With Fall fastidiously approaching, many SL patrons are scrambling to buy foliage that reflects the approaching season. Well, one place to turn to is the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell.
Specializing in all things floral and ornamental, the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell sim is ran by Azalea Bluebell. She, along with her trusty bot side kick Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) have created a seasonal-based atmosphere that truly highlights how and where Bluebell’s creations can be used on virtually any sim in SL. Complete with a barn, plants and other foliage representative of the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall seasons, Bluebell has created an environment that looks and feels like a nursery and crafts store. Her products–ranging from hollyhocks sprinkled throughout the sim, to mushrooms planted in rich soil that is comfortably surrounded by stones to better separate them from other plants and wildlife–are featured in a way similar to the way they would be seen in an RL business. As if being blessed with a thriving business and side kick is not enough, Azalea Bluebell has recently been nominated for the Rezzie Awards’ Best Full Perm Landscaping Meshes category…demonstrating that she is being recognized for her contributions in SL. To vote for Bluebell, as well as other creators, please click on the following link: Rezzie Awards Ballot.
When asked how she came about naming her business, Bluebell explains, “I wasn’t very original with my business name, so I just kept it at Azalea Bluebell…I used to have ~AB~ Creations before and I still use the ~AB~ in my items, but in general you can find me best by just searching my name…My business as Azalea has been around for just over 2 years, but my business in total for over 5-6 years, but I don’t know exactly.”
To shed more light on the name of her business, please note that Azalea Bluebell’s name reflects two types of flowers: the azalea and the Hyacinthoides (nicknamed the Bluebell for its blue, bell-shaped blossoms). Azalea Bluebell’s name echoes her creative specialization in all things decorative and floral, while also highlighting the fact that she additional creates food, stuffed animals and even moving chickens and chicks.
Wikipedia, though unintentional, best clarifies the connection Azalea Bluebell has to her creations. According to Wikipedia, Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron, particularly the former sections Tsutsuji (evergreen) and Pentanthera (deciduous). Azaleas, like many of the foliage featured at Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell sim, bloom in spring, and their flowers often last for several weeks, and are part of the Ericaceae family (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azalea).
As a creator, Azalea Bluebell says that she has been actively creating for the SL community for over 10 years. Bluebell continues, “[and I] was always fascinated with trees and plants…I just found the typical 3-way prim shapes a bit boring so when mesh was announced I just had to give it a go. First I started with my other account but over time I switched over to Azalea and made her especially for that purpose (hence the name being two flowers).”
Bluebell further contends that she specializes in the creation and selling of full permission items, and that in the midst of creating and distributing these items to the SL public, anything (nature or otherwise) is capable of inspiring her. She explains: “…but a majority of the items are based on home and landscaping [merchandise] such as flowers, plants, trees, etc. I have some food items too and for the kids around SL, I have plush animals and other children related objects…”
Besides creating full permission items, Bluebell specializes in creating full permission items that are also low in prim. To accomplish this feat, Bluebell relies on strong Level of Detail (LOD’s) that is complimented by a low prim count. Bluebell explains how she does this by saying, “Creating items can be extremely nerve wrecking haha…When I first started making mesh items, I always bumped into errors when uploading, some of them made sense but most were a shot in the dark for me. It was a matter of time till I understood them though…and meanwhile, I haven’t had any uploading errors in ages. [Yet,] the tricky part of making meshes is that you always have to keep the polygons (triangles on a mesh) in mind. The more polygons an object has, the higher it will end in LI (land impact) too….so to make the LOD (level of detail) strong too, you need to keep a model as low in polygons as possible so you can keep the impact down, while still retaining the quality of the item for when they are viewed from a distance…”
Though Bluebell would never admit this to The SL Parade readers, it is imperative to note that she has a knack for explaining difficult concepts in a way that is easy to understand. This further distinguishes her as a unique and approachable creator…one capable of teaching others in such a way where they do not feel alienated or ostracized.
II. The Key to Low Prim: LOD’s and Low Lag
When asked to explain what Level of Detail (LOD’s) were, Bluebell describes the term as the ability to see a creation as you either walk toward it or away from it. She continues, “LOD stands for level of detail and it’s important for SL because they – as the name already says – handle the level of details over distance. I’m sure you have noticed items suddenly disappearing when you walk away for a small distance, and when you walk back they pop back in again, that’s one of the LODs. Second Life knows 4 LOD steps, being lowest, low, medium and high. It comes pretty much down to the creators choice, in that creators can choose what models they would like to use at what distance…some will use the default SL uploading system, while others will use different files per step…”
“This last option…” Bluebell contents, “…gives you better control over the details…but requires more work too. Strong LODs are important because without them, the items would fade away too fast. The size of a mesh will affect this too….”
