Delphine Tinker’s Paris Flea Market is the most popular shop in the tiny town of Mirth, which is saying quite a lot really, because the town’s two other stores, Marsh’s Mercantile and Mirth Lumber & Supply, are very lovely, too. Delphine’s sister, Clara Plum, runs her bakery from home, so the bakery really doesn’t count.
The shop is informally known as Paris, as folks in Mirth get such a kick out of saying “I’m running to Paris,” whenever they take a trip into town.
One might wonder how Delphine acquired the treasure trove of knick-knacks and what-nots that line the shelves and table-tops of her shop, given that Mirth is surrounded for miles by nothing but pine forests, mountains, rivers and lakes. As you can imagine, sales were not brisk at the shop, but money really isn’t an issue for Delphine or Clara. Their needs are few.
The twin girls, orphaned shortly after they were born, were raised at Winterberry Cottage, by their Great Aunt Aggie. Aunt Aggie, the cottage, Loon Lake, its surrounding woods, flora and fauna were all the girls needed to be happy.
Still, Delphine decided to see the world, and Aunt Aggie and Clara encouraged her to follow her heart. They gave her a rousing send-off. So Delphine went off to a big city college, far, far away.
She learned more about her beloved plants, animals and trees. Then she spent years, floating like a dandelion puff, borne on a breeze from one continent to another, collecting adventures and admirers everywhere she went.
Clara eagerly awaited the richly detailed letters and giant wood crates Delphine sent home. She’d collect them at the train station and then stow them away in the big red barn at Hooper’s farm.
After a childhood spent gamboling through the woods, it was only natural that Delphine found fame writing about botany. Her books and lectures gained her a devout following, including the dashing young doctor, Hamilton Tinker, who would become her husband.
When her beloved Hammy passed away, Delphine finally returned home to Mirth, Winterberry cottage, and her darling Clara, to stay.
She unpacked the crates that Clara had stowed away, and Delphine Tinker’s Paris Flea Market was born.
That is how their story begins…
I hope this finds you warm and cozy.
Here in Mound, Minnesota, you’ll find us weirdos remarking what a warm day it is with the sun shining, when the temperature is a mere 12 degrees. I don’t mind the cold myself, as it gives me an excuse to stay inside and play with my minis, work on Valentine cards or stock my Etsy store with more vintage goodies.
Vintage shops have been on my mind a lot lately. Even though I started doing flea markets and selling online last year because I had so many of my mother’s amassed “treasures” to sell, it seems I’ve been bitten by the family bug, too. I was seduced by the thrill of the thrift store discovery and my proclivity for falling in love with the strangest things, like Kewpie dolls or Tammis Keefe handkerchiefs. Lots of my discoveries find their way to Fiddle Dee Doo Dah! Please visit and take a peek! I’m running a Sweetheart Sale through February 15th.
Here are some of the artists whose miniatures appear in Delphine Tinker’s Paris Flea Market.
I’m so excited to introduce a new feature to Chickadee, a featured female artist who inspires me with her talent, kindness and entrepreneurial spirit. The first woman is Lauren Delaney George. She is someone whom I’ve admired since I first discovered her Etsy shop in 2013, where I was surprised and delighted by her amazing shop, full of miniature delights.
Lauren attended NYU, where she spent 2 years in the school’s prestigious MFA program, and started her career working for E. Jean Carroll of Elle magazine fame, helping with a kooky side project social media game site that she had created, “Catch27.”
Since that time, I’ve discovered that she is a costume and set designer with feature films to her credit. She has worked with the likes of Colleen Atwood, 14-time Oscar nominee, on the film Public Enemies. Lauren’s clients include FAO Schwarz, Monique Lhullier, Erin Featherstone and the Cancer Research Institute. Her original artwork, The Exile of Prospero, debuted at the National Building Museum. She is a style icon with her amazing throwback vintage glamour. And most recently she published her first book, All Dolled Up to critical acclaim, with a second already underway.
Blog Summary: Lauren Delaney George is EVERYTHING. #allthegoals #ladyboss #shero #girlcrush
Whew. I had to get my fan girl enthusiasm out-of-the-way in order to write any further. Now that you know the gist of my feelings about Lauren, we can get to the heart of the matter…why she should be YOUR creative inspiration, too.
To me, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing a fabulous creative woman living her dreams, except for kindness, graciousness and willingness to encourage other artists in pursuing their dreams.
I asked Lauren if she would agree to an interview with me, with her knowing nothing about me and she eagerly accepted. So without further ado, I give you the much coveted interview.
Melanie: First of all thank you for agreeing to this interview:
Lauren: I was so honored by your email! And holy moly is your blog b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. I’d love to help in any way that I can with a feature.
