Searlait Nitschke, the creator and owner of Roawenwood, returns to sponsor the Faire for the fourth time. She talks of her Faire-memories, her favourite fantasy realms, and the strange socializing in the Fairelands! You can also read her previous interviews here: 2015 & 2014.
This is your fourth year sponsoring Fantasy Faire. What made you return and do it again?
I know I’ve gone on and on over the years about the Faire and what it means to me each time finding something new to talk about. I suppose this year isn’t going to be much different since I’m babbling yet again. Each year it means a little something different to me…. this year I had to take a break from creating a sim for everyone because of RL and found that in the process of doing so that I was just so so sad. I have so many awesome memories of the Faire. There’s times that the stories and the people involved lift me up pushing me forward and giving me so much that when I think of the Faire I can’t help but want to give something back. To really make some kind of difference or at least feel like I am and I think that is part of it.
I want to be able to share and give back a little bit of something, I really love to be a part of it because the people involved are like family from the creators to the people who visit, it just feels different than any other event or thing that I am a part of in Second Life. Cancer is so hard, I’ve been touched by it with different relatives and people in my life suffering from it. I’ve had a scare or two on a personal level as well, in these moments I just want to be able to help. To do something, to feel like I am doing something when so many times we feel powerless.
It’s a small thing… sponsoring. Really it is, but it means a lot to me to be able to do it.
The Faire to me is magic, and I believe in magic….
Are there any common, continuing themes in your work, items that belong together, or is each creation a separate entity?
My work can go all over the place but generally I have a few solid themes that continue or work together. Rustic, medieval, fantasy based things are of course a favorite. Then there’s other styles, steampunk/Victorian, some exotic themes or world areas. I like a lot of different styles. I’m rather helter skelter in that regard. One week you might see something rather rough and looking like you’ll get a splinter if you sit on that particular chair and then the next week a big silk draped bench then next week I’m making donuts.
You never know. I just go wherever I feel like and what feels right at the time and create it. I enjoy the creative process, the expression, the seeing if I can make it thing. All of it. I could use some help on the boring parts though… you know… Marketplace listings, remembering events and dates, that sort of thing. LOL
What are you bringing to the Faire this year? Give us some sneak peeks or teasers!
no peeking (Edit: you can go and take all the peeks you want in Roawenwood’s store in Fairelands Junction!)
What are your favourite fantasy realms?
Let’s see…. I like fantasy, magic… if it’s done well and I can get into the whole world of it then I’m all over it. I suppose it would be fairly standard to mention things like The Hobbit stuff and J.R.R. Tolkien, perhaps a few nods over towards the Harry Potter way and then loving much on the Game of Thrones thing…. when I was young I loved the Dragonriders of Pern. I have a lot of love for a lot of different kinds of things, I love to role play, I love to feel like I am in the middle of a story or a life… it’s rare to find but once in awhile you do. I could probably go on and find a lot of examples but it’s early yet and I’m only on my first cup of coffee as of this writing.
What are you looking forward to most this year in the Faire?
I’m not sure. Living the Faire I think. It’s so easy to get caught up and wrapped up in so many things that can make a day feel long, or hard to deal with. The Faire is this wonderfully magical place that comes just once a year where a few creators try to bring it forth so we can get together, share, laugh, dance or whatever else comes along for a very good cause.
It’s some of the only times during the entire year that I do something that is wayyy out there for some of us in SL even though it really isn’t supposed to be.
*a gasp and cough is inserted here for dramatic purposes*
I leave my work, I leave my workshop, I go out… I am around………… people.
*laughs* it’s a great time of year and I need it. I need it to help recharge for the rest of the year, I look forward to the shopping, the events, the people, the whole thing and I get to help people too… I just look forward to the Faire. Period.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us, Searlait. Thank you for joining us and socializing!
Searlait Nitschke, the owner and creator of Roawenwood and the designer and builder of Tangleshimmer Grove, shares with us the story of Tangleshimmer Grove, how her Faire builds evolve and tell their own story and her favourite Faire memory involving a certain bus and a stairway to heaven.
You are both sponsoring and building a Faireland this year again. Does it get any easier in time, or does the challenge grow bigger every year?
