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What is a Blow Mold?
Blow molds have been a very popular Christmas decoration in times past. Blow molds might have become a prominent Christmas decoration sometimes in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but their popularity didn’t peak there. In fact, they’re very sought-after as collectibles now. If you want to learn more about blow molds and what they are, take a look.
What is a blow mold?
Do you not know what a blow mold is? Think back to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Do you remember the scene when Clark gets the family outside to turn on the lights and the lights don’t work? Then he throws a tantrum that involves shaking the cord, jiggling lights, and then he escalates to shaking and kicking his lawn decoration of Santa and the reindeer. Later in the film, Santa and the reindeer make another appearance when the fumes from the methane gas explode, and this lawn ornament fly through the air, flames trailing behind. Santa and these reindeer are an excellent example of a blow mold because these decorations speak to the traditional Christmas that Clark is trying to master in his home for the holiday.
What is the history of blow molding?
Blow molds are known as traditional Christmas decorations because they started becoming popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Blow molds are started by a company casting a mold with a cavity in it. From there, the hard plastic liquid is poured into the cavity, and concentrated air pressure blows the hard plastic into all of the crevices of the cavity. Once the plastic hardens, the air pressure is turned off and the plastic is removed from the mold. Sometimes the plastic liquid is colored for certain intentionally-colored pieces, and sometimes the plastic is painted after the blow mold has hardened and dried. This process was invented by Enoch Ferngren and William Kopitke, inventors that were working on a more finite version of glass blowing. When they discovered the blow molding process, they created a blow molding machine to make production more consistent, and in 1938, they sold the blow molding machine and patent to the Hartford Empire Company. From there, the Hartford Empire Company began producing limited molds. Since then, more companies joined in on production, and now many of the companies that participate in making blow molds include Harrill Company, Heller Industries, Hamilton Skotch Company, Niagra Plastic Company, Faster-Forms, Farley Technologies, Artline, Blinky Products, Bel Air, Holiday Innovations, Borse Plastics Products, Judith Novelity Sales, Empire Plastics, Beco Products, Poloron Products, Santa’s Best, Union Products, TPI/Canada, Drainage Industries, Sun Hill Industries, Dapol, Noma Lites, Mold-Craft, Falcon, Grand Venture, and many more.
While blow molding decorations isn’t as common as it used to be, blow molding something else has taken over in blow mold production: water bottles are a form of blow molding, something that blow mold companies focus a lot of time and money on.
Why are blow molds so collectable?
Some blow molds go for hundreds of dollars, which seems surprising for small to medium sized items made of plastic. Part of the reason they’re so collectable is because they’re so rare. The older, more vintage blow molds are rare because several blow mold owners didn’t realize they couldn’t store blow molds in their attic. With degrees flocculating between 130-200 degrees, most blow molds melt in the attic and the risk of someone not taking proper care of a vintage blow mold is very high. It’s also rare to get a blow mold that is made from one of the original companies: several of the companies that used to make blow molds have gone out of business, sold the company into new hands, or the molds themselves have become lost or broken. If you find a blow mold that is produced by a vintage company with a vintage mold, these blow molds are worth quite a bit of money, whether the decoration itself is vintage or not.
Are reproductions made?
Collecting blow molds has been trending for the last few years, with collectors spending hundreds of dollars and many years devoted to the task. Considering the new focus, many companies have returned to blow molding, and particularly to reproductions. General Foam is the largest company reproducing these molds, and their most favored blow molds include the Nativity scene, Santa with sleigh and reindeer (like the one featured in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), toy soldiers, candle sticks, and candy canes.
Where can you get a blow mold?
Our store www.thejollychristmasshop.com/christmas-blow-molds/ sells a lot of the current Christmas and Halloween blow molds produced today. For rare or vintage blow molds, Blow Molds R Us provide an inventory list with pictures so that you can see what products are being made, even if you can’t order them from the company. Ways to access the blow molds seem inconsistent at best, doing searches online and chatting with communities such as these to see if anyone is selling a used product or if anyone in that community knows where you would get a hard to find product. Several collectors will say that this is part of the joy of collecting: the hunt is what keeps them challenged and interested.
How many different blow molds are available?
While several of the most popular blow molds include the Nativity scene, Santa with sleigh and reindeer (like the one featured in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation), toy soldiers, candle sticks, and candy canes, blow molds are made in nearly every figure. Disney characters have blow molds. A variety of animals are cast in blow molds, and, in fact, several of these companies are the same that produce pink lawn flamingos. Perhaps some of the most common blow molds include orange pumpkins with black faces for Halloween, turkeys for Thanksgiving, and other caricatures for every day purposes, such as ducks, deer, and cats. Nearly everything is available for nearly every holiday –you just need to know where to look.
If you know where to look, blow molds can be just the thing for you to decorate with. You can use blow molds to decorate for any holiday, but if you find some of the rare or collectible Christmas blow molds, you can have collectable, vintage items. Just make sure you don’t store them in the attic, or else blow molds will become even more rare.
Christmas lights have come a long way. In fact, chances are you didn’t know that Christmas lights became popular in the 1880s or that they started as a publicity stunt. Since then they’ve evolved into fluorescent bulbs and LEDs, and have decorated your houses, your trees, and have lit interesting decorations and the ends of your porch. If you want to learn more about Christmas lights and how far they’ve come, take a look.
Every year, Thomas Edison would perform a stunt, such as the year when he electrocuted an elephant. Thankfully, in 1880, he took a different route: he lit a Christmas tree with incandescent bulbs near a railway station to gather attention, and one of his cronies displayed in his home the first Christmas tree ever light with bulbs. However, it was an 80 light string and wasn’t an impressive performance.
