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Handcrafted Arts and Crafts Sold at Union Square in New York City - NYC

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 10/8/2006 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  During the day on Friday and Saturday, New York's Union Square is the best place to consistently find original arts and crafts in the city. While big-name craft shows hold forth on specific weekends, it's Union Square that provides exhibit space to anyone who cares to display.

Although Union Square isn't loaded with craftspeople like a show is, enough artists are there to make your time worthwhile. Stella, of Stella & Zane Japanese Pop Art (above), for example, sells original art that is silk-screened on t-shirts, bags, and other accessories. She also has a huge portfolio available from which you can select prints for custom orders. Prices start at $35 and the partners work with merchants in town on buying trips.

(Contact Stella or Zane at stellaZane@earthlink.net.)

Union Square is approximately a half-mile in circumference; an easy walk all around. On Fridays and Saturdays, the southern half is devoted to New York's famous Greenmarket. There you see chefs buying large quantities of produce and specialty meat, as well as locals picking over the vast stock.

In addition to perishable produce, plants, and flowers, there are Greenmarket stalls filled with fine wool and yarns, honey, syrup, candy, jams, chutneys, wines, and ciders, all of which are perfect for gift-buying and personal use. Best, you can shop 'til you drop without requiring large cash withdrawals from ever present ATMs.

(See Littleview's article, Beth's Farm Kitchen, about a Greenmarket provider of gift-wrapped jams and chutneys.)

During summer Saturdays, The River Garden's booth features bunches of fresh cut flowers, many of which you won't find at a florist. In late fall through winter, then again in early spring, The River Garden sells an amazing selection of dried flowers and plants.

Pick up bundles of dried flowers for your own crafty pursuits (photo above), or buy bouquets and wreaths of all sizes. The River Garden offers the best selection of dried plants that I've ever seen, with prices equally attractive at around $20 each. Recommendation? If you visit NYC for this booth alone, you'd be more than rewarded!

(The River Garden is based in Catskill, NY.)

New York wines are also featured at the Greenmarket, all of which are great. The most unique beverage treasures, however, are hard ciders produced by Eve's Cidery, based in Ithaca, NY.

Friends, I am addicted to this cider. Beer lovers will especially love Eve's non-sweet, sparkling ciders (Autumn's Gold or Northern Spy). Bittersweet Farmhouse Cider is also excellent. In addition to apple, they also produce fruit wines, but not all varieties are available at their booth. I recommend that you buy at least one of everything at hand, try it, then decide what to ship back home. (Most bottles are $12, but a few go up to $20.)

When the Greenmarket is present, you'll find artists and craftspeople gathered around the northern portion of Union Square. This is a "sit down and sell it" area with no defined booth space, although regular artists always try to return to the same spot.

Kristine Virsis, the artist you see above, specializes in flat-colored graphics printed on Kraft paper. I purchased a biker print from her last fall as a gift for a highly-regarded decorator friend and he immediately hung it in his living room (it is that good). I've since purchased all of her prints, which, at $10 each, are a bargain.

November 2007 update! You can purchase Kristine's work online at www.justseeds.org. Email her at kristine@burst.com (and say Littleviews.com sent you).

Many of the photos in this article were taken around 10 AM on a sunny Saturday. By 11 AM, you can expect to find Union Square mobbed, especially when the weather is good. To avoid crowds, shop on Fridays (although not all the vendors mentioned in this article will be there), or very early on Saturday. That said, even if you have to elbow your way around, the atmosphere is festive.

In addition to the Greenmarket and the artists' collective, the shops surrounding the square are equally lively, although most are chains. I, for example, adore the multi-level Barnes&Noble on the south and the beautiful Whole Foods to the north. You'll also find wine merchants, clothing merchants (Forever 21 being particularly notable), and high-quality restaurants throughout the area. (See our article on Union Square's micro-brewery, Heartland Brewery, for a relaxing NYC dining option.)

Questions? Comments?
Karen Little

Please note that prices mentioned in this article are subject to change.

Article and photography by Karen Little. This article was first published on 10/8/2006. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.

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