Waterford Crystal Factory

3 Nov

In an effort to try and experience all of the different regions Ireland has to offer a small group of us decided to take a train down to the Southern Town of Waterford. Each of us had an open mind about visiting the town but assumed it would be a vibrant place due to the international crystal brand that has been based there for many years. The actual town of Waterford was very small and a little run down however the Crystal Factory tour was an awesome experience from which I learned a great deal.


Upon arrival to the Crystal factory we are taken into a vast room featuring some of the largest and most beautiful creations that Waterford has to offer, some sculptures are a few feet tall and cost more then twenty five thousand Euros. Although it was nice to get a close look at the detail within the crystal I made sure to leave a few feet of space between myself and the sculpture just in case I slipped or was bumped. The tour consisted of four different stations; Glass blowing into molds, cooling and shaving, etching, and final inspection.


The first step was glass blowing into the pre-made molds, it was amazing to see the craftsmanship that went into creating the base of many crystal creations. There were four master craftsman who had each spent 8 years in training blowing molten hot glass into pre-made iron casts. These casts were originally made from wood many years ago but the casts made from trees would deteriorate very fast making the switch to iron highly beneficial. The second stage is cooling and shaving. After the glass is blown into the molds the hot crystal is slowly cooled for three days and then the imperfections are shaved off using a special water saw. From there the pieces are taken to the Waterford etching artists where they hand etch and draw every bit of detail onto the piece of art, making sure each piece is unique and beautiful. The final stage is inspection where a series of highly trained eyes look for symmetry, balance and ensure quality control.


Many years ago my grandma gave me a Waterford crystal clock for Christmas and I never appreciated the value and true beauty of the clock until now. I feel as though I have experienced more then just a simple factory tour and have seen a practice that has stood the test of time without being corrupted by modern machines. I learned that the BCS college football championship trophy is made by Waterford and was actually able to hold a model that they made recently to be shipped to the U.S. I also learned that the giant ball that is “dropped” every new years eve in New York City is made by Waterford Crystal. 


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