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December, 2015 |

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An antique gold evening purse by Clara Kasavina, available at the Met Opera shop

Clara Kasavina, based in Long Island City, makes a range of breathtakingly exquisite handbags, earrings and accessories that are centerpieces in the boutique of the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

One evening clutch, made of hand-cast metal featuring a sculpted floral pattern (pictured above), evokes the costume and set design of Rusalka, Dvorák’s operatic version on the “Little Mermaid” story. Another evening bag, in dark green taffeta with black velvet accents, is fashioned from actual fabric used in Met’s production of Verdi’s Don Carlo between 2001 and 2007.

Each piece is handmade, and fashioned, interestingly, from discarded Met costumes from various operas, sections of the iconic gold curtain (a highly luxurious Italian silk brocade) that decorated the old opera house at Broadway and 40th street (which was torn down in 1966), as well as pieces of crystal from the old Met’s chandeliers. They are then sometimes embellished with even more Swarovski crystals, or exotic snake skins, and mounted onto frames that are cast and produced by Kasavina’s husband, Misha Berger.

Elsewhere in Kasavina’s oeuvre, a minaudière evokes an imperial Fabergé egg in both shape and design, and features laser-cut leather bordered by layers of glittering Swarovski crystals.

“You know, I started as a computer programmer,” Kasavina tells Blouin Artinfo, laughing. “I never thought I was artistic.”

Kasavina and Berger both emigrated from Russia to New York in 1975. Berger, then a sculptor, started a small business making belt buckles — from the couple’s kitchen. But Kasavina, who notes “I vividly remember that I pictured myself having a business in Manhattan,” wanted to expand the enterprise.

“It was a country of opportunity. I saw my husband’s talent and realized he needed somebody like me to give him a push. Every talent needs an agent,” she says wryly, adding that orders started flooding in soon after she got involved. “We didn’t know what to do with all these buckles. We were producing 10,000 to 15,000 pieces per order. So we moved to LIC in 1988, and started to cast and produce here. That’s how we became a manufacturer.”

Through the years, the nature of the fickle retail environment caused Berger and Kasavina to evolve from belt buckle manufacturers and wholesalers, to small-batch accessory designers and producers. But till today, everything remains cast, polished and set by hand.

In 2009, the Metropolitan Opera discovered Kasavina’s designs, and offered to sell them at its store.

“While we were talking, I offered to make some exclusive product for them based on old materials they had. They took me and my husband on a tour of the premises — onstage, backstage, it was amazing,” she recalls. “I asked for their old curtains and chandeliers, and sure enough they gave them to us.”

Kasavina spent the next two years taking the materials apart and thinking up designs for them. By 2011, she was ready to debut her designs appropriating the curtains and chandelier, but it wasn’t until 2014 that she was gifted the old costumes from Don Carlo and The Merry Widow.

“We’re excited because this gives the product a second life,” says Kasavina. “The style I love is very 1920s, which is a period that very much relates to opera, and the people who watch opera or go to the opera store.”

Kasavina says she finds inspiration from various places, but mostly from her memories of her hometown of St. Petersburg, which is rich in art, history, music and theater, and of which she enjoyed partaking frequently as a child.

“I love Russian opera, including Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky amongst others. My bags are often inspired by the ballet and ballerinas. I just grew up on that culture,” she says. “I can sometimes design bags in my dreams. I would wake up, reach for pencil and paper, and draw something.”

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Homework: Plaid decor gets a fresh look – Tribune

Plaids are having a fashion moment, but not just in apparel. Fresh takes on plaid have made headway in housewares and home decor, too.

“There’s something very recognizable and nostalgic about plaid,â€� said Kristen Chalupa, a product manager for Crate Barrel.

Her company went for nostalgia but also took a more modern approach in recent offerings, with updated plaids in table linens and such kitchen items as an oven mitt, potholder, apron and dish towel in a matching pattern of bright red, green, yellow and blue.

Both classic and contemporary plaids are plentiful throughout the retail universe in couches, curtains and bedding.

Other sightings of creative uses for plaid:

Isaac Mizrahi: A ceramic, pedestal cake plate with a set of matching plates in bold, preppy designs of green and blue recently sold out on QVC.

Ralph Lauren: A red tartan was used for a porcelain cup-and-saucer set trimmed in gold, along with dinnerware in the same pattern. A rustic plaid of red, black and gray, inspired by a vintage Ralph Lauren blanket, was carried over to napkins and placemats in woven linen.

Williams-Sonoma: Tartan also was paired here, but in chrome, for picture frames in red and blue. The traditional plaid also adorns everything from mugs to tabletop runners and pillow covers.

Will 2016 see bigger, better kitchens?

In a survey this fall, LG Electronics, which makes kitchen appliances, among other things, found homeowners are resolving to make kitchen inprovements a priority.

The survey found 46 percent of the 1,022 responding homeowners said the kitchen is the No. 1 room on which they would be most likely to splurge.

Top motivations for those planning to renovate their kitchens are to improve the rooms’ design and aesthetic appeal (26 percent) and to make them more functional (25 percent), rather than trying to increase the overall value of their homes (11 percent).

Many homeowners want their kitchens to be bigger (47 percent), have more counter space (44 percent), include additional cabinets (37 percent) and accommodate more people (33 percent).

Grant program helps community gardens

Fiskars, a supplier of consumer products for the home, garden and outdoors, is accepting applications for 2016 Project Orange Thumb garden grants now through Feb. 1.

The company will award 30 applicants $3,500 in cash and tools in the coming year to help communities reach their goals for neighborhood beautification, community collaboration and healthy, sustainable food sources.

Details: www2.fiskars.com/Community/Project-Orange-Thumb

Where’s Doug?

Doug Oster will be reporting from the Mid Atlantic Nursery Trade Show in Baltimore starting Jan. 7. To see all the new plant and seed introductions, along with the latest gardening products, check out his blog: triblive.com/dougoster. A complete story and video will appear Jan. 15.

— Staff and wire reports

Send Homework items to Sue Jones at sjones@tribweb.com.

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New Year 2016 Sales: All The Best Deals From Target, Walmart, And Best Buy For …

New Year 2016 has arrived, and shoppers looking for great deals will have a lot to choose from as retailers try to ring in 2016 with some big sales.

Retailers are using the start of 2016 to grab the final shoppers of the holiday season, offering some big deal to attract people with gift cards and trying to unload the rest of the excess holiday stock.

The New Year 2016 sales come after a deep round of after Christmas sales, brought on by a lower-than-expected Black Friday and holiday shopping season. Retail experts say this is an important time to squeeze the most revenue out of shoppers before they’re all back to work and in the depths of a cold winter.

“Sometimes the week after Christmas turns out to be the busiest of the season,” Jim Easley, general manager of the Staten Island Mall in New Springville, told silive.com. “There are still a lot of people who are off from work that week, the kids are still out of school, and what better time to spend all those gift cards that we received for Christmas.”

There are some big New Year 2016 sales at a number of major retailers, including Target, which is offering some help with the New Year resolutions. Shoppers can save $5 off every $25 they spend on organizational items with the coupon code “STORAGE.”

Walmart is offering big discounts on phones, with some top brands for around $60. The retail giant is also offering up to 70 percent off whatever Christmas decorations remain and up to $160 off select LED HDTVs.

Best Buy also has some big New Year sales, including deals on returned items. Shoppers looking to pick up those flat-screen televisions or video game systems that ended up as unwanted Christmas gifts will save up to 50 percent. And it’s not just open-box items — Best Buy is also offering up to 50 percent off clearance items, with the chain trying to empty the shelves of remaining unsold holiday stock.

Best Buy is also offering up to 30 percent off kitchen appliances and 25 percent off certain HDTVs.

Clothing is another area where shoppers can find some big New Year 2016 sales. The International Business Times compiled a list of some of the best deals from these outlets, which include the following.

Express: End of the Season sale, with buy one get one sale on jeans and 50 percent off select sweaters. Active wear is also buy one get one 50 percent off. Online shoppers get free shipping on orders of $125 or more.

Gap: The “Great Gap Winter Sale” bring savings up up to 60 percent, as well as $25 for every $50 spent through Gap cash. Online shoppers get free shipping on orders over $50 and free returns.

DSW: Save 25 percent off winter accessories online, up to 60 percent off of boots.

New York Co.: Save up to 80 percent off select items, and $25 off online orders of $100 or more with the promo code “6007.” They also have free shipping on orders over $50.

