Elicio Ember, the creator and owner of Cerridwen’s Cauldron and the world builder of The Halls of Story has built many Fairelands during the years. He shares with us his reasons to do so, talks about the inspiration behind the Halls of Story and reveals what he does during the Faire.
The work you do to bring us a whole Faireland is dedicated work of months, it’s planning and designing, building and sleep-deprivation, building and coffee, and more building. If someone asked you why do you do it, what would you say?
Because Liz whips us into it. Seriously though, I guess everyone has their particular reasons. For me it’s because the Faire has a very special model for working. In this age where powerful people encourage bigoted thinking and an “I win, you all losers loose” discourse, the Faire enshrines a way of thinking that is very dear to me: We can all win. It’s a huge effort for everyone involved, that’s true. But we all win with it in some way, we help gather funds for a hugely worthy cause, and for people like me, who live from our SL work, we still can sell our work, while helping gather huge sums that this year are going to Kenya. We encourage hope, we encourage an attitude of “we can”, of “we can all win”, of “we are one”. Of creativity, imagination, service and community amongst very different people spanning the whole world helping people in one of the poorest regions of the planet. That we are all a big family. This is a higher image of what humankind can be. This ideal became a reality for me when last year my FF family helped me both emotionally and raising funds for my own personal story when my father became ill in very difficult circumstances and finally passed away, and I found huge support, that I did not found in RL, in my SL family. I could not have made it without the help I received from my SL and FF family. I witnessed firsthand that these are not only words of hope and encouragement, or an abstract and distant ideal. They are actions, true words that come from the heart, and I have been witness and had the blessing of being on the receiving end of these. To keep the cycle going now it’s my turn again to give. This is what we do. Its real, it changes lives, and it’s a calling to a better way for humanity.
Tell us about The Halls of Story. How was it born, what is its story?
The Halls of Story had been in my head over a year now, I had started planning it more than two years ago, but I had to step down last year due to take care of my father. The Halls are inspired in the idea of a place of learning and story weaving. They are very much inspired in Tolkien’s Valar, who created the world in song. The Halls of Story are a place where the ancient creator race of Storytellers weaved stories that created worlds, races and cultures. The halls fell silent, as these Storytellers disappeared themselves into Myth. The abandoned Halls were later discovered by the Faireland elves who restored it to its past glory. The architecture style is very much based on the Tolkien classical artists too; Tolkien himself, Christopher Tolkien, his son, and Alan Lee. And the style is very much based on their original illustrations, which were used later for Peter Jackson’s original Lord of the Rings trilogy. The Halls is a direct reference to Rivendell under my own interpretation.
Besides the whole Faireland, what are you bringing to the Faire this year?
Heh, well…as it often happens to worldbuilders, I did not have time to finish what I intended to release for the Fairelands, and I am still working on them, but I will be releasing all the buildings created for the Halls of Story region. Right now as betas to be automatically updated and sent to my customers to full retails as soon as I can. These include the Halls of Story itself, the buildings, fountains, statues, bridges and terraces. So there is a lot coming!
When was your first Faire? How did you find out about it, how was it like coming to the Faire the first time?
Oh it’s difficult to keep track of that now…it was with a region called Alien Worlds…back in 2012? 2011? And it was intimidating. I had been building for little over a year, and Ember Farina contacted me to invite me to join. I was reticent to say the least. I saw the designer names and they all sounded huge and experienced to me. But she convinced me and though I was very intimidated by the scope of the event even back then, I felt welcomed and quickly became friends with the FF family. Many of them have been my friends since, and every year I meet people that quickly become dear to me.
Do you spend much time in the Faire? What do you do during Faire-days? Is there something you always look forward to?
Heh, yeah…work. Mostly. Even after the Faire opens there is much “backstage” work to keep things going. Doing the Faire hunt and gacha items, setting up decoration for dances, supporting people in your region and fellow FF team members…there is always something to do. Often I try to do it while attending a DJ set or LitFest event, or some such. It is not until the last days of the Faire that I can actually stroll around and do some shopping. And yes, there are two things I always look forward too. The countdown where many team members gather somewhere together to see the regions fill up and the maps cover with green and yellow dots after opening. This I relish. And also when we get the chance, we gather in the Faireland bus that Sharni each year diligently makes and bump and crash our way through the Fairelands. This has become like a Faire tradition, something like a victory lap, and I always look forward to it.
Before I go, I want to thank some friends for their help with this year’s world building. I want to thank Angéle Chauvert, who paid for my sponsorship without any strings attached, and she witnessed firsthand the stress, joys and travails of Faireland world building and offered her support throughout, to Lorin Tone, who created the soundscape for the Halls of Story region, thanks to Alisaundra Andel, who took the beautiful snapshots for me to make the Halls of Story poster. To Kilik Lekvoda, who created the clothing for the beautiful Story Bearer statue. Thanks to Elizabeth for her patience and incredible energy. To the whole LitFest team, working with you is always a joy. And to the whole FF team, we can only do this because we do it together.
Thank you, Elicio, for taking the time to have a chat with us. Thank you for the magic shaped into builds that you bring into the Fairelands!