Melanie: Thank you. I’m so flattered. Well, I asked a million questions, so let’s jump right in. Are there other artists in your family?
Lauren: My dad is a doctor and though my mom received her MBA, she devoted her life to raising three crazy children. Both my parents are very creative. My mom is a jack-of-all-trades crafter; she knits, quilts, cross stitches, etc. My dad is really into history and has dabbled in state politics. He occasionally publishes articles and has created a couple of historical documentaries. Though I am the only “professional” artist in my family, traveling to Honduras on a medical relief trip with my dad this year gave me an entirely new appreciation of the artistry involved in cutting up and healing a body. And my mom has really devoted her life to creating beautiful things for her family and loved ones to enjoy.
Melanie: You’ve traveled all over the world. Did that have an impact on your creativity?
Lauren: I spent my junior year of college abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France. I knew that I would never improve my French unless I was submersed in the actual culture. Several years out of practice, I’m pretty rusty at the skills I picked up there, although I can still mostly understand when it is spoken to me. When I was in 8th grade, my dad taught anesthesia for one month at a hospital university in Moshi, Tanzania. My entire family accompanied him and I attended an international school with my siblings (International School of Moshi). My ISM classmates were from all over the world.
Melanie: So you grew up surrounded by culture, art and history?
Lauren: We grew up really spoiled in the sense that art and creativity were always encouraged in our house. In fact, our house has always been a bit of a circus, bustling with whatever people’s current projects are! My brother would often film movies with his friends there, and once even built a “submarine” film set in the garage. My parents tend to adopt our friends, so there are always people coming and going when we are home.
My parents are outgoing, creative people, unafraid to try new things. They don’t operate under the idea that you must have a degree in whatever you decide to pursue. Their fearlessness has been a major shaping influence in my life.
Melanie: Have you always known that you wanted to be a designer/artist/author?
I definitely didn’t grow up knowing this was what I wanted to do. I’ve always enjoyed arts and crafts, but it didn’t even occur to me until I was graduating from college that I could make a career out of a creative field. My interests and projects continue to evolve and I am curious to see what is in store!
Melanie: Who or what inspires you?
I’m really inspired by creative people and New Orleans happens to be filled with them! The history of New Orleans also inspires me, because it feels like traveling back through time with all the history and interesting characters who populate the city today. I also love just discovering other artists through the rabbit holes of Instagram and Pinterest.
Melanie: The best part of social media to me! I read that you met Costume Designer Colleen Atwood on the set of Public Enemies and she influenced your decision to go to NYU.
Lauren: My encounter with her was hugely significant, because it got me thinking about that possibility. Meeting her was just such an awesomely weird and surreal experience. It got my brain working on how costume design was this beautiful tangle of all the subjects I loved: history, fashion, and psychology.
Melanie: Your artistic resume is so long and varied. You seem to have an ever-flowing river of ideas. Do you ever get stuck? Have you ever felt afraid to try something new?
Lauren: Yes, I definitely get stuck and I think that every human does at some point, regardless of their career choice. For me, the hardest part is sitting down to begin a project.
Before I dive into something really consuming (like All Dolled Up or The Haunted Dollhouse), my soul gets a little weary thinking about how HUGE it seems. It always helps to break these monsters down into more manageable daily tasks. You need to be disciplined without being too hard on yourself. Just set yourself up to be moving the project forward every day with small steps.
For example, if you wake up and say, “I’m going to create a book about paper dolls today,” it’s never going to happen. Instead say, “Today I am going to rough draft a table of contents. Tomorrow I will outline the introduction. The day after tomorrow, I will create a rough storyboard for the pages.” The key is that none of these things has to be perfect. Just get your idea on paper and then keep refining it as you bring in new elements.
I am afraid on a daily basis. Fear is a completely normal reaction when you are confronting the unknown. For a creative, this means not being able to envision the end product at the beginning, but trusting the process will bring you through to the end.
Melanie: How do you approach a new project? Is your approach methodical, researched, experimental? Is there a Lauren Delaney process?
Lauren: When starting a new project, I spend a lot of time exploring images and reading. I am gauging my own reaction to things like tone, color, and setting. I make a lot of notes, collecting quotes from other writers, as I begin placing the images next to each other. Finding the thread through this collection I’ve assembled is how I discover my own opinion about the world that I am creating.
Melanie: Oh my! I still haven’t even tackled all my questions about your many projects that I REALLY want to talk about. Your miniatures, The Haunted Dollhouse and your new book, All Dolled Up. I think this is going to have to be a two-part interview.
This is Zelda, one of the guests at Lauren’s book launch party at Century Girl.
Lauren: Thank you so much again for caring about my work and sharing it with the world.
