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Artisans Abound at the Bryant Park Holiday Shops

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It’s holiday time at Bryant Park. Citi Pond, the 170’ x 100’ skating rink is scott-free. High quality skates are available for rental, or bring your own. The music is pleasant, the view cinematic. Sunday-Thursday 8am-10pm; Friday & Saturday 8am-Midnight.  Skate Sharpening & Free Bag Check. Lockers with locks available for purchase. (Bring your own lock.)

The Bryant Park Grill and Celsius Restaurants as well as assorted food kiosks offer everything from full meals to cocoa or a wrap.

Here, this year’s four choices for best kiosks at which to shop:

Yes, Virginia, New York City has heart.

Heart Art H07

Wendy Isaacson has been making things and peddling them door to door since she was five-years-old in Quincy, Massachusetts. She moved to the city to study design at F.I.T. finding her livelihood in theatrical and commercial props=making lots and lots of things. From the early nineties, a storefront location in Chelsea offered Heart Art as well as the work of a few chosen craftspeople.

The prop business was sold eight years ago, the bricks and mortar location shut down, but the hearts beat on. “I’m a New Yorker now, thirty-one years, ‘never get jaded; I keep the New England about me.” I asked, of course, why hearts. Despite her natural forthrightness, this is kept close to her chest. All I could learn was that it has something to do with believing and her (now deceased) beloved cat. Hmmm…

Isaacson concocts her approximately 5” fully shaped hearts from Durham’s Water Putty, wood pulp, and a secret amount of New York tap water. “…a little bit of NYC in every heart.” They’re solid. An extensive finishing process follows as does another when the pieces are fabric wrapped or painted…onto which she applies design elements. These hearts are meant to last. Painted or unpainted wood ($50) or acrylic ($20) frames are available separately as are stands ($5) -or you can hang your heart (from a back hook) directly on a wall for all the world to see.

There are hearts which speak of every degree and form of caring from lust to love, affection to admiration…hearts for relatives, friends, business acquaintances, practitioners and hobbyists. The Kinky Heart has a miniature set of hand cuffs wrapped around it. For the passionate, there’s one covered entirely in (and called) Flames – with a small mounted fire extinguisher.

Trying to say something? There’s Lock and Key, a bright red heart with chains and a padlock or Healing Heart “strong, but precious; priceless” broken down the middle exposing gold inside-with a band-aid across the breach.

There’s a heart covered with graphic houses on which a doll-sized welcome mat is spread or one titled Yin/Yang -Impasse? Collaboration? Dual Nature? Two solitudes who salute and respect one another? (Rilke) ‘Models for thespians, musicians, doctors, carpenters, cooks, knitters…one with a paw print- you get the idea. $50.00 – $135.00 including gift boxing! Better than poetry: Heart Art.

Additional versions on www.heartartcreations.com

Artisanal Chocolate mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Max Brenner-Chocolate by the Bald Man #102 promenade

Leaving Heart Art, turn right and ‘round the corner to arrive at Max Brenner-Chocolate by the Bald Man. A twelve year-old Israeli-based company the Brenner restaurants have “real” food (here you can get a side order of chocolate with which to butter-or batter? your toast, however) while additionally specializing in chocolate desserts. Each has a retail section. New York’s first is at 841 Broadway, 14th Street and Union Square. To Max Brenner, chocolate is a religion.

Cocoas from West Africa and South America are used in recipes that will enrapture your taste buds. Caramelized pecans rolled in praline cream and cocoa powder, modestly called: Nuts, can be truthfully described as ambrosial. Flavors are magically tiered-first the cocoa, then the praline, then the nut. (11.50) Another favorite, the bonbon assortment, (9 for $12.90) is rich, creamy and slooooo in your mouth as it claims the territory.

Should you be unable to resist instant gratification, hot Italian Thick Cocoa ($5.00) is available to go as are cupcakes ($3.00) and OMG cookies ($5.00).

The piece de resistance, however, is a 12” plastic syringe of liquid chocolate ($4.00) that can be heated up on the spot and squirted cleanly down the throat of a strolling chocoholic. Take it home (if you can wait) for use over ice cream, berries or pound cake. A fabulous gift, the syringe lasts just ten days in the fridge, so time your purchase. Think of the expression on a loved one’s face finding this in his or her stocking! Needless to say, it’s extraordinary chocolate.

