Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Lovely Adventure at Terra Studios Near Fayetteville.

Hunter discovers and falls in love with the Blue Bird of Happiness while exploring an Arkansas treasure.  Let's head up to Fayetteville and visit Terra Studios.

UPDATE: Watch this video on the making of the Bluebird of Happiness.

Do you know what this is?

It's possible you have one on a shelf or on your desk.  That's a Blue Bird of Happiness, and it's one of eight million that have been made over the years at Terra Studios.

The artistic enclave not far from Fayetteville has been in operation for 40 years, and it still offers a great afternoon for art lovers.

Leo and Rita Ward and their son John established Terra Studios in 1975 as a family glass and pottery studio.  The first Blue Bird of Happiness was created in 1983, and it caught on quickly, becoming a favorite Arkansas souvenir that’s traveled home with millions of visitors.  Over the years, the Wards were able to enlist more than 100 different artists to create the extensive art park surrounding work spaces.

The Wards retired in 2007, and Jamie Ulick purchased the park. He and Val Gonzalez have been working hard to get Terra Studios back up to par and at its best.  In 2014, the duo announced that Terra Studios has now been incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.  Two hour
workshops on a variety of crafts are already offered, and this year community concerts and festivals are being added to the schedule.  Every Sunday afternoon, musicians come in for gatherings; glass blowing and glass art demonstrations are done every day starting at noon (except in January and February).

Visiting Terra Studios is an adventure, for both artists and art lovers.  The vast park showcases an extraordinary array of pieces, from stonework to pottery, glasswork to fabric arts.  In addition to a large facility that houses a gift shop and the glass studio, there is a pottery building, classrooms, a
stage, an event center and even a “wizard’s cave.”  A small lake graces the center of the compound.  There is a mural garden, more stone statuary on a woodland trail and even a hand-laid labyrinth for walking and thinking.

Terra Studios is also about hands-on art, where individuals and groups can come and learn how to create pieces.  One building on park offers classrooms where everything from wheel-throwing pottery to dyeing silk is offered.  There are kilns available for creating works of clay and glass, and plenty of space for entire clubs to gather.  These activities are great for kids, but they’re also wonderful as workshops and corporate retreats, where team-building can be more than a metaphor.

Tourists and individual travelers who come to the park can join in on classes being offered at just about any time. Some projects are free, and others are available to create for a small fee.  There’s also a cafĂ© within the main building that serves sandwiches, sweets and beverages.

That's a lot to absorb, I know.  But I wanted to make sure you knew all of that.  Hunter didn't know any of it when we rolled up on our epic road trip along US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri State Line. But she was instantly charmed.

Hunter made a beeline the moment we got out of the car to visit this gazebo lined with Blue Birds of Happiness.
She quickly noticed this ceramic wall, and the adventure had begun.

A cave inside a building, filled with enchanted glass? Yes please.
There are all sorts of clay creatures at Terra Studios, both big

and small.

Beyond the buildings lie the labyrinth and woodland gardens, which are full of sculptures.

Daffodils were out everywhere.
Hunter loved playing checkers and chess with these huge pieces, and spending time with the Terrans.

The Terrans are little clay created creatures that populate the park at Terra Studios.

After we spent some time in the park, we went into the main building, where the works of these artists are sold and visitors can come learn and have a snack.

We progressed to the back room, the show room that looks into the studio where Blue Birds of
Happiness and other glass avians are created.  The studio is rested each winter, but a video did show us how each bird was made.

Hunter marveled at all the colors.

Hunter fell in love with this one and had to bring it home.
If there were one word to describe Terra Studios, it would be whimsical.  From tiny clay cars to adorable sculptures, stained glass windows and diminutive wooden doors and even cave-like playgrounds, you’ll find this Ozark retreat to be a place of wonder.

You'll find Terra Studios at 12103 Hazel Valley Road outside of Fayetteville. The phone number is (800) 255-8995. It's open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. every day except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, and admission is free. Learn more at the website here.


  1. The website is, not .org or .net

  2. We've recently begun to spend time in this area of the world and we must have driven right by Terra Studios without knowing it was there. Or what is was. Next time I'm close by I'll be sure to visit.
    I like your blog very much. I have a feeling I'll find lots of places to visit! Thanks!

  3. I just started to spend some time in this part of the world. I must have driven right past Terra Studios without realizing that it was there. I'll be sure to stop next time!
    I enjoy your blog. There are so many fun places to visit and now I'll know where they are, and especially what restaurants are close by. Thanks!


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