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.
To stroll the grounds of The Heritage Farmstead Museum is to walk into a living vestige of the past. A turn about the 4.5-acre property reveals a blacksmith shop and bookshelves filled with Victorian-era tomes. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, these grounds are dedicated to preserving turn-of-the-century Texas Blackland Prairie culture.
The museum's rich history begins with businessman Hunter Farrell, who built the main house for his wife, Mary Alice, more than a century ago. Since being passed down the familial line, the property has been preserved and restored for the thousands of visitors who examine its artifacts, admire its architecture, and traverse its grounds each year. School programs, summer camps, and daily tours provide an immersive look into the lives of the people who populated the Plano area from 1890–1920, and a slew of rotating and permanent exhibits re-create such sites as a North Texas schoolhouse from 1895.
At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.