Nothing compares with the atmosphere of the blowing room, the heady mix of heat, noise and bustling activity makes this experience all the more breath-taking as you edge closer to the 1400 c furnace.
In front of your eyes, you will see red-hot molten crystal take shape, in a miracle of light, heat and skill. Our craftsmen are meticulous and you can watch as they transform glowing balls of molten crystal into elegant shapes with skills that have made two hundred years of perfection clearly visible in every piece.
Waterford Crystal is one of the few companies today, which still practises the ancient craft of mould making. Very little has changed in this craft over the centuries.
Wooden moulds and hand tools are used by our Master Blowers to shape the molten crystal.
The wooden moulds and hand tools are made from beech and pear wood, which are a smooth wood, which has a high tolerance to heat. Even so, due to the searing heat of the crystal these moulds have a relatively short life span of approximately 7-10 days.
Our crystal is inspected after each stage of production. Only pieces that are within Waterford Crystal's quality standards are allowed through to the next process.
There are six stringent inspections, if at any stage the crystal is not considered to be first quality it is rejected, smashed and sent back to the furnace for re-melting.
As you move to the next department on the factory tour you will see the hand marking area. Here the crystal is marked with a temporary geometric grid to assist the Master Cutter to cut the pattern onto the crystal. Each pattern will have been learned and memorized by the cutter during his training years.
The geometric grid of horizontal and vertical guidelines is drawn on using a marker that will then be removed during the cleaning process.
At Waterford Crystal we practice two types of cutting, Wedge Cutting and Flat Cutting. Advances in technology mean that today we use industrial diamond tipped wheels to cut the crystal, the diamond wheel gives a high quality and cut to the crystal. The Master Cutter must rely on his own skill to judge the amount of pressure that is required to hold the crystal to the wheel; too much pressure will cause a cut through to the other side.
Each of our craftsmen has trained for a minimum of 8 years to master their craft. They are responsible for giving each piece the clear and sparkling cut that is the distinctive hallmark of Waterford Crystal.
Crystal sculpture is the same in principle as stone sculpture except that wheels are used instead of mallets and chisels.
The Master Sculptor works 3 dimensionally, using his skill to sculpt the desired piece from a solid block of crystal. Days, weeks and even months can pass before a sculpted piece is completed.
The type of copper wheel engraving used here at Waterford Crystal is called 'Intaglio', which means reverse. The deeper the engraver engraves into the crystal the more prominent the object appears.
It can take from hours to days to complete the engraving on many of our international sporting trophies and limited edition inspiration pieces.