featuring guest authors; crafting tips and projects; recipes from food editor and sleuthing sidekick Cloris McWerther; and decorating, travel, fashion, health, beauty, and finance tips from the rest of the American Woman editors.

Monday, July 23, 2018

CRAFTS WITH ANASTASIA--MEET MINIATURIST FRANCES GLESSNER LEE

Frances Glessner Lee working on one of her Nutshell Studies
This blog is called Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, and no one personifies that category more than Frances Glessner Lee, a Chicago heiress born in 1878. Frances wasn’t your typical cloistered society matron, though. She had a rather unique hobby for a woman of her time. Rather than devoting herself to the typical domestic life of well-to-do wives of her day, Frances preferred to dabble in murder investigations. After being introduced to forensic science by future medical examiner and Harvard professor of pathology George Magrath, she set about creating a tool to help train homicide investigators.

Glessner Lee enjoyed hosting dinner parties, not for the elite of society, but for law enforcement investigators, encouraging them to discuss the details, no matter how gory, of their cases. She learned that crime scenes, when observed correctly, held many clues to the solving of crimes. However, crime scenes have a limited lifespan, and evidence can be lost or corrupted.

So Glessner Lee created “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death” to help investigators learn how to apply deductive reasoning to assess the elements of a crime scene. She did this by recreating objective recreations of actual crime scenes in miniature, crafting detailed dioramas based on police reports and court records, complete down to the smallest detail, including the dead body. Her miniature models taught investigators how to analyze a crime scene objectively.

Glessner Lee’s Nutshell Studies now reside in the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office. They are not only on view to the public but are still used to teach forensic investigation.
Camille Minichino has been a frequent guest of ours over the years. Along with being a cozy mystery author (writing under her own name, as well as her Ada Madison, Jean Flowers, and Margaret Grace pen names), Camille is also a miniaturist. This is one of her creations, To give you an idea of the scale, the paperback books are 1/2” x 3/4”.

Does this miniature depict a crime scene? Note the titles and name of the author of the books. Is that mystery author Lois Winston pictured in the photo frame? But wait! There’s a gun on the rug. And is that an uneaten dish of caviar? There’s a tale to be told here…is it a tale of murder?

18 comments:

Angela Adams said...

Awesome post about an equally awesome woman! Thanks for sharing!!!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Angela!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this interesting post. I'd read about her a couple of years ago, but had forgotten about her.

With your permission I'd like to share this on my FB author page.

Brad

Author: A Knife in the Fog

Anonymous said...

There's at least one book (with marvelous pictures) of these miniatures: The nutshell studies of unexplained death by Corinne May Botz.
Sandra

Camille Minichino said...

How nice to be visiting you again, Anastasia!
"The Nutshell Studies . . . " is prominent on my bookshelf, an amazing record of Lee's work. For this mini crime scene, with the incriminating photo of author Lois Winston, Lee would have woven the rug, grown the tiny flower, blown the glass, and so on!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Absolutely, Brad. Feel free to share wherever you'd like.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks for mentioning the book, Sandra. I'll have to check it out.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Always a pleasure to have you stop by, Camille! I guess back when Lee was creating her miniatures, she couldn't just run over to her local craft shop to pick up miniature items to use.

Heather Haven said...

I have been reading Camille Minichino's books for years. I love the different crafts she employs in her books. Also, Lois Winston does the same thing. A well-written craft book is simply a joy to read, especially when they are as well written as these authors' books.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thank you, Heather! What a nice thing to say!

Vinnie said...

Very interesting. I'm going to forward this to my misterio press cohort, K.B. Owens, who writes historical mysteries set in this time period.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks for stopping by, Vinnie! Glad you enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

Brad

KM Rockwood said...

I've visited these intriguing displays at the Maryland Medical Examiner's office in Baltimore. They are well worth a trip to see, along with other training tools and a state-of-the-art autopsy facility.

I think they were removed recently and put on display in DC, where they will be renovated & then returned to Baltimore.

A fascinating project!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks, KM. I may have to plan a road trip to see them. Baltimore and DC aren't too far from NJ.

Jen Sinclair Johnson said...

Love this! It's a great story! Her exhibits occasionally travel, so those outside the Maryland area can also view. I'm looking forward to seeing her work at the Northbrook Public Library in October for a Sisters in Crime Chicagoland meeting.

Earl Staggs said...

Very interesting, Lois. I had not heard of her before, but I will remember her now.

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Thanks for stopping by, Jen and Earl. I'm so glad you both loved the post.