In the 1930s the Commercial Museum and the American ceramics company Lenox made a series of miniature dioramas to illustrate the process of making the company’s popular wares, step by step. The Temple Anthropology Lab acquired 6 of the 8 models as part of the Commercial Museum collection. Some of the dioramas were featured in the museum’s periodical, Commercial America in 1936, which was “published monthly… for the purpose of carrying to buyers throughout the world reliable information concerning American products.” There was also a Spanish version of this publication.
Commercial Museum artist C. Isabel Campbell made the dioramas, which are approximately 24″ long, 15″ high, and 8″ deep. Scale is consistent in each scene and all human “models” are approximately 7″ high. Careful attention was given to even the smallest details, including the various tools used by the workers.
Each diorama depicts a particular aspect of the manufacturing process, including “Slip House,” “Jiggering,” “Firing,” “Glazing,” “Casting,” and “Decorating.” “Decorating” is shown below. The models and their furnishings occupy the foreground. The background, painted carefully to maintain an accurate sense of perspective, is raised in sections to ease the eye from front to back and to maintain the integrity of the life-like scene of Lenox at work.
Here are detailed images taken from left to right: