"They may have closed the factory gates but we will not allow our ancient craft to be lost"-Tony Hayes Master Glass Maker
Our fathers were craftsmen at Waterford Crystal and we all naturally followed in their footsteps. For eight years we served our apprenticeship under the guidance of the great masters of glass blowing and cutting and, just like our fathers, we became master craftsmen.
Through the years we saw the company grow and we took great pride in its success. Then, in January 2009, our world was shattered when it was announced that the Waterford Crystal factory was to be closed and all of its employees were to be laid off.
We were determined that our ancient craft would survive. We decided to form our own company and use our unique talents to design and produce an innovative and exciting range of products. We had always enjoyed experimenting with color and we now had an opportunity to bring our ideas to the market in the form of products inspired by the wonderful array of colors that are evident everywhere throughout Ireland. We are, Danny Murphy, master cutter, Derek Smith and Tony Hayes, master blowers and Richard Rowe, master blower and renowned studio artisan and we are delighted to be doing what we like best – glass making.
Glass is on one of the oldest of materials known by man. The first actual glass objects were made from obsidian which is a natural glass created by sudden volcanic eruptions followed by rapid cooling. The first manmade glass objects appeared in 4000BC in the Mesoptamian area. The main materials used to make glass are silica sand, sodium carbonate and calcium oxide.
The blowing process employed by the Irish Handmade Glass craftsmen follows the same techniques created in the middle of the last century BC. It involves gathering a portion of molten glass on the end of a blowpipe and inflating it into a bubble. The glassblower can then quickly inflate the molten glass to a coherent blob and work it into a desired shape using traditional glass making tools such as a punty rod, block, tweezers, paper and a variety of shears. The cooling process for the newly formed glass object occurs in a furnace known as a lehr or annealer. This is used to slowly cool the glass, over a period of a few hours to a few days, depending on the size of the pieces. This keeps the glass from cracking or shattering due to thermal stress. The final production phase is the cutting process. The glass is pressed onto a diamond wheel which is cooled by the constant flow of water. A combination of wedge and olive cuts help to create the required pattern. The master craftsman adjusts the pressure on the glass in order to achieve the various widths and depths required by the design. For some designs the master craftsman uses a polishing wheel in order to highlight specific features.
Danny Murphy Master Glass Cutter:
Danny has been cutting glass since 1977 and during that time he has gained a vast knowledge of his craft. He is responsible for all the cutting designs for us at The Irish Handmade Glass Company.
Tony Hayes Master Glass Maker:
Tony was one of the last apprentices employed by Waterford Crystal. He began his apprenticeship in 1986, qualifying as a blower in 1991 and he became a Master in 1994. He now creates many of the figurines made by The Irish Handmade Glass Company.
Derek Smith Master Glass Maker:
Derek began his career as a Glass Blower in 1978 and spent the majority of his time blowing large items and world sports awards. Derek specialises in medium to large vases and bowls.
Richard Rowe Master Glass Maker:
Richie has been blowing glass for the last 46 years. During his time working for Waterford Crystal he has worked with many of the most recognised glass artists from around the world. Amongst these are Dale Chihuly, Joe Rosano and Dan Dailey. Richie is considered to be one of the finest glass makers ever to emerge from Waterford and this can be seen in the many works of art he has created at The Irish Handmade Glass Company.