Stop by Hopper House Gallery on Symphony to see the winners of the Symphonic Pieces Photo Competition.  Some pieces are set to sale and several benefit RFL.  This show will run through July 15th.  On July 18th we will have an exhibition of photographs by the amazing Morgana Nagorski, the winner of this competition. Morgana will present a new series of photographs of the beautiful Symphony Sim. That show will open on July 18th, and we will send out details in advance.

"Symphonic Pieces" Runs Through July 15th

"Symphonic Pieces" Runs Through July 15th

Ando and I look forward to your visit.



Photo Competition Winners

Real life certainly has a way of throwing schedules off. I did so want to post these immediately after the opening of the Symphony sim on Sunday . . . and here it is Wednesday.

I am delighted to announce the winners and finalists in the first Symphony Photo Competition, “Pieces of Symphony.”

First Place Gold and $10,000 lindens went to Morgana Nagorski for her skillful evocation of the mysterious side of Symphony in  “Prelude.”   She situates her mysterious woman with Symphony Library in the distance and leaves us with a sense of the profound mystery that underlies all of life.

Prelude by Morgana Nagorski

Prelude by Morgana Nagorski

Second Place Silver ($5,000 lindens) went to Elusyve Jewell for capturing the peaceful side of Symphony with “Serene.”  This photo was taken at Serenity Point, a meditation area with butterflies and birds . . . the perfect spot for a cup of tea and a good read.

Symphony Serene by Elusyve Jewell

Symphony Serene by Elusyve Jewell

And the Third Place Bronze ($1,000 lindens) went to Vivian Tuqiri for “Faro.”  This photo captures the iconic Symphony lighthouse and the sea beyond.  And what a wonderful sense of light!

Faro by Vivian Tuqiri

Faro by Vivian Tuqiri

One criteria the judges used is the ability of the photograph to capture some part of the essence of Symphony.  The judges asked, “Would we use this to convey the idea of Symphony to others?”  Each of these top photos does just that.

In his remarks at the opening, Ando Joubert said,  “My – our – guiding principle here was to create a place of beauty and romance, and while I believed I had succeeded, the parent is always proud of his child, and finds her more beautiful than all others. That said, seen through the eyes of some of Second Life’s finest photographers, I now know that I did indeed create something that I’m proud to introduce to the world. Every one of you who participated in this contest should be proud. You have uncovered her in ways that I had hoped, and also in ways I never imagined.”

My – our – guiding principle here was to create a place of beauty and romance, and while I believed I had succeeded, the parent is always proud of his child, and finds her more beautiful than all others. That said, seen through the eyes of some of Second Life’s finest photographers, I now know that I did indeed create something that I’m proud to introduce to the world. Every one of you who participated in this contest should be proud. You have uncovered her in ways that I had hoped, and also in ways I never imagined.

There were 9 finalists as well.  Each captured a different aspect of Symphony, from the romantic to the whimsical, and from the meditative to the nostalgic.  Please visit the flickr Symphony photo stream to view all of them.


Alphabetically, the finalists are:

Kayla Ariel for “Explosion of Flowers”

Chance Genira for “Symphony Sunset”

Opal Lei for “Soprano Trill”

Laurel Luminos for “Love’s Flight”

Brie Pinazzo for “Symphony 3”

Elzo Pinion for “Symphony Lighthouse”

Rhi Rossini for “Distortion”

Blues Thor for “Bridge in Sunset”

Lorimae Undercroft for “Symphony Bird — Welcome Home”

Finalists each received one of Ando’s Fire Flowers.

The twelve photographs are on display in Symphony Square until the weekend.  Beginning on Saturday, June 20th, they will be on display at Hopper House Gallery on Symphony, where they will remain until July 15th.  The photographers have been invited to set their works for sale.  Please stop by and support their work.

We have invited Morgana Nagorski, the first prize winner, to do an exhibition of photographs of Symphony that will open on July 18th.  Stay tuned for further details.

Ando plans to sponsor other photo competitions on Symphony.

Ando and I are grateful to the photographers for their wonderful work and the new eyes they brought to our beloved sim.  We are also grateful to the visionary Catalina McCaw for helping us judge the competition.  She is an amazing woman and a dear friend, and we are thrilled to look forward to the grand opening of her sim, Wizard.

~ Cacie

Sunday, June 14th, from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. s.l.t., we will be celebrating the official opening of the Symphony sim. Ando Joubert will announce the winners of the Pieces of Symphony Photo Contest, and guests are invited to meet and mingle and visit the Hopper House Gallery, where the top ten photos will be on display, some for sale.

This would be a wonderful time to tour the sim . . . we have beautiful paths, secluded beaches, luscious waterfalls, and lovely buildings.

Formal attire is suggested . . . this is a celebration and a milestone for us!!  The first of many!!

The evening will begin in the town square.  After the announcement of the contest winners, you are invited for wine and cheese at the Hopper House Gallery or to remain in the square for dancing and conversation.  Please join us!

Map:  Symphony.

Town Square Symphony

Symphony Town Square

Typically, this blog is focused on recounting the adventures of a master builder and SL architect, Ando Joubert, and his newbie builder apprentice . . . me!  As well as reviewing texture and other providers of the tools for building, offering tips for new builders and so forth. 

However, today is a special day for those of us who love Second Life’s high quality content creators.  Today is the day we honor one of our greats – Neferia Abel. 

True to form, I will focus on what this blog is all about . . . building . . . because Neferia is a consummate builder . . . of clothing and of a well remembered beautiful sim, a tribute to her Norwegian homeland.  Sadly, I have no pictures of the old sim, but many fond memories of chilling out in the little Norwegian town at the edge of the sim, or flitting about the Viking ship moored there.  Perhaps you remember it as well.  And then there were the hunts.  Nef is famous for them and for the very high quality treasures she gave away.  I think the first hunt I participated in as a new player was one of hers. One designer offering as many items as some of the collaborative hunts do now.  Amazing!  Generous!

With that in mind, I decided to model one of the goodies from this past Easter hunt.  It illustrates two things that in my estimation make Nef not only a distinguished clothes designer, but also a really great builder:  fantastic texturing and the building of arguably some of the best prim skirts in Second Life.  When you’ve moved in an Ivalde skirt, you don’t settle for anything less ever again.  Quite simply, they are fluid, graceful and beautifully constructed. 

Summer in Ivalde at Symphony

Summer in Ivalde at Symphony

The texture of this lovely dress is subtle and understated, with a lovely old fashioned quality.  The skirt . . . sorry this is a still photo  . . . moves with exactly the right feminine sway.  In this dress, there is eternal summer, when girls of all ages indulge their romantic fantasies.  A dress like this makes that possible.  No, it makes that inevitable!

There are other gowns of hers I love . . . her Marilyn Monroe dresses are to die for, especially the famous Wiggle dress in black, and I have a lovely pale green Edwardian number of hers that makes me feel like Katherine Hepburn in the African Queen.  But you can see, that even in a simple freebie, everything Neferia Abel does is executed with love and painstaking care.  And, novice builders, take note, this is exactly how it should be.  It’s all in the details.  The great builders give painstaking attention to them. 

I was sad to hear of Nef’s real life circumstances that would subtract her considerable talent and great kindness from this world of ours and absolutely thrilled to hear that friends had rallied, so that we would all still be able to indulge our Ivalde habit while she is away . . . hopefully to return in the fall.  Kudos to everyone involved in making that happen. 

Now, if only someone would do the same for Miriel Enfield.  Her extraordinary sim is soon to vanish as well, along with the best eyes, beautifully constructed jewelry, genius vendors, a stunning forest complete with bracket funghi growing on some of the most realistic trees in all of Second Life.  And Miriel made all of it . . . textures, objects, scripts.  That will sadly all be gone soon too.  This is the point in chat where I would type “/me sighs.”

Saying Goodbye at Miriel

Saying Goodbye at Miriel

We can only wish both remarkable and talented women the very best and hope that they will return to share their talents with new generations of Second Lifers.  Ladies, you will be missed in your absence.

~ Cacie

I am wearing

Dress:  Ivalde, Juliette, Lavenderros, Easter Egg 5 from 2009 hunt

Necklace:  Miriel, Limited Edition Heart, Rose Gold (made to support an ill friend)

Eyes:  Miriel, Standard Eyes, Mossy Rock (free)

Shoes:  Pixel Mode, Leeza Stilettos, white

Hair:  Damselfly, Verena, Cinnamon Warm

Skin: Belleza, Belle Medium Smokey Mocha

Nails:  Kunglers, Pearl

Shape:  my own

Poses:  Torrid Midnight

Photos taken on Symphony and on Miriel

So . . . I caught part of an interesting program on television last night (television has taken a decidedly back seat since I discovered Second Life) called The Oprah Effect, describing the impact exposure on The Oprah Winfrey Show has had on various products, and one segment really caught my eye.  So . . . (grrr . . . there’s that “so”-logism all my thirty-something friends seem to use, beginning every other sentence with “so”). Anyway, Living Oprah is a blog written by Chicago actress (and now writer J) Robyn Okrant, chronicling a full year of living her life following the advice of Oprah Winfrey.  For one full year, Robyn watched the show, read O Magazine, and kept up with the Oprah website, culling advice about everything from what to eat, what to read, what movies to see to major life revisions and makeovers.  And she wrote about it every day, with humor, self-reflection, and commitment to the project.

