Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspiration - William Cowper

On the theme of restoring the old, damaged, broken, etc, I want to share about a guy whose life God did just that. And I want to share some things I think is important to remember about a transformed life. The main being, that while we can have peace that good triumphs in the end, the process doesn't always look so great in the middle of it.

Recently, my pastor recommended a book by John Piper to me called, The Hidden Smile of God: The Fruit of Affliction in the Lives of John Bunyan, William Cowper, and David Brainerd. I enjoyed reading about all three of them, but especially about William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper"), probably because I had heard a bit of his story before and he was a creative type. You may have heard many of his beautiful hymns... But few people know of the pain and struggle this man went through to learn the things he did in order to write such beautiful works. This was a man who suffered so much mental pain, thought God had shut him out up until the day he died, and attempted suicide several times throughout his life. It is even said that on his deathbed, as he proclaimed in joy, he cried out, "Look! I am not shut out of heaven afterall!" So this poor guy - a hymn writer - obviously felt like God had rejected him this whole time.

What does this guy's life say about the transformed life? Well, it's multi-dimensional. But what jumps out to me right now is that God uses even the lowly things in a transformed life. He used Cowper even in his depressed mental state. Those who are often marginalized in our society, who suffer from mental illness, or severe doubt, etc, are not out of the reach of God's grace. One can have strong faith and still be in great spiritual anguish. And even through our struggles, God speaks. Some of Cowper's darkest days were the days he wrote hymns.


Side note:
It's interesting to add, when those days of deep contemplation took it's toll on him to the point of near death, Cowper's friends would sometimes try to distract him by getting him to simply garden or work on a farm to sustain his mental and physical health. I think Cowper really saw the value of this in his life. He once wrote, 

"Absence of occupation is not rest;
A mind quite vacant is a mind distressed."

There is obviously great value in contemplation. Without it, we wouldn't have the hymns Cowper wrote, but God knows as long as he wants us on this earth, the body can only withstand so much of that and there is also great value in mundane distractions such as work or chores, etc. I think it's God's way of getting us back to sanity (which is why I've got a not-so-deep post about adorable shabbyblog buttons below!)

William Cowper's life story actually greatly influenced my vision for All Things New Studio. I hope to inspire others who may need an artistic outlet for their contemplations, yet to also fulfill the need for the practical and even the mundane. Thank you, William Cowper.

{William Cowper}

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Just for fun - and a blog learning experience

I found these fun buttons from this awesome website,, that opens up new tools for customizing your blog on Blogger. If you're just getting started blogging and don't know how to structure your blog, have a design of your own, or don't have time to do it yourself quite yet, they have free headers, backgrounds, and other things. I admit, I borrowed part of one of their free headers for now until I am done designing one of my own! Check out their tutorials on how to customize (and really even create) headers and such! Here are some super fun buttons you can add to your site. Hey, I put one on my sidebar! :)

Never give up hope...

A friend of mine shared this with me on facebook and I thought it totally fit the theme of this blog! So inspiring! This shows as long as God has given us breathe, it is a gift and a chance to live life to the fullest. Never give up hope! :)

Not too late! If you're still alive, keep livin'! Another good one... 

A Transforming Blog

Well, I have been doing a lot of reading about blogging and how to "successfully" launch one. Yikes, it appears I have already made a few mistakes if I want to successfully attract readers for the long haul!

No, at this point, this blog is not shiny and polished like many of the successful blogs I see out there and when people come look at my blog right now, many will probably think, "Oh wow, nothing great here!"

From the advice I have recently read, it's things like, "make sure your blog is polished before you start directing traffic or you may never regain their views again and your blog will be destroyed." Well, woops, I accidently commented on a couple of successful blogs because of some of the things I thought were pretty cool, and as a result, I've noticed I've gotten some traffic while my blog is in it's developing stages!

But... I kind of like how this blog is not so perfect right now. 'Course, ha, I may have lost some audience, but it's a lot like the pieces I'm working on. Not so great at first. Not polished. Not perfected yet. But just because it's not polished today, doesn't mean it never will be. By then, it may be "too late" like I keep reading, but I like to think if you are too afraid to start anything until it is perfect, you will never start. So we shall see. This story is not finished.  ;)
Screen shot of my blog at the time of this post.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Project-A-Week 1

Whew! Getting the details and the structure of a new venture going is time consuming! But I didn't want to be so consumed with the business end, that I neglected the actual meat of why I am doing this. And that is, to create, to experiment, practice my craft, and do what I love! So I have set aside time each week to make a project per week no matter what. This is actually my second project I've worked on for this blog. The pictures aren't the greatest because I'm using my cellphone due to my SLR being out of commission at the moment. And also, I'm not finished with it yet, but I wanted to share my process so far. I took this idea from another blog The Rustic Pig and just wanted to experiment with it and maybe add some of my own touches to it.

Here it is so far...

I took a drawer that I found at the Habitat for Humanity store for $5...

Some table legs from Lowes for about $3 a piece...

Stained them with this stuff in Ebony...

