How much sense do you give to plastic? For blow mold collectors, the answer is a lot.
Glowing and painted pieces of Christmas plastic, these unsung heroes of holiday décor have gained a cult following over the years: homeowners meticulously set up Santa Claus ‘blow molds’, nativity scenes, gingerbread, nutcrackers and more throughout the yard for neighbors and others. passers-by to admire.
Collections range from a modest 30 to over 2,000. Collectors range from Arkansas to upstate New York. There are old collections and young collectors. While some collectors occasionally come across blown molds at church sales or local antique stores, others spend their days looking for new finds on Craigslist and Facebook, where groups like Blow Mold Nation (over 10,000 members) sell and trade. Blow Mold World (7,000+ members)) and Blow Mold Maniacs (515 members).
In these groups, amateurs buy and sell, share their horror stories, and show off their vast or promising collections. One collector even climbed onto their roof to share this year’s setup with fellow Blow Mold maniacs. The comment section is filled with “oh and ah” exclamations, as well as a few “be careful” words. When a disaster strikes (a strong wind tramples the window), collectors rush to give advice on how to keep jewelry in place. When a collector finds a one-of-a-kind item, people rejoice in the comments.
No blow mold left
Debbie Eret Mackenzie is an active member of Facebook blowing groups and a self-styled collector of everything. Her collection of blow molds started last year. After the puppy visited her home in Arkansas, she hesitated to place the inflatable boats, fearing that they would explode. She pulled out a snowman mold from storage and suddenly felt the urge to buy more molds.
“From there I found the Blow Mold Nation and kapooey page. So here we go. ‘I need this. I would like this one. I would like to receive it. ” I’ve been collecting all year, and I probably have over 200 forms, ”she said.
For Eret Mackenzie, it’s about chasing a unique item, desperately hoping it will become part of your collection by placing bets and jumping up and down once you acquire it. “And maybe I will pass this on to my children. You know, they might actually hate the collection, ”she said.
According to Samuel Belcher’s Practical Extrusion Blow Molding, the production of plastic blow molds in the United States began in the early 1900s, after the first commercial blow molding machine was invented in 1937. and glassware in the 20th century – and the holiday obsession with decorating with blown molds. According to Eret Mackenzie, many blow molding companies ceased operations in the late 1900s.
“If someone takes care of them, they will last a long time. People who do not collect them throw them in the trash, and then the collectors find them in the trash, repaint and save them, ”said Eret Mackenzie. “It looks like there is no blown mildew left behind.”
Stranger Things effect
Although blow molding is a thing of the past, trade and sales are still alive and well, if not more so than ever. “Over the past two years, the market has become drier and drier,” said David Wenzel, co-owner of Wild Things Antiques in Minneapolis. Wenzel and his husband collect blow molds themselves. Other collectors have noticed the rise in prices and the popularity of blow mold collectors in recent years, and Wenzel has come up with his theory.
“I call this the Stranger Things effect. Season 2 of the series came out and went crazy, and that’s when you saw young people fall into it. Several blow molds from the 70s and 80s were shown at the exhibition. We see that large retailers are now selling molds, ”explained Wenzel. “So they went out of style and most of the companies that made them went broke. And I think last year and this year, most of the big retailers caught on to the upward trend in blow molds, so Target did a couple of Halloween and a couple of Christmas ones. Lowe’s, Menards, Home Depot, they all carry them. “
Blow molds, although made of plastic, do not last forever. They become brittle after years of inactivity in the cold. The paint fades. They get lost among hundreds of other holiday decorations. “People remember them from childhood,” Wenzel said. “Now they are trying to find things that would remind them of a warm home, childish nostalgia and a cozy home atmosphere.”
“I’m not obsessed with them,” said Steve Weber, owner of over 300 blow molding collections in Cottage Grove. “You might think that I was. We just accumulated them over the years. ” The Weber collection began in 1987 at the Knox Lumber Company in Newport. While shopping with her parents, Weber’s daughter found Santa Claus among the merchandise. “She stepped on a small ladder and hugged him, and that was our first step. After that we continued to add to the collection, ”he recalls.
What followed the randomly blown Santa Claus was a group of thirty-odd boys and girls from the choir, neatly lined up with pink cheeks and gaping mouths as if they were performing a rendition of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, a handful of blown candles, nutcrackers, Disney characters and a nativity scene.
The Christmas show is so popular with its neighbors and Cottage Grove community members that each year the Weber hosts a set event to welcome church friends, family, neighbors, and friends to help create their personal blow molded extravaganza on the Hidden Valley Trail. “It’s a fun collection and it’s nice that people come to us and thank us for turning out the lights, that they really like that their kids come every day to see the Christmas decorations,” Weber said.
Quality is more important than quantity
In 2014, John McGartwaite won the jackpot at a garage sale in Falcon Heights. There someone was selling Santa’s sleigh and his nine reindeer, and the reindeer look like they are flying through white PVC pipes.
When McGartwaith’s son was young, they used to visit Santa’s sleigh at the corner of Larpenter and Pascal Streets. “We always walked by and looked at it. I thought it was the coolest thing, ”he said.
At a garage sale, Santa’s sleigh and his PVC-lined reindeer sold for $ 25. “I couldn’t let this thing leave my community so cheaply. So I bought it and thought, well maybe I’ll just hold on to it and find someone who lives on a more beaten track than me who wants to show it off, ”McGarthwaite said. “But no, now I have it. I put it on. I took care of this. It’s mine.”
McGarthwaite’s collection at Falcon Heights is quite small compared to the 200-item collections on Facebook groups. “If someone has a half dozen and they have sentimental value,” he said, “that’s just as good as these really outstanding displays you can see in a television lighting competition.”
A good friend of McGarthwaite passed away abruptly several years ago. He had a nativity scene with Mary, Joseph, a baby, three wise men, a cow and a donkey. Although the friend had grandchildren, the nativity scene did not find applicants until it was offered to McGartwaite. Now he has Santa and his reindeer taking off, some toy soldiers and a friend’s nativity scene to share with their neighbors every Christmas. “I really feel a certain sense of responsibility or responsibility for doing things right from this guy’s memory when I say this,” he said.
For collectors and owners of old and new blown molds, these vintage jewelry are not just plastic kits that have withstood the winter. These are historical stories, they are the focal point for the neighborhood, they are memories of an old friend.