The idea of Robyn’s blog (http://www.livingoprah.com) really appealed to me, so I spent a little time this morning reading both recent and early entries.  And, I can see myself going back to it regularly.  It’s well-written and interesting, plus you get some good tips on reading and recipes and all those other lifestyle things that can pull you out of your daily rut.  I’ve been making the same round of recipes for far too long.  You know, the tried and true, that you can make in your sleep.  Really good but really boring after a while.  Sooo . . . long story short, I decided to do a little bit of “Living Robyn” today.

Second Life, which used to be all about relaxing for me, has more recently become more goal-driven.  I try to take classes, from 2-3 every weekend, mostly at NCI.  I’m trying to wrap my brain around scripting, which is akin to the melon surrounding the prosciutto.  And I’m trying to make something new for Minuet, my shop on Symphony, every couple of days.  Then there’s Symphonic Notes.  Seriously, I go into every weekend with a “To Do” list, something I don’t do very often in first life, for heaven’s sake!

One of Robyn’s observations from Oprah hit home: 

“Surrender to the idea that I can’t run myself ragged and I must take time to relax.”

Now, you would think that living on Symphony I would have figured this out long ago.  The sim was built with peace and relaxation in mind, from the rocky beach with little tide pools and cozy beach log fire, to the dreamily realistic coral reef with its melancholy wrecks and myriad sea creatures.  There is the Honkyoku* Bath, with the strain of a Japanese flute (shakuhachi) rising just above the sound of the waterfall and steam rising from what is decidedly a very warm and relaxing tub.  I can almost feel the deep heat easing my knotted muscles, painful from too many hours in front of a computer.  But perhaps best of all for relaxing on Symphony is Serenity Point.  I have to say I think both Robyn and Oprah would love Serenity Point. 

Ando put in a gong that responds to the intermittent SL wind. Bronte added a Tibetan Prayer Wheel and some circling dolphins from Serenity Falls.  There are birds, butterflies, realistic waves, trees, and flowers.  Cushions for meditation or for lazily dangling your hand in the incoming surf beneath a cascading waterfall, one of four on the island.


Listening to the Sound of Waves

Listening to the Sound of Waves


It’s really a peaceful and serene place to which I have brought my friends when they were having a bad day and needed a getaway that didn’t involve airfare and a rental car.  So . . . without anything further, I’m off to Serenity Point.  I’m going to set my sun to something delicious, using the Advanced Sky settings, and just sit.  No clearing out inventory . . . that would be multitasking and 15,000 items is not too many.  I met a woman yesterday who carts around over 100,000.  I didn’t even think that was possible.  I’ll just sit and relax and dream and revel in the fact that Second Life affords these wonderful resources for taking time to relax and smell the virtual roses.  Thanks, Robyn!  And, as always, thanks, Ando!


Serenity Point with Seagull

Serenity Point with Seagull


Visit Symphony by typing Symphony into your world map.  The Photo Contest ends June 5th. 

~ Cacie

*Honkyoku (本曲, “original pieces”) are the pieces of shakuhachi or hocchiku music played by mendicant Japanese Zen monks called komusō. Komusō played honkyoku for enlightenment and alms as early as the 13th century.  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

A few notes on some of the creators of Serenity Point and Honkyoky Bath items.  

Waterfalls, Bath House spa, Japanese Garden Lantern: Ando Joubert; Monarch Butterflies, Emerald Forest tree, Emerald Forest Willow:  Straylight; Critters: natural rabbit, seal from Sculpty Creations; Dolphins:  Julia Hathor; Jay, Loon, Seagulls, Hummingbirds:  Animania; Koi Japanese Scroll:  Hosoi Ichiba; Japanese flute:  Max Pitre; flower field: Mikatsuki Matova (forest feast); Stump:  Truth Hawks; Maritime Pine, Broom, Birch, Olive and other trees:  Lilith Heart; Meditation Cushion (free): Acacia Merlin; Old Bench:  Mystery Moonlight; Sounds:  Cardinal and Mourning Doves, SoundBrite; Tibetan Prayer Wheels: Donk Kongo; Chinatown Wind Gong:  Chelsea Malibu; Poses: wade and daydream, TorAn Cruyff; Candles: Naiman Broome.