Gift Sets at the kiosk include The Cocoa Ocean Under Madagascar $39.00 Hug Mugs and Cocoa ($27.50) The 2 mugs, cacao bean shaped, are designed to keep your hands warm while drinking and to allow the aroma to have its way with you- includes 8oz of cocoa powder.

And Chocolate, A Love Story, an artful (art-deco graphics) collection of dessert recipes- like the famous chocolate pizza- photographs, and the dissemination of Max Brenner’s “chocolate culture.” ($25.99)

Additional products on www.maxbrenner.com

Leather, Faux Fur, and Subtly Hued Stones

Daniela Zagnolli LO5

Daniela Zagnolli has worked in the fashion industry since she was 19 when she opened a division of the international modeling agency, Mega models, in the city of Belo Horizonte. She traveled extensively with an eye to developing products made with the best materials and quality workmanship, but determined to keep her line affordable. Zagnolli, nee Silva, decided on her homeland of Brazil as primary resource and began relationships with manufacturers and artisans. Her company entered the market in January 2010.

The Nugaard Collection  (handmade in the US) is represented by a necklace ($234.00) cuff ($137.00) and ring ($83.00-in sizes) of Smokey Quartz, Olive Jade, Amazonite, Orange Calcite, Lavender Jade, and Blue Quartz; gold-plated steel chain. The color combination is both extremely striking and universally flattering as are the shapes of the stones.

Daniela recently launched the Daniela Zagnolli Collection which includes handsome leather cuffs, some with faux fur and gold-plated brass locks ($99.00) which are made in Brazil.

Also part of the Collection are a la mode faux fur handbags with leather and chain adornment made here. ($119.00)

The chain handle of the red faux fur bag, which is somewhat smaller than the hobos but still a practical size, expands to shoulder length. Its color and embellishment make it distinctive.

A bracelet of gold and antique silver plated chains and Swar0viski Crystals ($186.00)- was designed by Juliana Manzini in Brazil. Flexibility allows it to drip gracefully from the wrist. Earrings in stylish, useful hues range between $29.00-$83.00.

The kiosk shows additional jewelry including a great looking modern take on charm bracelets featuring big hearts and leather butterfly cut-out cuffs. A few extravagantly tooled leather bags by internationally known, Rogerio Lima, scarves and faux fur cuffs are also available. You will not see yourself coming and going.

Other items on www.braziliandecor.com under jewelry. The Daniela Zagnolli Collection will be available online in early December.

Glass: a non-crystalline solid material, often optically transparent.

The Artisans of New York DO1 Functional Art

The Artisans of New York was midwifed by aficionado Mehmet Kazdal who has brought together creative glassworks he feels “capture the spirit, energy, and vibrance of New York City.”

Ikebana vessels by Dean Sapphire- slate ($29.00-$65.00) Seiken Taylor -porcelain (29.00-$45.00) and Kovesses Kaz- wood ($85.00-550.00; photo version $185.00) were added because of their simplicity and elegance. Kazdal is convinced flowers last longer when arranged in the tradition of Ikebana. Perhaps they feel peaceful. Examples are attractively displayed at the kiosk.

Every piece is signed. Kazdal takes great pride in nurturing his artists, not simply being the name on a check. In the process of coming to market, he’s added regional sources. Artists from such varied states as Michigan, Atlanta, Maine, California and North Carolina are represented.

Gifts range from about $15.00 & $25.00 for barrettes and $25.00 for Jan Walter’s pill boxes to $950 for a large, handsome, Asian influenced “jar,” called Tangerine Strata by Daniel Blade.

In between are coasters, plates, platters, bowls, vases, and boxes of many sizes (by the glass box guy, Mark Lewanski, photo above). The smallest “platter” is 4.5” square $35.00; the largest platter 10” x 16” $265.00 This is fine work. Glass is brightly colored and clear or iridescent tapestry and earth hues. All are completely non-toxic.

The Fused Glass Spring Garden Collection (opening photo) in particular; a tray, plates and bowls ($365.00 – $550.00) is cheerful, unique and has distinct wow factor. These have space between the blossoms and so are practical only for certain containment.

Additional items on www.theartisansofnewyork.com

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