(It Just Gushes
Excerpts from Beth:
a name that is synonymous with all that is rich, exclusive
and extravagant. When the Roadchix discovered that the famous
Waterford Crystal Factory gave tours of their facility, we
were hot on the trail. The lobby gushed lavishness with chandeliers,
wood paneling, and a lovely cafeteria with such favorites
as hot pressed sandwiches, grilled salmon, mineral water and
individual fruit tarts.
It also gushed "tourist trap" with about 3 classes
of school children sprawled out with their lunch bags waiting
for their tours. The tour began with a shuttle bus ride to
Rule #1: when they have to shuttle you to the start of the
tour, you know you're in for a whopper of a factory.
Rule #2: when your tour guides are perfectly coifed, wearing
headset microphones and look like flight attendants, you know
they mean business. The tour was fascinating from beginning
to end. It was immediately apparent why the goods are so pricey.
Each piece is made entirely by hand by a team of skilled trades
people who require 5-8 years of apprenticeship before one
of their pieces would ever make it to the store shelf.
First we watched the glass blowing operation, then the glass
cutting and finally the etching and finishing processes. We
even got some time up close and personal with a master craftsman
and his whirling diamond wheel to watch the creation of the
famous "Lismore" pattern.
Another fun fact about glass is that Waterford never has
the necessity to sell factory "seconds." Any mistakes
are simply thrown back in the furnace to re-melt for the next
project, a sorrowful occasion for the craftsman who got shorted
on his paycheck. The tour ended, of course, in the gift shop,
that was actually a three-story showroom that literally glistened.
We drooled over the pieces, tried to decide if we had enough
Euros for a souvenir, and bought postcards instead.