House of Waterford Crystal - Waterford
House of Waterford Crystal is home to the iconic high-end crystal manufacturers who are world renowned for their exquisite crystal. They are located on the mall in the centre of the Viking Triangle in the historic city of Waterford in the south east of Ireland. The company was incorporated in 1783 and has been producing top quality crystal since then, although it has seen some changes over the years in ownership. Today the company produces in excess of 45,000 pieces each year using traditional methods.
Guided tours offer visitors an insight into the different stages of the production process to the centuries old tradition of Waterford Crystal making. On the journey visitors will see beautiful pieces of crystal created in front of them. Following a short introduction visitors are taken into the actual factory. In the Blowing Department, see how these craftsmen make a piece of red-hot molten crystal take shape and feel the intense heat from the 1400°c furnace. Still practised here is the ancient craft of mould making, the technique has barely altered over the years, wooden moulds and hand tools are used by the Master Blowers to shape the molten crystal. In Hand Making visitors will see how the crystal is temporarily marked with a geometric grid to assist the Master Cutter. The Master Cutters train for eight years to master their craft, these skilled professionals are the ones responsible for allocating each piece with its clear and sparkling cut. Sculpting is another craft with a Master Sculptor working three dimensionally, creating a piece from a solid block of crystal, this can take anything from a few days to months to achieve. They use a copper wheel that is used here is called "Itaglio", meaning reverse, the deeper the engraver engraves into the piece the more eye-catching the object becomes. All pieces go through a rigorous six stage inspection, they occur at each stage of production and only if a piece meets their exacting standards does it pass through to the next stage. Those pieces that do not make the cut are rejected, smashed and sent back to the furnace to be melted again. Each year they melt down a mind boggling 750 tonnes of crystal.
The guided tours take about an hour and thirty minutes, and are extremely interesting, the friendly guides are engaging and informative. There is also an Exhibition Area, with sporting trophies and statement pieces, not to be missed. Make sure to have your camera.
There is a large luxurious store that contains the largest collection of this highly sought after crystal at their Brand Experience, in addition to giftware, craft and jewellery collections. Visitors can purchase from their complete range of products here and they also ship Worldwide.
They are open Monday to Saturday with the Factory Tours operating Monday to Friday. There is a nice coffee shop, the Crystal Cafe, it serves breakfasts, lunches and light snacks.
A visit here is a unique and captivating experience that will appeal to and engage all ages.