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kitsch blow mold lawn art

Lawn flamingo history

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Featherstone flamingos -- NRFB
The iconic pink plastic flamingo lawn ornament was created in 1957 by Don Featherstone for Union Products. Don was unable to acquire live flamingos to serve as models, so his original sculptures were created based on an image from National Geographic.

The inherent kitsch of the pink flamingo sculpture won it an instant place in pop culture as it began to decorate lawns across the country. As a result of his creation, imitators sprung up across American lawns, forcing Don to add his signature to each bird's body beneath the wing tips to the genuine article to distinguish it from off-brand flamingos.

Featherstone lawn flamingos are sold in pairs, one with its head up and the other bent as if searching for food.

pair of flamingos

The initial offering of lawn flamingos in the 1957 Sears catalogue included the following instructions:

"Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape".


They sold for $2.76 a pair.

Unfortunately by the late 1960s, the lawn flamingo had been degraded to a tacky kitschy lawn ornament, and were banished from lawns across America. It was a dark time for the iconic lawn flamingo. The original design continued to be produced in increasingly smaller numbers by Union Products until they closed in late 2006.

Some few lawn flamingo habitats remained until the rights to the molds and copyright were purchased by Cado Products. Pairs of pink lawn flamingos once again began production in 2007, and have once again began to migrate across American lawns.

Famous lawn flamingos

About Don Featherstone

Donald Featherstone (25 January 1936 to 22 June 2015) was an American artist best known for his creation of the iconic lawn flamingo. He was born in Worcester, MA in 1936, graduating from Worcester Art Museum's art school in 1957. He accept a job with Union Products to design three-dimensional animals, sculpting over 700 items during his tenure including the flamingos he dubbed Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus.

Don won the 1996 Ig Nobel Art Prize for his flamingo sculptures. In tribute to his creation, his home in Massachusetts had 57 flamingos on the lawn during each summer season. From the late 1970s until his death in 2015, he and his wife Nancy dressed alike in clothes she sewed, with many items featuring pink flamingos.

Identify your Featherstone flamingo

Starting in the 1990s, the sheer volume of imitations forced Don to modify the mold: it now includes his signature below the tail of each flamingo.

The reverse side of the flamingo will be stamped "Union Products" with the mold dates and item number.

union products lawn flamingos

Accept no flamingo substitutes: always check for Don's signature!

don featherstone flamingo signature

Once you have verified that Don's signature is on the underside of your lawn flamingos, you know you have the genuine article in your possession. What type of Featherstone flamingos do you have?

Original Featherstone Pink Flamingos

union products lawn flamingos
The Original Featherstone Pink Flamingo is a solid pink plastic blow mold flamingo with black eyes and a yellow beak. Flamingos come in a two-pack with Don's signature as part of the blow mold. One flamingo is upright at 3 feet tall, the other has head lowered as if searching for food.

The box of the Original Featherstone is rectangular, indicating itself to contain a pair of pink flamingos.


Featherstone Flamingo box

Bluemingo -- blue flamingos

collecting pink flamingos
A Bluemingo is a solid blue plastic blow mold flamingo with black and yellow beak. This particular lawn flamingo has an interesting history.

One person's art is another person's trash. Some short-sighted communities and neighbourhoods actually had the audacity to ban pink flamingos from their lawns! Can you imagine? In order to circumvent this ban, Union Products wisely chose to create a blue lawn flamingo with an official colour name of "Caribbean Blue", much to the delight of flamingo fans everywhere. In due time however, these blue flamingos resulted in the ban of all flamingos from lawns. Fortunately times have changed since then.

The box of the Bluemingo is no different from the standard box, indicating itself to contain a pair of pink flamingos. As you can see however, these particular boxes contain a pair of Bluemingos. Signature and mold markings are the same as the common pink lawn flamingo.

Bluemingo box

Goldmingo -- gold flamingos

A Goldmingo is a solid metallic gold plastic blow mold flamingo with black eyes and a yellow beak.

The box of the Gold Flamingo is no different from the older standard box, indicating itself to contain a pair of pink flamingos. As you can see however, these particular boxes contain a pair of Gold Flamingos. Signature and mold markings are the same as the common pink lawn flamingo.

