Whether you've reached this blog willingly or by force I'm happy to have you here.
ersi marina's workroom is always open to the public, even when I am not in. Sometimes I need to sleep.
And to paint.
And to play with my four cats.
My name is Ersi Marina and I live in Spain though I was born and grew up in Athens, Greece. I kept it all very Mediterranean.
This blog is a means to share my work and snippets of my life, as well as to be in contact with you all. I hope you'll enjoy your visit.

Monday, 30 December 2013

a personal history book

I wonder when the time is ripe to write a personal history. Is it when we are old and wise, and able to cast a discerning look on the road behind us? Is it when important events come up that force us to reconsider the past and the future? Or is it maybe when we take one of life's curves at reckless speed and find ourselves lying in the ditch, aching and disoriented?

I am not wise enough to know. I even think I've spent too much time trying to be wise and lost some interesting parts of myself in the effort. Fortunately, I didn't always succeed and the young Alice in Wonderland that has walked beside me through the years can still have some fun in my company. That's a great compliment, you know. So when yesterday I came upon the caterpillar glaring at me from atop his mushroom and he asked me: 'You? Who are you?', I answered: 'Why, I hardly know, sir. I've changed so much through the years, you see...'

In fact, I am changing as we speak. My history is still being written and yesterday it stumbled upon an opportunity. The PERSONAL HISTORIES: INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS BOOK EXHIBITION opportunity, organised by Glenn and Robyn Foster. rObfOs for friends.

The idea of creating an artist's book containing my personal history (or un-history) somehow seemed right, so I emailed Robyn for a submission form and I found it in my inbox first thing in the morning. Thank you, Robyn.

I just wrote lightly the expression 'un-history' but, come to think of it, it could make a fitting title for my book. A 'very merry unhistory' of me. I'm not sticking to it yet but, for the moment, it seems to be sticking to me.

Tomorrow is the last day. The day after will be the first day. May you all have a happy, inspiring and creative New Year.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

some confetti is blue

Hello my friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, wherever you may be. I know some of you are cozily enjoying these holidays at home while others are journeying around the world. Happy Holidays to all!

I know I should have blogged earlier, I meant to, I actually started posting on three or four occasions but always ended up deleting the entry. I couldn't join in the general festive atmosphere and didn't feel like lying to you either. Silence seemed the most sincere way out of the dilemma. Till today.

Today I sat at my computer determined to speak to the world! Fortunately, not all the world is listening because what I have to say is not original enough to hit the news.

To begin with, I made this holiday card using one of my rusted papers as a background. I've been toying with it for days, writing, changing fonts and colours, deleting, changing again. Boring, right? Today I decided enough was enough and allowed myself to go crazy. Sometimes I hide a bit behind what is crazy or whimsical, I wear it like a wicked smile.

It feels as though one has to go through life with this attitude lately. Wearing a wicked smile and drawing naughty calligraphic signs in the air. A fool, people might think, an extravagant fool. Yet foolishness can be a way out of the dumps.

By now you must be wondering what's wrong. Something is indeed very wrong and this will not be the first time I mention it. I will only do that, though. Mention it. Spain is wrong, it has gone awefully wrong. I considered explaining the situation, gathering some facts and statistics, describing the gloomy social atmosphere and the desperation. I will not. You only have to Google 'poverty in Spain' or 'unemployment in Spain' or 'corruption in Spain' to get more than your spirit can deal with. I am part of it and it wears me out.

Trying to be creative in this environment is an almost impossible task. I struggle with it every day. Great ideas swim around in my head but my hand is on strike. I try to talk it out of its indolence but it may well be that hands are deaf. Have you ever tried talking to your hand? Please tell me how it turned out.

Truth be told, my hand and I needed some rest. We worked hard for the 2nd edition of our local Art Market, in fact, I finished some of my works on the very eve of the opening and had no time to photograph them properly. Apart from my pendants, some of which I was able to show you, I painted some watercolours and made some paper bowls. Yup. I went down with the paper bowl fever and had a wonderful time making them. Some are only made of paper and others, of paper and cloth. I had been researching the paper bowl universe for some time and found dozens of beautiful, innovative creations out there. As main influences, I would like to mention Ann Symes and Ines Seidel. There are many others, of course, and I'd be happy to provide links if anyone is interested.

