Santa Baby, Bring Me A Blow Mold!

I just love holidays, especially Christmas. This year, I’m extra-excited…we’ll be hosting family! Like a racehorse at the starting line, I couldn’t wait to deck the halls the day after Thanksgiving. Each year, I add a little something to my mixed bag of decorations. This time, I was craving something fun…something vintage… and found just what I was looking for: blow molds!

IMG_0247

Blow Molds, or the art of “blow moulding”, refers to sculpting hollow plastic to form a shape, giving it a 3D effect, similar to glass-blowing. Blow mold decorations date back to the 1940’s, not really catching on until the late 1950’s when Don Featherstone designed the plastic pink flamingo while working for the Union Products company. In 1996, Mr. Featherstone won a Nobel Art Prize for his iconic design, and began serving as President of Union Products, the most successful blow mold manufacturer. The company closed in 2006. Other companies, such as Empire, also made blow mold decorations. Most popular in the ‘60’s, through the decades, blow molds have come in and out of fashion, always keeping a steady following among collectors.

Empire blow mold, 1970

Empire blow mold, 1970

I want every corner to have holiday cheer during Christmas, inside and out. The older I get, the more nostalgic I am, loving anything “vintage” –  things with a previous “life”, representing simpler times. When I was little, blow molds were the rage, and every year, my grandmother’s little house sported glowing red blow-mold candles on the covered wooden porch. I was an adult before I knew the correct term, “blow mold”, seeing it on Facebook somewhere. I only knew them as “those so-tacky-they’re-cute plastic lawn ornaments”. Usually loathing anything plastic, I have a childlike fondness for blow molds. My friend Andrea is a blow mold connoisseur, having collected them for years. Although most think blow molds at Christmas, countless others were made for different holidays, as well as cartoon figure shapes and other animals. Andrea says if blow molds have scratches or paint missing, don’t paint them- paint isn’t translucent and touch ups will show. She recommends leaving as is, as part of the charm, but if you must touch up, use a Sharpie.

Photo courtesy Andrea Van Ameluxen

Owls for Halloween…Photo courtesy Andrea Von Amelunxen

Photo courtesy Andrea Van Ameluxen

Andrea’s turkey graces her fireplace at Thanksgiving.

And a snowman for Christmas. Photo courtesy Andrea von Amelunxen

A winter snowman. Photo courtesy Andrea von Amelunxen

At Christmas, I’m not one found at the mall. I’d rather bathe in honey and sit on an ant bed than mall shop, especially at Christmas! I am addicted to antique and thrift shops, flea markets, and online tag sales! Recently, when a vintage blow mold Santa and snowman were offered, I was thrilled! Planning on only the snowman, on a whim I purchased both. I asked the seller if they had lights. She sent a photo with them plugged in, and we arranged pick up.

Usually, blow molds have  a small hole in back where a  “night light” bulb clips in, or a hole in back or at bottom for a larger, 60-watt “type A” bulb. (Not all blow molds were meant for outdoors, if there’s a plug with a slide-type switch, it’s for inside only). Plugs should be UL-approved, and marked for outdoor use.

A typical clip-in night light plug.

A typical clip-in night light plug.

A larger, "Type A" bulb plug.

A larger, “Type A” bulb plug.

This means "indoors only".

This means “indoors only”.

Back  home with my blow molds, I couldn’t wait to light them up, setting them on the kitchen counter.  I plugged in Santa. Oh how cute! I plugged in Frosty…POP! ZAP!!! Flames shot out of the socket, I felt a little shock, and the circuit breaker blew. My daughter and I screamed. The old plug melted. Death by snowman. How would that be for an obituary?

IMG_9961

I could’ve been hurt or burnt the house down. It wasn’t the seller’s fault; (she even offered my money back – no need, but shows she has integrity).  My daughter said I looked like the crook in  “Home Alone”,  my hair wild. We laugh about it now, but I should’ve known better. If you love old blow molds, do yourself a favor: buy new cords, and replace them every few years to be safe. I  found mine here:

http://www.americansale.com/Products/General-Foam-Blow-Mold-Replacement-Candelabra-Cord-with-Bulb__774789.aspx

Here’s the cords for the larger, “type A “ light blow molds:

http://www.americansale.com/Products/General-Foam-Blow-Mold-Replacement-Medium-Base-Cord__774796.aspx

Once rewired, I love how mine look, both day and night. Santa’s small, residing on my kitchen counter.

