One Creator Describes Her Hobby As A 'covid Project Turned Rabid.'

There’s a whole world of haunted dollhouses and sinister figurines on TikTok.

Lovingly handcrafted, these creators put hours of work and often an eye-watering amount of resources into creating their sometimes cute but always sinister dioramas.

Some acquire and makeover mass-produced plastic dollhouses, giving them a new coat of paint and some gothic detailing.

While others decide to take the long route and actually build the dollhouses themselves, using means as diverse as 3D printing and hardcore hobbyist kits that range into the hundreds of dollars. Some even design and build their detailed projects from scratch, making everything by hand.

In addition to the houses themselves, creators also make or modify dolls, figurines, and furniture to go with them.

Some of these creators even use their dollhouses and miniatures to tell stories, ranging from short character portraits to entire novels hidden in the details of the houses.

We spoke to Lauren Dodge of @southerngothicdollhouse, whose terrifyingly elaborate dollhouse tells a Southern Gothic tragedy, about what draws her to these miniature worlds and drives her to create them.

A longtime lover of Halloween and all things spooky, Dodge was always fascinated by the way each person’s individual home told a story about them. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she decided to combine her two loves for what she thought was going to be a fun little quarantine hobby but which quickly turned into what she describes as “a Covid project turned rabid.”

Treating her dollhouse as a visual novel, whose text based counterpart she does intend to write, Dodge took her hobby to TikTok partly to “share the journey” and partly to inspire other people and help them figure out how to get started with a dollhouse of their own.

As someone whose family left everything behind when they first came to America, Dodge also wanted to create something to pass down to her grandchildren. “Something that could teach them some history, inspire them to read, or possibly just something they are proud of having in the family that they may want to pass along to their own grandchildren. I’ve always wished I had a better connection to my ancestors—so as they say, if it doesn’t exist, it’s up to you to start building what you wish to see in the world.”

The historical element of her dollhouse is richly detailed and thoroughly researched, exploring elements of class, gender, and folk practice in the American South as well as all the tensions tied up with them. Dodge’s TikToks aren’t just entertaining and fabulously creepy—they’re educational as well.

While most of the creators on haunted dollhouse TikTok do take a more casual approach than Dodge, who has already invested thousands of dollars into her creation, there are some common elements they all seem to share. A love of visual storytelling and the macabre, combined with a passion for miniature worlds that they just want to share with everyone else, make the haunted dollhouse community on TikTok a spooky yet joyful space to spend time on.

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