As a promise to herself, as well as to customers, Azalea Bluebell strives to keep all items she creates at a low lag level. She continues, “I always try to keep the lag low for my items…I noticed that some creators use several 1024 maps on a single item, even if they are super small., and those textures will take a lot longer to rez when you have an optimized mesh that is using a single texture. Of course, you won’t notice the difference in an empty sim, but if the sim is built with lots of textures and objects, this, along with the area potentially having a lot of visitors frequenting the sim, will likely lead to having items take forever to load (or rezz)…I have found that when optimized textures and models are incorporated in creations, it reduces that loading time significantly…this, in my opinion is one of the battles creators face…”
Besides battling to balance high LOD’s with low lag, Bluebell is also in the midst of training her Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) bot. As he is her right hand man for all things related to the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell business, Bluebell relies on Gardening Bear to tend to the sim, as well as monitor her in-world group.
Because Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) works so hard at the Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell business, he is often mistaken for a real avatar. In fact, many patrons have had whole conversations with him without even realizing that he can only give one-dimensional, bot-based responses. These limited responses, according to Azalea Bluebell, is one of the key challenges with Gardening Bear (HelpingElf). Bluebell says that prior to this challenge, Gardening Bear (HelpingElf) was initially equipped with a special self learning AI brain. Sighing, Bluebell says, “I use to have engaging conversations with him, but he can’t even hold a conversation now…”
It is for this reason that Bluebell is aiming to better socialize her bear and make him more adaptable to complex interactions. Besides potentially accomplishing that goal, Bluebell also wants to teach him how to perform additional domestic duties. She says, “It’s just me and the gardening bear…he takes care of the plants by watering them and keeping the weeds out. I still have to teach him how to mow the grass but that should be done in time…”
Nonetheless, if you are still interested in talking to him as he is, Bluebell will look over the conversations and get back to you as soon as possible.
III. Azalea Bluebell Wants Creators to Use Her Products to Further Explore Their Own Creativity
All Gardening Bear bot challenges aside, Azalea Bluebell contends that what she does in Second Life reflects her Real Life interests. She explains, “I absolutely love gardening in RL and often take pictures from flowers to reproduce in Second Life or other grids like InWorldz or the Hypergrid using Kitely Market. One day I hope to have a huge garden and get all the flowers I love along with a big veggie garden. Oh, and chickens! And I always want a cow lol…”
Though her clientele are too extensive to mention, Bluebell clarified that though she started building for various companies and universities, she initially had no desire to make a profit off of her creations. “I wasn’t here to make money like some of us do,” she explains. “…instead, I find it more important to help others where I can and I figured that with my items, I can help people create new items too while stimulating their creativity.”
Specifically, Bluebell encourages other creators to use her products when they create merchandise for the SL public. For instance, if a creator is interested in creating an engaging gazebo with vines and flowers, Bluebell wants the use of her products to better define a person’s creative vision. She supports this claim by saying, “I’m amazed with what people make out of other items…and I love seeing that….”
To help customers better understand how to use her creations, she continues, “I always compared my items as Lego bricks. Lego allows you to make wonderful things…and my items are one of the building blocks for many around SL.”
In keeping with Azalea Bluebell’s request, The SL Parade Headquarters features her products all over the sim…all of which are in keeping to the permanency of Spring theme discussed in The SL Parade Offers Spring To All Patrons article. This, along with fully supporting Azalea Bluebell in her endeavors, is our way of saying thank you for creating such wonderful products.
If you are interested in purchasing Azalea Bluebell’s products inworld, please click on the following link: Full Perm Store – What-A-Mesh & Azalea Bluebell
To purchase her items on Marketplace, please click on the link included here: Azalea Bluebell’s Marketplace.
Take a look at some additional Azalea Bluebell creation photos here:
McIndoe, Andy. “Rhododendron loderi with bluebells” Photo. Taken from www.learningwithexperts.com (https://www.learningwithexperts.com/gardening/blog/how-to-grow-rhododendrons-the-chelsea-flower-show-shrubs)
Wikipedia. “Azalea” from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azalea.