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Artist Displays Work at Concord’s noa gifts

Carlisle artist Martha Seely shares her passion for making jewelry and her vision as an artist and costume designer for more than 20 years.

Developing one piece of jewelry can take many hours: The wiring of gemstones to each other to make a collar is just one example of one of the many different type of necklaces that require dedication and creativity to complete.

But the creativity that comes with making all kinds of jewelry is a passion of artist Martha Seely.

Seely, a Carlisle resident and artist for more than 30 years, says she loves gemstones, so much so, that she compares them to being a child in a "candy store." And the gemstones are just one component used in making beautiful jewelry.

"I love what you can do with metals, gemstones," Seely said. "It is the whole process of making something beautiful out of a rock if you wanted to."

As a costume designer, the idea to make her own jewelry occurred in 2006 when someone came to her with their jewelry to be used for the characters in a film she was designing costumes for.

Seely, who said she was so impressed by the jewelry, decided she wanted to be able to make her own. The learning process then began with a trip to Beadworks in Cambridge, followed by taking classes, which she says she still goes to in Waltham.

Her jewelry is sold in seven stores across the region, the farthest in Florida. Concord's noa gifts carries several pieces of Seely's including earrings, necklaces and bracelets, all varying sizes, shapes and vibrant colors.

Seely said in a phone interview with Patch Tuesday that she is trying to develop a signature line that is affordable and will remain in someone's jewelry box for years to come, as she is not focusing on trend pieces. Her pieces run from $20-$150. Noa gifts sell jewelry from 200 local artists from New England, according to co-owner Ian Scofidio.

At the heart of Seely's jewelry making, she says, is her passion is to make sure her work is "beautifully crafted." She adds that she believes in the old saying: "In the heart of every design is a sequin."

"I want (customers) to know that work went into (the jewelry) and someone actually cared," she said. "I am not looking for the funkiest jewelry."

In fact, Seely pays so much attention to making a piece of jewelry that will last for a long time that when she picks materials she always keeps in mind important factors, such as whether the customer will be allergic to a metal such as silver.

In addition to jewelry, Seely has also developed several pieces of artwork enveloped around the themes of florals, landscapes, abstracts, the sea and people.

According to her artist statement about working with fibers, which is posted on her website, www.marthaseely.com, Seely says: "I paint without brushes and I cut and manipulate the material in a way that pleases my senses and my heart!  The shimmer of the fibers reconnects me with my theatrical costume roots and I am transported to Neverland and Tinkerbell."

Life of a costume designer

While Seely's new art of jewelry making has just taken form in the last few years, she has been a costume designer for more than 20 years and has worked with the likes of Cher, Will Arnett, Eliza Dushku, Joey McIntyre and others. She has also done years of costume designs and stitching for television commercials, theater productions, TV shows and independent films.

Some of her credits include "Mermaids," "On Broadway," and the past TV series: "SOS in America, "American Baby," and "Against the Law," to name a few of the many shows she has worked on.

Seely's biography, on her Web site, states: " I have helped many artists and celebrities with their image, both on-screen and off."

The work of a costume designer is not particular. It requires that one wear many hats in determining what the character should wear, including their hairstyles and type of shoes they walk in.

Seely said she prefers working on independent films rather than commercials because with commercials you are focusing on the market base you are trying to reach, rather it be younger people or older people, while with a movie you can really focus on the individual character and how he/she would dress.

"You are not thinking about fashion," Seely explained. You are thinking "about the individual character. People are so quirky and fun."

Seely said the whole process of designing costumes for characters in a play or on television is "an intellectual process."

Working on costumes for a "The Learned Ladies," a Moliere play performed at Fitchburg State College, required making a series of drawings, color referrals and designing hairstyles set to a different time period.

"The play itself tells you a lot of things," Seely said of her inspiration for the costumes in Moliere's play.

Her work on one dress, she said, took months; emphasizing that nothing can be thrown together.

This design process is exciting to Seely when she speaks, as she makes sure to convey her particular attention to details in every production she is part of.

Art is a big part of Seely's life as her work is reflective of "something that I am trying to tell about who I am."

In the next few years, Seely said she would like to go back to full-time work at a university as a costume designer; She had worked at Brown University's theater department "instructing students on costume design," according to her website.

For more information about Seely's work, visit her website: www.marthaseely.com

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