In the pink again: lawn flamingos
N.Y. firm buys molds from Mass.'s Union Products, plans revival
The original pink flamingo lawn ornament, the symbol of kitsch whose obituary was nearly written after its Central Massachusetts manufacturer went out of business, is rising phoenix-like from the ashes and taking wing to New York.
A manufacturer that bought the copyright and plastic molds for the original version plans to resume production in Westmoreland, N.Y., by Labor Day.
HMC International LLC will pick up where Union Products Inc. left off last year when it shuttered its Leominster plastics factory after 50 years.
J.C. Waszkiewicz, head of family-owned HMC, yesterday said he expects retailers buying his firm's flamingos wholesale will appreciate subtle design differences between knockoff versions and the original by Don Featherstone, who studied art before Union Products hired him in 1956 to expand its lineup of lawn ornaments.
"There are other people who have tried to capitalize on his design," said Waszkiewicz, "but none that I've seen hold a candle to the quality and detail he created."
The molds are based on flamingos Featherstone sculpted from clay, working from photos of the graceful birds in National Geographic magazine.
The ornaments hit the market in the late 1950s, when the color pink was in vogue, and America's exploding population of suburbanites sought to add flair to their lawns.
But the birds also came to symbolize bad taste: Some developments even banned flamingo ornaments from lawns. The bird also became a target of pranksters, some of whom swiped the ornaments from front yards, took them on the road, and then sent photos to their owners, showing the kidnapped birds at places like the Grand Canyon.