Goldmingo box

Goldmingo box

Purplemingo -- purple flamingos

A Purplemingo is a solid purple plastic blow mold flamingo with black and yellow beak. This is a special limited colour of Featherstone flamingo.

The box of the Purplemingo is no different from the standard box except for the "limited" sticker, indicating itself to contain a pair of pink flamingos. As you can see however, these particular boxes contain a pair of Special Edition Purplemingos. Signature and mold markings are the same as the common pink lawn flamingo.

Purplemingo box

Snomingo -- white flamingos

collecting pink flamingos
A Snomingo is a pure white plastic blow mold flamingo with black and yellow beak.

With its white colouration, not only is this a popular flamingo for summer but this particular lawn flamingo is frequently displayed as a Christmas or winter lawn decoration in areas that get a lot of snow.

Oddly enough, the box is no different, indicating itself to contain a pair of pink flamingos. As you can see however, these particular boxes contain a pair of Snomingos. Signature and mold markings are the same as the common pink lawn flamingo.

Snomingo box

Zombie flamingos

collecting pink flamingos
A Zombie Flamingo is a solid black plastic blow mold flamingo with faint white stripes, red eyes, and a fanged beak. This pair was a new offering in 2015 and is still available in the appropriate season.

The box of the Zombie Flamingo is noticeably different from the standard box. It is labelled as a "spooky twist on America's favorite lawn art" and "2 Creatures inside" rather than any mention of pink flamingos, with a picture of the Zombie Flamingo pair eating a jack o'lantern festooning the box. Signature is the same as the common pink lawn flamingo. No other mold markings are present.

Zombie flamingo box

Zombie flamingo signature

Realmingo -- large flamingos

A Realmingo is a solid pink plastic blow mold flamingo with black and yellow beak, but in a larger size (almost 1:1 scale).

Everything about the Realmingo is larger than standard Featherstone flamingo. The box of the Realmingo is larger than the standard box, indicating itself to contain a single Realmingo in either a "Feeding" (bent) at 41" tall or "Standing" (upright) position at 52" tall. Signature is the same as the common pink lawn flamingo -- only larger. Mold markings are coded for one of the two Realmingo molds.

Realmingo box

Realmingo box

Realmingo box

Flamingo repair

Flamingo replacement legs

Sooner or later your lawn flamingo's legs with get mangled beyond repair. Rather than replacing the entire flamingo, buy or make replacement legs for the poor thing.

Your flamingos should currently stand on two lengths of 24 inch 8-gauge galvanized steel wire. You need the galvanized wire since this is lawn art (therefore, outside in the inclement weather regularly).

Tip: Try to find coated wire to add durability.



Can I fudge the wire gauge?

Don't get creative with the wire gauge. They are designed to use a specific gauge of wire. Your local hardware store might have suitable lengths of replacement wire. Try there to get parts to repair your flamingo.

Err on the side of getting a length of wire which is too long. Most hardware stores can cut it to the length you need.

Note: It should probably go without saying, but you need lengths of straight wire as opposed to a roll or spool of wire.

For your personal library

It's not enough to fill your yard with lawn flamingos. If you still can’t get enough lawn flamingos. how about some lawn flamingo books so you can read more about them? Try one of these classics about the classic lawn flamingo.

The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass The Original Pink Flamingos: Splendor on the Grass by Don Featherstone (Schiffer Publishing, 1999): The coffee table book from Don Featherstone, the creator of the iconic pink lawn flamingo. This is a flamingo's eye view of the world. A must-have for those who love flamingo kitsch.   Garish Gardens Outlandish Lawns Garish Gardens Outlandish Lawns: A Celebration of Eccentric American Landscaping by Ronald C. Modra (Willow Creek Press, 1998): If you like yard art, this book is for you. All forms of yard art from flamingos to gnomes to spinners are included if the author could find an example to photograph. Kitsch lawn art at its best.
Flight Maps Flight Maps: Adventures With Nature In Modern America by Jennifer Price (Basic Books, 1999): This is probably worth a read for its chapter on how the pink plastic lawn flamingo is the antithesis of everything that is Natural. How very true indeed.    

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:


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