How Lauren Delaney George Miniaturizes Vintage Clothing, Books and Furniture

Posted by on May 13, 2017

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When Lauren Delaney George was a child, her grandma and grandpa built dollhouses for all of their grandkids. Discovering a box of her grandparents’ belongings inspired the designer to create tiny, personalized items for one of the dollhouses, including family portraits, quilts, and a version of her Grandma's wedding dress. Not long after, George opened an Etsy shop where she sells miniature versions of books, vintage dresses, and furniture. 

Her new book, “All Dolled up,” explains the steps she takes to fashion these realistic, pint-sized recreations. Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Lady Delaney (as she’s also known) got early inspiration from the costumes found in the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre. Later, she relocated to get an MFA at New York University. Now she lives in New Orleans’ garden district, where she’s greatly inspired by the revivalist architecture, vintage fashion and ghosts. In addition to building miniatures, she also creates 3D mysteries in which the clues are tucked away inside of handwritten letters and dioramas. 

Want to learn more about her paper fabrication techniques? You can win a copy of "All Dolled Up" by entering the giveaway below!

Did you play with paper dolls and dollhouses as a child? 
My sister and I loved playing with paper dolls and dollhouses growing up. We also made tiny accessories for our dollhouses. We would cut images out of cereal boxes and magazines. I remember going through a phase where I was drawing my own paper dolls. 

In the introduction to "All Dolled Up" you write that people dress up in vintage clothing to learn about themselves, what have you learned about yourself via vintage clothing? 
My love of old clothing is a projection of my love for old films, books, art, and history. New Orleans is a city where the lines between past and present are blurred. I like to play along by strutting down the street in old dresses. This game is all the more fun if tourists think they've spotted a ghost!

How do you research the clothing to ensure its accurate?
I would say that the paper dresses in this book are playful, rather than painstakingly accurate representations. Though I ultimately took liberties with their design, I did spend a great deal of time on Pinterest and poring over vintage fashion books and magazines. So my paper interpretations of garments are largely informed by this research. I also collect and wear a lot of vintage, which gives some good insight into its construction and how it moves on a body. It also helps that my studio is located in the back of the universe's most beautiful vintage clothing shop, Century Girl. Being surrounded by so much beauty in there is really inspiring!
lady delaney new orleans miniature
You sell a variety of your miniatures on Etsy. How do you decide what you're going to make, and what the price of them should be? Also, what are your popular items?
I have all sorts of peculiar little artifacts for sale in my Etsy shop: miniature potions bottles, butterfly collections, and tiny clothing items. Though my most popular items are my tiny books. I strive for super realism and they look great in such a wide variety of settings! Your favorite tiny book exists in my Etsy shop, not as the new, fresh-off-the-shelf version. I've created the old, well-loved (and dogeared) copy currently living on your bookshelf!

You've traveled to numerous historical locations in the United States. What aspects of American history interest you and why?  
It's easy to take this country for granted and to forget how extraordinarily diverse it is culturally. I love road trips because they always remind me of this fact. You can travel from Michigan to New Orleans, from New York to California, and these places are so distinct from each other that they may as well be different countries. Each has its own traditions and ways of life and there are things in both that would be wildly foreign to the other. One of my pet peeves is when people make the comment that "there is no history in the United States." 

When I hear this, I always inwardly roll my eyes. To me, it broadcasts that they have been too lazy to discover otherwise. We have the Underground Railroad, mysterious mound builders, fur trappers and gold seekers! And that, itself, is a lazy list. Head farther south in the Americas and you have the Mayans. And don't even get me started on the Mayans! I'm endlessly fascinated by the history that I find at every turn here, and I am really proud of our people, in all their differences and eccentricities. 

I've worked at a dude ranch in the Colorado Rockies, I've danced in a New Orleans Second Line, I've been an artist in New York City. Summed up, one of the most rewarding aspects of my life has been traveling to these different corners and expanding my idea of what America is. America will never be perfect, but I am extraordinarily proud to be part of this brave, loud, colorful place. 

How does living in New Orleans influence your work? 
New Orleans is a complicated and fascinating country unto itself. The community of people here is generous and inspiring. And you really can't cast a glance without discovering some gorgeous building, brass band, or art. There's no end to the inspiration that you can draw here. It is a mysterious and magical place. For a storyteller, it just feels like there are infinite possibilities.

To win a copy of "All Dolled Up," log into the module below and do one of the follow actions: 

If you’re curious about the world of Lauren Delaney George, check out her Instagram feed to see what she’s working on or sign up for Letters from Dead People, her miniature mysteries for super sleuths to buy.

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