Linda Barbadoro raised a rubber-tipped bamboo walking stick to her lips like a flute and blew a melodic, earthy tune.
Standing in her small booth at the Beekman Street Art Fair Sunday morning, she demonstrated how functionality and creativity can intertwine to become art.
“If you’re a person who likes to walk and likes to hike and you like to be in those quiet, pretty places, it’s a really nice thing,” the Stockbridge, Mass., resident said, pointing out that the walking stick flute is topped with a compass.
She and her husband, Nick, began making the instruments back in the 1970s, after finding bamboo pieces in the trash.
Eventually the flutes evolved into the multipurpose creation on display Sunday.
“We hadn’t a penny between us, not a dime. We were living in a chicken coop — the hippie children from the Woodstock generation who turned on, tuned in, dropped out and had nowhere to go, and no money,” she recalled with a laugh. “We turned it into a middle class, tax-paying business.”
Up and down Beekman Street, vendors had creations to sell and stories to tell during the fair, which was presented by the Beekman Street Arts Association and SaratogaArtsFest.
Featured was art in many forms, including knit shawls, stuffed animals and dolls, terrariums, jewelry and Adirondack-style furniture.
Leonie Lacouette of Gardiner in Ulster County, who has been making clocks for a quarter of a century, described her designs as “contemporary, with a timeless elegance.”
Inside her booth, pendulums swung hypnotically while she spoke of hand-sanding and gluing each metal piece to the clock’s face, and of the connection she feels with each of her creations.
A short distance down the shady side road, Andrew Barnes of Saratoga Clay Arts Center in Schuylerville sat at a pottery wheel coaxing a bottle from a lump of sand-colored clay.
He said the medium captivates him for many reasons, including its history and its endless possibilities.
Hand-crafted clay creations have a spirit lacking in their mass-produced counterparts, he noted.
“When you take something that was made with intention and a lot of thought about it and use that every day in your life, I think that gives a lot to it,” he said.
At the Creative Endeavors Art Center booth, a papermaking demonstration was being held.
On display nearby were examples of the magic a creative mind can work with discarded paper products. The Ballston Spa-based center’s artists — individuals challenged by developmental disabilities — use torn cardboard recyclables to make impressionistic collages of images, including Saratoga cityscapes and ballet dancers.
“It’s been a great introductory experience for people to try their hand at art, gain some confidence, enjoy the process and see the finished product,” said art coordinator Lena Benvenuto.