Tuesday, August 7, 2007


At the end of the Delaware shoot, as the sun set over the water and we were about to part ways, Dan handed me a large plastic bag with some photo props that had ended up in his closet instead of mine.

He also handed me two pink flamingos. “These are yours,” Dan said.

Now, I must admit that I am not exactly the flamingo type although I do have a fondness for a certain Hawaiian shirt with pink birds prominently featured in the pattern.

These flamingos, however, have a history

Last winter, I was sitting in my New York office brainstorming ideas for the summer issue of Cottage Style with Ashley Womble, my associate editor.

“I read something in the newspaper that after 50 years the inventor of pink plastic flamingos is closing up shop and retiring,” suggested Ashley. “How about a story called ‘Lawn Ornament Maker Calls It Quits’ or The Last Of The Pink Flamingos?”

When I looked skeptical, Ashley said “Please, let me write the story. I think it’s something our readers will really find interesting.” I told her to go ahead but that we would need some photos from the manufacturer.

As is often the case in the magazine world, getting flamingo photos proved to be a wild goose chase. By the time we realized there were no photos to be had, Ashley had written a great story and I was determined it would see print.

I called Dan and asked him if he knew where we could buy a few flamingos. He wasn’t encouraging. “I’d be happy to shoot them, but finding them in New York City in the dead of winter is going to be impossible."

Next, I called Fifi, one of our contributing editors, who lives in Sarasota. She had a foursome but they had seen better days. On her advice, Ashley resorted to the internet and ordered a pair. The flamingos weren’t cheap. Prices had skyrocketed now that these were some of the “last of the pink flamingos!”

Dan shot the birds and created a stunning sunset for them to wade off into. Ashley's article ran in the magazine and was a reader favorite.

Earlier this summer, I heard that the flamingos had shown up at pool party thrown by one of Dan's friends. After that I had lost touch with the birds. Now, suddenly, they were mine.

To quote Ashley, “Inspired by photographs in National Geographic, Don Featherstone, a young artist, created the birds in the mid-1950s. In 1957 they premiered in Sears catalog at $2.76 a pair, enticing people to place in garden or lawn to beautify any landscape.”

Hmm… would neon pink birds look out of place in my rural garden? Would they complement or clash with the purple wooden tower in the center of my vegetable garden?

Would they bring down real estate values? You be the judge. I think they look lovely!

If you feel the urge to beautify YOUR landscape with a pair of authentic Featherstone birds, act fast. In November 2006, the birds became extinct -- a kitschy collector’s item that continues to escalate in price and pride.

According to several friends of mine who have beach homes and are flamingo fans, eBay continues to be the best place to bird hunt!


Crafters take note. Wallies® flamingo decals are a great deal. Available at www.wallies.com , a package of 25 (item #12208) costs only $7.50. Use them to customize a tray, as shown here or let them perch on a variety of summery accessories.

***** BLOG DU JOUR *****
Now that we are well into the dog days of August, when hazy, hot and humid are the daily weather forecast, it’s time for a shot of bright color. Go to www.deardaisycottage.typepad.com and follow along as Kim and her family revive a 1922 Florida cottage. If bold colors and great design turn you on, this site is for you.


Cindy ~ My Romantic Home said...

I've never been a pink flamingo fan but your article in the magazine made them much more appealing. I love the photo of them on the beach!

Vintage Rose Collection said...

I am not a flamingo lover myself but your story was fasinating. That picture Dan took is a work of art, incredible!
What will be on my flea market list this weekend, Pink Flaminogs. Thanks Barbara for sharing that very interesting story :)

Jackie Von Tobel said...

Love the flamingos in your summer garden but I think I would send them south for the winter!

Lisa said...

I have to share with you that when we were at the San Diego Zoo last month, the flamingos were all nesting on their eggs. The tour guide shared that at first this group of flamingos did not do well at mating so they "borrowed" a few from Seaworld to educate them and this season lots of babys are expected! LOL They were very beautiful! I remember my Grandma had the plastic ones in her yard a long time ago! Thanks for the memory! Lisa

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

I've always loved the gaudy pink flamingos and used to keep some in my yard, but time has worn them too much and they have fallen apart. I'll miss those birdies!

daisy cottage said...

Good Morning Barbara! What a fun post and thank you SO much for mentioning my blog! :-)
Oh yes.. those pink flamingos LOVE to make appearances here in Florida, as they can be found quite often in our snowbirds and retirees' front lawns. You either love them or hate them, but if they all appeared in the BEAUTIFUL setting that Dan captured them in, they would certainly be a welcomed Florida attraction!

FrenchGardenHouse said...

Hi Barbara!

I love the pink flamingos...they look GREAT where you have planted them!

I have sold quite a number of vintage cement pink flamingos at auction on ebay(it is the place to find them!) and they are hotly collected. (and quite dear to buy!)

I agree with Kim, you either love them or hate them...I think they add a touch of fun to any garden!

fabulous fifi said...

You might like to know that the pink plastic flamingos are "flocking" again! I recently read (and also saw on the morning news--maybe the Today Show--)that someone bought the company and the flamboyant birds are available.