Posted on Leave a comment

Spring 2021 delivery update


We are incredibly proud that every piece of crystal we produce is 100% hand-crafted in our small factory in the English Lake District. Our obsession with producing the highest quality crystal – using 2000 year-old glassmaking processes -means every piece takes a minimum of 10 days to create and many hours of our artisans’ time.


COVID19 and the safe working measures we have adopted to protect our staff, are currently impacting the speed at which we are able to manufacture. Glassblowers traditionally work in teams, each with a specialist skill, and currently cannot do so as normal. Consequently, we are working at about 50% capacity, and are experiencing high demand. Some goods may therefore take up-to 8 weeks to complete.


We understand that in a world of Amazon Prime and next day delivery, this can seem a long time. However, our luxury crystal is some of the best in the world, must be completely hand-made and being a small business makes it even harder to scale during the pandemic. We are dedicated to creating crystal for you to use, admire and treasure for a lifetime and beyond. We very much appreciate your order, alongside your patience and understanding in this matter and assure you that any wait will be worthwhile.

Is your order a gift?

If your order is intended as a gift and we do not have it in stock, or if we are unable to produce it by the date you require, we can send to you (or the recipient) an official Commission Letter to advise that you have commissioned something beautiful and special to be made especially for them.

What this means is that once your order is placed (and you have stated in the order notes that you would like this option), we will create a presentation package advising your recipient what is being created for them, with an explanation about delivery.  This will be personalised, on foiled letterhead paper and include information about Cumbria Crystal, our heritage and the crystal.

Posted on Leave a comment

The perfect flower for the perfect vase; an exploration 

At Cumbria Crystal, we understand we are best known for our stand out pieces which have featured many times on the silver screen (Downton Abbey, James Bond, The Crown). However, this Mother’s Day we wanted to focus on one of our best kept secrets; our luxury, crystal vases.

A staple within the company for many decades we have over 50 vases – spanning over many of our collections – which are available in such a variety of shapes and sizes that no flower will be left out in the cold.

Here are our perfect pairings for this Mother’s Day

Single, dried hydrangea

Native to Asia, this morning-sun loving flower is ideal for a statement piece when dried; ideal for the mother who prefers something she can keep longer than your fresh bouquet. 

Perfectly displayed in…

Our dainty 12.5cm Grasmere vase.

Purchase now

The Rose

When we reached out to you via social media, the rose became a favourite when describing your favourite flower. Favouring the climates of the UK and US, this edible and highly fragranced flower has different meaning depending on the colour of the petal.

Perfectly displayed in…

Our elegant waisted 20cm crystal vase.

Purchase now

A bunch of tulips

The sign of Tulips is a sign of Spring and they are a true rainbow of colours and shades, originally from Iran. Their soft stem requires a vase that can support their voluptuous heads as they drink and bloom.

Perfectly displayed in…

Our tall and slender 28cm Grasmere vase.

Purchase now

At the time of publishing, all vases featured are in stock and can be ordered in time for Mother’s Day if the order is placed on or before 10th March 2021.


Would you like to commission a vase, or possibly a selection of glasses from our collections? If you place an order and we do not have your item in stock we can send you a beautifully presented commission letter to pass on to your mother. This letter will explain that you are having crystal especially handcrafted for her, so it will be truly bespoke. We aim to deliver commissioned pieces within 8 weeks of the order date. Please state COMMISSION in the order notes if you would like this option.

Browse Vases | Browse Gin Glasses

Posted on Leave a comment

Our top 3 alcohol-free beverages

As one of the makers of the finest luxury, handcrafted crystal in the world we know that our pieces are often purchased to enjoy an alcoholic beverage in.

Being mindful of Dry January and promoting balance in our lives we wanted to highlight our top three alcohol-free drinks. Whether you are abstaining from alcohol just throughout January, for much longer or you simply want an alternative to reach to on occasion; here are our recommendations.

Number one It isn’t quite tropical weather in the Northern Hemisphere at the moment but who says we can’t bring paradise into our homes along with obligatory Margeritas!

Mokingbird Spirit is an alcohol free, tequila inspired, agave based spirit founded in the UK by Fern McCoy and also contains ashwaganda which is an adaptogen that helps with stress and anxiety.

Here is their delicious Passion Fruit Margarita recipe which is perfectly served in our Boogie Woogie Coupe Glass.

Taste notes

Whilst delicious consumed as the bottle suggests (spirit, lime, soda) our personal favourite way to drink was two ice cubes, 50ml spirit and a squeeze of lime, right after dinner.

Purchase at https://www.mockingbirdspirit.com/

Number two We drink alcohol for many different reasons, and when we take a break from drinking we sometimes miss the “feeling” alcohol gives us. Let us introduce you to Three Spirits; alcohol alternatives that are booze free but with the buzz.

