It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – The SL Christmas Expo Part 2. The Jingle Bells Sim

BREEDABLES!! I have a fascination with breedables. I think it’s pretty incredible that in a virtual world we make things that simulate life in some way and that can recreate one another. There was even a whole sim once called SVARGA that had the most incredible array of simulated life. It was an artificial ecosystem that reproduced itself. Plants grew, insects pollinated plants…or so I am told. I wasn’t around when the original SVARGA was built in Second Life but I have toured the new Svarga. It is still a place of impressive beauty and thought and a wonderful testament to what once was. But…I digress…I was talking about Breedables.

So Breedables, for those not in the know are virtual pets that can be fed and bred to make brand new pets. Some of the offspring will be rare and you can make quite a decent amount selling the rare ones. I am unashamedly particularly fond of the Buildables Breedables, which are robots. Not only do they come in all sorts of incredible designs (Check out the One of a Kind buildable at the at the Auction…it’s seriously fabulous) but the community are super friendly and the creators/managers are top notch in their customer service.

If you head out to the Jingle Bells sim though, you will find all kinds of breedables from horses and cats to robots and fairies and even Cannabis plants!!! There were definitely breedables there I had not come across before and it was just kinda nice to walk around and see what is available.

OH! And don’t forget the dates for the auctions that are being held here too….

The Silent Auction runs from the November 30th at 9am SLT to Sunday, December 9, 10am SLT and you can put your bid in and see the One of a Kind breedables at this Slurl:

Live Auction bidding will open Sunday, December 9, 10am slt. The opening bid is the final silent auction bid.

SL Christmas Expo - The Jingle Bells Sim

What the heck am I wearing? (Makeup) Tone 2 EyeGloss,  Tone 2 Festivus Pallette Lipstick; (Skin) Lara Hurley Abby; (Hair) Magicka Sparkle; (Eyes) Atelier Pepe; (Head) Akeruka Lulu; (Body) Maitreya Lara Clothing: (Boots) Charisma Designs Ankle High Heel Boots; (Top) Charisma Designs Nina Cropped Sweater; (Pants) Charisma Designs Nina Leggings; (Jewellery) Meva Boho Gacha Belly Chain Silver; (Pose) Ana Poses Sydney 1

SL Christmas Expo Website

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – The SL Christmas Expo Part 1. Sleigh Ride Sim

OK….so I’m not saying I’m doing Vlogmas this year…but I’m basically doing Vlogmas. Now I know I swore blind last year that I wouldn’t do it again because it’s a lot of pressure, so that’s why I’m not SAYING I’m participating in Vlogmas ok?? Yeah, soooooo now I have justified the fact that you are about to be spammed with multiple blog and vlog postings over the next few days, let’s sit and chat about the reason I am here today! So, maybe a month or so ago I applied to blog for both the Second Life Christmas Expo and the Winter Art Showcase for a few reasons.

Firstly, I freaking LOVE Second Life Christmas. Seriously…my house explodes into this crazy sparkling example of all things Christmas and I go NUTS hopping from one advent calendar shop to another. I hang around at all the Christmas and Winter Sims I can find and if there is a Christmas event, I will sleuth that thing out, throw on my gaudiest Christmas gear and party on like the happiest Christmas elf ever. I have a problem alright?

Secondly, you all know I am doing my postgraduate studies in online worlds. You’re totally over hearing about it…I get it. But here’s the thing…I am here because of those studies and it’s kind of important that I do some things that follow along the course of those studies and reveal aspects of reality within the world. So I wanted to be able to show what Christmas was like in the world through a series of posts and videos which is why I chose and event that covered all the bases. I chose to do the Winter Art Showcase as well because I had really wanted permission to be able to show an Art event as well as I know this is something that really confuses a lot of my academic peers.

Thirdly, I wanted to be able to give something back. Christmas is the season of giving and both Events I am covering have connections with really important charities, which undoubtedly, I will talk about in future posts as well. The Winter Showcase is affiliated with Team Diabetes in SL and The SL Christmas Expo is one of the largest fundraising events for Relay for Life. I can’t give a lot in the way of money, I am a poor art student after all, however I CAN give my time and my skills. And so, it is my honour and my privilege to be able to do so.

SL Christmas Expo - The Sleigh Ride Sim

What the heck am I wearing? (Pose)Elephante Poses ‘Tis Autumn (Hair)!Oleander – Billie, (Head) Akeruka Lulu, (Skin) Lara Hurley – Abby, (Makeup: TONE 2 triumph Eyes Palette, TONE 2 Shine on Lips Palette, (Top) Blueberry Minnie Winter Coat, (Jeans) Blueberry DWL Jeans, (Shoes) White River Co. Eventide booties,

Alrighty then, so where did I go with this particular VLOG/BLOG? I hopped on over to one of the SIX SL Christmas Expo Sims. Now this took me WAY longer than I thought it would in the editing so I am a little behind at this moment. There was a ridiculous amount of cutting and editing and I had some audio issues to do with my new set up where my Mic is next to my keyboard, so it picks up EVERYTHING. Every tap of my keys, every movement of my mouse…and it was LOUD. And as it was, I’d had to turn the gain right down in order not to get the sound of the very loud birds that were partying in the tree outside my window, so in the post processing, I had to boost the vocal volume of a thousand little cuts of audio. Ahhh the fun and games of editing video and audio.

