Union Square Holiday Guide Part II

Neighborhood: Union Square
Type of Place: Special Events

Description:
For your holiday-shopping assistance, welcome to Part 2 of my tour through the Union Square Market. (Click here for last week's write-up on some of the terrific vendors at this site.)

I'm always especially interested in items that help the environment and so loved the recycled-paper purses (from $25), trays, and coin bags (from $6) from Leonor Mendoza (www.lmdesigns.info). The items are sturdy (much sturdier than their paper base might seem to imply) and well-made, and the patterns--groovy polka-dots and stripes--would well complement happening homes or hipster ensembles.

At the Pageant Print booth (their year-round shop is in the East Village), it occurred to me that my environmental concerns dovetail with my love of vintage items and antiques--which, of course, don't destroy new resources or create manufacturing pollution. Here, great old maps and prints are for sale; I especially coveted a turn-of-the-century map of Brooklyn ($85) and a gently colored print of a pear, dated 1893 ($35). An adorable 1920 "Flower Fairy" print ($17.50) would be the gem of any
girly-girl's bedroom.

Collector Richard Delit's booth offers a little of everything--toys, household items, art--at great prices. Well-preserved photos he finds and frames are a remarkable $10; and one of the cuter toys I spotted at the fair--a puzzle of NYC that, when assembled, forms the "track" for a battery-powered toy cab--is an "Are you kidding?" $12. At the nearby Etchings by Duffy booth, the work starts at $40: a great price for original (and well-rendered) art.

The Windhorse (shopwindhorse.com) stand sells felted items from Nepal; I learn from the young woman working here, whose Nepali family makes these goods, that felt is a commonly used fabric in the country. A cheery pink-felt lined purse is $30; a festive felt-pom-pom-covered bag is $45 (and matching earrings are $15).

Family seems to be a theme at Union Square this year: At Papagaio Moza (www.mozahome.com), one of the booth-tenders tells me that some of the gorgeous mosaic items here were made, locally, by her grandmother. The pieces for the mosaics come from antique plates. I ask if the grandmother smashes the plates herself but learn that she uses a specially designed cutting device; this makes sense, though I liked the idea of a Granny with a Hammer. In all seriousness, these items are unique and very lovely. Frames start at $38; a graceful pitcher is $95; and mosaic kits, for those inspired to try the craft, are $28.

At Ben and Oliver (benandoliver.com), named for the kids of company heads Maria and Edgar Parrado, the saleswoman and I bond over, of all things, our mutual love of paper, finding that we both have way too much saved paper at home in our way too small apartments. This comes up because I'm drawn immediately to the beautiful reversible wrapping paper here ($3)--an item I haven't seen before. Gift boxes of candles, beauty products, etc. start at $10; one called Me and My Honey ($30), featuring all honey-based products, is especially cute. Actually, this whole booth is especially cute. In a craft fair filled with attractive selling spaces, this is one of my favorites; Maria and Edgar must have good eyes for design. Speaking of good eyes, I love the cards by Victor Gagliardi--photos accompanied by literary quotes ($20 for 12). Victor plays soccer with Edgar, I learn, a fact that fits perfectly with the market's community feel.

By this time I'm actively trying to avoid stopping at any more booths, since I've already visited approximately 1,006 of them. But the self-manicure kits at Lotus (www.deadsealotus.com) draw me in nonetheless. Two buffs, cuticle oil, and a lotion (you can choose one of four fragrances) cost a reasonable $40; this seems even more reasonable when the saleswoman demonstrates the kit and I see the difference it makes in my nails, with no polish whatsoever.

Lastly, I see no choice but to stop at Hanami to admire the real-flower jewelry (lush tropical flowers coated with resin). Necklaces are $42 to start, earrings $25; they're drawing quite a crowd even as the afternoon turns to rain. I imagine how this jewelry could brighten the winter months and also prove the perfect summer accessory. Great design, year-round wearability, an organic base: all sounds (and looks) great to me.

Finally, I stumble out of the market--for now. Next time, as I've told the vendors, I'll be back as a shopper.
  - Pamela Grossman; Dec 11, 2006


Union Square Holiday Guide Part II
17th Street at Union Square
New York, NY 10003
Map

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