Each year is a little different. Each year I have something of a challenge to overcome that ends up making it a little crazier towards the deadlines whether it is SL related, personal, or something to do with the build. One of the bigger challenges for me is always trying to decide the feel of the sim or what I’m trying to project. That can be the toughest part.
How was Tangleshimmer Grove born? What inspired it, what is its story?
Tangleshimmer Grove has its own story. It has its own feeling and its own life. Whenever I build for the Faire my ultimate goal is for it to feel like it has its own life somehow.
My first Faire sim was cold, not dark really because it had its light elements, and color but it was in that bitterly cold part of winter that I like. The theme was magical, trying to get across the magic of that bitter cold. Finding the beauty even when it feels like we are gripped within places that are so cold you can hear the creaking of the branches. The next year was definitely dark. Burned out dead type forest, ominous lighting, gypsy camps… recovery. The theme was living through the dark parts, finding the safe places, dancing around the campfire with music playing, finding solace and regrowth in the dark. The journey. Finding hope.
Tangleshimmer Grove started out conceptually as a fun, light place where fairies, woodland folk and others took up residence. Full of color, and life. It was me in a way following a progression. I felt like it was time to come out of the dark, to come out of the cold, and to breathe life into something brighter. In essence it felt like it was time for spring to come to the world. Time for the light to break through.
As I was building it… it took something of a turn. Real life crept in and began to color the world I was trying to create. My world as I knew it was changing and with that so did the sim .
I am not a technical builder. I don’t draw a plan and go from point A to point B. I rarely have a real plan to begin with. When I am creating it is by instinct, feel, and inspiration, especially when it is something like this.
Without my realizing it the sim began to take shape and form into something much more personal, I knew I wanted the sim to capture something different this year than before however I didn’t realize it was going to end up where it did. Initially I wanted it to shimmer with playfulness with a nod towards remembering the wonder we felt as children imagining trolls under bridges and fairies floating in sunbeams .
But it became a safe place instead. A sanctuary. Without meaning to I drew elements from my own personal need to find some peace and brought it to the Faire. The flow of the river, the colors… the softness of the ground and grass beneath my feet. Each space has its own feel. Each area has its own vegetation or color combinations that you won’t find elsewhere on the sim. I layered different looks, and plucked the flowers lovingly placing them in different places with floating butterflies or the quick blink of a firefly.
Tangleshimmer Grove has its fairy rings, it has its light, it has its color, its life but most of all it has its peace. When walking the Grove I feel at home as if the trees surrounding it shield us with their thick roots and leafy canopy letting the light dance about protecting those within it from the things outside of its borders that we can’t always control.
Tangleshimmer Grove is meant to make you slow down. Appreciate the quiet. Breathe in the light. Meditate or muse as the water flows from one side to the other shimmering. To take a few precious moments to spend with someone you care about. It is meant to be something more intimate. In essence it is in its own way an extension of what I hope others will find. The small little spots of beauty, the surprises of color… to take a moment, slow down, to remember. It seemed fitting considering the message and hope we have when doing something like the Faire and for RFL so I went with it.
What are you bringing to the Faire this year?
As per usual my time was mainly caught up with working on the sim. I always intend to create something fantastic to put into the RFL vendors and rarely do I feel like I am able to. This year I added the mushrooms and fairy rings to the RFL vendors so people could take a piece of the Faire home. I also added a gacha to benefit RFL with a set of mushroom seats, and special fairy rings with cuddles & dances in it. I also shrunk down the smallest store and made a little townhouse type thing for petites that’s in the RFL vendors.
What is the best thing about building in Second Life? Which things inspire you, make you happy and satisfied when creating?
For me it’s mostly a really great outlet. To be creative. To build something from nothing. Gives me a lot of satisfaction that is relatively easy to get. Rather addictive in its own way. I suppose the best thing about building in Second Life for me is seeing how my work evolves and changes over time.
Do you have a favourite Faire memory? What are you looking forward to most in this year’s Faire?
Favorite Faire memory…. I have a lot. I think one that is particularly telling and a lot of fun was a moment during last year’s bus tour. For those that don’t know every year something of a tradition we climb onto a bus and do a big tour of all the sims a few times.
