Saturday, October 17, 2009

Accoutrements and impedimenta -- a sampling of useful 19th century artifacts made by good people

You know, all along I've wanted to include reviews of historical content made for use in Second Life, but so far, I've moved pretty slow on it. So in order to catch up a little bit, I wanted to start sharing some of my favorites in batches.

My criteria for what I choose to write about is that the objects have to be based on something that people actually used in the past and that can be used effectively in our rp. Furthermore, I kinda insist that they have to actually look like the object they represent. Finally, in addition to being practical, attractive, and historically accurate, the items must also have been made by a non-asshat before I will review them. That's one of my number one rules for "Ephemeral Frontier"--I am only going to write about stuff that is made by folks who are, in my opinion, good people. I don't care to give any press--even negative press--to someone who sucks.

For example, there is one maker of historical garments who is about the most arrogant, unpleasant, self-important sack of buzzard guts who ever laced up a corset. She ain't nearly as goddam smart as she thinks she is, her crap ain't nearly as good as she thinks it is, and her ideas about history and fashion are pretty fucked up. Consequently, I'm never going to mention her by name, nor review any of her shit one way or the other.

Yeah, I know, that's pretty arbitrary, and ultimately, my criteria is ridiculously subjective. But hey, it's my blog and if someone doesn't care for my editorial policy they can jolly well go shit in their hat, pull it down over their ears and call themselves a chocolate bundt cake.

So anyhow, the things I would like to bring to your attention this weekend are:

* Miner's pallet and bed roll by Addison Leigh/Overland Trail
* Austrian Steinbach regulator clock No. 1 by Yrrek Gran
* Camp desk and chair by Astolat Dufaux/Montaigne Noir
* Cast iron stove by Elihu Leominster/Oakwood Lab

First the miner's pallet: Do you really need a bed, or even a cot? Don't you sometimes want to just throw some blankets on the ground and be done with it? This takes care of that. It's a simple low-prim pallet with a coarse blanket texture and a decent sleeping (and tossing and turning) anim that you can plop on the ground by a campfire.

Or you might want to do what some of us did for our miner characters, which is to build a cabin with simple plank bunks and put these pallets down on the planks for sleeping. This thing looks ok on the ground by a fire, but it really looks damn good on a plain wooden bunk. The set also comes with a bed roll (shown at right) that you can sling over your back to rp out actually hittin' the road with your travelin' gear. Best of all, it's only 20L. Come on, you know you've spent much more than that on something that was downright stupid. Like that prim appendix you bought last year (the one that talked to you: "Mary's appendix happily swells and is about to burst"). How long was it before buyers remorse set in with that?

Seriously though, this eminently useful little set-up is made and sold by my friend Addison Leigh (and yes she is my friend and yes, she has given me useful and attractive stuff over the last two years, so you can take this review with a grain of salt if you wish).

Addison has her "Overland Trail stores in Caledon Oxbridge Village and the vendor area of Deadwood 1876, but frankly I'm not sure if these miner's pallets are available in the non-rp stores. I do know it is out for sale in the rp Overland Trail store down in Deadwood itself (look for a little crate with floating text).

Addison also makes some really nice Victorian women's dresses and bonnets that are attractive and incredibly reasonably priced, as well as some other accessories. Plus she's got a bartender's HUD that is simple and effective--but we'll probably talk about that another time.

Ok, so if you want to track this down, just follow the slurl to Deadwood and then if you still have trouble finding it, give me a holler and I'll help you with it.

Next on the list, the Austrian Steinbach Regulator No. 1 wall clock by Yrrek Gran. Here's a shot of me admiring this puppy in Yrrek's shop at Jingyo 213, 180, 54.

It's a very exact recreation of an 1870s-80s long case regulator with beautiful photo texture finishes. Yerrek's clocks work, and they look like the real goddam thing--note the double weights and the pendulum (which moves of course).

I will say that some of Yrrek's clocks tend to be on the primmy side. This one is 26, which, yeah, I know, is a lot. But hey, keep in mind things like the fiddly little finials are not created on one flat face prim with a texture--each is a sculpty. And she does offer lots of other nice 19th and early 20th century clocks that are much less prim-hungry. For example, there is a big cherry case regulator which I have in the hotel, that is only 7 prims. It's probably a bit later historically than what I should have in the 1870s, but for now I'm living with it until I can do some prim-pruning so I can put in one of these Austrian models.

Yrreck Gran clocks also are not cheap. You're going to pay somewhere between 350 and 750L for her more detailed peices. This model I believe is in the 750L range. But frankly, I think most of them are goddam worth it.

Astolat is Dufaux is justly known for her historically authentic and very attractive garments, but now she is also getting into some really good looking, low-prim furniture. I was really excited when I read about her new campaign desk and chair at her blog, The Victorian Closet.

This is a great set. You get the chair and desk for a very reasonable price, and both together are only 11 prims. There's a nice writing anim built into it and this would be great for army officers from the civil war up through World War II (though in a WWII version tinting it OD would be extra authentic). it also works for archaeologists, surveyors, or Big Game Hunters who are writing their memoirs whilst out inthe bush killing things. Oh and yes, in the disclosure department, Astolat is a friend, and she probably has given me stuff over the last year cuz that's the kinda dame she is.

The desk comes with the added detail of maps and documents and an ink bottle on it. Just real nice. It's only 200L AND it's mod, so if you do want to play Patton with it, you could try to tint it OD. Anyhow, I have always thought highly of Asto's clothing line, which is attractive, well researched, and very reasonably priced, but I tell you what, I really think her furniture and accessories line is going to be something to watch closely as it grows. Astolat has shops in a number of locations, but I believe her mains store is is in Caledon Oxbridge Village.

Last but not least, let's talk about the Oakwood lab cast iron stove. And I know, maybe you're saying, "Meh, another stove."

Yeah, you could say that, but when I am done slapping you, I would then ask you how many sl stoves actually look like real life cast iron stoves?

Elihu Leominster is well regarded by other makers for his great texturing, and this thing is no exception. It looks like a goddam real stove. It is scaled like a real stove. I felt a strange compulsion to put a coffee pot on it the first time I saw one.

At 150L I thought this piece was a really good deal. You know what else I like about this stove? It's mod--and it is beautifully suited to being arranged and rearranged in various sizes and configurations to fit the needs and space you have to deal with. Here's how I remade my Oakwood stove for use back in the hotel bar:

And being mod, you can take out some prims from it too. It's not bad off-the-shelf at around 10 prims, but you can do things like pull the legs, and put on a one-prim leg set such as Ernst Osterham made for me here. And sometimes, every prim you save helps, doesn't it? I am just incredibly happy with this stove, as are a number of other Deadwood business folks (I've seen the same stove in some variation or other at both the Gem and Ernst's shop). To see Elihu's stove and other great products look for the Oakwood Lab shop in Port Babbage.

It just continually astonishes me how historically authentic and practical items just keep multiplying, and looking better and better all the time.

So have you guys seen anything lately that has really impressed you?


  1. Thank you so very kindly, my good woman, for your generous words about Oakwood Laboratories. Oddly enough, the stove has not been among the best sellers, but it's wonderful to hear that others are getting some pleasure from our humble efforts.

    Sincerely, Elihu Leominster

  2. Hey Elihu,

    You're very welcome. I sincerely mean every word.

    If it's not a great seller, perhaps it's just because I assume a lot of your customers come from the steamlands and folks there may be looking for something a bit more fanciful--merely a matter of tastes. But I think it is really perfect for a frontier or rural context like ours.

    So I am curious, what are some of your best selling items?