They say “Our drinks combine plants used for centuries in ceremonies and potions to stimulate the palate, mind and body.” Explore the three types that they offer and the abundance of mocktails you can create with them

Taste notes

We have completely fallen for their Fierce Spritz recipe (Livener, pink grapefruit, kombucha) which holds itself beautifully in our Palm Large Wine Glass.

Purchase at https://threespiritdrinks.com/

Number three This superior unfiltered lager is simply one of the best on the market. With its distinctive branding, it was created after founder Luke Boase spent one year of studying alcohol-free beer in Germany

It is the one that if you were served accidently in place of a regular indie lager – you wouldn’t know it was only 0.5%. Poured perfectly into our Loop Large Highball.

Taste notes

While it has a look of creaminess akin to an pale ale, do not be fooled. This is a true lager which we genuinely believe could replace your regular 4.5% pint once it is safe to socialise once again.

Purchase at https://luckysaint.co/

Officially, within the UK alcohol-free beverages are those with alcohol content of 0.0%. Drinks that are 0.5% are within the low alcohol category but deemed by most as alcohol free.

All the above companies kindly gifted samples so we were able to authentically recommend to our readers.

If you would like more information regarding Dry January, visit the Alcohol Change UK website.

Posted on Leave a comment

Christmas 2020

As of 26 November 2020, we can no longer guarantee delivery in time for Christmas. This page will explain why that is and what your options are in terms of gifting Cumbria Crystal during the festive period and supporting a small, heritage business like ours.

Why are you unable to guarantee Christmas deliveries?

Unfortunately, this is out of our hands. We have been extremely grateful for all the orders we have had in this difficult year however there are a number of factors which have led to us being unable to keep up with demand.

  • On March 24th we had to shut down both our furnaces for the first time in 44 years, and furlough most staff. 
  • We spent the Spring and Early Summer preparing crystal that already had been blown but that needed to go through the rest of our process including cutting and polishing as these are activities that are carried out by an artisan operating alone.
  • We were able to relight one of our furnaces in late Summer (this is a four week process to ensure they are at the correct temperature to blow the high quality glass we are known for).
  • However just a few weeks later one of our furnaces had to be shut down due to a cracked crucible (these are made of clay in France and take months to create, dry and deliver).
  • At the end of October we were able to install a new crucible and over the course of several weeks heated it up so it could be used to blow glass once again.
  • During this same period we had difficulties with our acid machine which meant 100s of beautiful pieces of handblown glass were unable to be sold due to the damage done when introduced to the machine.
  • We began the Christmas ordering period still trying to fulfil earlier orders, which has put us in a difficult position of not being able to guarantee any orders in time for Christmas

Can you do anything to increase output and fulfil orders?

We are a small team of 23 artisans in a modest factory in the Lake District. Our glass blowers work in pairs and so UK government regulations and social distancing rules has heavily impacted this area of the factory. All our glass blowers have a minimum of 15 years experience. A piece of crystal takes a minimum of 10 days to make where around 40% will be deemed high enough quality to be Premium Quality, and the rest Factory Outlet.

There is an incredible beauty and magic in our traditional manufacturing process, and one that we are extremely proud of, however it means that we cannot simply increase output with demand like a modern business would be able to do.

I very much want to buy from you and support you – what are my options?

We are so grateful for such a loyal customer base who really do fall in love with the Crystal we pride ourselves on. We welcome all your orders, we just do not want to make any guarantees and then disappoint so here are what we are doing

  • Made especially for you this Christmas (Premium Quality) if you are in the UK and order a Premium Quality item(s) we will send yourself/ your recipient a Made especially for you this Christmas gift box. This will include a glass tealight holder made by our talented team along with a personalised letter, printed on headed paper, explaining that Crystal is being handcrafted just for them and will be delivered in the new year. ORDER NOW
  • Made especially for you this Christmas (Factory Outlet) if you are in the UK and order a Factory Outlet item(s) we will send yourself/ your recipient a Made especially for you this Christmas letter. This will be a personalised letter, printed on headed paper, explaining that Crystal is being handcrafted just for them and will be delivered in the new year. ORDER NOW
  • Gift certificate if you would rather your recipient receive a gift voucher and choose Crystal for themselves then we send a personalised letter, on headed paper and in a crisp purple envelope to yourself or the recipient advising them of the amount gifted and how to use this with Cumbria Crystal. This can be used for Crystal and Glass Blowing experiences (which we plan to resume in Spring 2021 if COVID19 guidelines allow to do so safely). ORDER NOW
  • Our International customers can order e-vouchers which are delivered immediately.

