The home that Santa forgot. little plastic thingies….
by Art Chantry ( firstname.lastname@example.org):
These things creep me out. I associate them with extreme poverty of the soul. It reminds me of cold winter days 50 years ago when I was a kid trying to decorate our ‘house’ for Xmas with a little plastic Santa nailed to our front door. It fell off. so pathetic. I left it laying on the porch. It sat there for two years before we threw it away.
These awful plastic ‘plaques’ (like sugary tooth decay) have been around forever. even after all these years they are still ubiquitous – they never rot. you still find oodles of them in thrift stores and goodwill stores and yard sales. you can buy them for a quarter or so. everybody hates them. there must be a bazillion different designs for every possible fad or season – santa, ‘noel’, rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, jack-o-lanterns, witches, cupids, turkeys, easter bunnies, leprechauns, “happy new year”, happy faces, endless comic animals. I even had a ‘peter max’ item scrawling out the word ‘love’ exactly in his style. it’s like some sort of white trash plague of plastic happiness. I used to collect them (of course). I had dozens of them – and investment of maybe $20!
They are apparently made from thousands of little disks of colored plastic (about 1/4″ diameter) that are clustered together into various shapes to create the desired image and then heated “just enough” to barely melt the junk and it all adheres together into a single mass. too much heat and the whole thing would turn into a oozing glop. I figure they use a sunlamp or a baking sheet. the backside is utterly flat, while the top side is textured like – well, thousands of little disks of half-melted plastic. they collect dust and dirt like a sponge.
I tripped across this item in a junk store somewhere. the the only time I’ve ever found one still attached to it’s ‘header card’. In fact, I’ve never seen them attached to anything before – they’re always sold in big bins – like produce. I’m fascinated there was ever the need for a header card. I’m guessing this must be very early in their history when they actually proudly hung on display in the stores. there isn’t much info on the cardboard backing. there is no address or company name listed anywhere. but then, the top and bottom edges are unevenly cut, so somebody may have actually scissored off that information. I have no idea, really. It is strange. I get the impression that the border that originally ran all around this thing plastic junk was meant to look like a wooden picture frame – ready for hanging. In fact that’s what it says, “use tiny nails or pins to fasten against wall. for the kitchen, den & nursery. washable, flexible.” it also points out that it’s “entirely hand made”. real kwality!!
So I consider these things a blight on the American landscape and as common as mud. but, who did this to us? why do these icky things still creep around the edges of our culture, waiting for a holiday sneak attack? who designed this crap? what marketing genius was the mind behind this one? this is the sort of American design history I crave to learn about. we spend all our time applauding the Milton Glasers and the Paul Rands of history (new yorkers in the right place and the right time with a great sales pitch and boundless hustle). yet, we dismiss this other more common stuff so totally we have no idea where it even comes from. we know exactly WHO to blame for the “I ‘heart’ NY” image and the ‘Westinghouse’ logo on all those nuclear warheads. but, why don’t we bother to preserve this more basic information? we have no idea who designed the Oreo cookie or the Coke bottle. I want to know who to blame for this stuff!
Art Chantry:but, I’M the major sneerer here. i really do hate this stuff. i hate it (and what it represents) so much that i not only sneer at it, i can’t wait to use it in a project. i love what i hate. because these are definitely NOT craft projects like you all seem to assume. they have always been manufactured by exploitive greedheads and sold to the stupid commoners as home or seasonal ‘decoration.’ they probably use slave labor and poison their workforce with the fumes in order to make this junk for all of us to consume (for mere pennies) and then argue about. truth is, this is not craft work and it is evil through and through. i love it.
raymond loewy said, ‘the coke bottle is the most perfectly designed package in the word.’ loewy is often mistakenly credited with designing the
coca- cola bottle, although he worked for the coca cola company for decades, designed several coke related products, and even redesigned the famous bottle in 1954. (the first coke bottle was developed for coca-cola in 1915 by the root glass company of terre haute, indiana – the bottle has undergone several redesigns in its 100-plus years). his contribution to that particular icon, the original contour of the ‘mae west’ bottle, was to ‘slenderize’ the already existing version, giving it a more refined silhouette and making it sexier to a new generation. Read More:http://www.designboom.com/portrait/loewy.html