Gone with the wind

Anchoring those lightweight blowmolds

The question comes up time and time again, “How do I keep my blow molds from tipping over?” Securing a blow mold to keep it from falling down, tilting, or spinning in the wind is not difficult but it does take a bit of time. Additionally, a properly secured blow mold will help to reduce the chances of it being damaged when it falls or being stolen by a snatch-and-run thief.

Here are some of the methods that I have developed over the years. Depending upon the molds I’m securing, a combination of techniques makes sure they don’t budge in Chicago winter winds that have approached 70 mph. My blow molds no longer go down.

First rule of thumb: never put your blow molds on a diet because extra weight is your best friend. Buy zip lock bags and fill each with sand or pea gravel being careful not to pack it too full. Make sure there is some room to manipulate the contents.

Slide the filled bags into the mold through the bottom access hole, the back light hole or if the head is removable, right down through the top. I don’t recommend filling the mold directly with sand in direct opposition to some manufacturers’ suggestions. As condensation occurs and, depending on the mold, rain or snow seeps in, the sand will become wet and stick to the inside of the mold. This wet sand or gravel blocks the light from shining through and creates dark spots on the mold when viewed at night. Additionally, the sand’s density creates a dark shadow at the bottom of the mold where the light cannot penetrate. By using bags, the sand is contained so the inside of the mold does not get dirty and the shadow at the bottom is minimized. The bags can also be removed, stored, and used for other holidays or to make carrying the blow molds easier.

For larger blow molds, if the access hole in the bottom is large enough, slip in some bricks. I use five or six bricks in each of my Poloron and Empire choir people for stability and to deter would-be thieves. Weighing in at 20-25 pounds each, they are heavy. After the season the bricks are removed to avoid damaging anything.

Blowmold and rebar anchor
Blowmold and rebar anchor

Rebar, conduit, garden stakes, or green fence posts in combination with weight, will insure that your blow molds are rock solid. You’ll need a hammer and a good supply of zip ties, fishing line, or nylon cordage. Wire can be used but if not coated, it will scratch the blow mold’s paint.
One of the best methods is to double stake the blow mold. It’s more work and expense than a single stake at the back, but your blow molds will not move or spin in the wind.

To double stake, place the mold exactly where you want it. Tip the mold forward and slide in a piece of rebar or conduit through the bottom access hole. Move the mold aside and hammer in your first piece of rebar. Slide the mold over the rebar and pound another piece of rebar into the ground behind the mold. With time and experience, you will soon learn to gauge exactly where that center point is and won’t have to measure for it. Because blow molds are all different, try to pound the outer reba

r in at an angle so it will run up the back side of the mold very closely.

Create a chain of zip ties or cut enough cordage to secure the blow mold to the stakes. If using zip ties, a zip tie gun is a tool you’ll want in your lighting kit, especially if you have many molds to secure. When used properly, you want the zip tie to be as tight as possible. There will be no paint loss or rub marks if the tie is tight.

Rebar has a ridged surface, as opposed to conduit which is smooth. When using rebar it’s next to impossible to remove or slip off a zip tie without cutting. Rebar has a minor drawback of rusting in damp environments. At the end of the season, if there is any rust present on the blow mold, wipe it down so that there is no permanent staining.

Holding up the choir
Holding up the choir

Another simple method is to use scaffolding and racks if you’re displaying a choir or a large group of molds that will be closely clustered together. I built a removable scaffold behind each tier of my choir. Assembly is fairly quick, tear down is quicker, it’s easy to store, and you don’t need to individually stake each blow mold. Scaffolding ends up being less expensive in the long run. The scaffolding is made from seven foot pieces of conduit supported by different cut lengths of rebar and green plastic garden stakes. The plastic does not scratch the blow molds, but the metal interior of the garden stakes is sturdy. Each mold is then zip tied to the scaffold length behind th

e mold. This method is a very effective technique to keep the molds in place, keeps the electrical connections off the ground, deters theft and has some impact in terms of looks.

If you don’t mind putting holes into your blow molds, drill a small hole into the bottom area of each, on an angle, and drive a tent stake or gutter nail (available in the roofing section of your local home center) through the mold and into the ground.

You can also attach your molds to a large piece of peg board or a pallet, and screw the molds into the surface. This will keep the molds very steady and is a great theft deterrent due to the weight involved. If you can count on snow in your locale, the peg board or pallet will be covered. Otherwise, paint the board to match your ground cover.

Angels on the roof
Angels on the roof

Pegboards are also a great way to attach blow molds to a roof and can be made to fit whatever size mold you wish to place without damaging your home. I needed to secure 16 blow mold angels to my roof so I measured the pitch, cut a 2×4 to the proper angle, screwed the sections of pegboard to the 2×4, and painted the front exposed surface black. Using two toggle bolts, I secured each angel to the pegboard sections. To keep the assemblies from moving on the roof, I used bricks and sand bags behind each angel.

Used singly or in combinations, all of these methods work well and will keep your blow molds in place throughout the display season. Happy Molding!

This article was included in the December 2009 issue of PlanetChristmas Magazine.

By Carrie Polales Sansing

Related Articles

Back to top button