I really want to gift actual Crystal this Christmas, I don’t really mind what it is, how do I find out what you have in stock ready to post?

We do strongly recommend the options above however you are welcome to call us on 01229 584400 during office hours to place an order for items which we have in stock, ready to send. We can discuss your needs over the phone and select appropriate items for you.

Thank you

It is thanks to our small but mighty team of staff and our loyal customers that we have survived 2020. We understand that you may want to physically gift something this Christmas and we respect that. But if you want to gift a bespoke, handcrafted timeless piece created to last a lifetime and more then we ask you still order from us and we will ensure your recipient receives a promise from us regarding your generous gift.

Thank you for your understanding.

Posted on Leave a comment

Return, Repair, Recycle and Replace

At Cumbria Crystal, we pride ourselves on making some of the best crystal in the word & delivering the best possible support to our customers. We also care about the environment and being as sustainable as possible. However, being a traditional manufacturer, using ancient techniques, can make this a challenge.

In an effort to address this, and improve support to our customers, we are introducing a new initiative called Return, Repair, Recycle and Replace.

Customers tell us that the fear of breakage is one of the primary reasons they do not use their crystal more frequently.  Since accidents do occasionally happen, and crystal can be chipped or damaged beyond repair, we hope our new initiative will help alleviate this concern.

Generally, most people do not wish to put broken crystal into regular recycling as they are attached to their crystal, the memories surrounding it and wish for it to be used for something special, rather than being recycled through normal bottle recycling facilities. Whilst glass is one of the materials which can be infinitely recycled, lead crystal cannot be mixed with the cheap soda glass used in the glass recycled in bottle banks, so will end up in landfill.


What is the service?

Return & Recycle. Return your crystal to us and we will melt it down and recycle it in our Glass Blowing Experiences furnace. It will then be used to make a beautiful glass bauble or handmade vase, allowing your crystal to live on in the form of a new product, and a powerful memory of this amazing creative experience.

Repair. If your crystal becomes chipped on the rim we will assess whether or not it is possible to repair it and assist you in avoiding the need to replace the product. Initially we will request you send a photo of the damaged product to  shop@cumbriacrystal.com  We will then advise whether we believe it is possible to repair. This service starts at £20. T&C’s apply.

Replace. If your crystal is beyond repair, you will be offered a 10% discount on a like-for-like replacement Premium Quality product.

As long as the product you return was made by Cumbria Crystal we can endeavour to repair it and you will be eligible for a 10% discount. It does not matter how old the item is, whether it was/is Factory Outlet or a Premium Quality product, or whether or not you have the receipt; as long as it is a piece of Cumbria Crystal we will accept it.

If you have any questions regarding our new service, feel free to email us on shop@cumbriacrystal.com and we look forward to helping both our customers and the environment further in the future.

Glass and sustainability

  • Glass is 100% recyclable and made entirely from natural materials, it’s non-toxic, naturally protective — and does not harm the ocean.
  • It’s 100% endlessly recyclable, which means that recycled glass is always part of the recipe for glass as long as it is not contaminated.
  • Every tonne of recycled glass saves 670 Kgs of CO2.
  • Glass can be recycled indefinitely and not lose its quality.
  • Recycled glass, also called cullet, requires 40% less energy to melt than from the raw materials.

Sources: https://www.miglass.com/20-facts-about-glass/ and https://www.friendsofglass.com/history/5-gruende-warum-glas-ein-nachhaltig-guter-freund-ist/

*Please note, we may advise that your item is repairable and then on closer inspection it may not be. You will then have the option to purchase a replacement Premium Quality item with a 10% discount or cover return postage for us to return it to you. Liability for postage costs and/or transit breakage remains with the customer.

Posted on Leave a comment

A brief history of the last 40 years of UK glass manufacturing

Founded in 1976, Cumbria Crystal has made its mark by surviving as the last luxury, handcrafted crystal maker in the UK and by aspiring to similar quality standards to some of the most famous & expensive global brands such as Baccarat, St Louis, Lalique and Moser.

We are often asked what happened to the English crystal industry – and the glass industry in general – and why it has changed so dramatically in less than 50 years. Today we will try to briefly discuss, not just the crystal industry, but some of the other glass industries in the UK. A detailed lecture on this subject was recently delivered by David Dalton, Chief Executive of British Glass, who we would like to thank for providing data for this article.

1980

In 1980 there were around 50 sites producing glass for the Glass Container industry. This would have included items such as milk bottles and wine bottles, employing around 8000 workers in the manufacturing process alone and generating a turnover of at least £440M per year.