Last year Alia built a stairway that was supposed to go straight up to heaven right? So we’re doing the bus tour… round and around, driver cussing as usual trying to do sim crossings. Trying to drive over some really awkward spots on the sims…. And so we end in the courtyards at the base of this massive, and rather thin set of stairs heading up into the sky.
We can do this right? Drive up it… we’re all pumped up, we can do this, we can do this. So revving up the engine we go for it. Quite a few times stopping at the base, punching it to go up and each…. Time…. Off the side we go flying down into the pits below, laughing, screaming and joking. If I remember right there was some lava. Nice touch there.
Sooooooo what do we do? The ingenious builder types we are along with a bit of a deviant streak?
Driver… Alia I believe at the time comes in with ye olde handy builde tools and picks up the bus, moves us upwards… inch by inch till we’re balancing precariously at the very top of the stairs! We made it! We turn, looking around from our new vantage point at the world below us very proud of our accomplishment. We were not going to be stopped. So then there is the going down part…. The bus looks down the steep stairs as we rock back and forth driver at the wheel.
And wouldn’t you know it? Going DOWN we stayed on the straight and narrow never once falling off to the side as if the stairs were made for us. Typical huh? What do you get when you a bunch of smartarsed Fantasy Faire workers/builders and the like try to drive their way up to the gates of heaven? Multiple gut wrenching drops into lava pools. Drive away from the gates of heaven and downwards towards hell? No problem, couldn’t have driven it straighter.
Looking forward to most? Playing, talking, relaxing, catching up with friends. I miss people very much during the year and sometimes it seems like the only time we really catch up or take the time to see each other is during the Faire. That’s what I look forward to.
Thank you, Searlait, for taking the time to talk with us. Thank you for bringing your evolving story to the Fairelands, thank you for the sanctuary within them.
Searlait Nitschke, the creator of Roawenwood and the sponsor and sim builder of Mourningvale Thicket, shares with us how it is to build Fairelands, her reasons to relay, her reasons to build and the depth behind the story of Mourningvale Thicket.
This is not the first time you have created a Fairelands sim — a fantasy world — out of nothing in a short span of months and nerves. How does it feel like? What made you return and do it all over again?
It can feel overwhelming but it’s a thrill at the same time. Picking a concept, an idea… then hoping that you can bring it to life or give it justice. Sometimes it can get a little frightening feeling if I can’t find the hook or the way to bring it all together the way that I want in my head. The ideas and concepts float around trying to take root and until that one little piece that you’re looking for starts to work it feels like it’s just floating and I need to find the anchor. Frustrating in that sense and right beforehand no one sleeps, we’re all working trying to bring it all to life and that is part of why I came back to do it again. The team, the camaraderie, the cause… RFL is very important to me. Being able to bring a small world to life, to try to convey a vision.
How many Fairelands have you built? Tell us about them, is there something that ties them together as a theme, as a development?
This is my second. The first had a lot of trees without leaves too but a lot of evergreens and such as well. It was a wintery themed sim. Tree city type thing, everything raised up off of the ground with platforms, ribbons, crystals, velvet and such. Snowy, and beautiful. I tend to dedicate my RFL builds to someone or something or an idea. It was for a few reasons… which I wrote up last year.
Probably easier to link it than try to explain it all again, it is far too easy for me to get wordy. The winter has a special meaning for me as do the trees and forests. The thing that ties them together, I’m not sure. That I try to convey feeling in my builds, a sense of wonder perhaps. Until I can find the sense of wonder it doesn’t feel quite right.
How did you begin building in Second Life? What inspires you to create?
I began building in SL almost as soon as I joined it. Not really on purpose but I couldn’t stand not having a place to ‘live’ so within a week or two I had purchased land through Anshe Chung, very big name at the time, on the side of a mountain on a Gothic zoned sim. So of course then I needed to get a house, furnish it, and most of the time I am not entirely happy with the things that I find. I’m particular, so I figured out how to do it myself. Before I was in SL I was in chats that used webpages for their backgrounds and learned all sorts of web design, paint shop, how to run a website, a database and tons of other things to create an immersive type place to live there. I had also been in a 3d platform called Activeworlds, we had a world for awhile because I just don’t like to do things small. I ‘built’ there too, creating an interactive environment so when I found Second Life it really was not a shocker that I was really really intrigued to figure out building and to take it up a notch. I felt like I could really create more in Second Life and give it the life that I wanted.
