…Well, it’s actually only my second “big” build, but it feels like a learning milestone for me.
One of the things I want to accomplish in Second Life is to learn how to build, and build well. I imagine myself as making a splash in the area of selling Mission/Arts & Crafts furniture, and even homes — sort of like the Sears, Roebuck of Second Life . To do this, though, you gotta put in the sandbox time — or at least time in a place where you can build. I could have worked on this project in my loft, but I think “sandbox” when I do build work. And so I pulled on my leather work gloves, and off to my favorite sandbox, in the Mauve region .
The project I had in mind was a candle stand for Advent. Being Episcopalian, I wanted something appropriate to the season, but could not spot a stand at any of the decoration stores I tried. So it was up to my own hands, and my (hopefully) excellent eye for design. If the project worked, I might even be able to market it and pick up some pocket money (grin).
Figuring it would be easier to work in macro first, and shrink the project afterwards, I broke out the plywood, rezzed up a cube, and stretched it into a rectangular box that was roughly the size I thought I would need. After jigging the position settings into human-friendly (avatar-friendly?) numbers — a trick I learned from Ansel Gasparini and his excellent book — I named and saved it, and started hunting through Inventory for textures. I was wanting gold or brass, but nothing came close. I did, though, find a brushed copper texture that did a good job, and laid it on the build.
(Click for larger view) Here’s the basic box. Note the X and Y position numbers in the Build window; they are set to position the build at a whole-number location, which can make it easier to position further components before linking them together.
Next was a relatively tricky part — adding four ring-shaped sockets to the base unit to hold the candles. The candles could just rest on top of the “brass” box, but that wouldn’t really look right for a metal application. So, after saving again (a precaution against loss from line dump, and against disruption by griefers), I rezzed up a torus, and played with the shaping settings until I had a sort of half-round that tapered at the top. I textured, named and copied this, and then mounted four sockets on top of the box. Setting the grid ruler relative to the base helped tremendously in getting the orientation straight; with all moves of the rings perpendicular to the planes of the base, pulling them into position each time was a snap, except for the Z (vertical) plane. And a careful eye for watching the bottom of each ring begin to “disappear” into the base did the job there. (Although you need do that only once, and then use the position dial in the Build window to copy that Z value to the other three rings.)
The next step, of course, was to make and attach the candles; however, this involves particles and scripts, which I haven’t tackled yet. So much for my grand plan of cleaning up in Advent decorations! Still, I wanted something for my own window until the time came to hang a wreath. Back to Search, this time looking for candle shops. I eventually found a store that sold blue and red candles in brass stands. I called the red “rose” for purposes, bought copyable candles for about £125 each in blue and red, and mounted them onto the build, placing the stands in the socket cups. A final linkup to join all the pieces into a single unit, and the object was complete.
As you can see from the photo, there’s a distinct color difference between the brushed copper of the base and the brass of the candlesticks themselves. When I work on this in future, I hope to have found or created the proper finish texture. Other than that, and the inability to duplicate and transfer the build for sale (grin), it’s not too bad a result. As you see, I have only one candle burning, as is appropriate for the first week in Advent. The candles were individually scripted as separate units, of course, and they did not lose that quality when linked into a larger object. A click on each candle lights it or snuffs it as desired.
I could make definite improvements beyond altering the color of the base. The box itself could be tapered to produce a more trapezoidal cross-section. Instead of sitting flat on the table, spheres or cones could be used as feet. Other textures can give the stand a more antique, decorated finish. And a sculpted prim instead of stock shapes would allow the softening of corners or other effects. But the same basic technique can be used to create, say, a menorah for Hanukkah or a kinara for Kwaanza.
If you like this, or have comments, let me know. I can also track down the candle store again; so, if you’d like one for yourself, I can build the stand and let you know where to obtain the candles. Do you think £75-100 would be a good price for a very basic build like this?
 Did you know that Sears was in the house business for a long time? According to Wikipedia, they sold over 100,000 kit homes via their catalogues between 1908 and 1940, including Arts & Crafts bungalows. They got out of the business when the Depression caused loan money to dry up, along with a long series of defaults on mortgages underwritten by Sears. (Talk about your credit crunch….) But many of their houses survive to today. (For floor plan samples, see the About.com article.)
 Actually, I would have done better to have worked in my loft. The griefers were out that afternoon, and one (ahem) gentleman was shooting the sandbox up. He dumped a sort of cage over me and my project, like interconnected tomato cages. Fortunately, I was able to snag him with a backhand right-click, and reported him to the gendarmes. A region officer poofed the cage off me, and I went back to work.