IMG_0206

IMG_0092

IMG_0250

Just like chocolate-covered pretzels, once you have one, you want more. I discovered that blow molds are still being manufactured, some even using the “old” molds of days gone by. I decided I’d like something on both front and back porches. After going in several stores, I found the candle I was looking for, similar to my grandmother’s. There were also big snowmen and Santas.

IMG_0134I picked Santa as my new front door greeter. His smiling, cherub-like face makes me happy.

IMG_0261

A bit kitschy, a bit whimsical…people either love or hate blow molds. I think they make the holidays a little bit brighter.

What’s your take on Blow Molds…Love or Hate? How are you decorating for the season? Tell me in comments!

Until Next Time…Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

Leave a comment 30 Comments

  1. Nicole – this is SO FUN!!! I have always loved them from a distance – never having owned one myself or even thinking that I would want to own one. But now after reading your post – I WANT ONE!!! :-) I really like the snowman that belongs to your friend Andrea. It is precious. I too love all things vintage – I will spend hours antique shopping, and avoid the mall at all costs. (Mail order works just fine for me!) The most favorite things in my house are the vintage things passed on to me or that I’ve purchased. I hope your Christmas is the very best ever – and hosting family for a Holiday IS the best isn’t it? – Dori, the Ranch Farmgirl –

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Dori! Isn’t Andrea’s snowman the cutest? She has such a great eye for all kinds of things. Get the two of us together and we are trouble! :) We were in a thrift store once and before we knew it, we had a line of other customers wanting to ask us if what they found was “vintage” or unique. Funny!

      I can’t wait until our family arrive. It truly is going to be one of the best Christmases ever! Wishing you and your family have a truly magical season, too. And happy hunting for a blow mold! Let me know if you find any! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  2. Holly says:

    As a child in the 70’s we had blow mold candles that my mother would place on our front porch.Thank you for reminding me of a fond childhood memory.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Holly, Thank you for letting me know. The candles always make me think of my grandmother, too. She loved holidays, and I think I inherited my enthusiasm for them from her. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  3. Julia Jenkins says:

    I never knew! Thanks for this article, and I especially love your comment about honey and an ant hill! Hilarious! I too adore thrift and antique stores this time of year for things with a past, with history, things that have been used and loved before finding itself back on a store shelf. I often imagine them saying pick me! Pick me! Coming home with a simple old glass ornament or two Thrills me! Thanks again and I’ll have. Keener eye next visit to the antique mall! Merry Christmas!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Julie, so glad you enjoyed this post. I love how you describe the items in antique stores…how they all do speak to us! Let me know if you run across a blow mold anywhere! Thanks for “stopping by”! Merry Christmas and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  4. Joan says:

    Love your Blow Molds!!! I have one Santa that is a childhood ornament – I have been wondering if I needed to rewire him and now I just might have that done. So glad you weren’t badly hurt. Thanks for sharing your lovlies. God bless and Merry Christmas!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Joan, Thanks so much. After what happened to me, I think I will rewire mine every few years just to be on the safe side! How awesome that you have one from your childhood. Merry Christmas and Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  5. Bonnie ellis says:

    I never knew what you called them. Thanks for the education and Merry Christmas.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Bonnie, Merry Christmas, to you, too! Funny, no one in any of the several stores I went to knew the name, either, but when I described them, everyone knew exactly what I was talking about. :) I there’s a little nostalgia in everyone this time of year. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  6. kim says:

    I’m one of those kooky blow mold lovers. Yup, I’ve got glorified plastic tackies all over. They make me smile. Enjoy yours and thanks for sharing their story. Best, Kim

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Kim! Thanks for the comment. I just love them, and knowing their history makes me love them more. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  7. CR LAGROUE says:

    Interesting blog.. It brought back memories of long ago when we would all get in the car and drive through the neighborhood looking at all the different decorations that had been put out.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Russell, We still do that every year! It’s tradition. This year, someone told me about a house nearby that has all sorts of blow molds lit up in the front yard – in a vintage Volkswagen beetle! We will scope it out…Thanks for the comment, Nicole

  8. Dena says:

    Nicole,
    I’m not a big fan of anything plastic either, but you have a way of making EVERYTHING seem lovely and cheerful! They do look sweet and happy with their lights all a glow.

