You may not know sculptor Don Featherstone, but you’ve seen his signature creation grace myriad suburban lawns over the past six decades as an icon of Americans’ affection for tacky.
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Featherstone, who died June 22 at age 79 in Fitchburg, Mass., was the father of the pink plastic lawn flamingo. He created the original in 1957 for Union Products, a Massachusetts-based plastics manufacturer. Here are some facts about the artist and his famous bird.
- Featherstone’s employer began making plastic lawn birds to take advantage of an innovation — injection-mold technology that allowed the mass production of three-dimensional plastic sculptures.
- Based on pictures in National Geographic magazine, his prototype flamingo took about two weeks to model both halves.
- During 43 years at Union Products, he created more than 650 different types of plastic lawn birds, including a swan and an ostrich.
- He once told the Boston Globe: “An empty lawn is like an empty coffee table. You have to put something on it.”
- In 1987, the company added Featherstone’s signature to each bird’s backside.
- He told Smithsonian magazine in 2012 that he had never seen John Waters’ 1972 low-budget cinematic classic Pink Flamingos and characterized it as a knockoff.
- He kept 57 of his own pink flamingos in his backyard to commemorate the year that he created the first.
- A pink flamingo, appropriately named Featherstone, appeared as a character in the 2011 animated movie Gnomeo and Juliet.
- In a 2013 article in the British newspaper Guardian, Featherstone’s wife, Nancy, revealed that the couple had worn identical outfits each day for the past 35 years: “As we spend all of our time together, we always eat the same food, too, which is good because we have matching stains on our outfits.”
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Photo: Charles Krupa/AP
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