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The Clay Lady Legacy Lives on in Davenport
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The Clay Lady Legacy Lives on in Davenport

I don’t really know much about art. I don’t look at an abstract painting for hours on end trying to find the meaning of it, but I can appreciate the time and talent it takes to produce. A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to experience a behind-the-scenes look at the Isabel Bloom studio. Whether you are an art lover or not, it is a trip I would highly recommend.

Isabel Bloom herself was a lifelong artist. She dabbled in several different forms of art, including even fashion in her younger years. After attending Grant Wood’s Stone City Art Colony, she came to find a love for clay arts in the 1940s. By the 1950s, she was dubbed "The Clay Lady".

Bloom, though not born in Davenport, grew up there and decided in 1963 to set up shop in the Village of East Davenport. The workshop is where she made all of her designs, and where her spirit and sculptures still live on today.

Donna Young took over as lead designer in the workshop in 1992. She still uses many of the original molds that Bloom made, while incorporating some of her own designs as well. I was lucky enough to drop to see how some of the sculptures are made.

This is by no means a one-person job. Hundreds of different styles and colors of Isabel Bloom sculptures are made in the workshop and pass through many hands before hitting the gallery. Some people in the shop are assigned to molding the clay, others to painting and designing, some put on the finishing touches, and still others make the tags and perfect the Isabel Bloom signature.

It was quite impressive to see how a community has come together to keep this workshop alive and share the art of Isabel Bloom with others in the state, country, and world. It was quite humbling to walk through the different workrooms of Isabel Bloom and see so many different people creating something beautiful to help Bloom’s legacy live on.

The Village of East Davenport has a rich element of Iowa history. From one Iowa girl to another, don’t miss out on this opportunity to see how art can change a community and how a sculpture can change someone’s day.

I promise it is worth your while.

To learn more about The Isabel Bloom shop, or to get tour information, please visit



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