Sea legs

Elder guardian meets axolotl!

A functional, boring name can’t stop the imagination. Toilet roll? I think you mean robot arms. Pipe cleaners? Weird thing to call eye stalks. That’s how PearlescentMoon grew up, turning everyday objects into strange creations. And it’s how the Minecraft builder works today, pulling the fantastical from the mundane.

“Throughout my life, I’ve been exposed to beautiful works of art, both realistic and mythical,” Pearl says. “Many works involve remaking real creatures with fantasy elements that are elegant and absolutely gorgeous.”

Have you seen Pearl’s dragon-bee? I can’t look at it for long without sweating because I was once stung by a dragon, but you should go ahead. Pearl created it by painting over a picture of a real bee in Photoshop, then adding fantasy flourishes like enormous wings and flame-like fur. “I find myself wishing to make a creature of my own mind,” she says, “mixed with the existing animals we all know and love.”

It’s exciting, isn’t it? By exaggerating something familiar, Pearl brings a bit of magic into the real world. For a little while I thought dragon-bees were the reason everyone was staying inside, and started work on a toilet roll lance to defeat them. But I struggled with the pointy bit at the end, and rain kept making Beesbane (you have to name a lance) soggy.

Pearl’s latest build doesn’t just blur the lines between reality and fantasy – it has the two swim alongside each other. Down in the ocean depths, a school of wild axolotls comes across an elder guardian, which casts an intimidating shadow over the seafloor – not to be confused with C floor if you’re in a tall building.

I always thought the elder guardian looked like an unexploded naval mine, only grumpier. “To me, it looks like a giant eyeball with spikes and fins attached,” Pearl says. “So that is exactly what I made.” Those flowing fins give Pearl’s guardian a unique sense of motion and majesty that would cause us to bow down in awe if that wasn’t really tricky to do underwater. But its defining feature remains that single staring orb, as well it should – the guardian’s great eye follows your every move in Minecraft, even if you’ve quaffed an invisibility potion to try and shake them off. Did you know elder guardians can inflict mining fatigue? Doctors had previously thought such an affliction impossible.

Axolotls sound pretty mythical too, as if they were made up for this year’s Caves and Cliffs update. You’re expecting me to believe that there’s a fish with legs, and that those legs can regenerate? That’s surely nonsense. Thanks a lotls, Wikipedia. But Pearl assures me they’re very real: “As a child, my mother had kept axolotls as pets, so in a way I suppose there was some subconscious personal connection to the mob there via memories.”

The build certainly has a fishtank feel, thanks to a miniature tower affixed to its base. Well, either it’s miniature, or the guardian is the size of a stadium, and that’s not an idea I’m prepared to contemplate. “I'd say [the fishtank feel] was not my original goal, although my builds never really end up the way I planned them to,” Pearl says. “I let my creative portion of the brain take over in the process, giving not only my audience, but myself the excitement of seeing what the end result will turn out to be.”

My favourite part of that process is the way Pearl handles creative blocks, letting the community decide on where a build should go next. “When you create a piece, you tend to create your own blinkers and develop a slightly skewed perspective of over-analyzation and small detail focus,” Pearl says. “Asking for a fresh pair of eyes to take a look at your build and offer their unbiased opinion is good to allow yourself to step back from clouded judgement.

“I guess it’s like looking in a mirror. We all more often think differently of our appearance than everyone around us because we've stared at the same face our whole lives. We know every detail, every aspect we might consider a flaw; but other people do not see what you do.”

Renders by: Joebricksy and Immanulll

Written By
Jeremy Peel