BOSTON — 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 upstate New York.
A manufacturer that bought the copyright and plastic molds for the original version plans to resume production in Westmoreland, which is south of Rome in Oneida County. HMC International LLC will pick up where Union Products left off last year when it shuttered its Leominster plastics factory after 50 years of flamingo making.
J.C. Waszkiewicz, head of family owned HMC, said Thursday 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 lawn ornament lineup.
“Once I began discussions about buying Union Products, I started examining the different products on the market, and I realized Mr. Featherstone created a great-looking flamingo,” said Waszkiewicz, whose firm closed on its purchase of Union Products in April for an undisclosed price. “There are other people who have tried to capitalize on his design, but none that I’ve seen hold a candle to the quality and detail he created.”
Waszkiewicz’ firm expects to resume Featherstone flamingo production by Labor Day.
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. The flamingos typically sell at $10 to $20 for boxed sets of two — one standing nearly 3 feet high with its head held proudly erect, the other bending over as if munching on grass. Their legs consist of spindly metal rods that can be planted in the ground. The Featherstone originals have their creator’s signature etched into the bird’s plastic rear end.