Congratulations to the winners of the Twisted Thorn Texture competition!  The winning entries prove that expert texturing is neither for the faint of heart nor the non-detail oriented.  It takes skill, an artistic eye, meticulous attention to detail, time and patience.  Contestants textured a 62 prim scaled down version of the Twisted Thorn Textures main store.

  • 1st Prize ($5,000 Lindens):  Seshat Czeret 
  • 2nd Prize ($1,000 Linden TTT gift certificate):  Indira Lemaire
  • 3rd Prize ($500 Linden TTT gift certificate):  Wyn Nitely

Seshat’s first place entry paid homage to the Twisted Texture build, retaining the hallmark purple windows and using some of the same base stone as the castle that houses Twisted Thorn Textures.  She also retained  the medallions on either side of the build and the gold  trim, although Seshat has applied that to the base rather than the building itself.  What is special about this texture scheme is the choice of trim for the supports under the central tower, and the careful texturing of each face, so that the trim stands out.  The use of copper in the central structure, for the columns and cornice adds character to Seshat’s take on the challenge. 

Seshat Czeret's First Place Entry

Seshat Czeret's First Place Entry

Attention to detail pays off

Attention to detail pays off











Seshat commented on her favorite elements, “I think the buttresses. The crosses, then the parallel lines, on the cream background, just add that final finishing touch of detail. It ties the whole thing together. And the same texture is used on the buttresses on the sides – if you cam into the underside of those buttresses, you see the same parallel lines. It’s a re-use of textures. The same texture is used for them and for the curved roofs. There’s all sorts of detail in this. Like, if you look at the gable’s roofs, the edges are using the ‘trim’ version of the Old Stone that forms the roof tiles, and the edges of the curved parts of the windows, and the undersides of the curved part of the windows, and the little ropey bits on the ‘steps’ under the gables, and the edges of the ‘steps’ under the gables.  There is no visible surface I didn’t put the best available texture on.  I like doing things well.” 

Seshat posted a card of the textures she used.  “It’s a way for people to learn,” she said. 

The second prize winner took a darker look at the build,  well in keeping with the Twisted Thorn name.  It has the rich hematite burnish of an Ivan Albright painting.  I asked Indira Lemaire about her inspiration.

“I’ve always loved gothic and medieval styles and architecture.”  However, it was not without challenges, ” The central portion was a problem, since I didn’t have any columns textures from Twisted Thorn, so I did some manipulation of the texture to get a result I was happy with. I offset the texture to make the border appear and make 2 columns look like one large one.” 

Second Prize to Indira Lemaire

Second Prize to Indira Lemaire

Texture manipulation created columns

Texture manipulation created columns











The ability to adapt textures to various uses, to make the texture tab options work for you, allows a builder to get more mileage out of each texture in inventory.  As Seshat told me, “repeats and offsets are golden.”

And Indira’s advice for beginning builders?  “Practice. Practice, practice and more practice. I didn’t learn what I know by going to classes, though the classes are good and you should attend them if you can. If you cannot, just sit down build something basic and play with the textures and the build itself. Experiment too! I’ve discovered so much about building and texturing by experimenting. And a few things from my friends too who build. And if you can’t figure something out, just ask someone! Most builders are willing to help novices learn and become better.”

The third prize went to Wyn Nitely, who had a decidedly different take on the Twisted Thorn build.  Wyn’s entry is all light and gold, a sharp contrast to the Gothic darkness of Indira’s. 

“I wanted to do something that would be a totally different feel while still keeping the bones (2 stories – glass roofs).”  Wyn also added something no one else did . . . a clock in the central tower.  “I was lucky that I had the set with it.”

Wyn Nitely's Third Place Winner

Wyn Nitely's Third Place Winner


Golden Entry

Golden Entry










Wyn derived the greatest satisfaction from  “the entry area because I couldn’t figure it out for the longest time.  The least satisfying were the flying buttresses; I never could get them quite the way I wanted and had to settle for plain sides on them. The buttress and support edges turned out great, just what I wanted.  The door gave the whole entry the flavour that I went with in there.”

