Friday, October 12, 2007

Ireland's Waterford Crystal

Why is Waterford Crystal is so expensive? Stop at the Waterford Crystal factory just outside the historic Irish city of Waterford, and you’ll soon find out. The factory tour – priced at 9.50 euros per adult, but free for children under 12 – offers a glimpse into the intricacies of making fine cut crystal.

Some factories tours are a snore of plaque-gazing and displays, but this is a working factory involving 900 workers, and you get to see them at work, using many of the same methods as 200 years ago, when the Waterford Crystal company first opened.

All the crystal is hand-blown from molten crystal that flows 24/7 at a rate of 20 million tons per day. The pieces are marked with a felt tipped marker with a grid that will guide the cutter, who uses a diamond-tipped wheel to place each cut into the glass. It takes an experience master – who has trained for a minimum of 7 years – to make each cut exactly the same depth and breadth at precisely the right angle. A pineapple-shaped crosshatched vase requires 1.5 hours of cutting work; a custom-designed trophy for a major sporting event might take a cutter 6 full days.

No wonder a wine glass can cost $100. But beautiful…..

1 comment:

Crystal Tim said...

hi, now im wondering if its possible that the european tradition was the inspiration for US crystal. Any thoughts on this?