloring the Flowers
Dye manufacturer instructions vary, but in general, add water to the concentrated dye, which might be a powder or a liquid, and stir with a disposable spoon or craft stick. Many require boiling water for optimal color, and some materials such as silk require you to add vinegar to the mixture as well. Place the flowers in the dye mixture for several minutes or longer -- sometimes an hour or more -- if necessary to achieve the proper color, stirring them gently to ensure the dye covers them completely.
Pull the flower tops off the plastic stems to make them easier to dye. When they're dry, push them back on the stems if desired.
Drying the Flowers
Many dyes require that you wash the flowers after you remove them from the dye, but most washing machines are too abrasive for most flowers. Instead, place the flowers in a colander and run cool water over them until the water runs clear. Spread them out on a towel afterward to help them dry evenly.
Drying newly dyed flowers on a towel might leave dye residue on the towel, so use an old one that you don't mind ruining, just in case.