Before we became travelers, we only knew Waterford Crystal from our wedding registry.  We came upon some in Macy’s and noted that it was some expensive “glass”.

After having visited Ireland, we have to admit, the Ireland bling known as Waterford Crystal is hypnotic and more than just fancy glass.

We were thrilled when we learned we’d be taking a tour of the Waterford Crystal plant/showroom.

Before arriving to the factory, our tour guide, Evelyn, shared that in June 2009 the Waterford factory closed leaving tourists out of luck in seeing the famous Waterford Crystal, and many locals out of a job.  But, thankfully, in 2010, a new group took over and brought the factory back with a new improved showroom and tour experience.

Since it was our first experience, ignorance was bliss.  We thoroughly enjoyed the factory tour.  We can say that without taking the tour, we wouldn’t have really known how much work goes into one piece of crystal or just how cool these crystal pieces are.

Step one: the molding process

Step one: the molding process

Right out of the gate, we were surprised to learn that the molding process began with wood.  As you can imagine, wood molds do burn, and, so eventually the mold will be out of commission.

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The next 9 pictures are a series of photos taken in order of the journey that a piece of crystal undergoes.

The molding area

1. The Blowing Department

 

Molding in action

2. Molding in action

 

Cooling the mold

3. Blowing crystal into shape

 

Step 3: Shaping

4. Smoothing out and finessing

 

Step 4: Sanding

5. Quality inspection department smooths out the crystal

We found the Quality Inspection Department to be quite impressive.  One of the most impressive aspects about this process is if the crystal piece has any imperfections, it is destroyed and sent to be re-melted.

Marking station

6. Hand Marking Station

 

Demonstration of marking for the cutting room

7. Demonstration of hand marking waiting for the cutting department

 

Cutting

8. The Cutting Department at work

 

A cutting artist

9.  Another cutting artist at work

The artists in the cutting department were quite friendly and more than willing to share their expertise with us.  One artist, not photographed, shared his knowledge of his station’s technique with us and gave us a glimpse into his life and the journey he traveled to become such an expert craftsman.  He had been with the company for 42 years.
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Waterford Crystal Showroom

Waterford Crystal Showroom

Until visiting the factory, we never noticed that the logo of the seahorse had a clover in the tail.

 

The delight of walking the showroom – luxurious, sexy, and creative – just a few words to describe the imagery dancing before our eyes.

Inside the showroom

One look inside the Waterford showroom

 

Display inside the showroom

Another display inside the Waterford showroom

 

Inside the showroom

A gorgeous setup inside the Waterford showroom

Our purchase

Our purchase: Waterford shot glasses

Fun tidbit:  As we brought King Bombo out for a picture, another guest – not part of our group – made a beeline for where we were standing.  She was fascinated by King Bombo and thought he was part of the Waterford shot set…unfortunately, we had to break the bad news to her, but she chuckled and carried on.

If ever in Waterford, visit the factory – even if you plan to buy nothing.

Peace out,

The Franci