Mary-Claire Marcear hummed along to “Calling Out Your Name” by Rich Mullins playing in the background, as her brush strokes graced the unusual canvas – the Bible.
The peppy, brown-eyed, wavy-haired junior started her company, Boholy Bibles, the summer after her freshman year while staying with an old couple during an internship in Dallas.
After painting Bibles for herself, she thought she could make them for other people as well. At first, she crafted her business on the idea that she would paint and sell them, but it quickly became about the intricacies of testimony.
“I painted a Bible earlier this year for a girl, and she was wanting to re-kickstart her faith,” Marcear said. “Her mom messaged me earlier this week and said, ‘I haven’t had a Bible since I was a little girl, but I’ve seen my daughter with her Bible that you painted and I’ve been so inspired and I want to get real about my faith.’ It was just so cool to see the impact that my Bibles are having on people and the people that surround them. God is just doing such cool things and he’s put this giant little miracle in my lap and I want to honor it the best I can.”
Her personal leather-bound Bible is decorated with a buffalo, greenery and the phrase “bind my wandering heart to thee.” Because the buffalo means so much to her faith journey, Marcear said it has become the trademark of her business.
“I see buffalo in a similar way that I see my faith, with a really wild and free heart, but just strong and sturdy and steadfast,” Marcear said. “I see a lot of that imagery in the way that Jesus loves us and that relationship we have – free spirited. My business motto is ‘for free spirits who are free in the spirit’. I just think the buffalo represents that.”
Despite competition with big name Bible-painting brands, Marcear said what separates her business from the “stock devotional industry” is how she tailors the art to the individual, using their testimonies to make her job more personal. Although she started small, her business has grown internationally. In the past year, she has sent at least 100 total painted Bibles to California, New York, and currently has an inquiry from Australia.
Painting each Bible can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks depending on the style and design. Marcear said the most intricate Bible she is working on currently consists of multiple birds around the cover. But some of the most interesting Bibles she has been painting will soon be filled with pugs and cacti, and one with narwhals.
Speaking of the future, the youth and family ministry major said she wants to pursue Bible painting as a career, furthering her business and building a community around it alongside writing devotionals and going to speak at conferences. Overall, her goal is to keep using an illustrated faith to build a relationship with Christ.
“The whole reason behind it is to make your Bible something that you want to carry with you,” Marcear said. “Something that is essential for you to have on you wherever your heart roams and if your Bible is something that suits your personality and spirit, you’re going to be more likely to dive in.”
Marcear charges $100 per Bible and $25 for journals. Regardless of what clients desire, she charges a flat rate to give them freedom to express their personality without having to worry about being charged more.
For inquiries, visit her website boholybibles.com or check it out on instagram @boholy_bibles.