I hope my hand and I will come to terms soon, so that I can get back to playing / creating / exploring. And though some of the festive confetti is quite blue here, my wishes come straight from my heart.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

freezing... freezing... frozen

Just a short post to share with you an image that is quite extraordinary in Spain. With the exception of Soria, of course, where the Siberian sequences of Doctor Zhivago were filmed!

This is one of our local public fountains last Monday morning. The slow dripping of water became a long stalagmite under the below-zero night temperatures. The ice lasted several hours through the day because that's a spot that gets no direct sunlight in winter.

Susan, if by any chance you read this, you might remember we met at the corner of the hotel seen on the background.

My friend Nuria took these photographs with her iPhone, so thanks for letting me use them, Nuria!

The cold arrived suddenly by mid-November and temperatures are still going down. It was -8ºC at eight-thirty this morning. I wake up to a white landscape that starts steaming as soon as the sun comes up behind the mountain ridge. It's the ice melting away. Very beautiful and impressive every time.

I know those of you who live in cold climates will not be impressed by that humble stalagmite but hey, it's a rare sight around here.

On a final note: I had my first sale in my shop today! Yeay! This little balsa box will be on its way tomorrow:

And now I'll be on my way too. To the shower. A nice, long, hot shower before I get into my pajamas. Have a lovely day/afternoon/evening everybody!

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Tuesday, 10 December 2013

my attic papers store is open


Hello everyone! I am happy to announce that attic papers my new online shop is now open. It has taken me a long time to finish painting the walls and installing central heating (joking of course) but now its doors are finally open to the world. Everybody is welcome to stroll in and take a look around, I'll be happy to see you there with an imaginary buffet of tea and hot chocolate.

To celebrate the opening I am offering free shipping worldwide till Friday 20 December, so if you are interested in any of the works in the shop all you have to do is click on the ADD TO CART button and you'll be charged zero shipping costs. As easy as that! A little gift for Christmas shoppers.

I'll be delighted to read your feedback, either in this blog or through the CONTACT tab in the shop, I'd love to know what you think of my little attic and its papers.

As you may read in my SHOP POLICIES, all the works are shipped unframed. The photos featuring framed works are just for display. A frame is quite a personal choice and it would increase shipping costs considerably.

I have been trying new techniques and have been toying with new objects, I'll soon blog about them. And now I need to catch up with your posts and see what you've been up to. See you here and there too!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

green tomatoes and a silver moon

Back online after several days with a maddeningly bad Internet connection. You see, we had our first snow of the season! It was beautiful and a big surprise, we don't usually get autumn snows in Spain. I woke up on Saturday morning and the first thing I noticed was the silence. A deep, filling silence. I thought there was something wrong with my hearing. As soon as I opened the windows though I saw the reason why. The world was a soft, silent, white place. And it was still snowing.

I didn't take any pictures, I wasn't in the mood. I rather felt like enjoying the sight live. This shot is from another snowfall but still, this is part of the sight from the balcony and things were very similar. The snow kept till Monday, when it started raining long and hard and it finally melted away. The weather forecast predicts more snow for tomorrow. Fingers crossed.

Where I did take pictures was on a mountain excursion I took with a friend on Friday. At about 1,000 mts high (3,000 feet) it was bitterly cold but we had fun anyway. The clean mountain air is a treat (not that the air is contaminated where I live) and the bright atmosphere of that windy day made distant ridges appear very near.

Xavi, my friend, grows his own vegetables up there and we busied ourselves picking the tomatoes. They were still green but they would freeze if we left them there. We picked three boxes like the one in the picture and, as it turns out, they make delicious marmelade. I had no idea.

I had to take my gloves off every time I took a photo. The white outline of these lovely leaves is natural, not a frosty embrace.

But the real treat of the day was on our way back. It was early evening and the sun was setting. Its last rays

fell on those rocks just as the moon came up from behind them. Isn't it amazing? I'd never witnessed such a magical moment before. It was a bright silver moon balancing itself on the edge of the rocks.

Did anyone else think 'Japanese' here?

I have made more paper pendants but haven't photographed them yet. I feel very frustrated with my woven pendants though. The first one was fun and turned out well. The second was a complete failure. I'm moving on to other things and I'll go back to weaving when I get my ideas straight.