I’m inspired by almost anything. Feelings, desires, passion… the way the light filters through the leaves or the sound of the wind blowing. People can inspire me. An idea, a thought, wanting to give back and make their experience more enjoyable. I love seeing what people come up with when they use something I created. You never really know where your things might end up in here and the stories can be quite interesting, or the environments. From one end of the spectrum to the other what people can come up with can be truly amazing to watch. I love seeing it. When I am in a truly creative place and I’m making something that feels ‘inspired’ whether it is a furniture set or a piece of clothing I tend to try to place myself or the creation within a scenario of my own making and then get that feeling across. There’s a difference when I feel like I am making an item because it is expected or part of someone else’s plans and when I have that little thrill that runs through me when it just feels right. Finding that thrill is partly what inspires me, it’s fairly addicting. Almost like a drug.
What are you bringing to the Faire this year?
Mostly… the sim. As I create the environment I tend to make pieces that will be given in the hunts, or sold at the auctions. This year for the hunts I’ve placed a couple items, a wagon you won’t see on the sim and some decorated lanterns.
And for the Silent Auction I’m adding the jail scene from the sim. It won’t be resold or placed in the store after this more than likely. A nice little souvenir for someone if they want it.
My RFL items are a few things at the moment but I intend to place at least one more before we’re all said and done. A set of shoes that weren’t released before: (though the black had been part of an event back in Nov. I almost kept them out of things due to that but decided it was too nice a color to do that. The rest are brand new and not released before)
A set of wagons and then a decorated jeweled belt. As you can see I’m fairly all over the place, whatever I like I make so I make a lot of different things.
What calls you to fantasy? When was the first time you encountered the genre and realized you enjoyed it?
I’ve always been called to fantasy. I remember my first book of fairy tales when I was 3. I remember in 6th grade writing and illustrating my own fantasy tales with dreams of creating worlds with words to share and bring people into them. Wanting to give back the feelings that authors created for me when they wove a spell drawing me into their fantasies. Almost any genre, I wasn’t picky really but fantasy. Myth. Things where gods were created and creatures you couldn’t imagine caught my attention so I think that I have always been fascinated by it… the idea of things bigger than me, that nothing really is unreasonable or unreachable if you can imagine it. If you can let it live, breathe, and not be afraid of it then it is all possible. Fantasy allows us to dream, and to create dreams.
What are you looking forward to most this year?
The sharing, the environments, the people, the coming together. I think I am hoping that people ‘get’ what I tried to do with my sim too. I’ve already had some amazing feedback and in one instance…. a profoundly personal look into someones feelings, things that are tough to deal with on any level. The faire to me isn’t about the shopping. It isn’t even entirely about the sims though they play a big part. It isn’t about the profits made, or anything like that. It isn’t about the outfits, the accessories, it isn’t about the money though the donations are of course very important.
Fantasy Faire is, for me and to me, the one of the few times of the year that we end up feeling like something bigger than us is taking shape to help shape the lives of other people. It’s big. Epic in it’s own right. I meet and talk to more people within that week or two than I do any other time of the year and for the most part it is all because we come together to do something. To fight for a cause. To help each other. The sims are the backdrop, the background where the dreams and fantasies… the crazy avatars, all of the different things come together briefly in a way that just doesn’t seem to happen that often. We play, we laugh, we do things together… every year I look forward to that. I’m like a kid waiting for Christmas and then I get to wander, eyes wide with wonder watching, listening, soaking it in. It’s phenomenal.
How was Mourningvale Thicket born? What inspired it, what is its story?
Before the faire started I wrote up something for my store blog talking about the sim. What inspired it, and how it came to be. Its story and its purpose. I’m going to paste that here and leave a link because I don’t think I could recount it much better than this.
“Fantasy Faire is just about here. It opens on the first of May to benefit RFL (Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society).