Wyn’s initial inspiration, “light colours and not a gingerbread house,” suggested specific texture packs from TTT.  “Age of Innocence and Gold Leaf Manor were the obvious choices for main textures.”  Builders use textures in inventory like painters use a palette. “It’s amazing how you can pull things out of the back of your mind, when you’ve thousands of textures tucked in over a dozen organizers,” she said.

Wyn’s advice for beginning builders is to “start organizing your textures immediately so you can find them when you need them. My biggest problem is that I’ve never kept the TTT textures separate, so it took a full day just to gather them together.  It gets overlooked, but it’s the most basic thing that I regret. I’m still playing catch up.

Then it’s all a matter of proportion and camera controls. Which sounds funny, but without camera control and a sense of proportion you get from being able to put your camera where an avatar would be, you end up with a muddle. When I’m building a house, or other building, I walk around inside it a lot.  Do most of the building standing right inside it.” 

Her parting advice to new builders, “If you can’t build buildings and want to build, keep trying other things until you find the one that you can do.”

Both Seshat and Wyn recommended NCI for beginners.  Their free classes are excellent, and they provide great free resources as part of each class, items that become an indispensable part of your builder’s tool kit.  As Wyn said,  “I’m so grateful that I had NCI from the first day I was in-world.”

Congratulations to the three winners and to all the competitors.  Lesson learned: High quality textures can make a low prim build look very detailed.  

And if photography is your thing, the Symphony Photo Competition still has a bit over a week to run.  Get your entries in.  Submissions are posted in Symphony Square near the landing point.  Stop by and take a look!

I’m Twisted!

Today seems the perfect day to talk about a wonderful resource for all of us builders in Second Life:  Twisted Thorn Textures . . . and even more importantly, the Twisted Thorn Textures group. 

Perfect because today in the courtyard of TTT, members of the group have displayed photos for a competition offered by Nighty Goodspeed, Twisted’s owner.  Group members were invited to retexture a scale model of the Twisted Thorn Textures main store in whatever style they wished using Twisted Thorn Textures.  To avoid the traditional popularity contest mentality surrounding so many SL competitions, photos were submitted to Nighty who put them on prims arranged around the courtyard.  Members get one vote each and vote by placing a notecard in the entry of their choice.  What a great way to encourage people to choose good design rather than popularity.

A sampling of the texture competition entries

A sampling of the texture competition entries


Stop by today to see the photos . . . but you have to be a group member to vote.  The sim is called The Twisted Thorn. 

While you’re there, check out the shops around the courtyard, the main shop, a shop for textiles textures and another for flower and plant textures.

Here’s what I love about Twisted:

  • The weekly half price boards of some of the wonderful textures in the shops
  • Nighty’s willingness to feature the work of other texture artists in her shop
  • The bi-weekly members’ exchange of their works, all free, held in the courtyard
  • The free items Nighty and other members of the group bestow on their fellow Twisties
  • The occasional hunts around the sim for texture sets

But even more, I love the quality of the Twisted Textures and their ingenuity.  This isn’t the largest texture shop in Second Life, but you can count on high quality, and the prices seem more reasonable than others.  Packs are often quite large, offering many color options.  I especially love the exotic woods, which are my go to favorites for furniture.  There are four sets of these with around 30 plus different woods in each.  I’ve learned about wood varieties just by using these textures.  They sell for $500 Lindens each and are well worth the price.  Twisted also carries sculpt packs, which are well worth checking out.

Finally, I love the Twisted group, always so willing to help each other out.  The group chats are a repository of great information about resources for builders, a place to ask for advice in solving a technical problem or finding the best of something whether it’s animations, textures, scripts, vendors or whatever, intelligent conversation about Second Life, and the often witty repartee that gets exchanged on a daily basis with an uptick on weekends.  Group members freely share knowledge and resources with each other.  This is a real community.  Sometimes I just “listen” while I work.  Sometimes I chip in my two cents.  But whatever the case, this is one group I don’t click off, because I continuously learn from them.

With the 25 group limit, I find myself dropping groups as others appear that capture my interest, but I can’t see dropping this group any time soon . . . like never . . . because it’s more than a group, it’s a community.  I give my thanks to Nighty and all the Twisties, Thorne, Seshat, Nissa, Fort, Ludo, and the almost two thousand other members of the group.  If you are a builder or an aspiring builder, you owe it to yourself to check out Twisted Thorn Textures.

And don’t forget the Symphony Photo Competition  is still on.  See the previous entry for details!