Save the Flamingos

kitsch blow mold lawn art

Lawn flamingo history


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

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?

Classic pink flamingo Bluemingo Goldmingo
Purplemingo Snomingo Zombiemingo

Flamingo repair

Don't despair if your flamingos develop leg issues. If they need repairs, replacement parts are available:

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:

Tealmermaid's Treasure Grotto