You know how, as a child, you have that one vivid dream that you remember for the rest of your life? Mine was about this snail house. This exact one. I must have been about five or six. I dreamt that I was lost alone in the woods, in a very eerie Hedgehog in the Fog kind of way. Wandering through the hazy forest, shivering as the twigs creaked underneath my feet, I came upon a little house that was shaped like a giant snail, with windows illuminated by old-fashioned kerosene lamps. There, a kindly lady with white hair and a hunched back waited for me. She was the innkeeper, and the snail house was her inn… or maybe it wasn’t an inn, maybe it was some sort of safe house for lost wanderers. I don’t remember. At any rate, she sat me down and served me buttered pierogi, tea and warm milk. She asked me to help her run the house, I gladly agreed. The longer I stayed, the more a part of me the house became; physically, and mentally. For example, I could make the house move from place to place with my mind. When I woke up in real life, I kept shutting my eyes and wishing I could go back. It was the most comfortable place I’d ever been.
I never thought I’d see that place so clearly again, so imagine my shock when I stumbled across this lovely dollhouse by Russian-born, Helsink-based artist Ilona. Ilona, who has no site, only a modest LJ, sculpted every detail of the tiny house, from the shell exterior to the tiny paper magazines on a shelf inside. She was apparently inspired by this image, which she found on a Russian LiveJournal community “for people who love snails.” (Oh, and here’s a totally inappropriate picture from this community to totally ruin the mood of this nostalgic post. Enjoy!). But I digress. This dollhouse is completely magical to me. I love the images of the snail-house by day, but I love it even more by night, because that’s when it most resembles the snail-house in my dream. But what really stopped me was the title. It’s called The Boarding House “At Snail’s.” It sounds better in Russian because the word “snail” is a very soothing, gentle word – ulitka.