The Spirit of Christmas at John Derian

Few places in New York City evoke the holiday spirit quite like Christmas at John Derian‘s enchanting east village shop. A veritable cabinet of curiosities, the store is even more magical at the holidays when John’s penchant for the past, the artisanal and the handmade transforms the space into a nostalgic and whimsical winter wonderland.

Christmas at John Derian

John’s passion for holiday decorating recalls his own family traditions. “We decorated the tree with well loved glass ornaments, the house with garlands and the porch with lights (we helped our dad with that). My mom loved it all and shared that with us. For a time she made these beautiful pine cone wreaths – labor intensive, all wired together. Maybe that was inspiration for some of the first things I made and sold (wreaths).”

Dog ornament tree at John DerianJohn has taken it to the next level as Christmas ornaments adorn practically every inch of the shop. Themed trees brim with ornaments grouped by category, from dogs, above, to fruit and vegetables, below,

Fruit and vegetable ornament tree at John Derian

to woodland creatures

wildlife ornament tree at John Derian

to your favorite libations,

alcohol ornaments at John Derianto mushrooms

Mushroom ornament tree at John Derian

and even an entire tree devoted to pickles! From large elaborate ornaments to the smallest, there is something for everyone. John explained, “My first tree was with my first boyfriend Christopher Bassett. It was a potted pine covered in pepper berry and sea statice – there are options for the young and thrifty!”

Pickle ornament tree at John DerianOrnaments are sourced from about eight vendors, mostly handmade in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and eastern Europe. To kick off the season’s festivities, John invited one of his favorite heritage German ornament companies, for a glass blowing demonstration. Discovered at Christmas World in Frankfurt, the world’s largest holiday decoration fair, Nostalgie-Christbaumschmuck intrigued John with their handblown glass ornaments, using the same 100 year old molds that have been in the family for generations.

Glass ornament blowing at John Derian

Above, Stefan heated the glass with a portable blow torch (much larger gas sources are used in the factory) until it was just the right temperature and then blew the glass – freehand for a mini sphere – or within the ceramic lined mold (in his hand) for a shape

glass blowing at John Derian

such as the mini lantern below.

mini-glass handblown christmas ornament at John Derian


Each is then handpainted and bedazzled with glitter

handpainted German glass Christmas ornaments at John Derian

using the same time honored techniques that have been passed down for generations.

handblown and painted German glass Christmas ornaments at John Derian

Nostalgie-Christbaumschmuck’s ornaments have a particularly old fashioned appearance

German christmas ornaments at John Derian 1

with an occasionally devilish charm,

devil christmas ornament at John Deriansome specially commissioned for John’s shop, like the delicate wire-adorned one below

German handmade christmas ornaments at John Derian

or the droll pickle chandelier.

Pickle chandelier at John Derian

But of course there is much more to the holiday season at John Derian. Within the jam packed enticing emporium, there is John’s celebrated decoupage, artwork and antiques, an enormous variety of giftable small goods such as cards, journals, candles, wrapping paper and gift tags,etc as well as French terre melee handmade pottery from Paris,

French terre melee pottery at John Derian

an extensive selection Astier de Villatte, some of which are exclusive collaborations,

Astier de Villatte at John Derian

Astier de Villatte at John Derian shopall photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence

and of course John’s own book, a must-have volume for anyone who loves the beautiful, whimsical and slightly mysterious world John has created over the years. Whether you are looking to start or augment an ornament collection, find a gift for that special someone (or yourself – we know you’ve been very very good) or just get into the holiday spirit, put a trip (or two) to John Derian at 6 East 2nd Street at the top of your list!

8 thoughts on “The Spirit of Christmas at John Derian

  1. I got up way too early this morning, but what a delightful surprise to find this whimsical & colorful post! The day is already brighter. Thank you, Stacey & JD!

  2. I need (as in can’t live without) many of the glass ornaments. My collection mysteriously disappeared a couple of years ago and these wonders would be fantastic replacements. xoxo Mary

  3. Truly magical! My favorite is the mushroom tree. All those little toadstools reminds me of Alice in Wonderland.

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