Victoria’s Secret: The New Year brings one of the biggest sales here, with the semi-annual sale bringing deals of up to 40 percent off on bras and 60 percent off clothing. Online orders over $50 can get free shipping with the code “SHIP50STYLE” and free shipping on orders over $100 with the code “FREESHIP100.”

Kohl’s: Shoppers who spend more than $100 can get 20 percent off with the coupon code “HAPPY2016.” Those who spend less than $100 can still get 15 percent off with the coupon code “NEWYEAR.”

A full list of all the other New Year 2016 sales can be found here.

[Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images]

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Beautiful Plates Made in the East Bay

Bring the top chefs’ choice for dinnerware home with you.

By Zachariah Kobrinsky

When chef Michael Mina wanted stunning dinnerware for his splashy eponymous San Francisco restaurant, he went to ceramics superstar Jered Nelson. Word of Nelson’s rustic-yet-refined style spread, and he was soon talking Spanish tapas plates with chef Michael Chiarello for his San Francisco restaurant, Coqueta.

Next, it was Restoration Hardware that sought out the Richmond potter to design and craft a line for its stores. And now, Nelson is launching his own dinnerware collection, called California Line, inspired by his most successful pieces and designed to serve a wide array of food.

“The way people eat has changed,” says Nelson. “A salad has become a meal, so there is less need for a small salad plate. And there are bowls for ramen or pho—big bowls for dishes like those that are meals.”

You can find Nelson’s new collection at his Richmond studio and at various NorCal shops, including The Gardener in the Ferry Building. jeredspottery.com.

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Best New Year’s Eve, Day Sales 2016: 15 Deals, Discounts And Coupons In Stores …

There’s no need for shoppers to worry if they missedthe after-Christmas sales. Retailers want to help customers bring in the new year with a whole set of new sales. What better way to start 2016 than with awesome savings? From clothing retailers to electronics stores, some of the best deals shoppers can find in stores and online have been provided below:

Clothing:

DSW: Save 25 percent on winter accessories online. No code needed. Free shipping and free returns at DSW stores. Up to 60 percent off of boots and more. Don’t forget to use your DSW card: Reward members get two times the points and premiere members get three times the points.

Express: It’s the return of the End of the Season sale, which means shoppers can save up to 60 percent. Customers can also take off 20 percent from clearance items. Jeans are buy one, get one, $29.90. Sweaters are 50 percent off select styles. Active wear is buy one, get one, 50 percent off. Express offers free shipping for orders $125 or more. 

The Gap: For the “Great Gap Winter Sale,” shoppers can save as much as 60 percent on hundreds of “wear now” and “wear later” styles. Also, earn $25 for every $50 spent through Gap cash. Free shipping on orders over $50 and free returns on all order.

New York Co.: Save up to 80 percent on select items. Online shoppers get a real steal. Shoppers can take $25 off $100 with the promo code “6007.” Free shipping on orders over $50.

Victoria’s Secret: It’s time to rejoice because the semiannual sale continues through the New Year! Save up to 60 percent on more than 3,000 styles. Bras are 25-40 percent off. Sleepwear is up to 40 percent off. Clothing is up to 60 percent off. Save up to 50 percent on select PINK items. Get free shipping with a $50 clothing purchase when you use the code “SHIP50STYLE.” Free shipping on orders over $100 with the code “FREESHIP100.” Free shipping with an Ugg Australia purchase when the code “UGGSHIP is used.

Electronics:

Best Buy: Save up to 50 percent on clearance and open-box items. Shoppers will save a minimum of 5 percent. Save up to 30 percent on kitchen appliances and up to 25 percent on select HDTVs. Free store pickup and free shipping on everything.

 Office Max: Save up to 40 percent on select supplies. Get a $15 gift card when you buy $75 of HP ink. Save up to 50 percent on select PC and tech accessories. Get a $20 gift card when you buy two HP Toners.

Radio Shack: Free shipping with online purchases, except for Apple TV bundle. Save $50 on Apple TV bundle. Save up to 25 percent on computer essentials. Save up to 50 percent on sound items and RC toys and drones.

