While attending Austin College, two important things happened to Kirby and Kristi Carmichael: they fell in love with art, and with each other. When Kirby moved to Italy after graduation to expand his pottery education, Kristi followed. During that time, she discovered she had a knack for majolica painting––a craft that Renaissance-era artists used to decorate vases, jars, and plates, all of which Leonardo da Vinci invented. The couple realized they had a sturdy link between their talents, and eventually returned to the United States jobless, engaged, and ready to share what they'd learned.
In October 2005, the Carmichaels opened Quiggly's Clayhouse, where potters and painters alike have since been crafting masterpieces and sharpening their skills with lessons. The studio's flexible walk-in availability encourages artists to visit whenever inspiration strikes—be it for painting pottery, sculpting clay, fusing glass, or forging mosaics. Frequent themed events also bring groups together in the name of casual creativity, including adult wheel nights, ladies’ nights, and kids’ nights.
In 2007, the North Texas Event Center underwent a renovation that transformed a former call center into four fairytale ballrooms and a museum for classic cars. The gleaming Gull Wings, Alpha Romeos, and M6s catalyzed the project, as their owners sought a way to share their collections with the public. This desire dovetailed with the designs of city officials, who wanted to create an enduring cultural institution in Richardson and a way to see the cars without masquerading as stop signs. In order to realize this dream and reverse signs of aging in the 1980 building, contractors installed gleaming parquet floors valued at $2 million, and built out rooms with vaulted ceilings, broad stages, or bars. A crew of event planners oversees the chambers, which range from 1,883 to 14,000 square feet, and contain surprises such as 360 degrees of white drapes and a marble gazebo.
Bob Landon has been making wine for decades, but he didn't always have French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks at his disposal. His first forays into small-batch winemaking took place in his basement, but like Batman's love of justice, his hobby was soon elevated to a profession. Today, he and the Landon Winery staff cultivate Texas–grown viognier and tempranillo grapes into a rotating selection of house varietals.
At either location, oenophiles can deepen their knowledge of wines or simply explore the facilities. The McKinney location features an old well that dates back more than 150 years, and the 15,000 square foot Greenville location boasts more than 100 oak barrels filled with grapey blends and one batch of orange juice just pretending. Landon Winery also hosts events and classes that allow visitors to pair wines with food, sample sips, and make their own custom wines.
Blase Family Farm creates a setting for seasonal memory-making with a bounty of fall activities. Around the 13-acre farm, hayrides meander through the woods, under leaves tinged with warm hues. Bulbous pumpkins rest at the base of tall trees, waiting for youngsters to claim them. When not searching for the best pumpkin—like the doctor who performed the Headless Horseman’s brain transplant—visitors can socialize with farm animals, such as goats and sheep, and earn their eternal love by feeding them. A farm train also chugs around the grounds, giving its passengers a more comprehensive view of the scenery. In the spring and summer, the farm offers pick-your-own blueberries, perfect for making into jam.