|*not to scale*|
Heather had really wanted to visit, and to be honest, I would have been content to skip it and never give it another thought; but it was her trip, so we went. I'm so glad we did, because it turned out to be an incredibly fascinating visit. I was beyond impressed with the process, it is a true art to create the pieces they do: 95% are created completely by hand! We did the factory tour, and our guide, Naomi, was lovely; she did a fantastic job explaining everything. They have been manufacturing crystal for 200 years and are world famous for it. The crystal is hand-blown and we were able to follow the process, watching every step (except the marking department, which wasn't operating that day).
|Each of their craftsmen has trained for a minimum of|
eight years to master their craft.
"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."Their crystal is inspected after each stage of production, and if the crystal doesn't pass their quality standards at any one of the 6 stringent inspections it is rejected, smashed and sent back to the furnace for re-melting.
|The majority of the patterns (i.e. non-specialty pieces) do not have|
the pattern marked onto the pieces, just a grid, so the cutters
must have about 150 different patterns memorized!
|9/11 Memorial Piece -- "In remembrance of Fr. Mychal Judge who |
was one of the 343 FDNY, 37 PAPD & 23 NYPD officers who lost
their lives on September 11th 2001 while trying to save others.
This piece is dedicated to all the rescue workers."
Our next stop was Hook Lighthouse, the world's oldest operational lighthouse. The lighthouse has been in place for over 800 years, and "according to tradition, the monks from Dubhán’s monastery erected the first fire beacon to warn seafarers to keep away from the dangerous rocks." They have a list of the lighthouse keepers going all the way back to 1810, the year the tower was handed over to the Corporation for Preserving & Improving the Port of Dublin. Don't be confused on the geography though, Hook Peninsula is almost 200 km south of Dublin.
1. a tower or other structure displaying or flashing a very bright light for the guidance of ships in avoiding dangerous areas, in following certain routes, etc.
2. Either of two cylindrical metal towers placed forward on the forecastle of the main deck of a sailing ship, to house the port and starboard running lights.