Lauren has very graciously offered to host a random drawing for a signed copy of her book, All Dolled Up. No purchase is necessary to enter. Simply follow my blog (not mandatory, but I hope you’ll come back for Part 2 of Lauren’s interview) and leave your email in the comments section, so I can notify you if you win. I will not use your email for marketing purposes or solicitation. The drawing will be held on May 15th.
Finally, I want to end with what I think is one of the coolest things about Lauren. In 2013, during the height of Gatsby mania, when the remake of the classic movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan was coming out, Lauren won first place in the costume contest at The Gatsby Garden Party in Oheka Castle New York.
There is a quote attributed to Theo Van Gogh, taken from a letter written to his brother the painter, Vincent. I read the original, and it doesn’t sound much like the quote as we know it today, but I love the quote anyway. It says, “To know God is to love many things.”
Adulting is hard. The older I get, the more I cherish and need my creative escapes. I think it’s so important for children and adults alike to have an escape valve to help them release the pressure of everyday life, technology and news of the world.
Growing up an only child, I cultivated the ability to entertain myself, as well as a life-long love of creating tiny worlds filled with family, friends and lots of animals to keep me company. My love of all things tiny started with Fisher Price Little People. I remember vividly being very sick once, maybe 4 years old, and the only thing that made me feel better was my Grandma pulling out a Little People A-Frame Cottage that she was saving to give me at Christmas. I was immersed in another world and things didn’t feel quite so bad.
Then in junior high, I read Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and fell in love with Laura Wingfield’s fragile world of crystal animals. In this small refuge, anything was possible. Everything was manageable.
So you can imagine my unbridled joy when I got my first true writing job creating catalog and box copy at Department 56, the company renowned for their amazing Christmas Villages and Snowbabies. Bringing to life the miniature people who populated the fictional city of Merryville remains one of the highlights of my career to this day.
Then some pretty major and traumatic life events occurred in my thirties and suddenly I felt the weight of the adult world on my shoulders. If I’d been able to have kids, maybe the wonder of experiencing the world through their eyes would have sustained me. But I lost my sense of fun. Of play. I lost my joy. I was at a new job, that wasn’t fun, which unfortunately compounded my lack of “joie de vivre.” And that’s when one day I came across a shop on Etsy called Monsters Etc. and met my friend Ruti Dan, a kindred spirit. Here was another adult, with a “real world” day job, who spent her free time making art dolls. NOT for kids.
After Morty arrived, everything changed. I started finding all kinds of crazy ways to photograph him, singing karaoke, playing with the copier at work, investigating mossy woods. The next thing I knew I had started creating small vignettes of my own. I incorporated felted creatures I purchased from Kit Lane on Etsy, and then started making my own felty guys. I propped them with funny trinkets you might find in a gumball machine. Then I found them a red model convertible and a little guitar. Or I propped them in front of the alligators when I visited Avery Island in Louisiana. Before I knew it, I was buying a gigantic dollhouse. My PayPal account was more than happy to accommodate my desire for all things teensy-tiny, and my collection of itsy bitsy shabby chic decor and miniature cakes grew exponentially. As I tell my husband, it’s cheaper than redecorating the house. I can design the room of my dreams in miniature.
And eventually I graduated to this…
One of the HUGE positives of social media is the way a person can find a group of devoted, like-minded people who share a passion for just about everything and anything. I discovered that there were other mini-devotees, who were just as excited and fascinated with all things mini as I was.
I traveled alone to Chicago to attend my first International Miniatures Show, where I rode in an elevator with a REAL prince (not Harry, unfortunately). He had traveled from the Arab peninsula to Chicago to pursue his passion for miniatures. I met some of my favorite artists in person and others from Spain, Italy, France, Ireland and so many more countries. I took classes from a master woodworker from Ireland, learning to hand-finish miniature cabinetry. And I saw the most magnificent dollhouses and tiny pieces that cost thousands of dollars. One day soon I hope to return and visit the world-renowned Thorne Miniature Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Following that simple whim, one day 8 years ago, when I was well, well, well beyond a reasonable age to be playing with dolls, I threw caution to the wind and allowed myself to do something silly. I bought an art doll named Morty from half-way around the world, and he reintroduced me to what I’d been missing so desperately – joy.
Through letting my imagination run wild, and indulging my childhood passions, I was able to gradually let go of some of my sadness, put the world on pause and just play. I think that’s really what we need now more than ever, grown-ups and kids alike. So the next time you see that metaphorical merry-go-round with it’s magical horses, merry music, and flashing lights, go ahead and jump on. Buy yourself that giant stuffed cheeseburger pillow. Or the light saber you’ve had your eye on for months now. It could change your life.