And the flamingos sadly hung their plastic heads
June 22, 2015 3:46 PM   Subscribe

The Blog at Improbable Research reports that Don Featherstone, inventor of the iconic plastic lawn flamingo has died.

Don And his wife Nancy had been friends of the institute and frequent IgNobel guest since Don won the IgNobel award for art at the 6th First Annual IgNobel Award Prize Ceremony for designing the lawn flamingo in 1996. Don and Nancy were also known for wearing matching outfits every day of their married lif together.. previouslypreviously
posted by rmd1023 (16 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
posted by jquinby at 3:51 PM on June 22, 2015


(Though I am happy to see that there is a small campaign to get a flamingo emoji into Unicode.)
posted by metaquarry at 3:56 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Everything about Don and his work and the way he lived his life made me smile. In fact, there are two of his flamingos on our balcony right now. We got a special metal grass habitat for them, since we don't have a lawn. He sounds like he lived one heck of a fun life.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 4:45 PM on June 22, 2015

I had several of them in my lawn back in the day.

posted by Thorzdad at 4:59 PM on June 22, 2015

There were pink flamingos and concrete geese, some elves under mushrooms and cats in the trees, painted saints and butterflies and little Greek boys too -
But there were no chipmunks in the ornament zoo.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:42 PM on June 22, 2015

posted by miyabo at 5:48 PM on June 22, 2015

my god the matching outfits thing. it's almost physically painful looking at the two of them together — one inevitably thinks of a lifetime full of early mornings spent negotiating with each other about what to mutually wear — but I have huge respect for them for devoting themselves to something that's both deeply transgressive of conventional ideas of individuality and also relentlessly square.

posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 6:43 PM on June 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

This was apparently to help distinguish between original and "knock-off" Pink Plastic Flamingos.[7] Featherstone's signature stayed on the bird until 2001 when it was removed.[4] The signature was quickly replaced due to a small boycott of the unsigned birds.

Hope blooms in the human heart at the strangest of times.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 6:55 PM on June 22, 2015

The city bird of Madison Wisconsin is the plastic lawn flamingo. A fitting tribute to both Don Featherstone and the U of W Pail and Shovel party. This, of course, pulls one down the rabbit hole created by Jim Mallon, the president of Pail and Shovel. Mallon went on to do nothing special with his life.

It's plastic lawn flamingos all the way down.

posted by ensign_ricky at 7:33 PM on June 22, 2015

Featherstone and his wife (in matching outfits, of course) came regularly to the annual Flamingo Festival on our island in Maine. On a couple of occasions I marched with a local samba band not too far in front of the car he rode in as the parade’s Grand Marshal.
posted by LeLiLo at 7:38 PM on June 22, 2015

Please note that he designed the iconic plastic pink flamingo in 1957, but was not awarded the IgNobel award for doing so until 1996. These are important details (much like the proper placement of the two flamingos).
posted by yhbc at 7:39 PM on June 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

Proper recognition of epic world-shaping discoveries and inventions can sometimes take decades.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:28 PM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


His kitschy creation is a constant fixture in my back yard.
posted by Gelatin at 3:13 AM on June 23, 2015

True Fact I Heard Somewhere on the Internet: There are more plastic flamingos in the wild than real ones.
posted by klarck at 5:31 AM on June 23, 2015

Don also designed the iconic light-up plastic goose lamp.
posted by pie ninja at 5:52 AM on June 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by tilde at 7:26 AM on June 23, 2015

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