Tuesday, September 15, 2015

House of Waterford Crystal Tour

House of Waterford Crystal Tour
During a recent trip to the city's Harvest Festival, I took the opportunity to take the factory tour at Waterford Crystal. It was, pardon the pun, brilliant, much better than anticipated. And great to see a strongly beating heart right in the centre of the city even if some of the limbs are in rather distant places.

But the people that make the high end pieces, eye catching and stunning pieces, work right here in Waterford and you get close up when you take the guided tour.
It will cost you a small fortune to take Cinderella to the ball!
Your guide will fill you in on the background of glass-making and on the history of the Waterford operation in particular. Then you move into the factory and start in the atmospheric Blowing Department. Next stop is the Mould Room where short-lived timber moulds are fashioned for the large pieces. You’ll see moulds there for many sports trophies, including that for the Irish Open.
Next up is the Quality Control room. If the piece is not up to standard, it is scrapped and the glass recycled. Waterford don't do seconds! Now into the Hand Marking Department where a temporary grid is applied to assist the cutter. The concentration in the Cutting Department is intense. Each of the craftsmen has trained for a minimum of 8 years to master the craft, applying the clear and sparkling cut that is the distinctive hallmark of Waterford Crystal.
Now we are into the Sculpture Department. Amazing what these folks can fashion from a solid block of glass, sometimes indeed, if the piece is particularly large, from a few blocks. Some of the pieces take months to complete.
Blow, glow
Ready for sculpting
The Engraving Department is next, all done with a copper wheel and again maximum concentration! It can take from hours to days to complete the engraving on many of the international sporting trophies and limited edition inspiration pieces.

And that is more or less it. The tour ends in the shop and you are let loose! And do watch out for those magnificent trophies and unique pieces. I had been a little sceptical in advance but found the experience very impressive and would highly recommend it. Get all the details here.

Horse-racing trophy (Churchill Downs)
See also: Dinner at Bodega Waterford