Department Stores:

Bloomingdale’s: Save up to 75 percent on select items. Save 40 percent on handbags. Save up to 40-50 percent on men’s and women’s boots and winter coats. Free shipping on orders $150. Loyalists always get free shipping. Get 10 percent off your next order when you sign up for Bloomingdale’s text messages.

Macy’s: The massive-after sale continues through Thursday with tons of saving. Get 25 percent off select Nike styles. All mattress pads and toppers are 60 percent off. Most women’s shoes are 25 percent off. Select styles of women’s coats are 50 percent off. Save 60 percent on select bakeware from Martha Stewart’s line. Save 25 to 50 percent off select women’s denim. Get a free cosmetic bag when you spend $65 on cosmetics while supplies last or until Monday. Save 50 percent on select bras and panties. Save 30-50 percent off jewelry, plus extra savings when you use the coupon code “WONDER” online.

Walmart : Save up to 50 percent on “festive favorites.” Get top brand phones for as low as $59.88. Free shipping, free pickup and free returns. Save up to $160 on LED HDTVs.

Target: Spend $25 and save $5 on storage and organization items with the coupon code “STORAGE.” Get an extra 20 percent off clearance items with the promo code “EXTRA20.” Get Beats Solo 2 for $100 off. Save 25 percent off denim for the whole family. Free shipping on orders over $25. Always free pickup and free returns.

Kohl’s: Save 20 percent with you spend more than $100 with the coupon code “HAPPY2016.” Save 15 percent when you spend less than $100 with the coupon code “NEWYEAR.” Clearance items are up to 70 percent off, plus take 20 percent off of that with the Gold Star Clearance Event.

Online: 

Amazon: Up to 70 percent off all fashion, office supplies, office electronics and kindle books. Up to 50 percent off toys and games, Amazon video, musical instruments, books, beauty and grooming and sports and fitness.

eBay: Up to 70 percent off of select items. Save 5 percent on a $100 gift card. Save nearly 50 percent on Ray Ban sunglasses. Save 7 percent on Apple’s iPhone 6s 64GB.

Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella

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Macy’s recalls Martha Stewart stainless steel cookware

Macy’s Merchandising Group of New York, N.Y., is recalling about 121,000 Martha Stewart Collection 10-piece stainless steel cookware sets.

 

The metal discs that cover the frying pan’s rivets can pop off and hit consumers, posing an injury hazard.

 

The firm has received seven reports of the metal discs popping off the frying pans, with three minor injuries, including bruises, burns and welts.

 

This recall involves the Martha Stewart Collection 10-piece stainless steel cookware sets, which include an 8-inch and a 10-inch stainless steel frying pan. The frying pans have two rivets that attach the frying pan to the handle. The rivets have stainless steel discs on top of them.

 

Other items included in the cookware sets are a 1-quart covered saucepan, 2-quart covered sauce pan, 3-quart covered saucepan and 6-quart covered stockpot.

 

The recall affects only the two frying pans. UPC numbers 0733003518899, 0733003623326, 0766370840959 or 0766370980334 can be found on the product packaging or purchase receipt.

 

The recalled products have one of the following date codes inscribed on the bottom of the pans. 

 

 

The cookware sets, manufactured in China, were sold at Macy’s stores nationwide and Military Exchanges, and online at www.macys.com between January 2011, and September 2015, for about $170 at Macy’s and $90 at Military Exchanges.

 

Consumers should immediately stop using the 8 and 10-inch frying pans from the cookware set. The other items from the cookware set are not affected by this recall.

 

Customers who purchased the cookware sets from Macy’s or macys.com should return the frying pans to Macy’s or macys.com for a store credit for the full value of the two frying pans.

 

Those who purchased the cookware sets from a Military Exchange should return the frying pans to the Military Exchange for a full refund.

 

Consumers may contact Macy’s toll-free at 888-257-5949 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) Sunday through Saturday or online at www.macys.com and click on “Product Recall” for more information.

 

 

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Lone Archaeologist Discovers First Multi-Year European Settlement in the US

An archaeologist and historian working on his own found the first multi-year settlement by Europeans on U.S. soil, in Pensacola, Florida. The mid-16th century expedition of about 1,500 people led by Tristán de Luna y Arellano included Spanish colonialists, slaves and Aztecs and lasted for two years.

Luna was a conquistador—one of the Spanish and Portuguese “noblemen” and soldiers who, along with other Europeans, left a legacy of genocide, rape and cultural devastation across the Americas from the 15th through the 18th centuries.