But back to the SL Christmas Expo, the SLEIGH RIDE sim is the merchant Bazaar where you can find over 30 fine creators selling their wares. At the stalls you will find items that give back a certain percentage of the proceeds of sales going back to Relay for Life in order to raise money for cancer research. It’s a great place to go shopping for Christmas fashion, homewares, decorations, poses and all sorts of stuff. You will find a lot of great bargains and you can feel good about spending because really, you are GIVING!!! Aren’t you a wonderful person!!!

Come Sit With Me
Come Sit With Me…
What is going on in this picture? (Milk Motion) concrete house with piloti, Magnum Opus Sidetable, .:TM Creation:. Xmas C12 Tree Merry ChristmasLlama Inc. Candle TreeCleo Design Luna SofaSerenity Style- Mozart Spring TableAbsinthe and Others Candy Cane Martini GiverPurpleMoon – Set of Domes with lights & SnowmanDekute Dekor Christmas Player Piano NaturalLlama Inc. Photo Tree
What the heck are we wearing? He: (Hair) Stealthic Obscura, (Head) Akeruka Julian, (Body) Signature Gianni, (Top) Not So Bad TESEO sweater, (Jeans) {COLD-ASH} Mens Riley Boot-Style Jeans, {COLD-ASH} Mens MESH WOODCREEK BOOTS  She: (Hair)!Oleander – Billie, (Head) Akeruka Lulu, (Skin) Lara Hurley – Abby, (Makeup: TONE 2 triumph Eyes Palette, TONE 2 Shine on Lips Palette, (Top) Blueberry Minnie Winter Coat, (Jeans) Blueberry DWL Jeans, (Shoes) White River Co. Eventide booties

Some really important sites you need to connect to:
SL Christmas Expo Website and Blog
This will give you all the information you need to plan your trips to the expo. Check out all the events happening because there are so many you are bound to find something you like!
SL Christmas Expo Twitter
Some really important information about the cause
Kenyatta Patient Navigator

Sleigh Ride Sim
There are too many merchants to list here but if you head on over to their stalls at the merchant Bazaar, you should be able to find a LM giver to their shop from there!

A Day in the Second Life

I’m always interested in the sort of things people do with their days. I’m a bit of a reality voyeur and busybody like that. I actually had a list of things I wanted to do in SL today. But I think I only made it about halfway. Some days, that’s just how it seems to go in both my RL AND my SL.

The way I spend my days in SL are a bit different to how I used to spend them when I first started two years ago. I actually wrote a blog post at the beginning of last year, a few months after I first landed in world about the rhythm of days (1) that I will link you down below just in case you want to see what my days used to look like. I like looking back sometimes and seeing what I used to do and get up to. That girl who wrote that blog post a year and a half ago…she is in for some adventures! Some things changed during the past year and a half, but some stayed the same. For a start, I now know how to dress myself…although it may still take me just as long…

Which brings me to the first part of my day…getting dressed. Whenever I log out at night, I always get dressed into pyjamas, get into bed, set the windlight to midnight and THEN I log out. It’s just something I have done since I got my first place to call my own. My first place was actually an apartment (2).

view-from-front-door_001I remember it being quite cheap but I only had about 50 prims to play with. Luckily it came fully furnished and it had a control panel that allowed you to change the look of the apartment as well, which was great for me because at the time I had no furniture. So I mostly used that apartment for logging out and into as well as ..getting dressed and trying on clothes.

I have to admit, it takes me ages to get dressed, especially if I am getting ready to do a photo. Today, I’m getting ready to do a new photo in a series I have been doing every week. I’ve been documenting the SWAGGRAB clues every week (3,4). It’s just a good way of keeping me doing a photo regularly when I have been too busy in my Real Life to set up and do a lot of photos on various themes. So once I am in an outfit that isnt’ the same as any of the others I have used in previous photos ( and sometimes I have to actually look on my FLICKR page just to make sure) and its sort of appropriate for where I am going I will pull up the Teleport point and head on over.

The first thing I do when I am there is put on my gift grab HUD and grab the gift before scoping out the place. Now if you haven’t got the gifts from the previous 8 weeks, I am afraid you are out of luck because they are limited time only. The HUD was one of the things I got from the welcome area of SL15B when it was on and so it is also not available now. However, one of the things I really enjoy about this hunt is that I have visited so many places I never knew about and had some really fun experiences. I’m still trying to get through some of the games…oh who am I kidding…I’m stil trying to get through ALL of them..But they do keep me coming back time and again to these places that before this, I knew nothing about.

Once I have explored a bit, I find a spot to take a photo, usually pretty intuitively. And then the next part is all settings and Windlights, posing and camera angles.

Swag Grab Clue 9 A New Day
A New Dawn

Once I was done looking around and taking photos at the Swaggrab location, I thought I would check out a location that my friend, Wavie had set me on to. The owner of the Sim, Dema Fairport had contacted me as Wavie had told her I have an interest in libraries and art. So I headed over there to check it out and it was SO beautiful. I can’t even describe the wonder of this place. The landscaping is exquisite and there is a gorgeous view around every corner. The SLurl (5) for this is down below and I BEG you to go see it.

