Arkansas' Destination Draws Customers Come From Far and Wide

by John Henry  on Monday, Sep. 24, 2007 12:00 am  

Stan and Dorcas Prince run the largest bridal shop in the South at Brinkley.

Hours: Tues.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; closed Sun. and Mon.

Terra Studios

Jamie Ulick and his wife, Lyn (daughter of founders Leo and Rita Ward), bought the Terra Studios at Durham this year.

While you may not recognize the Terra Studios name, most Americans will recognize the Bluebird of Happiness. More than 8 million of the handmade brilliant blue crystal glass figurines have been sold throughout the country.

And Terra Studios is one of the most unusual and creative destination spots in Arkansas or the surrounding states. Visitors to the 30-acre site at Durham, about 16 miles south of Fayetteville on Highway 16 in the wooded hills of the Ozarks, can stroll through a sculpture garden, a mural garden and a stone labyrinth, in addition to the glass and pottery centers. The business also boasts an events center and RV park.

If you enjoy watching artisans create glass objects, sculptures, murals or pottery bounded only by their own creativity, then Terra Studios is the place to go. Between 75,000 and 100,000 people visit Terra each year to see the skilled glassblowers create the little "gift of happiness."

It is an art park as well as a business and crammed full of fantasy - from whimsical characters to fine art pieces that comes from what Ulick calls "unique unbridled creativity."

Founder Leo Ward is a glass artisan while Rita creates crafts in clay. The Wards, former school teachers in California, started the business in 1975.

Ulick said Terra is in the process of turning into an artist community with more than 30 artists involved at the glass center and pottery center.

The pottery house showroom is an outlet for the Terra Guild members' work and offers a variety of handmade art, jewelry, clay art, raku and art glass.

While all of Terra's artwork is handmade, the company faces stiff competition from cheaper Chinese-made imitations, Ulick said, which has cut into its profits.

About 20 percent of its business now comes from its Web site, www.terrastudios.com, and that's an area that Ulick plans to develop, he said.

Terra Studios

(479) 643-3185, (800) 255-8995

Hours: Daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

 

 

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