Edison wasn’t the first one to consider lighting a tree. In fact, while evidence of celebrating with Christmas trees stretches back to the Renaissance period, using candles to light the trees is first evident in the late 1700s, right about the time the Christmas tree began growing as an international Christmas tradition. Germany specialized in making wax candles to place on trees, and they invented the tree skirt to catch any wax that dripped off the candles. While putting fire on trees sounds uncanny to anyone of the modern age, electricity didn’t exist and the dark evenings were such that families couldn’t see the tree at night. Putting candles on the tree allowed this to be possible, and families would only put up the trees a few days before Christmas and then taken them immediately down, though some German Roman Catholic traditions would keep the tree up until February 2nd. With Edison’s invention, families were finally able to put trees up earlier and keep them lit longer.
From there, Christmas lights became tacky but functional. Around the early 1900s, only wealthy families could afford them as they were $12 (about $300 today). By 1925, though, 15 companies were making Christmas lights (a consortium referred to as NOMA Electric Corporation). Lights were mass-produced and demand was up, averaging out the once-expensive price. The plainly-colored incandescent light was what everyone bought, but by the Great Depression, the Bubble Light was invented and soon topped the incandescent bulb in sales. Sylvania tried to top that in the 1940s with Fluorescent bulbs, but those did not prove to be a viable option.
Midcentury, lights were adapted for outdoor use –that is to say you could use the same string of light bulbs inside on your tree our outside on your house. While round incandescent light bulbs were still being used, they were vastly replaced by oval ceramic bulbs in C7 and C9 sizes. The C7 is known by its iconography in such cartoons as Charlie Brown’s Christmas. The C9 bulb is very similar, just a bit larger. Both bulbs can have see-through colored glass so that you can see the filaments or have solid-glass ceramic so that you only see the color.
While incandescent bulbs were adapted for outdoor use in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, decorating the outside of your home didn’t become popular until the 1960’s. One of the reasons for this trend was the introduction of tract homes and the idea that all of the neighbors were decorating their houses for the holiday season together. By 1968, novelty lights were being made, including chili peppers, flamingos, and leg-lamp imitators. This is when decorating with lights for Christmas became a more complicated priority: no longer were families merely decorating their trees, but now the houses were decorated with different kinds of lights as a way of being unique but similar.
One of the greatest electrical inventions for Christmas lights became what Americans call Mini Lights and what the English call Fairy Lights. They’re often nicknamed “twinkle lights,” though some may not twinkle, and when you think of small Christmas lights, these are typically what you think of. They come in colors or just white, twinkling or solid color, and in single strands or nets. These Mini Lights are not to be confused with Midget Lights, which is a smaller version of an incandescent light bulb, only clear, white glass on a single strand. In some parts of the US (such as Chicago), these are called Italian lights.
Another contemporary invention continues to be a collection of lit sculptures to add to your outside decoration. In the 1980s, these outdoor decorations didn’t light up, but the 1990’s introduced lit candy canes, Santa’s, snowmen, reindeer, manger scenes, and other Christmas icons and scenes. These were primarily lit by incandescent bulbs, though in the last few years, they’ve been adapted to use LED lights.
Lights that aren’t LED lights are hard to come by anymore. Companies switched from incandescent bulbs to LED because they give off far less heat, they’re energy efficient, and they last a lot longer than the filaments inside ceramic or glass incandescent bulbs. There are 3 different kinds of LED lights: 5mm lights, G12 and G22 lights, and C7. 5mm lights are the smallest LED light sold, intended to be an alternative to Mini/Fairy Lights. Consumers often report that they don’t like the white version of this light as it has more blue than yellow in the glow. G12 and G22 LED lights are round and mostly come in white colors. These don’t have the “white” off-put that 5mm LED lights have: it’s more of a natural white that closest resembles an incandescent bulb. The C7 LED lights are shaped just like the old fashioned lights, but the plastic has more grooves in the bulb with the intention of giving off more light. In fact, almost all LED lights are inside plastic enclosures: this ensures durability, is much cheaper in cost than glass enclosures, and since LED lights burn cool, plastic enclosures aren’t the same hazard they would be for an incandescent light.
LED lights are changing and improving. When LEDs were first released, all of the white bulbs gave off the same blue light as seen in the 5mm mini lights. Now LEDs are being improved upon and made better so that lights like the G12 and G22 bulbs can have warmer white light. Additionally, LEDs are being adapted for all kinds of fixtures so that you can purchase LED light nets, Italian/Midget bulbs, and fairy lights. LEDs -like incandescent bulbs- went through a period of transition and now prove to be your best option for the holiday season.
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Who says you can’t have an outside Halloween party? We did just that and decorated a table scape to match! What a great time to have an outside party when the weather is cool and crisp, and the trees are displaying their bounty of color. We started by laying down our Bone Appetit Halloween Tablecloth. We then needed our focal point, the white marble cake stand. On the cake stand we placed two of our battery operated moving glitter candles and Owlfred the owl figure. On either side of the cake stand we placed our Halloween Candelabra, two of our Halloween votive candle holders and more of our battery operated moving glitter candles. At the table we added our Mr. Bones skeleton prop who looks like he’s enjoying a glass of wine with the wine glasses we purchased at a party supply store. Our table set is made complete by the addition of chargers which we placed paper plates on top of which we also purchased at a party supply store. You can find these decorations at our online store thejollychristmasshop.com