TikToK’s haunted dollhouses

There’s a whole world of haunted dollhouses and spooky figurines on ICT Tac.

@southerngothicdollhouse In response to @caseyandzuggy Here are the magic candles in action ✨ Activated when the mirror spell ritual begins. Let me know if you want to see how it’s done 🤍#Magic #special effects #witchtok #haunted house #spookyszn ♬ Harry Potter – The Intermezzo Orchestra

Handcrafted with love, these creators have put in hours of work and often a mind-boggling amount of resources into creating their sometimes cute but always spooky dioramas.

@syd_h00ps In response to @nailedbymarie____ here you go 🎃❤️😊 #Halloween #spookyseason #haunted house #haunted house #dollhousechallenge #dollhouse #scary doll # spooky dollhouse #Hello #fyp #Arts and crafts #dollhousemakeover #dollar tree #elsa #frozen #halloweencrafts #halloweencraft #Creative #create #fun #spookycrafts #scary ♬ Amityville Horror – Scary Halloween Sound Effects – Halloween Sound Effects

Some acquire and revamp mass-produced products plastic dolls housesgiving them a fresh coat of paint and a few gothic details.

@jackieriley2022 Halloween Ending Item: Spooky Dollhouse Makeover! Thanks @lisamcgowen for the inspiration! #dollhouse # spooky dollhouse #Creative #thumbnail ♬ Ice Dance (from “Edward Scissorhands”) – Ashton Gleckman

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

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

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

We spoke to Lauren Dodge about @southerngothicdollhousewhose terrifyingly elaborate dollhouse tells a Southern Gothic tragedy, which draws her into these miniature worlds and drives her to create them.

@southerngothicdollhouse Some details from the swampy bathroom from a while ago 🖤 I love all versions of this song, especially hers. #southerngothic #Wizard ♬ Tonight you belong to me by Patience and Prudence – crypticgoddess

A lifelong lover of Halloween and all things spooky, Dodge has always been fascinated by how each person’s individual home tells a story about them. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she decided to combine her two loves for what she thought would be a fun little quarantine hobby but quickly turned into what she describes as “a Covid project that became enraged”.

Treating her dollhouse like a visual novel, the text counterpart of which she intends 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 she came to America, Dodge also wanted to create something to pass on to her grandchildren. “Something that could teach them some history, inspire them to read, or maybe just something they’re proud to have in the family and maybe want to pass on to their own grandchildren- I’ve always wanted to have a better connection with my ancestors – so as they say, if that doesn’t exist, it’s up to you to start building what you want to see in the world.

The historical element of her dollhouse is richly detailed and thoroughly researched, exploring elements of class, gender, and folk practices in the American South as well as all the tensions associated with it. Dodge’s TikToks aren’t just entertaining and fabulously scary, they’re also educational.

@southerngothicdollhouse In response to @southerngothicdollhouse Part 2 of The Thin Place. If you’re curious about something in particular and want me to dive even deeper, just ask 🤍 #folkmagic #southerngothic #spookyseason #haunted house #Halloween is coming #weird #writertok ♬ Creepy and Beautiful Piano Background Music (918069) – TrickSTAR MUSIC

While most of the creators of the TikTok haunted dollhouse take a more laid-back approach than Dodge, which has already invested thousands of dollars in its creation, there are 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, make the haunted dollhouse community on TikTok a spooky yet joyful space to hang out.

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*First published: October 31, 2022, 3:55 p.m. CDT

Bal Siobhan

Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org

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