December 5, 2021

Trying the tools of trades

Stone carver, potter offer chance to get hands-on at event

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Stone carver Franco Minervini observes as his grandson Evan, 11, chisels at a block of limestone shaped to become a gargoyle Saturday outside the Cortland Corset Building.

Franco Minervini stood by the blocks of limestone, encouraging visitors to grab a tool and get a feel for his art — stone carving.

He was among a half-dozen tents set up Saturday along the shaded side of the Cortland Corset Building, where demonstrations of assorted arts mixed with sales as business owners discussed coming changes.

“This building is amazing, it’s got all this potential so it’s fun to find cool things people can learn to do,” said John Zelson, co-organizer for the event.

Zelson’s wife, Tina Minervini, a co-owner of Cinch Art Space, invited her father, a stone carver, to give a demonstration. Franco Minervini brought practice blocks of limestone he had already started to carve into gargoyles. He stood by, encouraging visitors to use the tools and get a feel for the craft.

His 11-year-old grandson, Evan, spent the morning chiseling away at the gargoyle’s side.

“He finds it very satisfying,” Franco Minervini said, watching his young apprentice place the chisel in just the right spot. “This is just a way of teaching people — it’s a hands-on experience. Evan has been exposed to it for years, but this is maybe the first time he’s used the hammer (and chisel) for more than just a few minutes.”

Minervini was joined by Ellen Rahner, who said she hadn’t worked with stone in a while and had missed it.

“I fell in love with it when I was 5 years old, and I just would try to see every side of it,” Rahner said. “I would just look at it and go, ‘OK, I need to do that, how do you do that?’”

Rahner went to school for carving and now works as the artist-in-residence at Magpie Custom Creations. She stuck around Minervini’s setup for an hour, trying an air hammer for the first time.

In contrast to the noise of the electric carving tools, the next canopy covered a man quietly forming clay as it spun on a pottery wheel.

Valerie Puma/staff reporter

Artist Ed Feldman uses his hands and a sponge to shape clay into a bowl as it spins on a pottery wheel Saturday.

Ed Feldman, owner of Feldman Ceramic Design, sat and chatted with visitors about the business he hopes to launch by August — Pottery Works.

“There are all kinds of classes from every level for every age, and I want to focus more on the capital ‘A’ of art kind of aspect of it, and then still have the other classes to help people really get their heads around that idea,” Feldman said.

Reminiscing on his first experience with ceramics, Feldman said he sees potential for veterans or troubled youths to use art as a much-needed stress relief.

Stephen Vincent Jr., co-owner of Heroes and Villains, came up with the idea of a sidewalk sale as a way to liquidate some inventory before moving to the second floor. He invited his Corset Factory neighbors to join.

“It’s essentially like the Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come,” Vincent said. “We built it and we hope they’ll come, I think that’s how a lot of it comes together. Yeah, we got hit (by the pandemic) and now we’re all hitting right back.”