If I disappear again, it means we've had more snow and my Internet has gone to the beach. Have a nice week everyone!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

two more paper pendants

I hope you're not fed up with my pendants because there's more to come. No, no, it's not a threat, just a friendly statement.

Our second annual Art Market will open on Friday 6 December and this year we decided to be crafty as well as artistic. Given the sad demise of the general art market in Spain (economic crisis and all that) we thought we could reach out a bit to the beleaguered public. So my pendant fever not only comes from my love for paper but also from the need to make some things crafty for our Market. I set my mind on pendants. For the time being.

This is my second 'Babel Tower' pendant though in this case it has nothing to do with language, only with the shape. Again a long strip of heavyweight paper stained with watercolour and black ink strokes. The other difference is the necklace. It won't hang from a leather strip but from a stainless steel necklace wire. 

And a close up view that shows the details better. A final coat of paper sealant protects the pendant from self-destructing in minutes.

Here I obviously took a leap from stylish to sugary. I have an excuse of sorts for it. A friend who watched me working on the pendants asked if I could make one for her young niece. Of course! I answered. How do you think she would like it? Girly, she said. So I made this girly pendant in pinks and peaches but guess what. It isn't pink enough! So I made another one (no photographs) and kept this for the Art Market. Girly girls out there, come shopping!

I am now working on a fabric pendant, I'll show it to you when it's finished. I'd better step up my rhythm of production if I want to take 20 to the Market -and still have time to paint some watercolours. Oh, crafty woes!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

a calligraphy pendant

I have a case of paper pendant incontinence. I have all the symptoms: creating one paper pendant after another, dreaming of paper pendants in my sleep, seeing paper pendant possibilities in surprising places, suffering withdrawal when I can't work on them... There is one symptom however that makes up for them all: the joy of playing with them!

This is my last daring project, a calligraphy pendant. I am not a calligrapher (though I'd love to be one) so please, calligraphers out there, hold your horses. This is not meant to be a perfect calligraphic exercise, just a fun paper pendant.

There's not much more than the obvious here. A long strip of heavyweight paper that was conveniently wrapped around a felt pen (yup, specialist resources) and left there for an hour or so. When I unwrapped it it retained the curled shape and I only had to pull both ends to create the 'Babel Tower' shape. This is what I came to call it, a 'Babel Tower' pendant. Very fitting, in a way, since no one will be able to understand what it says.

I'll share the secret with you and only with you: it doesn't say anything, it's just the letters of the alphabet. I painted the inside with white gesso and covered the outside with paper sealant to make it more resistant. I wonder if there is a product out there that hardens paper significantly. I'd love to have it.

Anyway, if anyone does wear this pendant, I can assure them that it will not crumple under the weight of a coat, for example. It will be sadly squashed though if the aforementioned someone hugs someone else tightly or throw themselves belly down on their bed. I'll have to issue an accompanying sheet with precautions.

A baker's twine sparse beard falls off the lower edge and baker's twine holds it to a strip of leather. That's all folks.

P.S. While working on my paper pendants, I jot down ideas for fabric/woven pendants. Madness.

P.P.S. The friend who said that he didn't like my first paper pendant finally explained why. It's too abstract, he said. What?

Sunday, 3 November 2013

and now a paper pendant

I've been playing some more and, as usual, I go from one thing to another. Setting aside my tiny loom, I sat down and made a paper pendant.

I cut two rolls of card stock and coated them with rice paper previously stained with watercolours. My camera's battery died right after taking this shot and while it was re-charging I finished the pendant. No step-by-step photos here but I think it's obvious enough.

I wanted a bunch of threads to hang down from the pendant but when I actually tried them I didn't like them. I needed something sturdier, more playful, so finally I used some orange raffia yarn I had at home. Somehow, I wanted this pendant to be fun and bright.

Then I felt I'd better add a couple of orange stains to the rice paper, to match the raffia yarn. The leather strip goes through a little loop also made of raffia.

Oh, and I tied a strip of baker's twine around the loop too. The paper rolls are protected with a coat of clear matte paper sealant.

I recently bought a bunch of clasps and end caps to fasten the leather strips, so my pendants will be finished and ready when the material gets here.

A friend who saw this pendant yesterday told me outright that he didn't like it! I've licked my pride wounds by now and I'll just keep on making pendants. Woven, sewn, embroidered, papered or twigged. My game, my rules.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

a home-made loom

I've started playing again and that's a healthy sign, I think. I spent October doing very little, a few sketches (I love sketching my cats), peaceful walks along country roads and quite a lot of reading. But it was only yesterday that I actually sat down to begin a project.

