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Rays of light dance on the snow-covered branches in Iso Huet’s Forest Garden. Her seasonal meadow and woodland may be one-third of a sim, but the natural beauty offers impressive views. When I visited her creative canvas, it was half winter and half Gothic autumn. One of the first things I noticed was the sound of boots crunching the snow and the realistic look of every single natural contribution she’s placed there.

Learn more about The Forest Garden through my recent interview with Iso and then visit Vine.

Netera: Is this the first sim you’ve designed or one of many? Describe some of the others. Where they for you or were you commissioned to create them?

Iso: I have had my garden in Vine for many years.. 5 or 6 I think. I started out small and as land became available around me I slowly expanded. In 2010, Patrick Thorkveld was looking for a location for a party and he came across the garden in someone’s picks and came to look. We hit it off as friends immediately and he invited me to come and look at First Responder (FR) . He was not happy with the development of the sim at the time and asked if I would be interested in working on it. I was ready for a new challenge and it sounded very interesting and it was a great cause so I said ‘yes’. I worked on FR for 2 years as the landscape designer and developer and as Director of Art and Design and  team manager.  During that time, we also created FR displays at the Burn Festivals, as well as a tropical island sky landscape for a music festival that Patrick put together at Rockcliffe University. It spanned four sims. That was a very challenging and interesting project.

The_Forest_Garden_001Netera: Why did you choose to create a forest garden with changing seasons? Are there special features to it? Are there sitting areas? Places for a group to gather?

Iso: When I first got my land Second Life was having a winter festival that you could apply to be a part of. I thought it would be fun to do so I created something I called “My Little Winter” and was accepted. I loved creating it, and have done it ever since. There was a time when I did all my land as seasonal changes, but in time it just became too much work, and so now I just do the winter in the meadow and by the mountain stream area.

There are a number of special features in the garden. There are places for meditation, sitting and chatting with friends, snuggling with your sweetie, places to dance, and I am now ready to open up four custom, fully-furnished rentals.  There are no places at this point for a group to gather, but that would be easy to create.

Netera: What makes the Garden of Desire so special? 

Iso: The Garden, in all it’s aspects, is a labor of love. Each area is an expression of a different thing. The Garden of Desire has to do with both the intensity and the darkness of love and desire. The meadow and stream is the serenity and beauty of nature. The hot springs I created at a time when I needed to get away and do nothing for a week and was unable to so I made myself a spa in Second Life. The mountain top church and Buddhist shrines are places for meditation and contemplation. The rental houses were similar in that they are all places I would love to live in real life if I could. The beach house especially was created in a very dank and chilly January.

Netera: Do you create everything we can see or did you purchase and assemble the region into your vision?

Iso: I am not a 3D modeler. I love the work of the artists in Second Life and I have the inventory to prove it. I try to buy things that I can modify (especially when it comes to houses) and then play with them. I have built entirely from scratch, Our Lady of the Mountain being a case in point, however, I am perfectly willing to buy and then tear apart and rebuild. Most of what I did at First Responder was done in this way. I am fundamentally an environmental designer.


Netera:  How long has the forest been in existence?

Iso: I have been in Second Life since July 2007, and I purchased my first piece of land in the fall of 2007, and started it then.

Netera: What do you and those that visit it love about it?

Iso: I love it’s intensely textural nature, the beautiful trees that I have purchased over the years, the opportunity to create whatever environment I want to. Others tell me they love it’s beauty and peacefulness.

Netera: Tell us how you learned about Second Life and your different building experiences.

Iso: I was doing an internship in the Mission Image Processing Lab at Jet Propulsion Lab in the summer of 2007 and someone there told me about Second Life. Since I was learning 3DStudio at the time,I thought it would be a good way to get use to using 3D modeling tools. I decided to give it a try.

Netera:  Are the gardens modeled after anything in real life?

Iso: The garden is part fantasy, part places I have experienced and part places I have seen in photographs. For example, I would love to make a little sky island that would be a Tibetan monk’s little hermitage for someone who would love a little place for solitary meditation.

Tp to (Forest Garden, meadow and woodland, Vine 208, 164, 113)