I've always liked
making things with my hands. When I was 14,
my Aunt Florence in New Hampshire was in her eighties. That
summer she taught me how to make name pins. In the fall I sold
these pins in the general store in Sneden's Landing, NY where our
family lived. The pins were made of alphabet letters from dried soup,
glued to thin wood squares, shellacked, and fastened in the back with a safety
pin. I think they sold for $.25 and I took special orders in town. Now that I am again making things and selling them, my life has come full circle, it seems.
I picked up many skills in between these two times. With a M.S. in
engineering from NYU, I worked in the sixties as a research engineer on the moon reentry vehicle for both NASA and General Dynamics. I quit and made a beeline to Berkeley in order to catch the tail end of the free speech movement. Rather than free speech, I practiced instead free singing and landed a job singing with the San Francisco Opera Company. After this I gave voice lessons for fifteen years while moonlighting the building trades, eventually becoming a decent plumber, a union shipfitter, and a union carpenter. All this time I studied acting with Jean Shelton in San Francisco and went on to do lead roles on NBC, ABC and PBS.
The acting career brought me to New York City with my bride, who encouraged me to make commercially the paper beads by which I had crafted a belt for her trousseau. After two years of mad scientist night work in the basement, these beads were born and found an international wholesaler. Here, unfortunately they failed to catch the wind. And the acting career wasn’t going anywhere fast. There was nothing left but to make things from the paper beads and sell them in the craft fairs while moonlighting as a temp secretary. That's basically the situation now. Back to making things with my hands...
Michael Harrington, Owner, Urban Art, 212 947 6840
534 Ninth Av. #d1, New York, NY 10018
About Michael Harrington