Thursday, July 28, 2011

Garden of Dreams

A couple of weeks ago, free-falling from 4000 meters, I saw a skybox in the air reading "Garden of Dreams." It was a giant enclosed box with their logo on the side, and after slowing my fall enough that I could briefly cam in, decided to take a look at their creations. Their "Dream Scenes" cost between 1600 $L and 2000 $L and are copyable and modifiable. They are sized anywhere from 40x40 to 55x55 (from what I could see), so you need a moderately-nice chunk of land to place them.

The Dream Scenes have a "bubble rezzer." You rez the bubble, sit in it and it sends you 1000 (this value can be changed) meters into the sky and then rezzes the scene and skybox around where the bubble once was. Many of the scenes feature a bar you can click on for drinks, many, many places to sit and sitting animations, a way to have one bubble store multiple scenes (I don't know if it can rez more than one at a time, as I only bought one). I thought the work that went behind these was worth it, so I dumped a bit of $L into their Lava Lounge, preparing to modify it into a dragon cave for my Seawolf Ancient dragon.

Buying it gives you two options. You can rez the bubble each time and have it rez the scene each time you use it, or you can simply rez a more permanent skybox and send the whole thing into the sky. I rezzed my permanent skybox for a look, and sure enough, it was very spacious and the work to get it "done right" shows. The roof turned out to be too small to suit my dragon well, and since the roof was made of many pieces together that weren't linked I didn't want to spend all that time getting it just right and make it work. I'm lazy.

Then I zoomed out and decided to play around. I unlinked all the pieces, then deleted the outside box. Turns out only half the space in the box is being used! One of the photos in this story shows where the "top" prim of the box is in relation to the "room" of the Dream Scene. Reminds me of a bag of potato chips - half the bag is just air. Still, the roof was high up and not many would NEED all that "air" space in the box. Even if they did, the Dream Scenes are copy and mod, and are easily built to anyone's specifications.

I'm going to give this a solid 4 Dragon Hoards out of 5. The effort shows, I think the price is right, and there is enough of a selection that if you don't fine the one you want, an existing one can likely be modded with a few hours work into the one you want to keep.

The Garden of Dreams can be found at the Garden Of Dreams sim.

Xymbers Slade

Monday, July 25, 2011

Toy's Art Gallery

A grand re-opening of Toys Art Gallery was held July 17 and 18 at its location on Grojnowski (33, 19, 1001). The show is titled “Mirages of Art”. I wasn’t able to attend the reception, but I went over early to check out the new gallery.

Toysoldier Thor is the multi-talented artist, builder, and designer who created the work. The gallery, which is said to have taken 5 weeks to design and build, is a unique, circular structure with a colorful walkway that winds around the 5 levels of gallery space. The top floor opens onto the Starfield Patio. Throughout the gallery, subdued lighting highlights the art work.

Unlike real-life galleries where touching is forbidden, Toy encourages residents to touch his art. He has created a notecard for each piece that explains his creative thought process, often provides the Second Life location of the photo, and shares other helpful or creative information. For example, his “Farm Falls Frost” was taken on the Alirium sim, located at Alirium (204,119, 22). He stated, “This is a place I strongly recommend my fellow SL'er must visit and explore. I wanted to express a peaceful abandonment of a home long since vacated and the view from a window of this home as the land around it overgrows. The arrival of winter is hinted with the frost on the few remaining panes of glass as well as no leaves left on the trees.”

In contrast to this pastoral scene, one of his other works is “Stormy Streets”, an urban street scape from the sim Sin City – Hard Rock Park. He added layers of additional color and elements to the Second Life photo, including some elements taken from real-life. The result is a vibrant scene, with symbolism and danger lurking everywhere in this city.

One of my favorites, shown in the second photo, is “Black Mamba Floral Delights”. Toy created this as a collage from photos he had taken of the many flowers found on the Black Mamba sim and which he enhanced with Photoshop.

The last photo shows another of my favorites, “Morning Meadow Hunt.” Toy found his inspiration for this work of art at the Gulf of Loon. On his notecard, Toy wrote, “I ended up bumping into this amazing Crane (at least that’s what I think he is) that was hiding in the cattails actually hunting for fish - and even caught one right in front of me. I had to capture his morning meadows hunt onto digital canvas! After several photos of different angles and a lot of photo manipulation to set the tone of the day, this is what I came up with.”

Toysoldier’s other works are equally varied and complex. Some of them, like “Magi’s Realm,” depict the mystical side of SL. Other of his works, such as “Barren Harvest” and “Floral Fox” include images from his real life that he brings into Second Life. Toys Art Gallery brings such a wonderful variety of colorful, unique art to SL that you will want to visit it often.