Before you go though, there are a couple of things you should know about the Athenaeum. Athenaeum is an artistic adult environment, focusing on the bdsm/kink friendly community. Now, I know that I don’t usually visit the sex sims in SL but watch the video and trust me…this place is GORGEOUS and tastefully done. You don’t have to be Rp’ing to be here, you don’t have to be about to get into the sexy times…but you DO have to be respectful and aware that some people WILL be.

On that note, you should also be aware that this is an ADULT RATED sim. As such, child avatars are not allowed and age play is also not allowed. Not only is this against the TOS, but also that is just common sense. Just as there are some places in RL that a child shouldn’t go, this is a place in SL that a child avatar should not be.

The Athenaeum is also home to the Carter/Johnson Leather Library in SL which is a RL library featuring the collective history of various communities who have chosen to live and love differently. There is a gorgeous café, places to sit and meditate and it is beautiful day or night. It is a place of quiet moments, inspirational views and cosy spots to think and smile. Bring your lovers or your friends or just come by yourself and take some time to enjoy the scenery. You should also check out their Flickr group for some truly captivating photos of the sim! (6)

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So that is what my day in SL looked like today. Photos and exploring. It’s a fairly typical day for me at the moment and takes probably a good 4 hours to do all that. Sometimes, like today, I don’t do it all at once, I just log in as I can during the day and do bits as pieces as my RL schedule allows. It’s rare these days that I will get a solid block of 4 hours to do everything all at once. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to, but I am happy with what I did get to do and well…that just leaves me more things to look forward to tomorrow.

The World is Full of Wonders
The World is Full of Wonders

Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: Magicka Fight Sleep
Jacket: //Ascend// Molly Jacket with Fur – Espresso
Jeans: Vinyl Halsey Smoker Bootcut Jeans
Shoes: !Aphorism! Brogue Boots

1. Rhythm of Days Blog Post
2. My First Apartment Blog Post
3. Swaggrab Location SLurl
4. My Swaggrab Flickr Album
5. Then Athenaeum SLurl
6. Atheneaum Flickr group
7. Dema Fairport’s (owner of Athenaeum) MP Store

On the Value of Friendship…

“The connections we make can define our lives, and learning how to choose which people we invite into our lives is worthy of the deepest thought.”(1)

For the longest time in Second Life I kept to myself. I didn’t really put myself out there and try to meet anybody or start a friendship. I guess because I wasn’t sure what I was really doing or where I was going with my time in world. I kept myself at a distance because I was distracted but also because I was worried.

Alicia's New Years Eve EVE party
I’m not really a social butterfly or a party girl. I live a quiet second life because a lot of the time, I am simply working or I am logged in, but tabbed out. People will message me and sometimes I don’t get back for hours, either because I have forgotten I am logged in or I am absorbed in something I am doing. I always feel terrible for that. It takes a REALLY patient and understanding person to deal with my long in world silences. And some days are just hard for me. Some days social interactions are filled with a minefield of insecurities and paranoia and stress. I go over every conversation I have had that day and remember every word and hate myself for them. I physically cringe and have to try to breathe through moments of sheer panic and try to go through different logic techniques to talk myself down from the anxiety attack.

When you meet someone who can deal with all that and be ok with your constant bouts of awkward and long thousand topic rambles, suddenly, you feel less of all that about yourself. So one day, I reached out to someone I had been watching on YouTube and reading her blogs. It started with a sentence…this is my year to be brave. I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I just talked and kept talking, I listened, I was persistent and I reached. I asked way too many questions as I always do, and she actually didn’t think that was such a terrible thing. In giving of myself, I found that perhaps I wasn’t always so very awkward. I found that I could be fun and other people would find that fun too. Friendship is like a mirror sometimes, it reflects back at you those things about yourself that other people see in you.

I am grateful for the few friends that I have made. I am thankful for their patience. I have met some genuinely lovely people. I have talked about them before. Some have come and gone as lightly as a feather touch upon my life. Others have pulled up a chair and stayed. I have friends I have met in other worlds. There is a particularly persistent group who I have been talking to since vanilla WOW. We are a small group but we have many years of fun and fights, caring a consistency. I have met each one of them in RL but that is not what made us close, or even kept us there. It was just a matter of location.

Recently I lost a friend. It didn’t end with a bang, but only a steady silence over the internet seas. There was no huge argument, just a quiet loss, confusion and absence. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I retreated back to my closest friends, those tried and true. I grieved, because the ending of a close friendship is as sad and heart breaking as ending any relationship. I questioned myself. I questioned my understanding of truth and reality. I thought about words I read about internet friendships and I wondered. I wondered what the reality is.

Jacques-Louis David, 1787, The Death of Socrates, 1.3 m x 1.96 m, Metropolitan Museum of Art

There have been many philosophers who have pondered what makes a friendship. Aristotle defined three kinds of friendship – of utility, of pleasure and of the good. He pondered that the first two sorts of friendship were short term friendships, derived of a selfish nature for usefulness, practicality or good times. These friendships were short lived because our pleasures and desires change over time and so the friends that are used for such ends also are short lived. The third sort of friendship was the sort that arose from a mutual admiration of the good in another and a striving to bring out the good in each other.

