I love all things wood, so when I got introduced to sola wood flowers a few years ago, I instantly fell in love with them. They’re beautiful, eco-friendly, durable, and amazingly realistic, but perhaps the most interesting quality of sola flowers is their ability to take on any color, in whatever medium.
Midnight rose, red hydrangea, true blue peony? No problem. Sola wood flowers allow us to create arrangements in any color imaginable. Just give me some sola flowers, a bottle of dye and with the right method, we can achieve just about any color, even those that don’t exist in nature.
I will be sharing tutorial posts on how to dye sola flowers using various mediums and techniques, from basic to intermediate, to advanced. For my very first dyeing tutorial, I will teach you how to dye flowers using the most common and arguably the most popular method, dip-dyeing in acrylic paint.
Craft Supplies Needed
- Raw Sola wood flowers
- Warm water
- Acrylic paint or flower dye
- Fork/Spoon or stirring stick
- Tray or rack for drying dyed sola flower
- Parchment paper or paper towels
- Sola softener
Step-by-Step Tutorial on How To Dye Sola Wood Flowers
Step 1: Make the water and sola wood flower softener mixture
In the beginning, I dye my sola wood flowers with plain acrylic paint or craft dye. However, when dyed with only paint and water, the flowers always come out brittle and would easily chip off. I discovered that adding softener during the dyeing process makes the sola wood soft and flexible once the flower has dried.
I like doing a 1:10 mix of sola softener to water. This mixture basically guarantees the flowers will be soft and squishy after drying. So I bring water to a boil, add in the softener while it’s hot, let it cool for a bit then move on to the next step.
There’s more to learn about this procedure so I wrote a Complete Guide to the Use of Sola Wood Softener. Check out the tutorial to learn more.
Step 2: Prepare the paint and water/softener base
First, let’s take our bowl of softener and water that we mixed earlier. Make sure to use a bowl that is large enough to fully fit each flower. I prefer a glass bowl because I can easily check if paint pigments start settling on the bottom, a ceramic cereal bowl or something similar works just fine.
I make sure to shake the bottle of craft paint before adding it to the water. I have used chopsticks, stirring sticks, spoons and forks to stir the mixture and have found the ever reliable kitchen spoon or fork to be the most efficient. Dye pigments may sink to the bottom of the bowl so it’s always best to whisk really well to get the maximum paint saturation.
When it comes to the paint mix, there is no exact ratio that works best. Ideally though, I usually start with a 1:2 ratio, paint to water when dyeing my sola wood flowers. From here, I can always make adjustments depending on how rich or muted I want the saturation of color to be.
When you start your own dyeing projects, I recommend that you experiment and always test dye a flower to see if it is the right hue you need. For a deeper or darker color, use less water and for a lighter color, add more water until you achieve your desired outcome. I love that with just water, I am able to create a kaleidoscope of colors, from the subtlest to the most vibrant hues.
Step 3: Dip-dye the sola wood flowers
Now that our paint mix is set, let’s move on to color our beautiful raw flowers. This stage of the dyeing process is the most fun and undeniably my most favorite part.
I start off by carefully choosing a set of raw sola flowers to dye. In a batch of flowers, some may have been smooshed during transit or shipping but don’t worry, we can easily shape them once they’re wet with paint.
I do the dyeing in two ways and I usually dip one flower at a time. For flowers with thistles like daisies or curled flowers like peonies, I insert a toothpick stem to the base and dip it in the dyebath, swirling gently but quickly making sure they do not soak up too much paint. This will minimize uncurling of the edges.
For the rest of the flowers, I love immersing them whole. Holding the bloom by the base, I carefully submerge it into the paint mixture, flipping it over, rotating around so that I don’t miss any gaps or crevices between the petals. Occasionally, I still miss empty spots and need to re-dip the flowers to ensure that each side gets evenly dyed.
At this point, the sola wood flower has softened and has become more pliable. It’s easier now to shape the flattened ones. I lightly fan out the petals and fluff to fully open up the blooms.
It is also at this stage where I fine-tune the dye mixture if needed. If the saturation seems a bit too light, I stir in a blob of new paint and dip the wood flowers into the mixture again. If the paint seems to be a little heavy, I’ll need to add more water to thin down the blend.
Tips to make dyeing flowers more fruitful and fun
- If you are aiming for a very specific dye, keep track of your measurements. Record how much paint and the amount of water needed to achieve that particular color shade. It will be easier to create the color again for your future craft projects.
- Throughout the dipping process, stir the mix every after 3-5 flowers. The dye could settle at the base affecting the saturation level of the solution. This could make the color a tad paler.