Grey Lupindo

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Goddess Apparel

The fashions of the twenties are the basic foundation of many of today's dresses explained Athene Forder in the first floor of Goddess Apparel's Roaring 20’s Chicago location.

"If you look at the ball gowns of today, the slender style came to fruition in the twenties," stated Forder as she sits in a high-back chair, dressed in an elegant silk gown of her own creation, "It was a time of pushing limits. Men found that women would no longer be forced into the subservient mold of the past. Women had tasted the power of the vote and had learned that they could make changes in other areas of their lives as well."

Perhaps the more men pushed to control women, the more styles limits were pushed, was Forder's comment. Women's hair was cut shorter, as well as their skirt lengths. The best dressmakers of that time were women, but men held the pocketbooks prior to the twenties.

The most popular dress of the era was the flapper.

"Well, my guess would be because of it's flair," Forder declared. "It flaunted the staid, lady-like moray of expected female behavior. The style for a woman always included some type of hat. The twenties headdress kept that tradition, but once more pushed the limits, using pearls, beads, and feathers instead of, or in addition to a regular hat."

As for fabrics, Forder stated that cottons were still used, but mostly for the poor. Though the small detailed patterns of these cotton fabrics are a twenty's earmark. Satins tended to replace the heavy silks and beaded fabrics became popular. Though satins were originally from Asia, fabric manufacturers began duplicating the fabrics the best they could to fullfill the growing demands.

"An unusual fact about fashions during the twenties was the flat-chested look," she added. "Many of the women would actually bind themselves to fit the style."

At Goddess Apparel, Forder is making creative decisions. She has styled what she is proud to add her signature to since June of 2008. Her work began with a commission two years ago. Today, she has a portfolio of 79 different gowns. She also has men's jerseys, shirts and jeans. She works two hours a night and six over the weekend.

After a great deal of research about the flapper style, she created "Marika." Her goal was a dress that would allow the wearer to select the amount of fringe she wanted. By using actual photos of styles she loved, she'd then go to her drawing board and attempt to recreate them. She tries to keep a balance of soft pastels, bright jewel tones and dark, muted colors in her gowns. Marika comes in black, lilac, red wine, sapphire and teal.

"I was looking for a sexy style in the flapper tradition. I shortened the length for that bit of edge and then went wild with the fringe," she confessed. "It moves with you as you walk."

"Since then, I've been adding more and more period dresses to the gowns in the Goddess Apparel line," she said. "It wasn't until I looked through my line, with Chicago in mind, that I realized how many of them fit the style of the 1920's, especially the ball gowns."

"Zelda" is her second flapper dress. Instead of a feather, it has a little hat and veil and a more traditional cut to the top. The gown is made out of sequined material and comes in nine different metallic based colors," she informed me.

Forder selected a variety of colors that she could give a metallic sheen to. She named the dress after Zelda Fitzgerald, stating that Zelda was the icon of the day. It was her husband that wrote the Great Gatsby. I note that the gown she is wearing during our interview is named Lady Gatsby. It is available in a number of pastels with two exceptions: one is blood red and then she added black to a cream for a dramatic effect. She said that sales of this dress have been doing very well. Both have the shimmer of satin as you move and the skirt sits nicely without adjusting a sit script.

Forder created an alternative dress. She liked the lines so much and the jewels on the back straps, that she made a little cocktail dress from it, "Siren was actually designed as a challenge to myself," she confesses. "I wanted to try my hand at a split skirt... so I split more than the skirt. Siren is done first in silks, but it has a second set inside that is done in see-through chiffons...all held together with silver clasps."

Some of her gowns are adoptable to different time periods. She stated that most of the slender gowns may be considered a modern ball gown that fits nicely into the 1920's. Some of her older Victorian gowns have slender skirts to allow it to fit more eras. The outfits on the second floor of her Chicago location she considers to be more universal in look than the twenties, but would pass in Chicago.

We move on to the playful Leto, which is one of her early creations. She enjoyed adding the feathers. "I was trying to create a design that might catch the eye of the singer Katia Keres. The high cut skirt is surrounded by the feathered flexi. I tried to keep it feathered, so when I changed the colors, I kept as much of the white base of the feather there. This would keep them from all blending into one mess, preserving the outlines." With the more formal style skirt, she created a salsa version with the feathers which lead to the Leto Edge.

One gown demands my attention and I'm entranced with its detail. The Psyche is an elegant wedding gown. Without the train, the gown is perfect for bridesmaids. And, yes, she has veils available so you don't have to visit another store looking for one.

Forder is updating her main store to include multi-dress vendors that will have a note card of the included outfit parts. Some accessories are sold separately beside the appropriate dress.

She has conducted fashion shows in the past and hopes to do them again. Forder is also working on expanding her stores a little. Her main store, located in Newport Keyes, now has a dance area.

Netera Landar