NHCP’S Program Manager by: Ann Rains July 2019


Like farmland laying fallow, the pottery workshop located behind the roofless church in New Harmony, Indiana was basically inactive for many years with only sporadic workshops given during the summer months. I attended a Raku workshop many years ago and lamented that this well-lit, well equipped workshop was not being utilized to its full potential.

Then, in 2015 a residency program was started under the direction of Lenny Dowhie, retired USI professor and artist emeritus. From this residency program was gleaned an individual of dynamic energy who became the Program Manager of the newly formed, New Harmony Clay Project. Her name is Mitzi Davis.

Mitzi, who comes from South Carolina and is a renowned creative clay artist herself, is the bones that supports the structure of the Sara Campbell Blaffer studio. She processes and reprocesses the clay. That may sound laconic, but believe me, it is not. One has to know how to work machines. The physical labor entailed in everything required to keep a pottery functioning is phenomenal. Just packing the kiln with pottery to fire and placing the heavy shelves between each layer of pottery is a task. I have seen Mitzi perform tasks which could not have been in her job description but are necessary to maintain a well organized and clean studio. She teaches a lesson to those wishing to succeed. Go beyond what is expected, and Mitzi does.

The programs/workshops that Mitzi has introduced are affordable and fun. “Date Nights” are for sweethearts or just friends. It doesn’t matter if you have ever gotten your hands muddy with clay or tried to throw on the wheel. With direction, you will have opportunity to learn to center the clay and pull the clay upward into a pot. Experiencing and understanding the skills needed by a potter will give you first hand appreciation and comprehension of the proficiency of a potter’s products. Whether or not you intend to practice and develop your skills as a potter, what you learn will make you a discerning pottery purchaser.

The pottery workshops are educational with offerings for all age levels. Mitzi says that the goal is to reach out to the community. She likens it to “the rain cycle where rain showers return benefits in numerous other forms.” There are workshops for children who learn about hand building. Exploring the human form is another workshop. To learn the many options The New Harmony Clay Project offers, go to their website. You will find a listing of the classes and registration forms. nhclayproject.org

When you attend a pottery workshop, you will receive instruction, encouragement and compliments from Mitzi Davis as well as other accomplished clay artists who assist as needed. It is Mitzi’s warm, winning personality combined with her fantastic supply of energy that creates the atmosphere making you feel that what you are doing is worthwhile.

The Blaffer Foundation is a major contributor of the Sarah Campbell Blaffer pottery studio. Other supporters are The Greater Houston Community Foundation, The Lennie and Annie Dowhie Trust, the Efroymson Family Fund, and the New Harmony Artists Guild. With all this help and the fantastic fun programs that are being well managed, I have nothing about which to lament concerning the New Harmony Clay Project.

Kudos to all who have made the project a success, especially Mitzi Davis! planetprayers@gmail.com copyright: Ann Rains June, 2019