If these are the types of friendship, what DEFINES a friendship? What is so important if we desire the kind of friendship that is long lived and strives for mutual benefit? An entry in the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy states:

“In philosophical accounts of friendship, several themes recur consistently, although various accounts differ in precisely how they spell these out. These themes are: mutual caring (or love), intimacy, and shared activity…” (2)

The Vordun with Wavie 1024x768Mutual caring or love, I think is something that grows over time with both intimacy and shared activity. Intimacy in this sense of the word, is not a physical intimacy, but rather a sharing of those things we hold close to ourselves. It is the kind of intimacy that comes only through mutual sharing, of taking a risk and trusting. Intimacy is also formed through shared activity. We all have our “in jokes”, those only the people with whom we have shared circumstances have a part in. So these things are caught together in a feedback loop. They strengthen each other and allow friendship to grow and develop over time. It takes work and understanding. Without these things, friendships fail.

So, I see now. I see where things went wrong and I accept the loss. However, does that mean it wasn’t REAL? When a friendship is based over the internet, when you have met that person online in a virtual world or through social media, is that friendship any less REAL for the lack of proximity? For me, the reality is this…each and every friendship is real and meaningful. I don’t care if it is “real” life or a “second life”, a “physical reality” or a “digital” reality. The feelings are real and the emotions are real. The trauma at facing the end, it feels very real.

Because here is the thing. Our avatars, they may be digital. We may exist as pixels over the internet in virtual worlds, but that picture is just a representation of ourselves. It isn’t real, but I am. It is an image of my reality. Just as my body is a representation of who I am here in the physical world, but it is not the entirety of who I am. And so, for me the value of friendship lies in its shared reality of mutual caring, intimacy and shared activity. It IS real, even when it’s time has passed and all that lingers are the memories and the emotion.

And THAT thought is enough to make me smile, pick myself up, hold the hands of the friends who still stand beside me and try again.

On the Value of Friendship


Baja Sands

She wears:
Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: Truth Halona
Eyes: Atelier Pepe Dreamy Eyes
Arm: Shu Mesh Nuada Arms Implant
Arm Bracelet: Real Evil Arwen Arm Bracelet
Dress: Erratic hanna dress
Shoes: Justice Lotus Boots
Pose: Own Pose

He Wears:
Body: Signature Gianni
Head: Akeruka Julian
Hair: Stealthic Obscura
Eyes: {Song} Sublime Cold Eye
Top: Not So Bad Gabriel Suit Blazer
Pants: {COLD-ASH} Mens Mesh Riley Boot-style Jeans
Shoes: {COLD-ASH} Mens Mesh Woodcreek boots
Pose: Own Pose


(1) From Besties to Bromances: A Philosophical Look at Friendship|The Mantle

(2) Friendship (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Some extra reading: Aristotle’s Email- Or, Friendship In The Cyber Age|Issue 61|Philosophy Now

Death of Socrates By Jacques-Louis David –, Public Domain,

Just an Ordinary Girl

Just an ordinary girl
This is one of my more altered photos. I usually like to take my photos and publish them raw doing most of my work in the setting up of the shot within Second Life itself. However, I have been playing around in GIMP (1) a lot recently. I like it as image manipulation software. I like that I can customise it so many different ways and that it is open source. I don’t find it more difficult to use than Photoshop and in a lot of ways, I actually find it easier. It is certainly cheaper! Anyway, I digress…What was I thinking when I took this photo? Hmmm…

I’ve been playing around with avatar attachments recently. Wings and cyber components. I found this amazing arm attachment at the Shu stall at SL15B and knew I had to have it. In some ways, I feel like the cyber attachments are more ME at the moment. I feel like when I’m online, that I am neither this nor that. Like some parts of myself are disappearing into the machine. The tools I am using are transforming who I am and the art I make. The parts of my avatar that I am choosing to replace are the parts that I use most frequently in my art making…my arm, my hand, my eye.

I wonder if this is something that is speaking to me from a subconscious level or whether I’m just choosing this because I find it aesthetically pleasing. But then again, isn’t that which we find aesthetically pleasing partially the work of our subconscious? I think both things play and feedback into one another and that another day, I may have to examine that thought a little more closely.

But for today, I’m just enjoying the effect and playing with editing my pictures a bit more to get the effect that I want. I use the Wacom Intuous Art tablet (2) and stylus combined with Gimp. I like the feeling of drawing onto the photo directly, but there are some things I find difficult to adjust to. The discrepancy between where the hand draws and where the image is for instance. I am drawing on the tablet, but the image is on the screen. I find it takes me a little while each time I do this to get used to that mental turnaround. Also, when I draw with paper and a pencil, I turn my paper around frequently depending on where on the page I am drawing. I can’t do that with my monitor. I know there are ways to turn the page in GIMP, but it’s really not the same.

It’s all just a part of my getting used to working with digital art and online worlds. The learning curve is still steep, even 2 years on. But the journey is still fascinating and eye opening and I can’t wait to see what I will learn next.

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The original and the altered version.

Location: Prime 3D
Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: TRUTH Halona
Left Eye: Buzz Gleam Eyes – Avada
Right Eye: [NeurolaB Inc.] Cyber Eyes EX-5
Left Arm: Nuada Arms implant -Shu Mesh-


(1) GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program)
(2) Wacom Intuous Art Tablet



SL15B(1) is finally here!!! I feel like I have been waiting a WHOLE YEAR for this and it finally started! This is the second time I have been able to attend and SLBirthday SLebration. I loved SL14B (2). It had such a wonderful sense of community spirit. I remember watching Drax and Strawberry Singh live stream out there.  There were events and art and SO much to see and do and explore.  I think I actually spent a full week just checking everything out. There was a HUGE pile of presents donated by people who have just wanted to GIVE and I can remember thinking what a wonderful community this was.

