Endangered Species

Originally posted October 21, 2006

I never thought that I would feel badly about the demise of a plastic ornament, most specifically a pink plastic flamingo. But there he (or she) was on the front page of the business section of Saturday’s paper looking a little forlorn under the heading “endangered species” and I thought “oh no!” I never really liked them. However, they were humorous in hordes – let’s say 50 – surreptitiously set out on a front lawn to the surprise of a birthday celebrant! – fun for a day and then gone. It’s the ones that hung around that looked tacky.

Well apparently the company that created them from a picture in a 1957 National Geographic magazine had its last run of the bird in June of this year and is closing shop – Bye, Bye Birdie!

Ooops, maybe not! I read on. It seems that a Canadian company may be interested in purchasing the rights to manufacture the beast. I shall withhold comment. If you do own one, make sure that it is an original. The bird’s clay moulds were designed by Don Featherstone – this may actually be his real name – genuine Featherstone Flamingos have his name on the underside of the bird. Union Products in Massachusetts produced 20 million original birds – who knows how many knock offs there were. Also the originals were always sold in pairs – breeding pairs??

In 1996 Featherstone was awarded the Ig Noble Prize in Art for inventing the plastic Flamingo. It’s nostalgia; it’s kitsch; but is it Art? Can I then elevate these knitted pink Flamingos to the sublime? You’ve seen them before – post Tues., Feb. 28, 2006. Should we be knitting them as icons of an age that gave us Gidget movies, pet rocks and crocheted ponchos? According to the article in the paper, the plastic Flamingo owes it’s renewed popularity to aging boomers, hoping to recreate the pleasanter aspects of their past. As flamingos go, I love the real ones, enjoy these felted ones and will miss the pink plastic ones – in small doses, in just the right place at just the right time.

Enjoy Carol

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top