Photo by Andrew Seaman on Unsplash

The Flat Glass industry was dominated by Pilkington, based in St. Helens, Liverpool. Sir Alastair Pilkington invented the Float-Glass process between 1953-57 and the company enjoyed a monopoly on this process for many years both in the UK and globally. Float glass will be familiar to you as the type of glass used in large modern windows. It was called Float Glass as it is made by literally ‘floating’ the glass over a lake of molten tin as it is slowly drawn from the furnace. The glass floated on the tin as it spread and flattened. The heat from the tin simultaneously polished the underside of the glass as the flames above polished the top surface. Prior to this glass had to be ground and polished on one of the surfaces, initially by hand & later by machine, meaning large flat sheets of glass were incredibly difficult to make and extraordinarily expensive.  Our modern cities and skyscrapers would not look the way they do today without float glass.

Photo by Victor Garcia on Unsplash

The Crystal Glass industry – the category in which Cumbria Crystal sits – was centred in Stourbridge (West Midlands) which was the global epi-centre of lead crystal production (domestic glass and tableware). Lead crystal, sometimes called flint glass, was invented by Englishman George Ravenscroft in 1673 and England lead the way in the world for crystal production. Prior to 1980 there had been in the region of 500 crystal manufacturing companies! In 1980, many of the most famous companies such as Waterford, Whitefriars, Thomas Webb, Stuart Crystal, Edinburgh Crystal, Royal Doulton and Royal Brierly still existed. The vast majority of these closed in the subsequent years.

In 1980, Cumbria Crystal was only 4 years old. Founded by the Cavendish family to bring glass blowing to the Lake District, it recruited glass blowers from Stourbridge and specialised in the production of clear, hand blown, hand-cut full-lead (30%) crystal tableware in a factory in Ulverston.

2000

By 2000 Governments were becoming more aware of the environmental damage industry in general was doing to the planet and began to take serious action to fight climate change. The glass industry was taxed for emissions and the use of Carbon Migration schemes became a reality. Many manufacturers decamped production abroad to save paying high taxes in the EU. This, compounded by two recessions, a huge growth in the use of plastics for packaging and wrapping for supermarkets, a depression in the automotive sector and a general lack of investment meant many UK businesses closed.

At this point there were only a handful of Crystal Glass manufacturers remaining in the UK. The above, compounded by improving Health & Safety standards, increasingly high energy & raw material costs, a change in the gift giving culture, a lack of new designs and failure to train apprentices put the final nail in the coffin for most UK crystal manufacturers.

Cumbria Crystal’s focus on high quality, balanced with a pricing structure that avoided competing with price orientated international manufacturers in Eastern Europe, meant it avoided some of the financial race to the bottom.


2020

Around 6000 people are still directly employed in industrial glass production in the UK and the sector turns over £3B annually. This is a significant sized industry despite there being only 6 glass container manufacturers left. In the Flat Glass industry Pilkington now has only two sites, with a single furnace each, and has three contenders.

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

A few brand names still survive in the crystal tableware market. For example Waterford Crystal – which was a huge marketing phenomenon in the 70’s and 80’s – albeit in a different format. Post 9/11, travel by US citizens to Ireland almost ceased & sales went through the floor. The company was sold and most production is now being made in Slovakia and Czech Republic. They still have an impressive visitor centre. Royal Brierly and Caithness are now owned by Dartington. Caithness no longer produces tableware but specialises in beautiful decorative paperweights.

All is not doom and gloom for the future of glass production in the UK though. TV programmes and documentaries, such as David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, have raised public awareness of the downside of plastic (sea pollution, difficult to recycle, single use) and are beginning to change attitudes and behaviours. Investment and research into new technologies for melting glass, especially using electricity and/or hydrogen, are being supported actively by the government through the establishment of organisations such as Glass Futures. This initiative connects the glass industry and academia to create an industry cluster to ensure increased productivity and sustainability in the sector.

Glass plays an important role as one of the few materials which can be infinitely recycled; as long as it is not contaminated. Recycling is becoming more efficient and today a typical green wine bottle is 90% recycled.
The government plan is that glass making will become carbon neutral by 2035, meaning that plastic is out and glass will be back.

Cumbria Crystal’s survival today is primarily due to its refusal to squeeze standards and focus on the ‘art form’. A crystal decanter or goblet is not just a piece of glass, it is the product of at least 9 skilled artisans working together using heritage skills honed over decades. Typically a piece of crystal takes 10 days to convert from sand to finished product. Every piece is a work of Art. Today Cumbria Crystal is smaller than in was in the 80’s, with only 23 staff, but it weathered the storms, holds an envious global reputation for quality and is planning for growth.

What does this mean for Cumbria Crystal?