SL15B Shopping event 3a 1165x748

So when I started seeing callout for musicians and creators to do things at SL15B I started to get really excited because I knew it was all about to start again. Now, for those not in the know, SLB is the annual celebration of the


Where “n” is the number of years Second Life has been around. And this year is f course, the 15th year. Fifteen years is certainly a long time for an online world to run with a fairly stable economy and userbase so YAY! CONGRATS Linden Labs and SL for making it to the big ONE FIVE!! I hope both the world and I are around to see you grow and develop out of the wobbly teen years and into adulthood! Did you also know the the 15th anniversary is the crystal anniversary and that is why the theme for this year is all about the crystals. You can even check out the inspiration board used for the event over at the community info site (3).

Shopping event 3 1390x736This year the celebrations can certainly be seen both far and wide over the grid (4). There is the usual huge shopping event at Halcyon, Gilded, Golden and Aurealian. Not only are a lot of prices discounted there but there are lots of gifts by generous designers set out as well. Speaking of gifts, there is also the usual huge gift pile out at the SL15B sims and this year, there is a special gift grab event. For this gift grab event, you need to collect a different limited edition crystal themed birthday gift every week and when you have collected ALL 14 gifts, you get a special birthday gift at the end. This event runs from the 18th June to the 24th September so make sure you start now and get in and collect all those crystals! You also need to make sure you grab the HUD from the welcome area and check back at the blog for news and clues for this one.

Swaggrab 1390x736

This week I had the opportunity to visit bear island. I freaking LOVE the linden bears. I found my very FIRST linden bear out near where I live in Sansara and I am pretty obsessed with collecting them, so when I read in the community blog that all the linden bears would be returning for a short time only on Bear Island (5), I was THERE. IMMEDIATELY. Like you couldn’t even blink as fast as I got there.

For those of us not in the know, apparently one of the great traditions at Linden Lab is that every linden employee must make their own Linden Bear to pass out to residents and if you come across a Linden in world, you can actually ask for their bear which they will then give to you. There is also a list of Linden Bears and their pictures on the SL Wiki (6), so if you are collecting them, that makes it heaps easier to check to see what you still need. Be aware that some of these bears are SUPER primmy so you won’t be able to display them all, unless you have a whole sim to dedicate just to the bears, which would actually be kind of cool. I’d like to see a Linden Bear museum in the world somewhere. But usually I just select one or two of my favourites at a time to display and the rest stay cosily in my inventory where I revel in the satisfaction of just having them there. Shush. Stop judging me. We all have our things.

Anyway, so there is also a SERIOUS amount of entertainment going on at the stages at ALL times of the day or night. The schedules are up and the talented lineup is incredible. You can also catch an episode of the Drax files recording at the auditorium, or meet a linden or listen to one of the great talks given by our residents or even watch a dance show or a cheerleading event! On all the others stages there is a wide variety of DJ’s and musicians playing, so why not pop on over and support our incredibly talented community.

 SL15B Bear Island

Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Eyes: Atelier Pepe – Dreamy Eyes – 05
Hair: Doe: Sugar – Candy
Top: Neve top – aris heathered
Skirt: Vinyl – Evanescence Skirt Pak BROWN
Shoes: MOoH! Slouch boots with sock Brown
Leg Chain:.::Supernatural::. Janis Lag Chain Silver
Pose: Le Poppycock *Convolutions* B (Askance)

(1) SL15B Website
(2) SL14B Blog Post with links to all past live streams of the event
(3) SL15B Inspirations
(4) SL15B Destinations
(5) Slurl to Bear island
(6) Linden Bear Wiki Page
(7) SL15B Destination Slurls

The Quiet Days of Digital Trees (Part 1): Conceptualisation

I started a series of physical world paintings called, “The Quiet Days of Digital Trees’, which of course started with just one tree. I took inspiration from this photo that I had taken in Second Life one day when I was exploring the Anduril sim.

It Takes Patience to be a Tree
Alison James, It takes Patience to be a Tree. 2017, Online Digital Photography, 4448 x 2355px

I have always had a thing for trees. I don’t know what it is or why I keep coming back to them. I did an environmental science degree because of my love of trees and forests. My online name has always been Mangrovejane, named of course, after that tidal zone tree, the Mangrove. So when I was considering doing a painting just to get back into the swing of doing some physical art work again…it wasn’t really a surprise to anyone that I would choose a tree as my subject.

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This particular tree was done with a deadline in mind. I finished the painting in just under 10 days. I always like my paintings to be highly textured. I work in acrylics, so this means that I also need to work with a lot of texture paste in order to get the detail I need. I like them to be almost sculptural, reaching out of the page as if they are almost real…without being quite so realistically painted. They need to have almost a dream like quality to them…as if they are dream trees. However this led me to the thought that is constantly on my mind at the moment about playing with reality.

The Quiet Days of Digital Trees
Alison James, The Quiet Days of Digital Trees 1.0, 2018. Acrylic on Cotton Canvas, 75 x 101cm

I play with the idea of reality constantly throughout my postgraduate studies. I wonder how far we can bend someone’s perception of it and how our online presence becomes its own reality. I examine those images in online worlds that are used to construct, maintain and manipulate our online realities, and so this simple image of a tree has become something else. By giving it a physical presence as a painting out in the “real world” it acts almost like a bridge between realities. This concept led me further, looking at the traditional landscape paintings and in particular, how the tree itself is a large part of most traditional western landscape painting.