Each year for the past two I wrote up a little blurb to post on the blog about the faire after it was over. It is like a yearly peek inside what makes Sear tick, a cleansing, and some of what I am behind the screen along with a fair amount of theatrics as I describe the experience or inspiration involved. I don’t know if I will end up writing another snippet at the end of the faire this year… it seems to be something of a tradition since this time of year is very emotional for me. However I feel like I need to write already…. This year I want to share and reflect before the gates even open. As the faire goes on I’m sure there will be shifts and thoughts that come about but I want to share the inspiration and the dedication of the sim before we all get going in a whirlwind trying to experience every moment, trying to catch up and finish before it opens. With all of the stress, all of the anxiety, all of the expectations, and work I want to take a moment and I’m bringing you along with me. I know now is not the best time as we try to finalize everything but you never really know when that time might come again so I have learned to take life in the moment.
Mourningvale Thicket isn’t meant to be epic. It isn’t meant to be impressive. It isn’t meant to use the latest mesh or the latest greatest thing that SL has to offer in the way of shinies. It isn’t meant to push envelopes, it isn’t meant to make you catch your breath in awe or in wonder staring up at a magnificent build.
It is meant to make you feel.
It is chaotic in places. It is dark and raw. It is ruined, dead and has a sense of foreboding.
It also has life. Music, love, laughter and celebration.
From one extreme to the other Mourningvale Thicket is meant to take you on a journey. It is not just a shopping sim, I know this is a faire and I know this is meant to be a place to shop and spend your lindens but it is not just that, at least…. Not if I have my way.
In some ways it is understated and on purpose.
It is meant to on some level make you uncomfortable in spots. It is the sort of place that in some areas the darkness has overcome, the curse has taken hold… death and decay with ruins dotting the landscape of blackened earth and jagged rock are the things you will encounter.
There is hope.
Places where life has begun to spring back fighting back against the curse that has most of the land in its grasp.
There is regrowth.
There is celebration.
Depending on how you travel the sim there is a remarkable difference in what you will encounter first.
If you come from an adjoining sim you will be met with darkness.
If you travel in from a portal or landmark you will be met with life.
The extremes can be traveled as you walk along the paths.
Imagine walking from the sim next door met with dead trees, jagged rock, overgrown grass and ruins. Gnarled roots, black trees reaching up leafless to the sky… the sort of place that as a child you avoided your parents admonishing you that the creatures within might spirit you away into the darkness never to be seen again. Subdued one almost wants to whisper as you walk past the ruined buildings. Someone lived here once or it seems like they must have but their story has long been forgotten the cursed earth keeping its secrets locked in the darkness. There are times when you might be tempted to run back the way you came not wanting to travel further but if you keep going with a little bit of faith you will be met with hope. You begin to see renewed signs of life. Roses begin to grow amongst some of the ruins and craggy rock. The thorns are less dangerous looking. A people have decided to try to combat the darkness building their homes amongst the brambles and dead branches. Colorful and full of life they begin to beat back the darkness taking shelter on the outer edges of the cursed woods welcoming you to continue down the path.
If you keep moving forward through the darkness, through the ruins, through the thorns a clearing opens. Small flags sway gently in the breeze; trees have begun to regain their leaves even if still dark and grass is growing beneath your feet as you take in your surroundings. Laughter, celebration… Life. Firelight and campfires keep the shadows at bay, the night safe – the Thicket a place of warmth once more in this small pocket.
Mourningvale Thicket might mean different things to different people and it might mean nothing at all but when I decided to take on this design I wanted to create a world where even in the darkest corners there is hope and light, life amongst struggle, a balance… a journey.
I have been touched many times by cancer, loved ones struggling for life, some surviving… some succumbing to the harshness of it. I have watched a loved one slowly wither away from bone cancer crying out in pain, and I’ve seen a family member struggle for breath when his lungs were invaded by it hunched over powerless to help. I have also embraced and celebrated those who have survived and are still with us.
My sim this year is dedicated to those people.
The survivors, and to those we have lost. It is dedicated in loving memory to an uncle, to a grandfather, and to an aunt who has survived. It is dedicated to the journey that we go upon through our daily lives with the struggles, the darkness… the pain and the harshness… the light, the laughter and the music. To the lives we lead and the moments along the way that define us carrying us towards our journey’s end.
I invite you to join me this faire season in supporting a cause close and dear to my heart. To relay, and to make a difference in someone’s life.
Thank you, for sharing these moments with me and I hope you truly have a wondrous faire experience this year.”
Thank you, Searlait, for sharing your vision, your feelings with us and making them tangible within the Thicket.