An icon of pop culture, the three-dimensional, plastic, pink flamingo was designed by Don Featherstone while working at Union Products, a maker of plastic lawn ornaments.
A graduate of the school of the Worcester Art Museum, Featherstone’s first assignment at the Leominster, MA plastics manufacturer was a duck, which he modeled after a live one he kept in his kitchen sink. The flamingo, his next assignment, was harder to come by, and was modeled from photographs in the National Geographic. Three-feet-tall, sold in pairs with one bird upright and other with head low to the ground feeding, and signed by their creator, the birds sailed off the assembly line in 1957 and into fame as lawn art. The Sears catalog offered them for sale with the simple instructions: “Place in garden, lawn, to beautify landscape.”
Featherstone sculpted hundreds of different items, but none have had the cultural appeal and success of the flamingo.