I painted the drawer in Annie Sloan's Old White chalkpaint and distressed it a little with sandpaper. Chalk paint is great because you don't have to do much prep work, it is very easy to distress, and it is non-toxic. They actually sell some of the ingredients for it in health food stores, which you can eat! Then I applied her clear wax to seal it. I then applied the antiqueing wax in some places to give an aged look. When the table legs were dry, I drilled holes the size of the screws on the legs into the bottom of the drawer and screwed them in!

Disclaimer: to my one reader (which is probably my mom!), at this moment, while this blog is in embryonic stage when few people know about it yet, if I mention a product, I wasn't paid to mention it. I really do like it and use it! Just so that's clear... hi, Mom! ;)
The next thing I need to do is add this to the front...

I am tossing around using this amazing patina antiquing finish to paint it. You paint it with the copper paint that it comes with, and then after that gets tacky, you coat it with the patina green antiquing solution that is also included and it causes the copper paint to oxidize like you see on old pennies and the statue of liberty. I got this at Hobby Lobby...

In case you can't read it, due to my wonderful quality cellphone pic, it is produced by Sophisticated Finishes and it is the Patina Antiquing Set. I found it last year when I did a ceramic bust of myself and used it as a cold finish instead of using a glaze that had to be fired. You can use it on almost anything... plastic, wood, ceramic, metal, cardboard, canvas, glass, plaster, ANYTHING!

{the bust i covered with it. i loved it so much, i wanted to do my whole house in it!}
And then for the center of the drawer, I am thinking of doing a decopage of print material or something to signify what it will be used for, which is to display hand-made pillows in my studio. I found an unexpected use for it, though! ...
Thank you, my one blog follower at this point, for reading this. I can't wait to share the rest of the story and what I've learned about this piece. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 9, 2013


So I am wanting to do a project every week to have enough inventory to really set up shop and start selling things by April or May. This week has been a real challenge. I started a new contract job and it has taken up a lot more time than I thought just to learn the ropes. But... I am determined to do a project a week. I've learned and am still learning a WHOLE lot about goal setting and organizing and overcoming adversity that happens anytime you are trying to accomplish something. At one point, I told God, "God, how many times are you going to knock me down? Are you trying to kill me? How am I'm supposed to think you've got my best interest at heart when these things are coming at me relentlessly? If you're soveriegn, I really have a hard time believing you're good at this point." Let me tell you, I have bantered with God about this for years, honestly. Sometimes it has really tripped me up, but I think I am starting to really practice seeing things a little differently.

{my studio. anything but organized at this point.}

I won't go into all the obstacles I've been through this week, but I thought I would share a project mishap, which happens to all artists at some point, that I think is a small-scale metaphor of what I've been processing about adversity and how to come out on top. My Mom joined me at the studio because she is making her own project for something she needs - one of those chalkboard picture frames you see on Pinterest. Number one, she had trouble finding just the right size frame to work with. Number two, when she finally got one and started working on it, she accidently broke the glass she was painting the chalk paint on! So she said something like, "Okay, with all you have been thinking about adversity this week, how can we apply it now?"

I remembered someone saying this week, that sometimes when unexpected adversity happens, God is giving us an opportunity to grow, to expand, to think outside the box. It is an opportunity to look at life differently than you normally would. No, things didn't work out how you thought, but something better can happen if you look for it. The people who find meaning in adversity are the ones who make it. So what we did, was take the matted print that was in the picture frame that we had originally thrown aside and we painted over that. The end result, I thought was a lot more interesting, actually. The print and the matte were textured and it also had a nice boarder that we wouldn't have gotten with just a flat piece of glass. Who knew we would actually need the print? But we did, and it looks great! So when I saw how hers turned out, I actually decided to make one myself to sell when my store opens, as well. Artist lingo is that this is a "happy accident." But somehow I don't think these are accidents at all, but a gift from God that gives us an opportunity to grow. God is a giver of life and growing is definitely a sign of life.

{Can you see the awesome monochrome border the matte created? I think the story behind it totally fits All Things New Studio's philosophy. A bad situation redeemed. :)}
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Setting Up Shop

I said I would do it. I did it! I got my studio/store space and now I am storing all the stuff I bought to work on in it. I am so so so soooooo excited! Here are the pictures of when I first opened it up and put my stuff in.

When I opened the door... before it was even swept out...

{when i opened the door - before it was even swept out.}

{me in front of it}

{the first things i moved into it}

Thank you to my pastor's wife for finding this awesome old chair. Can't wait to start on it. I've got some ideas for it already! (not sure if she wants her name broadcasted all over the internet!)...
Each baby step forward just keeps getting more exciting! :) Slowly but surely...

Be Transformed

Well, I thought I would share with you something I have been chewing on a lot lately, desperately needed to be reminded of and to put into practice...

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

I have heard it said, "For every glance at your sin, look to the cross ten times."  Yes, we need to see our sin at times and how bad it is. If it weren't for that, we wouldn't feel the need to look for a solution. But remember, we travel where we are focused. If you have ever looked anywhere, for an extended period of time, other than your intended destination while walking or driving, have you noticed that you will start to veer off in that direction? Same with our sin. Be aware of it, but do not focus on it. Focus on where you are going... to the One who is good and perfect. The one who redeems. The one who heals. The one who restores. The Lord Jesus Christ. :) I preach this to myself. Can you relate?
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