I thought it would be interesting to play around with the idea of the traditional landscape tree using photos of trees and landscapes I have taken in the online world of second life and present them as physical world paintings. Then to take that a step further…to photograph those paintings of trees and exhibit the photos of the physical world paintings back in Second Life exhibits. I won’t lie…the process takes a little while. When all the pieces are together, they form a forest, each one having its place among the 12. They will all be different sizes just as the original trees also are. But each piece is also designed to stand alone.

Add into that original concept two other things that have impacted the conceptualisation of this series. Firstly, I was commissioned to do my next tree based on a paperbark tree. This is a tree with everything I love about it. It has a beautifully textured bark and a lovely form. It is something that the client wants to go up in their public music studio…and it is large (152.6 x 76.3cm). I can SEE the finished painting in my head. And I can see it as part of the series, but the contention here is that the original source material is not digital…but in the process of making the tree, I will have turned it into something digital through the use of photography rendering it back into pixels. It made me consider that not all the trees needed to come from digital sources and that, in fact, it may play with the concept of reality a little more if they were NOT all from the online world and the viewer did not know which ones were or were not.

Secondly, I have been working on recording sounds and soundscapes. This made me consider the sound of digital trees and how that world is actually quite silent. There are no sounds of wind brushing through leaves or the rain falling onto leaves or even the creaks and pops of the trees themselves as they grow throughout their day in the online world of Second Life. So, I sort of imagined what that sound world would be like and what the day of a digital tree would sound like and I wanted to add that to give the paintings a sense of almost an augmented reality. I wanted the trees to talk and to live in spaces that sounded like it had life and in this way add another layer to the twist on reality I am working through.

I am currently doing a prototype to make these paintings of trees interactive with sound so you HEAR their days which will be a constantly looping ambient sound. On top of this, will be a sound triggered by two things…proximity using conductive paint so when you reach to touch the tree, the sound of the tree itself will be heard getting louder, the closer you get to the tree. Secondly, when the series of trees are together, they will trigger each other to talk. So, for example, if one tree is triggered by proximity, it will trigger another tree in the series to talk back…and this tree will trigger another until the set is talking in a chorus. Eventually, I would like to stitch together 24 hours recordings and set it to time to the actual physical time of day so that at dawn, for instance, you hear the dawn chorus of birds and at dusk you hear the gradual changeover from birds to nocturnal creatures.

The tree in the original painting (The Quiet Days of Digital Trees 1.0) is set to become my prototype. I have to add black conductive paint to it and I am hesitating to apply the paint to the canvas as I like this painting just as it is…and as soon as I apply that paint to it, it will forever change this particular painting. I can’t just be some simple light dry brushing of the paint to the surface either…it needs to be an unbroken shape of it leading to the bottom of the painting and around to the back so I can attach the wires to it. I DID want to repaint some of this painting to cover some of the flaws that have showed through the more I look at it…but this is an extreme touch up that I KNOW I have to get to in the next couple of days in order for it to be ready to show as a prototype. I also know I can paint over it if it really doesn’t give me the look I want in the end.

But…just…for now…let me have this moment of artistic fluttering and panic and I promise I will get it done tomorrow.

That Summer Place

That Summer Place

“I remember well that summer place,
The sun, the sea, the surf soaked sand,
The light that lit your lovely face,
As we splashed bare foot, hand in hand”
– Archie Langford

Summer is one of those beautiful times here in Australia. It’s hot and everyone heads to the beach to cool off. The beach has been a big part of my life since I was very little. I remember spending summers on an island across the bay…rolling down sandhills, catching yabbies with a pump and digging for pippies with my feet and swimming. Swimming was a BIG part of every summer for me.  Summer is all about holidays and Christmas, relaxing and BBQ’s. It’s that time for being out in the park with the family and friends and enjoying the beautiful weather. And when it gets too hot, it’s also for heading to the nearest place that has air conditioning.

For me, Summer is starting to fade and we are starting to see the bite of winter chill but every now and then a day comes along that reminds me of Summer days and places. So I thought I would do a Summer Series to remind me of those lazy, hazy beautiful days that are not far behind me and that will soon, before I even know it, be right in front of me again.

Location: Footprints in the Sand Public Beach

Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: *TKW* Razo
Top: *{Junbug}* Olenna Top [Latte]
Shorts: *Just BECAUSE* Kelsie Shorts – Navy
Shoes: Pure Poison – Illy Sandals
Tattoos: Identity Rise Strong (Back, Side and Thigh) and Identity Pure Heart (arms)
Arm Bracelets: **RE** Arm Bracelets
Arm Gloves: **RE** Arwen Gloves
Leg Chain: *PerveTTe* Set Instinct – Pearl Leg Chain [Silver] [White] 7#

The Mesh Generator

A couple of days ago, I had a couple of people contact me about the Prim to Mesh generator because I had left a comment on the MP store about it, so I thought I would do a video explaining what it is and how to use it. I love this thing. It makes turning your objects and builds into mesh REALLY easy and it is what I use when I don’t want to fiddle around with other third party programs. I have made everything from coffee tables to whole houses with the help of this mesh generator.