A hurricane that destroyed most of Luna’s 11 ships, dissension among his crew and the failure to find an island off the coast of Georgia that the Spanish coveted resulted in failure of his expedition.

There were earlier settlements in what became the United States, but none lasted for more than a year.

“The Luna settlement inhabited Pensacola from 1559 to 1561, which predates the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine, Florida, by six years, and the English settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, by 48 years,” says a press release from the University of West Florida (UWF), whose anthropology department is managing the dig.

The artifacts discovered are evidence of the Spanish settlement by Tristán de Luna y Arellano from 1559 to 1561, the earliest multi-year European colonial settlement ever archaeologically identified in the United States.

The man who found evidence of the colony, historian Tom Garner, had attended a UWF archaeology field school years before and did subsequent archaeological work for UWF and on his own. He founded the Pensacola Archaeological Society in 1985.

Tom Garner

Tom Garner (University of West Florida photo)

In October 2015, Garner saw some Spanish colonial and Native American artifacts in a yard in a residential neighborhood. The yard is within view of the place where two ships of the Luna expedition wrecked in Pensacola Bay. A team from the University of West Florida is also excavating one of those ships.

A detail of a painting of Spanish Caravels of the 16th century by Frederick Leonard King, a 20th century American painter (Wikimedia Commons)

Garner was just looking on the surface and did not dig. He brought the artifacts to the UWF archaeology lab on Oct. 30, 2015. Garner is again now employed with the staff of UWF working on the Luna dig.

“What we saw in front of us in the lab that day was an amazing assemblage of mid-16th century Spanish colonial period artifacts,” said John Worth, a UWF professor of historical archaeology who focuses on the Spanish colonial era.

Later, UWF archaeologists, digging under the earth’s surface, found numerous shards of 16th century Spanish pots, including cookware, tableware and olive jars. They also found small household and personal items, including a lead fishing weight, a copper aglet to hold shoelaces in place and fragments of wrought iron nails and spikes. They also discovered native pottery and beads that they possibly traded with the colonists. All these items are consistent with some found in the nearby shipwrecks.

“The artifacts were linked to the Spanish expedition led by Tristán de Luna y Arellano, who brought 1,500 soldiers, colonists, slaves and Aztec Indians in 11 ships from Veracruz, Mexico, to Pensacola to begin the Spanish colonization of the northern Gulf Coast in 1559,” says the news release. “One month after they arrived, the colony was struck by a hurricane, sinking many of their ships and devastating their food supplies. After two years, the remnants of the colony were rescued by Spanish ships and returned to Mexico.”

Luna was Castilian and the cousin of the viceroy of “New Spain,” Antonio de Mendoza and cousin of the wife of Hernán Cortés, Juana de Zúñiga. He sailed to the Americas in 1530 or 1531. In 1545 he married a widow of two large landowners and had two children with her. He quelled an uprising by natives at Oaxaca in 1548, but information about whatever other crimes he committed, if any, is not readily available on the Internet.

Sixteenth century native and Spanish potsherds were unearthed in what is now a residential yard, evidence, University of West Florida archaeologists say, of the oldest multi-year settlement by Europeans in what became the United States. (Photo by the University of West Florida)

Around 1557 the viceroy of Mexico, Luis de Velasco named Luna governor of Florida and appointed him to lead an expedition to take Santa Elena, what we now call Tybee Island in Georgia, to build a settlement on the Gulf of Mexico and eventually establish an overland route to and Spanish colony there on the Atlantic Ocean.

A hurricane destroyed all but three of Luna’s ships on August 19, 1559, says a biography at the Texas State Historical Society. “Luna had difficulty locating Santa Elena overland, and a ship sent there was wrecked in a storm. These troubles, along with dissension among his followers, resulted in the failure of the expedition, and Luna was relieved of his duties. He was ordered to Spain on January 30, 1561, to give an account to the king. The expedition left him an invalid and destitute, and he returned to Mexico in 1567. He died in Mexico City on September 16, 1573.”

Featured image: Little is known about the natives with whom the Luna expedition made contact, but they left behind these beads, which were unearthed in Pensacola, Florida. (University of West Florida photo)

By Mark Miller

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