It wasn’t easy for stylist Claire Mueller and graffiti artist RJ Williams to get their orchid-dying process down pat.
“They’re living flowers, artificially hand-coloured using a technique we developed over a long time. It may look simple to some – and, in a way, it is. The thing is, there are 500 ways to get it wrong and one way to get it right,” Williams tells Broadsheet.
The two creatives have combined their skills to launch Acid Flwrs, an experimental “fine-art floral” collaboration in which fresh orchids are injected with colour to create bouquets that double as artworks.
“As creatives, we know that good things happen when you push beyond your own practice,” Mueller tells Broadsheet. “We both respect each other’s work and had been wanting to do something together for a while. This collaboration came from a place with no deadlines and the freedom to experiment.”
Following many experiments – some successful, others less so – the scientifically minded pair developed an unusual process for dying orchids. To create their psychedelic blossoms, Williams and Mueller “acidify” moth-orchid stems using a pattern-generating method traditionally used in printmaking. This meticulous process ensures no two Acid Flwrs are the same.
“We’ve now refined the process to a point where we know we won’t damage the flowers and are able to get completely unique finishes on each stem,” Mueller says.
Fortunately, it seems the acidification process does not affect the life span of the flowers. “Under the right conditions, the flowers can be enjoyed for approximately two to three weeks,” Williams says.
And Acid Flwrs aren’t just for Instagram – they’re also available for purchase. After a successful first run of deliveries in Sydney in January, there’s now a limited-edition second release for Valentine’s Day, with delivery (on February 12) available in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, as well as NSW. The pair is also accepting custom orders and enquiries for large-scale installations at events.
“I’m surprised that we’re already talking about national distribution and big events,” says Mueller. “This honestly started from a ‘What can we do today?’ moment on a Sunday morning. We were just thinking we’d make something cool for a photoshoot, but the response has been so positive. It’s such a joy to see the reactions people have to the surreal colours.
“After the first experiments we realised we’d made something pretty special, which definitely isn’t always the case when you try something new. We thought this must’ve been done before, but to the best of our knowledge these are globally unique.”
“The response has been nothing but positive, and we’re super grateful to everyone who’s shown an interest and been a part of our early drops,” says Williams. “Personally, my biggest surprise is that we’re not having this conversation with Ellen [DeGeneres] yet.”