You can find it on the marketplace or at the inworld store. DO try out the demo version first. I have linked you to the generator I got myself. I don’t feel like I can comment on any of the other ones on the MP as I have not tried any of them. Now, even though it is a bit pricey (L$4,526) it is really worth every linden you pay for it. It will save you a whole lot of land impact and in comparison to buying some items, it is really cheap to just make them and upload them. I can’t remember exactly how much the house I made cost, but it was only a couple of hundred linden all up. It could probably have been less, but I made some mistakes and had to re upload bits and pieces. The LI for it was only 93 in total and it had a foot print of 30.2 along the side, by 38.3 along the front. It did take me a good couple of weeks on and off and I never did finish the texturing and fine tuning that I wanted to, but it was a really fun and ambitious project and I had a lot of good times in this house.

October 2017 first mesh generator home 26102017_001

This coffee table cost me a grand total of L$11 and has a LI of one and took me no more than 30 minutes in total to knock out.

Coffee table_001

I know there are a few ways of building in SL. Everything in the world starts with a prim. You can use third party programs such as Blender and Maya to build mesh objects and there are a LOT of fantastic tutorials out there already for these, so I won’t cover them here. If you are looking for some Blender tutorials, check out Haven Ditko’s series. She does this tutorial series especially for mesh for Second Life and her explanations are thorough and really easy to follow.  If you are looking for Maya tutorials, I enjoy watching Mike Hermes channel. He has a LOT of tutorials on making a wide variety of things, although he is not specific to Second Life modelling.

Also, if you are considering building things, please check out Builder’s Brewery. They are an INCREDIBLE source of information and resources. They hold free classes at the Brewery in world as well as provide sandboxes to build in. The group is really friendly and they are always happy to help no matter what level you are at in your building.


Now I have done those couple of plugs, How does this thing actually work? Well…basically you insert a script into the object you want to mesh, the mesh generator then generates the mesh data and opens the converted .DAE file into a website for you to download. You then save that .DAE file to your computer and upload it back into Second Life as a mesh object. Confused? Then let’s make something so you can see how we do that in a bit more detail.

Build your object
So I  just built a really basic door and it all starts, of course with a prim.  I made this door out of 6 prims, one of which will be textured to be transparent so I can have a glass panel in the middle of the door, just because I like that particular look, but you could also texture it with a different woodgrain or paint effects if you wanted to. Either way, it is just a nice bit of detailing that won’t actually cost me anything in land impact.


Link your pieces together, but TEXTURE before you do!
Once you have all your pieces set up the way you want them, you need to link them all together. I like to colour the different faces BEFORE I link them, only because I find it makes it easier for me when I want to texture the back and the front the same way. So, any face that you might want to make a different colour or texture, just make sure you colour it differently to all the others and that will give you your different texture faces on the mesh model.

Drop in the script and hit generate on the gadget.
Once you have done all that, link up your pieces and then insert the script that came in the mesh generator folder into the root prim of the object and then hit generate.

Save the .DAE file to your computer
Once you do that, You will see a message about it generating the model and then you will be given a link to a website where you can download your .dae file. Download the file, and for tidy housekeeping, I like to rename the file straight away to something descriptive that I will remember.

Upload it back into Second Life
Then you go back into SL, go to your inventory and then click on the little plus sign at the bottom. From here, choose upload…model and choose the file name of the object. When you hit calculate, it will tell you your upload cost and how much your LI is. You can fiddle around a bit with the Level of Detail (LOD) and hulls and such here (see tips), but if you are happy with everything, simply hit upload and the model will be delivered into your inventory. Once again, I like to rename the model straight away so I don’t get confused with a whole lot of random “Mesh generator object” floating around in my inventory.

Rez it out into the world
Then you can rez it out into the world and texture and script it whatever way you want. You will be the creator of the object so also don’t forget to set your permissions if you plan to sell this item.

1. This is not just for building new objects. If you have old builds that you really like made out of prims, you can easily convert to mesh using this generator, but I believe the item needs to be full permission or modifiable. I haven’t tried it out with this as I prefer to build my own things, but let me know if you do!
2. If your blocks are at a right angle that you want to walk through….eg. A doorway, do NOT convert it as one whole piece as you won’t be able to walk through it. It will be treated like one solid rectangle. Which is fine for things like Windows because you don’t have to walk through them. Convert them in separate pieces and link them together afterwards.
3. To lower the hull count, make faces that touch transparent before you convert the prims to mesh.
4. When you are uploading, think about the LOD you actually need. This is the level at which an object will appear to collapse in on itself as you move away from it. A coffee table for instance, is always seen up close, so you don’t really need the highest LOD for that, especially if it is going to increase your upload costs!
5. And lastly, this may just be something I do because I am super obsessive about these things, but…keep your original premeshed prim shapes. There have been times when building houses that I have had to go back and tweak things and redo the mesh and if you have the original prim shapes, it’s much quicker and easier to just rezz that out than to have to build the thing all over again. When you are done with the build, you can just pack it all away into a box or you can delete it if you prefer, but you never know when you might want that same wall or floor again.

P2MGen 1b 2780x1472

And that is it. The video goes into a little more detail about the actual building of the object itself, so if you are still a bit confused, please check it out and have a go!