Cumbria Crystal, as the only luxury, handcrafted crystal maker left in the UK is in a strong position to capitalise on its reputation. Investment is being sought to improve e-commerce routes to market and extend its customer base internationally. In time, more efficient furnaces will be required and capacity will be increased. Our collaborations – such as those with Bentley Motors – continue and we will continue to focus on offering the very best luxury crystal, but with more contemporary collections added to the classic so there is something for everyone.

Recent collaboration with Bentley Motors

We are extremely proud with what we have achieved in an industry that has been hit so hard by economical, environmental and cultural changes:

  •  We are 100% British owned.
  •  Each step of the process takes place by hand, from blowing to marking to cutting.
  •  Everything is crafted in our small factory in the Lake District. Nothing is outsourced.
  •  We work with the Royal College of Art to provide educational opportunities and collaborations.
  •  We are one of the best value crystal businesses within the luxury market.
  •  We offer free access to the factory to view glass blowing and diamond wheel cutting.
  •  We provide a wide variety of collections.
  • Our products are regularly chosen for use on the big screen (Downton Abbey, James Bond).
  • Our more contemporary collections are gifted for all special occasions.
  • We are chosen by British Embassies for formal dining globally.
  • We supply to the most discerning clients & those who demand the ‘best of the best’.
  • We achieve all of this as a team of less than 30, from the CEO to the glass marker, and the accountant to retail assistant.

We look forward to serving you soon www.cumbriacrystal.com

Posted on Leave a comment

What is lead crystal?

What is lead crystal?

Glass can only be called Crystal if it contains a minimum of 24% of lead oxide in the raw materials. Glass with over 30% is called full-lead crystal. Anything else is simply ‘glass’.

How do we begin to make lead crystal at Cumbria Crystal?

We start with creating our own secret Batch recipe. Batch is the technical term for the combination of different materials which give each glass its particular properties. It includes high quality silica sand; soda, manganese, lime and lead oxide. Due to small quantities required by Cumbria Crystal it is safer and more costs effective to have the raw materials mixed for us by a specialist company in Sweden. It arrives looking like an opaque granular breakfast cereal. It only becomes glassy after melting.

Once the batch is delivered to our factory it is melted in our two 500kg furnaces. Unlike many other glass factories we do not melt the raw materials quickly overnight. In order to achieve the highest quality crystal possible we deliberately melt the glass slowly over a whole weekend. The process is as follows; on a Friday evening any excess glass from the week’s production is ladled from the furnace and fritted in large vats of water. This will be recycled the following week. The temperature is raised overnight from normal working temperature of 1240C up to 1450C.

Throughout the whole day on the Saturday, every hour two scoops of Batch, and one of Cullet or Frit, is put into the furnace. We use a ratio of 70% batch, to 30% Cullet/Frit. Cullet is excess crystal or broken crystal from the previous week’s production. Frit is glass that has been quenched in cold water from hot. The thermal shock causes the glass to break into little pieces. Glass is one of the few materials which may be recycled indefinitely, provided it is not contaminated in any way. In fact the addition of 30% Cullet & frit actually helps improve the quality of glass.

Putting the materials in hourly helps the materials to melt more evenly and as such helps reduce the number of small bubbles that are likely to be trapped in the glass as a consequence of the melting process. The glass is held at 1450C throughout the Saturday into the evening and then progressively cooled over the remainder of the weekend so it is at 1250C by 8am on the Monday morning. During the slow cooling the glass effectively shrinks and by doing this slowly it ‘squeezes’ the glass shrinking any tiny bubbles that have failed to rise to the surface and dissipate.

During the blowing process our glassmakers regularly ‘rake’ the surface of the glass. This also helps to reduce the volume of bubbles and chord the glassmakers gather on the end of the blowing iron. This can help improve the glass but slows the speed of production and can also limit the amount of products that can be produced in a day as the glass needs time to rest if worked this way for too long.  Chord is a tiny but visible difference in the refractive index of the glass caused by the evaporation of materials from the surface, as the glass sits in the pot. This tiny difference changes the chemical composition of the glass slightly. When it is gathered onto the blowing iron, this surface glass becomes mixed with the glass immediately below it and on cooling the refractive difference can become visible as wavy swirl in the glass. This is generally acceptable as it is a sure indication of handmade glass, but if there is too much it will be rejected and recycled or sold as a factory second.

Cumbria Crystal specialises in the use traditional methods. It shuns automated blowing and cutting used by so many manufacturers and focusses only on what can be made exclusively by hand. This inevitably leads to a significantly smaller output and a higher price due to our smaller output compared to other glass factories, but represents the very pinnacle of artisan craftsmanship.

Did you know?

