See the world through the lens of a snail in these miniature creations

Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland combine the banality of every day with elements of the strange and fantastical in these snail-centric joys.

10 January 2020

Something rather small and slimy has crawled its way into our hearts here at It’s Nice That. On a day like any other day, scrolling through Instagram in an attempt to find the latest piece of banging content to grace your screens, what did we come across? Miniature snail-sized photographs and videos to make us chuckle with glee – of course.

These little snippets of joy transform the ordinary lives of a few friendly snails and even a frog into something far more glamorous. We see them embarking all kinds of adventures – riding on horseback in the mountains, visiting a snail-sized public bathroom, trialling out the mail man’s role for a day and, you know, hosting a glitzy game show as you do as a glamorous snail with all the modern conveniences of today at the clutch of an antenna.

But hey ho, the snails and the frog can’t take all the credit. The real masterminds behind these quirky shorts are Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland. Based about an hour outside Chicago, Aleia and Samuel have the pleasure of putting together these little sets for their slippery friends. It all started about four years ago when Sam went back to central Illinois to visit his parents.

On a venture into the back garden, he happened upon three snails and brought them back to Chicago where he then-resided with Aleia. “We made a terrarium for them,” Aleia tells It’s Nice That, “and around the same time, we started making miniature scenes together. At first, we were keeping them as pets and just loved looking at them every day. Then we realised, the sets we were making were roughly snail-sized and we loved the idea of animating these rooms.”

Four years later and what started out as a whim has now become a “super playful and experimental collaboration.” Their studio is filled with stacks on stacks of miniature scenes and continues to be a fountain of creativity for the creative duo to tell new stories and construct alternative scenes. Using foam predominantly as the core ingredient behind these ultra-realistic sets, Aleia and Samuel additionally use cardstock and cardboard to adorn their creations. “We are constantly collecting miniatures to use in our work,” continues Aleia, “as well as random materials that we think could be repurposed into siding for a building or made into a miniature lamp or TV or another random thing.”

Lit by LED flashlights, for the most part, the creative duo shoot the shorts on their phones. “Working in miniature gives us a lot of freedom and creative control,” adds Aleia. “We love that we can create or reconstruct any scene or moment of our lived experiences or of something imagined.” Working hands-on with something a fraction of the size of reality allows the pair to wholeheartedly create a place they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. Combining the comfort and the banality of every day with elements of the strange and fantastical, Aleia finally goes on to say of her and Sam’s artful creations: “Miniatures have been our way of forming, creating and interpreting our connection to the world, through the lens of a snail.”

GalleryAleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland






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Aleia Murawski and Samuel Copeland: Office

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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