Step 4: Dry the sola wood flowers
Once I lift the dyed flower from the bowl, I allow a few seconds for some excess paint to drip and then carefully set this in a wire rack over a tray.
I use different drying materials depending on how many flowers I’m painting. For small quantities, I usually line them to dry on a baking tray covered with paper towels or parchment paper or I directly stick the stems to a box with floral foam. I also like using egg cartons especially for domed and curled flowers so they don’t uncurl while they dry. For big batches, I recommend big stackable wire racks or huge paper-lined trays.
I allow most flowers to dry for at least 24 hours. Bigger flowers may vary in their drying times so I leave them in the racks a while longer. If they’re dry to the touch, I take them out from the racks and either store or prepare for crafting.
The painted flowers do not only look beautiful but also feel soft and pliable. They don’t chip or easily crumble. If I need to send them out across the country, I’m certain that they can withstand harsh shipping conditions and wouldn’t worry about them arriving crushed.
Tips to make drying flowers easier and fun
- When lining the flowers to dry, make sure to leave enough space in between the blooms. The flowers could potentially stick to each other if the rack is too crowded.
- If you are painting sola flowers for the first time, waiting for 24 hours or more for the flowers to dry could be tedious so let’s make it a little worthwhile. Make a list of the flowers and record the drying time duration of each. Use it as a guide to maximize painting time for a future floral arrangement project
Step 5: Craft with Sola Wood Flowers
Now that our painted flowers are fully dried, we can now start creating with them. I love making wedding decors the most, from bridal bouquets, entourage flower bouquets, table centerpieces, to aisle arrangements.
One tip I’d love to share is to dye more than what’s required of a current project. This way you have enough extra flowers to work on if you need to create a rush wedding bouquet, surprise flower arrangement, a centerpiece decor or basically any craft project.
So for the left-over flowers, I store them in a warm and airy place making sure they are away from direct heat and moisture. Storing them properly will keep the color stay vibrant and beautiful for a long period of time.
I hope you had fun reading this tutorial as much as I enjoyed writing it. Feel free to drop a comment if you have questions or if you need more tips for your coloring journey. Also, if there any more tutorial topics that you would want me to write about next I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
You may also want to watch our video tutorial on How to Dye Sola Wood Flowers Using Acrylic Paint. Subscribe for more interesting content.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of paint do you use on Sola flowers?
We use our own blend of acrylic/latex paint but you can use any brand. You can also use other mediums to color the flowers such as but not limited to craft dye, watercolor, spray paint and food coloring.
How long will dyed flowers last?
The dyed flowers may last for more than ten years and potentially forever if taken care of. Direct exposure to sunlight for long periods may cause the flowers to fade faster and frequent contact to moisture may foster the growth of molds.
How do I prevent the flowers from uncurling after they’re dyed?
Curled flowers like peonies may uncurl if left in the mixture a little too long. The trick is to dip-dye very quickly and jiggle it as soon as you lift from the paint. Minimize the curling by drying in egg cartons or paper cups with the blooms side down. You may spray color on them too, instead of dunking them in a paint bath.
Should I dye the flowers before I stem them, or after?
Excess paints drip while drying and may stain the stems when set to dye upright. It is recommended to dye just the flower heads before adding stems.
Can I re-dye the flowers?
You can spruce up a faded flower by re-dyeing it with the same shade or use a totally different color. However, keep in mind that the base paint may have an effect on your top coat. When the paint has dried, the petals are no longer porous so a new layer of paint won’t totally cover the original color. Interestingly, re-dyeing gives it a pretty ombre shade.
Does the dye set in when dry?
Yes, they do set permanently when dried. We experimented on submerging dyed flowers in water for a couple of minutes and the colors held pretty well. The flowers didn't bleed and the water ran clear.
Can I use dyed flowers on my wedding cake?
Yes, the dyed flowers are safe to use on cakes. Just make sure to wrap the underneath of the flowers with wax paper or foil. For the stems, use a clean toothpick, and stick directly on the cake. You may also choose to use food coloring to dye the flowers if you have reservations.
Can I use sola softener after I’ve dyed my flowers?
Ideally, softener is applied before dyeing or mixed in with the paint. However, you can still apply them to dyed flowers by spraying the water/softener mixture on top of the blooms or dip in the water-softener solution.
What’s the ideal water temperature for dyeing flowers?
The use of either warm or cold water depends on the color output you wanted to achieve. If you are aiming for a duller or muted shade, use cold water. Use warm if you want a more vibrant hue.
Can I reuse dye?
Yes you can reuse left-over dyes from previous projects as long as it has not gone bad yet. Dispose of the dye if it smells foul or rancid.