The tour begins at the House of Waterford Crystal in central Waterford. Here, you join a maximum group of 20 people for a shared guided tour of the visitor centre and factory. The Waterford plant produces the most intricate and expensive of the brand’s products, often handmade pieces used as trophies for illustrious sporting tournaments. This behind-the-scenes factory tour takes you through all aspects of crystal production, starting with a small display about the distinctive traditional Waterford Crystal pattern.
You then enter the factory itself, where you’ll see craftspeople working on the glass at different stages, from glass blowing to cutting, sculpting and engraving. Each stage of the process will be explained as you watch these highly skilled artisans at work.
The first stop is the blowing room. Here, heat and noise combine with technical skills as the glass blowers transform molten glass into usable shapes, often with the help of wooden moulds.
The glassware is then marked with a grid to aid the cutter to cut the glass precisely with the distinctive Waterford patterns using diamond-tipped wheels. It’s then etched with a copper wheel, a process that can take several days.
As you observe each stage of the process, you’ll learn about the skills needed to complete the work and the minimum eight years of training the workers complete to learn the trade and become masters.
The glassware undergoes six inspections as it passes through the factory, and you’ll hear about the meticulous standards that are applied and what happens to pieces that don’t make the grade.
After seeing the creative process from start to finish, you have an opportunity to inspect some of these exceptionally detailed finished products. The tour ends at the gift shop, where a variety of traditional and contemporary pieces are for sale.