I had been meaning to make a simple, tiny loom for a long time. About a week ago, during one of my walks, I came upon this piece of wood that was just laying there, beside the road, waiting for me to pick it up. So I did.

I thought I could make a series of woven pendants and maybe a few tiny pouches. I can't be very specific, because my ideas usually take on life after I start working on them. The actual size of the weaving surface here is 10 x 15 cms (4 x 6 inches). As you can see, I hammered small nails in the wood, 0.5 cms apart.

Then I wound a length of crochet thread around the nails, going up and down and finally tying both ends to the lower edge nails.

I got carried away a bit taking pictures, because I was so happy with my makeshift loom! At the beginning I thought the piece of wood was much longer than necessary but when I started weaving I realised the extra length makes it easier to hold.

And then I started weaving, using a long embroidery needle as a shuttle. I even improvised a heddle of sorts with a stick I'd used to stir a pot of white acrylic.

Et voilà! My first finished pendant. It will hang from a strip of white leather, as you can see here. There are still a couple of problems to solve and I really have no idea how to go about it, since I've never tried jewellery before. At least not since my school craft days. I'd like to fasten the loops to the leather cord somehow, to hold the pendant in place and I still haven't figured out how to do that. Any ideas?

I am also wondering wether I should add some weight to the lower part of the pendant, so it will lay flat on the chest. Should I, really? And what kind of weight?

The long threads jotting out on all sides seemed fun, I still like them but they can be trimmed off easily. I'll sleep on it and see what happens.

This silly little pendant was just a first experiment. I'll make more, try different threads and colours, I think I'll even try weaving with silk ribbons and who knows what else may come up in the process.

I'm having fun again, a simple, naïve kind of fun and the longer the distance from this past terrible summer, the better I feel. Picking up strength. It's just as well, because this year's Art Market will open on 6 December and there's a lot to do.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

explorations in mark-making

I just came across this wonderful video on Pinterest and immediately felt like sharing it with you all. Maybe you have already seen it, I hadn't and I was really moved by its beauty. Simple but exquisite and a beautiful sound track too. I do hope you'll enjoy it.

I think I'll be back soon ♥

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

marks on the parking lot

During summer I worked in the local Tourist Office, that's on the entrance to the village and right behind a large parking lot. Large by our small-village standards, that is. Dozens of cars and trucks park there, especially in summer and on weekends, since the narrow Medieval streets of the village are a pain to drive through and offer very few parking spots. Remember, Susan?

While I worked in the Tourist Office the parking lot, with the unending stream of cars driving in and out, was just a source of stress for me. But the other day I took a walk by there and it was completely empty. Luckily, I had my camera with me, because I suddenly discovered a new unending stream of abstract marks and compositions, left behind by the busy summer months. I clicked away, fascinated by the beauty of my discovery, and the result are about 30 photographs, many of which - to my eyes - look mostly like gestural calligraphy marks on the asphalt. I felt like sharing them here and I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I did. (Click on the first image so you can view a larger-sized sequence of them all.)

I never moved any of the objects to place them in a more 'convenient' way. I just walked around each 'composition' to find the best frame for shooting.

Dark rubber marks, probably left by the tires of a heavy truck. If I had made them with ink on paper, I would be proud of them.

Same marks, different composition. A friend immediately saw a tree here, another one saw a scorpion...

Little blackened stones and tire marks engraved onto the pavement. And a delightful ochre-coloured stain on the lower right corner of the image.

I wish I had painted this one...

I promise I didn't create this composition intentionally.

There is a Milky Way in the sky and an Inky Way under my feet...

Now if that isn't an F!

I also love the colour palette: blacks, whites, ochres and siennas.

This is one of my favourites...

Same leaf in both images. It was blown over by a passing car and went to rest next to a blot of asphalt.

A piece of paper run over and flattened by a truck...

Coffee stains, maybe?

Traces of the white paint used to mark the parking spaces...

There is a bus stop at the end of the parking lot. The sun projected the shadows of its methacrylate panels on the pavement.

And the photographer at work...

I'm still mostly quiet but seem to be recovering an artist's view on things. It's a good sign. Love you all.
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