Glass is not a slow-moving liquid. It is a solid, albeit an odd one. It is called an amorphous solid because it lacks the ordered molecular structure of true solids, and yet its irregular structure is too rigid for it to qualify as a liquid. In fact, it would take a billion years for just a few of the atoms in a pane of glass to shift at all, so your crystal should last forever.

What does lead in the glass do?

Invented by the Englishman George Ravenscroft in 1674 lead in the glass reduces the melting temperature, increases the weight of glass and creates a beautiful clear finish. Being denser it refracts (bends) light more than other glasses so it sparkles better. The additional weight and shine is what people truly love about Cumbria Crystal. Being slightly softer than other glasses, decorative cutting can easily be incorporated into the designs, and containing lead it reacts extremely well with the hydrofluoric and sulphuric acid mix that is used to bring the glass to an incredibly high shine.  

Is lead crystal safe?

Once lead is chemically bonded into the glass through the melting process it is safe to use. 

How do you know it is hand-made lead crystal?

First of all, weight. Lead crystal is heavy compared with other glasses.

Tiny bubbles and chord as described previously, are far more common in furnaces in which the glass ‘sits’ stationary (only affected by thermal currents) in a crucible or large ceramic pot. Industrially bubbles and chord are avoided as the glass is kept in continuous motion, effectively stirring the glass. However, this requires factories requiring 5+tons of glass per day as opposed to 1 ton per week at Cumbria Crystal. By their very nature the large factories are mass producing glass which will also not be lead crystal.  They can generally remove these minor variations in glass, but by doing so indicate that the products are unlikely to be lead crystal or completely handmade.

At Cumbria Crystal we see tiny bubbles and small amounts of chord as the ‘stars in the galaxy’. The almost invisible elements that make crystal that little bit more interesting, tell the story of its origins and a classic indication of handmade craftsmanship.


Why purchase from Cumbria Crystal?

  • We make everything in the UK, unlike some fellow glass manufacturers who outsource abroad. We are extremely proud that every element of the production process happens under one roof in our small factory in the English Lake District and UNESCO World Heritage site. 
  • We have a small team of just 23 staff. A typical glass will take 10-14 days to produce from start to finish and pass through at least 9 pairs or artisans’ hands.
  • We only produce crystal with 24% of lead content.
  • We specialise in clear, hand crafted luxury, lead crystal. We do one thing, we do it very well & aspire to be the best in the world.
  • We operate as sustainably as possible and have staff welfare, recycling and sustainability initiatives in place.
  • We produce classic styles so they will last a lifetime and beyond.
  • We are the only remaining factory in the UK that still has the knowledge and capacity to produce luxury, hand-blown, cut and finished stem and barware.

Click here for more about the history of lead crystal.

Posted on Leave a comment

Employee Appreciation Day 2020

Friday 6th March is marked in calendars across many businesses as Employee Appreciation Day and so we wanted to take the opportunity to give you an insight into some key members of our tightly knit team here in our beautiful English Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage site. All manufacturing takes place in one building where we have five glass-blowers (collectively with 105 years of experience) & three glass-cutters with 63 years experience. Our artisans are supported by a highly committed team of glass processing, marking, repair, quality control, packaging & dispatch staff.

Customers are supported by a Trade Sales agent and an in-house Customer Liaison Officer. Heather and Sian support visitors to our Factory Outlet shop & customers purchasing via the web.

The company is managed by CEO, Chris Blade, who is relies and is grateful for the professionalism of a truly dedicated management and support team – Finance Manager, Marketer, Bookkeeper, Operations Manager.

In total 23 staff exceptional people are required to produce each piece of your world class luxury hand-made crystal.

Bev Frankland is our Operations Manager and part of the company management team. Everyone who has commissioned work will have dealt with Bev at some point. There is not much about the project management & manufacture of hand blown and cut crystal that Bev has not dealt with since first starting as a 16 year old glass washer in 1990. Bev worked her way through the factory process department to becoming Head Quality Controller and even now she has a managerial role she is still regularly seen double checking quality and adjudicating grading decisions.

Steve McDougall has been blowing glass at Cumbria Crystal since 1989. Steve is our ‘Wine Servitor’ and is personally responsible for the creation of the stems and feet of every wine glass produced at the factory. This hugely skilled task uses traditional glass making processes brought from Stourbridge when the factory was founded in 1976. Cumbria Crystal is now one of the few places in the world where the particular ‘casting on’ technique that Steve excels at can still be seen. Steve enjoys working as part of a small team creating the highest quality hand-made crystal possible.