Mesh Generator MP Store:
Mesh Generator Inworld Store:

Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: No.Match_No.Lie
Eyes: Atelier Pepe – Dreamy Eyes – 05
Top: Blueberry – Radiance – Denim Jackets
Skirt Emery Bangalore Shirt 1
Shoes: -KC- Alexia Sneaker Boots
Pose: own pose made using Anypose

Wavie Haller and the Consignment Bookcases


Sometimes my friends put up with a LOT from me and I have to say, my friend Wavie Haller, who you might know as the guy behind Consignment furniture, puts up with more than most. I first met Wavie when I went to buy a model of DNA he had made from an event for 99L but the vendor didn’t work. Alicia had suggested we TP to Consignment, which I had not known about until that moment and see if there was one there. And there was…but I was not willing to pay full price for it, because apparently I am also stingy and love a bargain. So once again, on Alicia’s urging, I sent him a notecard explaining to him and asking if I could buy it off him for the event price. Wavie actually sent me that DNA for free which started a Linden war like no other that still rages to this day where I try to give him the 99L and he gives it back to me, both of us equally insulted at the other’s stubbornness.

Wavie at the Vordun 2224x1177
This is the guy I know as Wavie Haller…

Then there was the time he found out I liked one of his pieces of furniture and bribed Alicia to tell him what it was. The next thing I know, it lands in my inventory. He wouldn’t take any money for that either…which once again…a severe stubborn streak made me indignant enough to rip it apart and make Alicia help me to set up and take a photo of us pushing it off a bridge. I accompanied that with an anti-ad on my blog because it amused me so. I remember Wavie telling me, ” I want to be mad at you but that picture is GLORIOUS!” and the ad made him laugh…so continued our weird and screwy friendship.

Another time he gave me a pack of motorcycles he had made because I really liked vehicles and I was going to play the gacha for them. Once again…a steadfast refusal to take money for them led to this…

Consignment Motorcycles

…which I consider to be a GREAT way to tell a story and it is still to this day, one of the favourite things I have done. I had a ridiculous amount of fun setting up for each of the photos and telling the story in the anti ad.

So yeah…I haven’t even mentioned the yelling, name calling and general jerkiness that tends to define our friendship but there’s a lot of all of that on both sides, done with an almost aggressive fondness and fierce amusement.

Recently though, we were chatting and I was talking about a library I wanted for my house and the next things I know the darn thing lands in my inventory. I considered doing another anti-ad but on reflection I decided to do something Wavie is going to find even more startling and give you my honest opinion of it.

When you get the Consignment box and open it, you will be confronted with an ENORMOUS folder. One of the things Wavie is GREAT at is making these modular kits. IF you have seen the Consignment kitchen, you will know exactly what I am talking about because you are probably still using it even if you have changed houses multiple times. It’s modular nature, customisation possibilities and beautiful design make it really appealing to a wide variety of styles. And the same can be said of this library.

You can use just one of the bookcases on its own or you can connect them together to form a library suited to just about ANY house. The many different pieces will let you fit this into the space you have and if you need even more flexibility, its all modifiable so you can easily edit bits with very little effort.

When I put my bits together, I often use the align tool. Be aware it won’t always work the way you expect it to and it is best used for items of the same size and straight shape. Mostly though, I just eyeball things and try to line them up as best I can.

The pack also comes with a texture change HUD which changes the colour of the cabinets to any of 6 different choices. Wavie told me that these aren’t really tintable but I totally went ahead and tinted them anyway. It’s just that you can’t separately tint the handles as they are connected as a face to the frames they are on. S’if that is gonna stop some of us RIGHT?? If that annoys you though..feel free to drop him a notecard and complain about it…

Despite the fact that it is named after me and made by someone I know…I genuinely like this bookcase. I would have bought this bookcase. The only complaint I have is a small one…I would have liked a half sized bookcase as well for places like underneath windows. Other than that though…I like it. It is well designed and thought about and a piece that will probably stay with me through many changes of house. If you would like your own consignment bookcase, it is out now at the Fameshed event which runs through until the 27th April for a BARGAIN 585L. After that, I am sure you will be able to purchase it at the Consignment in world store.

The Consignment Bookcases


Body: Maitreya Lara
Head: Akeruka Lulu
Hair: Moon. Hair // – Erratics – Storm
Eyes: Atelier Pepe – Dreamy Eyes – 05
Top: Flippant – BCA Mesh Tank Top – Black
Necklace: =Zenith= magic stone necklace
Leggings: ::C’est la vie !:: Emmi Tights (#1)
Shoes: EMPIRE – Flax

Bookcases: [Con.] Groves Modular Bookcase; House: Culprit Dragonfly Cottage; Couch: Ariskea[Pow !Pow!] Comic Sofa [Single]; Coffee table: My own build; Toro. Haus of floppy disks {Destroyed}; Hextraordinary Jellyfish; Mutresse – Rock Star Gnome – RARE; Books: Krescendo Super Shelves Gacha (Full Set), Fancy Decor: Bracket Bookends, The Vordun: Book of Hours ca. 1450, The Vordun: Book of Hours ca. 1460, The Vordun: Breviary ca. 1300, Fancy Decor: Print Books, 09 Fancy Decor: Whale Tail Book Stack, +Half-Deer+ Book Clutter – Stack – Dark, BALACLAVA!! Books [vertical A], [Con.] Groves Modular Bookcase – Assorted Inserts,  Mori. spiral rug . free spirit; Fancy Decor: Magazine Stack 2