Whilst the fine art of crafting luxury crystal has benefited from two centuries of technological advances, the 21st century process would not be unfamiliar to the our 18th century founders, George and William Penrose. Technology is no replacement for proficiency, and our Master Craftsmen possess exemplary artisanal talent. Each must complete an eight-year long apprenticeship to learn each skill required for our production process before mastering these techniques through decades of perfection. Their elite hand-craftsmanship, precision skill and artistic excellence continue to be among the core components that transform the finest raw materials into the pinnacle of luxury crystal.
The fine art of crafting Luxury Crystal
Behind the furnace - Mastercraft Stellar in the making
The Design Studio within the House of Waterford Crystal, Ireland, is the incubator for the dreams, ideas and inspirations that later become your treasured pieces of luxury crystal. Our designers have honed their craft over decades with hands-on experience of each elite craft within the crystal-making process. With imagination and artistic vision, designers capture the spirit of exciting new themes and ideas in the blank canvas of pristine fine crystal, modernizing classic Waterford patterns for the contemporary tastes of a global audience.
We are one of few crystal manufacturers today that still practices the ancient craft of mould making. For this discipline, very little has changed over the centuries - a shining testament to the innovations of our 18th century Master Craftsmen. Wood moulds and hand tools of beech and pear woods are used by our Master Blowers to shape the molten crystal. Due to the searing heat of the crystal, these moulds have a life span of just 7-10 days.
This is where stunning luxury crystal starts to take its shape. Using a furnace that reaches temperatures of 2,400 degrees F, our Master Craftsmen meticulously manipulate and transform molten balls of glowing, red hot crystal to reveal the elegant shapes of Waterford Crystal.
Each crystal masterpiece is carefully inspected after each stage of production. Only pieces within our strict quality standards are allowed through to the next step of the process. There are six stringent inspections, and if at any stage the crystal is not considered to be of luxury quality, it is rejected, smashed and sent back to the furnace for re-melting. Adhering to these high standards paved the way for our pieces to become the pinnacle of luxury crystal.
Prior to cutting, each piece is temporarily marked with a geometric grid to assist the Master Cutter in transferring the pattern onto the crystal. Once the pattern is intricately adorned onto the crystal, these horizontal and vertical guidelines are removed during the cleaning process. Each individual pattern, of which there are hundreds, has been committed to memory by the Master Cutter through decades of training.
Our Master Cutters practices two types of cutting: Wedge Cutting and Flat Cutting. Advances in technology enable the Master Cutter to employ industrial diamond-tipped wheels to cut the crystal. These fine instruments apply the highest quality cut to each piece, adorning them with carefully crafted facets and outstanding brilliance. The Master Cutter must rely on his skill to judge the exact pressure that is required to hold the crystal to the wheel, as too much will create a damaging cut that could shatter the crystal.
Once cut, the piece is then thoroughly polished to remove rough edges, produce a luxurious and smooth feel, and bring forth the trademark brilliance of Waterford Crystal. Unless there is additional work to be completed, such as wheel engraving for a personal touch, these pieces are now ready for their final inspection and a waiting world.
The method of forming a luxury crystal sculpture is similar to forming one of stone, except we trade the mallets and stone chisels for cutting wheels. Our Master Sculptor works three-dimensionally to sculpt his creation from a solid block of crystal. Due to its’ painstaking nature, completion of a sculpted crystal piece can take weeks and even months depending on size and complexity.
The type of copper wheel engraving used at in the House of Waterford Crystal is called 'Intaglio,' which means “reverse.” The deeper the engraver etches into the crystal, the more prominent the object appears. For international sporting trophies and large, limited edition inspiration pieces, it can take anywhere from a few hours to many days to complete the engraving.