Sea Stars

Marina Malačić is a 21-year-old university student who lives in the beautiful, small town of Ankaran, Slovenia. Ankaran is located on the strip of Slovenia that touches the Adriatic Sea, known as the Slovenian Riviera, just under 20 miles from the Italian border. The coastline where Marina’s beaches are concentrated is home to hidden beaches full of shells. But that’s not all the coast has to offer. Marina also finds glass, ceramics, driftwood, terracotta, corals, and even old coins, cutlery, bottles, and ceramic vases.

Marina started scavenging for sea treasures at her local beach when she was young as a way to clean up litter from the beach, as many children swam there. It was only later that she found out that the things she was collecting and throwing in the trash were bits of history, including glass, pottery, and coins. Her local beach was so full of treasures because, in the early 20th century, passing Italian ships dumped rubbish on the shore. Upon learning this story, Marina began to collect and display her finds in her studio, in addition to using them to create jewelry.

Living so close to the ocean, combing the beach quickly became a weekly routine. She loves the relaxing sound of the waves and the exhilarating possibility of every trip. Beachcombing is her therapy.

Marina usually goes to the beaches with her mother. “She has a good eye for sea glass buds hidden among the rocks,” Marina says her friends often can’t believe she finds all these things on the beach, so she takes them and lets them find amazing treasures on their own.

Marina has many different finds that she is proud of, including a 200-year-old bottle of Maraschino from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which she returned to the Cosmacendi Palace in Croatia (now the Museum of Ancient Glass). Before its discovery, there was no proof that the bottle even existed, so both Marina and the museum were thrilled to have uncovered some ancient history. Marina also found an 1888 bullet, a 19th-century Victori19th-century vase, a French plate from the 1860s, and many glass and clay bottles, coins, buttons, and silverware. Marina would love to find more glass beads and a shark’s tooth one day. She has visited beaches in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Hurghada, Egypt, and hopes to visit more.

Marina understandably has a huge collection. At first, she would try to use all of her discoveries in her jewelry and home decor designs, but eventually, she just had too much, so she started donating and selling. She displays her best discoveries on a special shelf in her workroom.

At school, Marina studies Graphics and Media Technology in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She was just 13 when she started her business, Maristella, which turned into her dream of a real full-time job. She loves to challenge herself to think outside the box and experiment with all of her artistic creations to create something unique. “I love what I do and I do what I love – creating jewelry from beach treasures and sharing them with the world.”

Marina loves finding out where her finds came from. Below, she discusses some pieces she is currently researching:

A. This glass bottle of Crème Juris milk, a face cream, was made by pharmacist Weiss & Co. in Giessen, Germany. It was a challenge researching this piece until my aunt, who speaks German, helped me. I found an advertising stamp and an advertisement, which helped me to discover this bottle, which is over 100 years old.

B. There wasn’t much information I could find about this blue bottle of Roncegno. Photos of it on the internet show a star design at the bottom, which mine doesn’t have. This bottle is over 100 years old and contained either hair oil or some kind of medicine.

C. These are just a few pieces from my collection of glass and shell buttons. Many of the black glass buttons were made before 1918, when black glass buttons were part of ueen Victoria’s mourning attire.D. A Snickers pin from the 1994 Soccer World Cup held in the USA.

E. There is little information to identify this light blue vial other than the word “Magnesia”.

F. This turquoise glass seal was broken from a bottle. The bottle was manufactured at Zara (now Zadar, Croatia) during the Austrian Empire. It was from a bottle of Maraschino liqueur made by the Calligarich family around 1850.

G. Ober Selters Nassau (No.22) bottle of 1800.

Turquoise bottle of H. Maraschino liqueur. The bottle is probably from the early 1800s. The lettering on the seal is difficult to decipher on this bottle, which is probably very old.

Maristella always has a collection of pieces she’s trying to identify, including I through M (above). If you have any information about any of his finds, please let us know!

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