Jitka Wilcox has 27 years’ experience of diamond wheel glass cutting and has worked here since 2004. Jitka spent 3.5 years studying full time at a glass technology College studying glass cutting in the Czech Republic before graduating and working for a further 16 years in a Czech crystal factory. Jitka is able to translate the most demanding, complex and intricate designs into beautiful products. Cumbria Crystal is famous for the incredible cutting craftsmanship and it is worth noting that the precision and perfection of our glass belies the fact that every piece is completely hand-made. Jitka enjoys the challenge of the Grasmere cut but when the opportunity arises loves to cut more freestyle designs such as flowers and leaves.

The above are just a few of our highly skilled and talented artisans that produce the luxury crystal we are known for around the world. You can meet more of the team here. Cumbria Crystal would not be the prestigious brand it is today without all those that work here, so a huge thank you to all staff!


Posted on 1 Comment

Cumbria Crystal Shortlisted for Regional Award

The Cumbria Tourism Awards celebrates its 17th year of showcasing the very best local businesses and the individuals behind them. Recognizing the variety & quality of the unique products, services, marketing and sustainable practices within our diverse county being shortlisted is a fantastic achievement. Winners will go on to represent Cumbria at the ‘Visit England Awards for Excellence’ in 2020.

We are delighted to be shortlisted in ‘The Experience of the Year Award’ – Sponsored by the new Carlisle Lake District Airport. Cumbria Crystal’s glass-making ‘Experiences’ offer enables visitors to explore the drama and alchemy of glassblowing in a working factory environment using the traditional tools & techniques evolved over 2000 years.

Our Experiences co-ordinator Clare Wilson joined Cumbria Crystal in 2017 with the brief to develop & expand the Experiences programme into a fun, dramatic & educational activity suitable for all ages from 8 years old. Her specialist glass blowing skills & extensive experience ensure participants of taster sessions, public workshops or One-to-One tuition receive the best and safest tuition and care.

Clare graduated with a BA (Hons) in Glass from Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland and was later selected for the prestigious two-year associate training program at JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design in Adelaide, Australia and is where she began to teach introductory glass blowing classes. Clare has worked at Pilchuck Glass School as a student and teaching assistant and been a part of residency programs at the Glazenhuis, Lommel, Belgium; Edinburgh College of Art; Salem State University, MA, USA as part of the Rosenberg residency and most recently at the University for Creative Arts, Farnham.

Cumbria Crystal recently expanded its experiences programme with the introduction of new workshops for two people, these include ‘Bud Vase’ & ‘Two Hearts’ workshops. Experiences are available Saturday to Wednesday weekly.

Bud Vase Experience

In this unique 1-hour experience (for two people) participants will learn to make a colourful blown glass bud vase. Clare will ‘gather’ the molten glass from the furnace on a blowing iron and assist you with your chosen colour. You will be taught how to shape the glass into the correct form before your instructor blows the initial bubble to get the vase started. You will learn how to inflate and shape the glass using traditional wood, newspaper and metal tools. The bubble will then be transferred to a separate punty iron before being ‘opened up’ to create your finished vessel.

Two Hearts Experience

This half hour experience is ideal for two people wishing to share an intensive, fun & memorable experience. Each participant will create a small heart paperweight. Under close supervision you will be shown how to use a variety of glass-makers’ tools to create unique patterns in coloured glass. Each participant will leave (after cooling) with a beautiful keepsake and amazing memories of their time together.

Hearts take 2-3 days to cool and finish.

Our Managing Director Chris Blade says – “Traditional glass blowing is rarely seen today & as such, I am passionate about offering people the opportunity to see & experience it first-hand. The creation of a 5 day a week, hands-on public experiences programme, delivered in the factory alongside our production teams is a powerful way of enhancing this. Clare’s skills, genuine enthusiasm & teaching ability enable us to offer exceptional experiences to our guests. We are therefore delighted & proud to be shortlisted for this Award.”

The next stage involves a visit from a secret shopper to experience glassmaking themselves and assess the customer journey. The report will then be accessed by an independent judging panel who will decide the category winners.

Winners will be announced at an elegant black-tie event on Wednesday 19th June 2019 at the stunning Cartmel Racecourse.

Customer Reviews from our experiences –

“Wow, what a fantastic day for all the family visiting Ulverston. The kids had a really good time learning all about glass making from a professional glass blower. They had the opportunity to try the craft under fantastic supervision from the guide. They really enjoyed making their baubles in a safe environment and we as parents where allowed to watch and take photos. They will never forgot this experience and they have the bauble to cherish for a lifetime. Thanks Cumbria crystal for a fantastic day and memorable experience. Highly recommended for any family visiting, I would phone in advance to book a slot, we didn’t and were lucky but given how much we enjoyed this I would recommend booking. Thanks Mia and Ben.”

