November 10, 2021

Second Acts

By Robin Bigham
Second Acts

Why I started making jewelry

In November of 2019, my best friend since first grade, Laura, and I went to Washington D.C. for a girls' trip. Both of us at the time felt a little tired of the routine we had fallen into with our careers of almost thirty years. Laura is a successful audiologist and I am a former high school English teacher. Although we were proud of our accomplishments in these careers, we longed for something new, so she began to pursue a new career in court reporting, and I still didn't know what I wanted to do...

We spent the days in DC together talking about this possibility of re-inventing ourselves in our fifties to enjoy a completely new beginning in a new and thrilling career. This idea that we called our "Second Act" was the shot in the arm of hope for our future, a new beginning, but what did I want to do?

It wasn't until COVID happened that I realized maybe it was indeed time for me to leave the teaching profession since it now required teachers to be very adept at technology, but I still had no idea what I wanted my second act to be...

Where I learned to create jewelry

August 2020 arrived, and it was time for Texas teachers and students to return to school, so feeling a little bummed because I had retired and left that part of my life behind, I decided to revisit a love for jewelry making that I had started 7 years ago and abandoned to focus on teaching. I took a class with a wonderful old man named Renato. I lovingly now refer to him as "The Master" because I feel like I learned so much from him in the two weeks that I spent in his jewelry class.

When I began the class, I really was just taking it to relieve my depression over leaving teaching, but as I started to work on beginning skills and talk to this outstanding young man named Matthew who was the only other student in the class, my enthusiasm began to grow. Matthew had so much energy and dreams/goals for his future as a jewelry designer, that I had a small epiphany. Why can't I become a jewelry designer as well? I had just signed up for the class thinking it was a hobby, but Matthew kept talking about having his own brand someday, and Renato kept mentioning  how most of his former students went on to become successful jewelry designers and metal smiths, so sitting there listening to this, my inner voice nervously said, "You need to up your game!"

Now I'm inspired and ready to try!

That is when I went home and dug out of a dust covered drawer in the garage my seven year old jeweler's torch that had not ever been used and said to my husband, John, "I need your help with this torch because I'm afraid to use it." I was really intimidated at that time to use a torch without help!

Thus began a new adventure for John and myself! He really became interested as well, and I taught him all of the skills that I was learning from Renato. We work so well together because my creative talents and design ideas combined with his engineering and mathematical skills work together to create the perfect combination. I like to think that we are the Andrew and Louise (from "At the Bench") of Texas, only on a much smaller scale!

As a team, John and I have come so far at this point, and I really look forward to a successful second act as a jewelry designer and metal smith. Maybe my husband has inadvertently found his second act as well!


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