Friday, June 07, 2013

A Visit to Celtic Crystal!

I have some vintage pieces of old crystal stemware that have been passed down through my father’s side of the family for generations. 

My dad remembers his grandparents having this crystal for family gatherings and holiday dinners –and it could have belonged to his great-grandparents for all we know.  Because truth be told, we know SO LITTLE.

At my house it comes out for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I really never gave it much thought.  Until we made this stop at Celtic Crystal, I never knew just what the difference was between plain old glass, and cut crystal.

If you want to know more…click HERE to visit the company’s website--  Their photos are much better than mine!

We were given a very nice “introductory to cut crystal” by our guide ---who explained to us that glass is blown and shaped, and then cooled.  After which trained artisans with up to 8 or more years of intense training learn to cut the patterns by eye with no templates, no computer programs….every cut and etching being placed by hand with a grinding wheel.

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Isn’t it gorgeous? I even thought more so as our guide explained the process that takes many steps and a lot of time.

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Our guide showing us how red glass was fused over clear glass, and then the cuts are made through the outer layer to reveal the clear again..

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The green one is done much the same way ---

Every cut memorized and placed by eye ---and by ear.  The sound of the grinding wheel tells the cutter if he has gone deep enough, without going all the way through.

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This is our craftsman – showing how he marked intervals on the bowl as registration marks – much like a longarm quilter will do when getting ready to free-hand quilt a feather in a border.

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He turns on the wheel, and the faucet that runs water over the wheel to rinse away the grit..and begins to grind his pattern into the glass.

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Other than those registration marks…this is all done from memory.  And years of experience!

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Here is the first step of the cable design cut into the glass by the grinding stone ---

And then…he etched an “Irish Rose” design into the bottom:

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Each cut made by placing the bowl against the grinding wheel……making each mark as precise as the last…..There are more steps to go through to smooth out the cuts, to polish the glass, to make it ready for sale. 

I’ll never look at cut crystal the same ever again…..it is a labor intensive very time consuming process, and there is no such thing as “mass production” here.  These are works of art!

This trip is turning out to be quite the equestrian adventure as well.  Look what was waiting outside:

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A pair of playful colts were romping in the sunshine!

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While other horses calmly grazed ---

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Hello, White Beauty!

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A very horsey self-portrait!
((How do teenagers do this and make it work I’m terrible at it!))

Class Day #1 is done…and I’ll spend a bit more evening time editing those photos and getting them ready to post tomorrow morning, my time.  I know posts are posting at really wild times, but I have to post them in the time zone I’m living in ---

Tomorrow is a busy day – two half day classes!  Jared Takes A Wife in the morning – and String Spiderweb in the afternoon!  We are ready to make a complete mess and have a ball doing it!

G’night, everyone!

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  1. I'm really enjoying your trip posts and glad you're able to do them. Especially liked the one earlier today about how you've been spending your mornings walking. Best time of day, wherever you are.

  2. I,too, am enjoying your posts. I enjoy your willingness to live in-the-moment. Look forward to class pics! Have fun!

  3. I am enjoying your vivid descriptions of the journey...and I am ON IT! But you describe what we are doing so well...much better than I could! Nice...

  4. Beautiful glass. I can now appreciate the glass clock my godmother gave me years ago.
    Kathleen, San Juan, Texas

  5. Glad you are having a good time! Very interesting info about the cut glass. It's amazing. Thanks for letting us come along! Have a good evening.

  6. Anonymous7:26 PM EDT

    Oh Bonnie, it is like being on tour too. YOu know, the man cutting the cystal dish was NOT WEARING safety glasses. WOWOW, that would be a huge no-no in the USA.

    The pieces of crystal are awesomely beautiful. Just think, one wrong cut and the piece would be destroyed. It takes artists with steady hands and good eyes ... not to mention many years experience.

    Thanks again for including we stay-at-homes on your trip to Ireland.
    HUGS JulieinTN

  7. That was incredible. I love the designs. I really had noidea that it was all hand cut.

  8. Sounds like your days are about perfect with quilting and sightseeing! How are the meals? Are you eating any traditional Irish fare?

  9. It is always such fun to come along with you on your trips! Thank you so much for sharing with us!!!

  10. Thank you for all the posts from Ireland, they are beautiful!!

  11. So interesting to read about the cut crystal. Like others, I had no idea that it was done in that way. Thanks to you for taking the time to write and post photos when sometimes you must just want to collapse!

  12. Love the armchair travel, thanks Bonnie. Glad everything is working out well and that you are having good wheather. looking forward to reading about your eating adventures there as well.
    Cheers Dorothea

  13. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing and educating us!

  14. That is so interesting - thank you for taking time to share while you are there!

  15. I kept hoping you'd say the family crystal you have was from the factory you visited! I have Irish Waterford crystal and had a devil of a time trying to find some to buy when I was in Ireland... wanted to have at least one piece that came directly from there. Enjoy your time there!

  16. I want to know why that man grinding glass isn't wearing safety glasses!! And your one-armed self-portrait turned out great by the way. I'm always amazed how those turn out :) Thank you for all your postings from your trip.


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