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Lifestyles -

January 26, 2013

From shoes and soot to stitches, traditional vocations thrive

Local practitioners talk about their careers

(Continued)

The five or six hours necessary to make a dress, Coan said, leads to bill of around $100. 

“People can buy off the rack for $20,” Coan said. “Sometimes on a bridal dress, people are willing to do it.”

Coan said that her favorite projects are saving “somebody’s old, ripped-up, faded garment. They’re so happy and I’m so happy.”

She said she enjoys making garments to sell at The Artisans’ Guild in Oneonta. “That’s way fun, too,” she said. “I just love to play with fabric and dressmaking.”

Coan said that she encounters few people interested in learning dressmaking. “I’ve had a couple students,” she said. “It’s a very rare individual, though,” who wants to learn to be a seamstress, she said.

In Palatine Bridge, Steve Gage, the original owner and operator of Top Hat Chimney Sweeps, has cleaned chimneys and installed wood stoves for 33 years. 

“Back in 1979 I had two friends in the stove business. They sold a lot of stoves and said there was a need for cleaners,” Gage said. “Wood-burning stoves were coming back because oil prices were rising.” 

Chimney cleaning is necessary “to remove the danger of chimney fires” caused by the by-products of wood burning, such as creosote, Gage said. 

Although he was working as a mason at the time, Gage decided to give chimney cleaning a try as well.   

“I wanted to be self-employed,” Gage said. “It worked out much better than I expected.”

Gage learned the trade by working with a more experienced sweep. Then, Gage became part of the National Chimney Sweep Guild for skill-update seminars and bi-annual testing for certification. 

Gage worked on his own for 20 years, and then offered full partnerships to his two sons-in-law, Caleb Taylor and Matt Moisio

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