    Also, I’m with you on the mall! Today my son and I were talking about shopping and I said, Your dad will probably plan another shopping day at that place’. I literally forgot what it was called! My son said, ‘It’s called the mall mom”. Too funny!

    Enjoy the season!
    Dena

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Awww, thanks, Dena!

      I am glad I am not the only one repelled by the mall! Cute story, thanks for sharing. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  9. Barb says:

    Hello Nicole,

    I just read your article and loved it! I have a small Santa & Snowman blowmold that were my parents…..oh the memories. Recently this past summer …my husband and I purchased a giant Frosty Snowman Blowmold on a sale at the Vermont Country Store, plus we also bought a huge plastic blowmold Santa that hangs on the wall. They are just the best! I am also a big Flea Market shopper…….its like a great treasure hunt all the time. It’s nice to know you enjoy them as much as we do! Thanks once again for the great article. Happy New Year! Barb

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Thanks, Barb! I just love them. They are so cheerful. I’d love to see the you have Santa that hangs on the wall! How unique. Just packed mine away for the year, so sorry to see them go, but will look forward to having them glow next year! Happy New Year! Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  10. Sathya Prabhakar says:

    I’m a guy. Here’s what I have to say about blow molds. They’re better than the inflatables. They’re coming back in fashion. People are buying less inflatables. They’re not as popular as they use to be. People are going back to blow molds.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      I agree, Sathya! The inflatables are not as durable, and in my humble opinion, not as cute! Thanks for stopping by. – Nicole

  11. Marci D says:

    Thanks for posting this. My aunt gave me one when I was pregnant with my son that is a little boy kneeling in prayer night light that she had when she was young and was hopong for a son. I never knew what it was, just that it was orange when it was lit up.

  12. Marci D says:

    Thanks for posting this. My aunt gave me one when I was pregnant with my son that is a little boy kneeling in prayer night light that she had when she was young and was hoping for a son. I never knew what it was, just that it was orange when it was lit up.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Marci, I bet now you could research it and find out the history and who made it. Farmgirl Hugs, Nicole

  13. Timothy Bratcher says:

    I love your article! Every year for several years my parents would buy me a new blow mold to decorate the decorate the house with. Several years back my mom ended up throwing them all away because they were getting old. I was devastated. Luckily I found one of them exactly like the 1971 Empire snowman that we had. I’m continuing to search eBay and antique shops to continue to ad to my collection. You’re right! They are very nostalgic and bring me a lot of joy and happiness. Happy Holidays!

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Timothy, Thank you so much for your comment. My stomach flipped a bit when you said your mom threw away the blow molds – the old ones are the best! Glad you found another one like the one you had. Enjoy your holidays, too, and thank you for “stopping by’. ~Nicole

  14. Alan Olson says:

    Have you heard of a blow mold Santa being cut in half? I have seen one where the front half of Santa is mounted backward in a box and lighted from the rear. When you look at it you are seeing the white inside of the blow mold but with the rear lighting all the features shine through and it looks like the eyes are following you as you drive or walk past. I am looking for directions to make one.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Alan, No I haven’t seen that. I have a jack o lantern one where someone cut the eyes so that more light shown through. What you describe sounds interesting, but I haven’t come across that. There is a Facebook group called “Vintage Crafters”. Let me see what I can find out from them. ~Nicole

  15. Curtis says:

    Hello Nichole. Thanks for the fun post and history :-). I was just having a nostalgic moment regarding a halloween blow-mold I had when I was about four years old…. so I did a search and found your article. There does seem to be something incredibly tender and endearing about these illuminated figures. I’m glad to know there are others who feel the same.

    • Nicole Christensen says:

      Hi Curtis, Thank you for reading and commenting! Yes, blow molds really are a favorite of mine of holidays past. Many of the “old” molds have been re-cast. I have a ghost and a Santa that are “new” but from old molds. If you look on eBay or tag sales, you might be able to find the one you specifically were talking about. Cords don’t matter as I recommend replacing old cords anyway. Good luck! ~Nicole

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>