Friday, June 29, 2012

Artist Bio from bel monili by l.marlane

Today our featured artist uses vintage and repurposed materials to make wearable art. This is near and dear to my heart as my mother sells vintage and estate jewelry. I was very impressed with the peices that Lucy makes. I also found myself coveting her show schedule. Take a peek into what she does and check her out at Boutique 208 or at one of her shows which you can find on her Facebook page.
Amy Levier

 My name is Lucy McClure, and I am the owner/artist of bel monili by l.marlane. I hand-craft jewelry and accessories using vintage and re-purposed materials, including vintage earrings, chain, books, buttons, flowers, and much more. Each item I make is uniquely one of a kind, making it an affordable piece of wearable art.

For my "day job", I am a speech-language pathologist at a suburban elementary school. I love every minute of my job, and one of the best features is that it allows me the time and availability to indulge my artistic side.

My artistic journey began two years ago in the summer of 2010. My boyfriend was traveling extensively for work, and I was looking to learn some new things. I have always been creative and crafty, so when I noticed a special on classes at my local JoAnn Fabrics, I signed up for a few jewelry making sessions. After the first class, I knew that I really had something. I seemed to have a natural knack for the mechanics of jewelry making and (according to the class teacher and several onlookers) a good eye for color and scale. I was hooked instantly, and spent the rest of the summer happily making jewelry for myself and my friends.

I quickly began to receive requests from people to buy my items, which was a welcome bonus to my new found hobby. I got to the point where I had so many interested buyers, I decided to take a friend's recommendation and apply to be a vendor at a craft show. I had shopped at the I Made It! Markets since their inception, so it seemed like a good place to begin. I applied for the I Made It! Market at the WYEP Rock the Block, and (much to my surprise) I was accepted! From that point on, my jewelry making went from a small side hobby to the full-fledged business it is today.
bel monili by l.marlane has been very fortunate to have many wonderful opportunities and accolades. In March 2011, bel monili's signature flower pins and hand crafted jewelry was featured in Pittsburgh Fashion Magazine. In April 2011, I was asked to create a custom design to be auctioned at the first annual TEALtini event for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Pittsburgh Chapter. In June 2011, bel monili's flower pins were featured in the giveaway bags at the 38th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. Throughout the fall and winter of 2011, bel monili participated in some amazing artist/craft shows including the I Made It! Markets, the Bedford Fall Foliage Festival, and Bazaar Bizarre in Cleveland. 2012 has been a busy year for bel monili as well, beginning with a feature in Pittsburgh Magazine for a special edition red dress flower pin supporting the Go Red for Women campaign.
I am honored to have so many loyal customers and online "fans" who have whole heartedly supported me and my business. It seems like every day my business grows to new heights, be it through retail opportunities, personal acknowledgements, or national shows/events. I am especially excited to announce that bel monili by l.marlane has been invited to be a vendor at the prestigious Country Living Fair in Columbus, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia.

I invite you to follow bel monili on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and subscribe to my blog to keep up on new items, where I'll be, and what we have going on in the city.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Artist Bio Marcy Bates from Recycled Reeds

Today's blog post is the second in our series on the artisans from Boutique 208. As I sit seaside today and watch the vacationer's on the beach it's interesting for me to see people's choice of reading material. There are those who choose their Kindles or Nooks and still those who choose to read "old-fashioned books". Marcy has found a unique way to preserve the history of books around us. Stop in and order a custom book for someone special in your life. I ordered one for my 16 year old son for his birthday per his request. Have fun reading about what she does.
Amy Levier

Marcy Bates makes art and functional items from old books.  As the owner of a used book store, she has a strong commitment to reuse and creates all of her gift and decorative items from outdated or damaged books, some with the addition of reclaimed paper, cardboard, and fabric.

Her unique items include book art folded into 3D words and pictures; paper pottery bowls and coasters made from rolled magazine pages; journal/sketchbooks made from library discard hardbacks; and bookmarks made from hardcover book spines.

The book art sculptures are made by carefully folding each page of a book in a specific sequence to form the letters of a word or name, or a graphic image.  Marcy began creating these books in 2011; she spent much trial and error, and many books, designing and perfecting the process. 

The books can be custom made in any name to celebrate graduation, wedding, anniversary, new baby, new job, new home, birthday, and every other occasion to be honored.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Boutique 208 Artists Amy Levier

Boutique 208 Artists

Featuring Amy Levier, owner of The Photo Alphabet and Precious Pedestals

 Boutique 208 is part of the Pittsburgh Pop Up Project, helping to revitalize downtown Pittsburgh! All of our items are handmade by local artists and designers. Over the next few weeks we will visit with some of our member artists. You can check back every other day for an updated post introducing a new artisan, read their bio and see a few pictures of what their specialty is. Hopefully you will come to appreciate handmade items, the way some of the artisans have revamped their lives, and a desire to come visit the boutique and purchase a few items from your favorite artisan.

I've decided to start the artisan posts with my very own story. I am new to the boutique and have enjoyed the experience so far. I am the owner of The Photo Alphabet and Precious Pedestals so, let me tell you a little about myself.

My name is Amy Levier; I live in Gibsonia with my husband Jason and my three children. I create prints from my Alphabet Photography and I make what I call Precious Pedestals from recycled, new and vintage items.

I love the city of Pittsburgh, being born and raised in it I have watched it evolve over the years. My parents and grandparents owned an art and craft store in the city while I was growing up. I was always a part of it and it a part of me. As I got older and was raising my children I let that creative side of me slide. When my oldest went off to college I realized I had lost a part of myself by letting my creative side go. I was introduced to the idea of Alphabet Photography and immediately loved the idea and set to work photographing the city of Pittsburgh and the surrounding area finding letters in nature and the architectural elements. I set to work putting those letters together to form prints of words and quotes, along with custom name prints for weddings, anniversaries, and graduation gifts. 

It was then that I realized the need for high-quality, unique gifts and home d├ęcor. I also have a love of vintage and recycled items and that is where the idea for my Precious Pedestals came from. I love using recycled and beautiful new  items to make my pedestals. There is something very satisfying about the hunt for discarded, beautiful items that can be brought back to life. They can and have been used as dessert, jewelry, soap, and business card pedestals. They have also been used as centerpieces in customer’s homes and weddings.

My goal is to offer unique, high-quality, handmade items for my customers to enjoy!

You can find more of my items, including information on custom orders at

You can find my upcoming show schedule at