“This was my second visit, I have blown my own Christmas bauble and created a paper weight. Tuition was excellent, very safety conscious, the teacher was very passionate about her craft and explained everything in good detail. I really enjoyed the hands on experience in both these classes and having my own products at the end of it was lovely and such a great keepsake of the fantastic time I had. We love visiting Cumbria Crystal even if its just to look around the shop, it’s great to see the artisans practicing their skill while we are there. The crystalware is always of an excellent quality, they have a great choice of products for any occasion, and the work the engravers do is always above and beyond our expectations.”

“I booked this experience for my god daughter, her sister and myself when they were staying with me from Oxford. Both of them are teenagers and I thought it was a great idea (as did they!). It took 15 minutes for each of us to be instructed and to make the bauble ready for the kiln. Our instructor Clare was brilliant, giving us a detailed demonstration beforehand and guiding us throughout the process. She completed the bauble by adding the glass hook at the end before it entered the kiln. Clare was patient, knowledgeable and made the whole thing fun while emphasising the safety aspects all the way through. We collected our works of art the next morning and we are all delighted with the results. Thank you Clare for a great experience!”

Posted on 1 Comment

The question that has been on everybody’s lips… “What is the best crystal glass for drinking Champagne?”

This may feel like one of those questions that you hesitate to ask because there seems to be an obvious answer. I mean, aren’t champagne glasses called ‘Champagne glasses?’ This may feel like one of those questions that you hesitate to ask because there seems to be an obvious answer. I mean, aren’t champagne glasses called ‘Champagne glasses?’

Well, if you’re asking the question, and pondering this dilemma whilst chilling a luxuriously expensive bottle of Champagne, then you most certainly have a very valid reason for doing some research. If you have a special occasion such as an anniversary, an important valentines’ day date or poignant birthday celebration, to which you have purchased a beautiful bottle of Champagne to mark the occasion or to share a love of high quality and decadence to add to the value of such event, then surely you should be gracing this fine quality of wine with a fine quality of drinking vessel?

Cumbria Crystals’ traditional Grasmere Champagne Flute

Indeed, it is proven that a glass’s shape, feel, weight and grandeur all have a part to play within a quality Champagne drinking experience; At Cumbria Crystal, we specialise in the creation of two, very different, yet prestigious lead crystal glasses just suited for this fine tincture; the Champagne Flute, and the Coupe.


Cumbria Crystals’ Boogie Woogie Champagne Coupe.

In a tall flute, there is a large depth of liquid in the glass, showcasing the fine bubbles that form. Whereas, in a flat, wide coupe, the shorter depth of liquid make the bubbles congregate near the centre, allowing the wines’ aroma to release with more influence.

Many people view the flute as the iconic glass for champagne, the long stem provides an amble hold to ensure that the optimal cool temperature of the wine is maintained, whilst also showing off the hypnotising dance of its’ effervescence. Yet in the past, the champagne coupe was the epitome of style and elegance, truly a traditional Champagne-drinking vessel; glorified in the style and tastes of the late 1930s.

Cumbria Crystals’ Palm Design, showcased on a range of Lead Crystal Glassware, including the Champagne Flute.

So in answer to how to select the optimal glassware for your bottle, well, this depends on which Champagne has been selected. A fine and fruity Champagne deserves a homage to its’ aromatic qualities; so choose a Champagne Coupe design that suits your style, allows you to maintain its cool presence and provides an aromatic sensation to your palette.

Or if you have selected superior dry Champagne (Brut), with elegant fruity notes, then a spectacular flute would most certainly complement.

Why choose Crystal?

There are numerous benefits to the use of high-quality crystal glassware over regular glass. Firstly, due to the crystals’ rougher surface area, the glass creates more bubbles to mesmerise. This is not only more pleasurable to drink but helps to aerate the Champagne and promote its fine flavour. Secondly, the thicker glass provides slightly more insulation to the wine, and so maintains its’ perfect cool drinking temperature. Thirdly, when toasting glasses, the crystal sings with a spellbinding tone. And finally, the crystal refracts light more effectively, producing a stunning array of patterns through its unique design.

In review, you shall certainly need opulent glassware to truly best enjoy a proper Champagne wine.

At Cumbria Crystal, we produce the highest quality crystal glassware in our factory, made to order in premium quality, for just this type of occasion. With premium lead crystal glasses, hand made by our highly skilled glassblowers in our British factory.

Bring some style and decadence to your celebrations, and satisfy that high quality bottle of Moet for your wedding day or anniversary, with the highest quality of glass, suited perfectly for your fine tipple.



Showcasing here our Palm Champagne Flute (above), and our Boogie-Woogie Champagne Coupe (links below), yet we have many other beautiful designs, both traditional and modern to choose from.