This week’s Artist’s spotlight is on @duartedollhouses !
- Tell me a little about yourself:
“I grew up in Orange County California going to the beach and South Coast Plaza, these places were sacred. I’d throw a penny into the fountain at the mall and wish that I could go live with Laverne & Shirley or blow on a dandelion and wish that Falcore would swoop down and save me! I could climb on his back and fly away. Movies, TV and music were my inspiration, escape and salvation. So Pop-Culture is pretty much everything to me.
My Grandmother, Rita Utah, was a fine artist and my Best Friend. She encouraged my creativity and inspired the hell out of me. When I was 7 she gave me and my sister a customized dollhouse and it was magical because of the touches she had added. It wasn’t an out of the box set up dollhouse. She had worked for months adding touches and furniture and making it super rad! It was the start of my love of miniatures.
I studied Experimental Animation at California Institute of the Arts where I did stop-motion with paper and cashmere cut outs. From there I went to Disney Animation where I created a Pilot. Then I went to work on the show Robot Chicken, where I made puppets for the sketches.
But I was extremely unhappy navigating the “industry” and working on other people’s projects. I’m way more satisfied doing my own miniatures and miniature films and sharing them on a platform like instagram. The interaction I get from followers is so gratifying. I feel seen and I feel like you find your people there.”
2.How long does it take you to create a miniature?
“It can take a weekend or up to a month to create my miniatures. I customize Petite Blythe dolls into whatever character I want. That means doing hair, eyes, outfit and props. Then I create sets with the furniture and props I have or make pieces from scratch.”
3. If you had to pick 3 pop culture figures to create in miniature form. Who would you pick and why?
” Pretty much all the characters I create are from Pop-Culture. My main thing is making Musicians, Movie Stars and Murderers. Which ones should I talk about?? Debra Winger, Liberace, Gilda Radner, The cast of Spiral, (my favorite French show)?
I’ll talk about Ed Gein, Jerri Blank and David Bowie. So with Ed Gein, the murderer who dug up dead bodies and made fashion and art with them, I used a doll that already had short hair. Ed Gein lived in the 1950’s so I used a plaid ” Sylvanian Families Shirt” and Petite Blythe jeans to get his look. But what was super fun about the Ed Gein project was using lunch meat to create his body suit, the skin lampshade and chair.
And putting all the doll parts around the set. The eyeballs come out of Petite Blythe dolls so I filled a little chest with them and it was so great! I made a one minute movie which I narrated and I’m really happy with it.
Next, for Jerri Blank from “Strangers With Candy”, I made her whole outfit from scratch and cut the hair off of a doll with the right color. I also used hair spray and paint pens to style her hair. I gave her cool earrings, boots and a belt. But like most characters the props are my favorite. I made a Safe Trap House collection can, she can wear around her neck and paper flowers. I made cheetos and cotton candy and other junk food along with glint, hot fruit, a box of weed, a bong and a pipe. Oh and I’m super proud of the tiny back star dream catcher. I loved decorating the walls of her bedroom with miniature posters and signs. I had so much fun creating her world. I did an entire “Strangers with Candy” dollhouse like the one on the show and added her Step-Mother, Sara Blank!
Lastly, I’m so proud of my David Bowie doll. Before I discovered Petite Blythe dolls I’d tape a picture of David Bowie’s head to a stick and add clothing. I have always been a HUGE David Bowie fan. Like since Labyrinth! After he died I was really, really upset. I felt like the stability I had in having him around my whole life was gone. Making the David Bowie doll was actually healing and having him in my miniatures world makes me happy. I started by making his whole outfit from scratch. It’s based on a costume he wore in the 70’s and then again in one of his last music videos “Lazarus”.
In the “Lazarus” video David Bowie has a cloth tied around his eyes and buttons where his eyes should be. I literally went to CVS and bought an Ace Bandage which I cut to make the bandage around his eyes. I painted tiny Petite Blythe buttons black and hot glued them to the bandage and suddenly he was alive again. I cut and styled his hair. I used a lot of hair spray and a blow drying to get his hair to stick up. I still have to touch up his hair every now and then. But it’s fun.”
4. How did you come up with the concept of your short film: “Jeffrey Dahmer, the @duartedollhouse film”?
“I watch a lot of True Crime and the story of Jeffrey Dahmer’s life just spoke to me. It’s upsetting that he had no one there for him as a child. His Father worked all the time and his Mother suffered from mental illness and wasn’t able to be present to give him the love and attention he needed. So he got all twisted up and took it out on others he killed to keep with him so he wouldn’t be lonely.
Most of the time, I am inspired by not only the story of a person’s life but the miniatures I get to make when recreating their story.
I usually only use Petite Blythe dolls but I needed a child Jeffrey Dahmer doll, so I used my second favorite doll, a Dolly Pop! My Dad had gotten me some as a kid and I just stared at them, I thought they were so cute. But this one I won on Ebay!
I was most excited to work with the lunch meat again like I had done for my Ed Gein film. I cut out a fillet and added cilantro to create Jeffrey’s cannibalistic meal. Making these horrific things in cute, miniature form transforms the gravity of the subject into something that is so absurd it’s funny. And then when I add my sweet narration to the film, it takes it to another level of WTF! And somehow people have really responded to this in a positive way.”
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
” Upcoming I’m working on my next film about reducing plastic use! The only thing being murdered in this story is the planet! Hey, ho!! JK. And then I’m going to be featured in the next issue of Hype Zine by Hannah Hightman. The issue will focus on miniatures and I’m so excited because it’s such a well done and cute Zine. It’s like candy!”
If you like more information about Lauren and her work. Her contact information is below:
Thank you so much for the interview Lauren!