It takes creativity, craftsmanship, and commitment to make a piece of Cumbria Crystal. Each piece from a sherry glass to a sculpture goes through nine pairs of hands and takes 10-18 days to go through all our processes. Our quality standards are rigorous with each piece of crystal graded at different stages of production attaining a quality standard to which others can only aspire.
Every piece of Cumbria Crystal is crafted by hand by artisans in our factory on the edge of the Lake District in England. We believe in preserving and developing the traditional glassmaking skills that developed in this country over centuries. As a rare manufacturer of English lead crystal we are the guardians of these skills and techniques and it is a responsibility and an honour to ensure that we will be making beautiful crystal in England for many centuries to come.
In order to do this we are creating beautiful contemporary classic designs and collections, appropriate for contemporary lifestyles, which will endure because of their classic and elegant nature and we have a commitment to quality standards to which others can only aspire.
We have invested in state of the art furnaces and equipment, training and development for all our skilled craftsmen and women. We are training apprentices and introducing new skills into the factory. Whilst retaining our commitment to the handmade nature of our work, we are continuously researching craft techniques from other countries and cultures such as the studio glass movement in order than we can develop our designs and products to differentiate ourselves in our market whilst retaining our very English style.
Teams of three or five highly skilled glass makers work together to produce each Cumbria Crystal product, in what appears to be a choreographed alchemists dance. Lead crystal is gathered from the furnace at a temperature of 1240 degrees Celsius. It is then blown into a graphite or steel mould by the ‘Wine Blower‘ before being handed to the ‘Servitor’ who casts on extra glass, using a traditional factory technique rarely seen today, to create the stem and foot. This is achieved by hand, using using wood and metal tools that haven’t changed in 2000 years.
Even today it typically it takes 15 years to train a glass blower.
Once blown the product is passed to the apprentice who cracks it off the blowing-iron and places it into the annealing lehr (oven) to slowly cool overnight, before it moves to the next stage of production.
A typical product takes 12 days to create from start to finish.
Real magic happens in the cutting room, where Cumbria Crystal’s artisan cutters still use a traditional 2 stage process of roughing and smoothing. The first cut is made on a diamond wheel and which is then smoothed on a sandstone wheel. A time consuming technique rarely used now but this technique achieves a sharpness and quality of finish unrivalled in the industry and which cannot be replicated by machine. Our cutters are skilled in many different cutting techniques including mitre, diamond, flute, flat and thumbprint cuts of both fine and strong detail, working with both contemporary and traditional designs.
Our crystal is polished with a traditional acid polishing technique, which brings out the brilliance and retains the sharpness of the cuts. Some designs especially the larger scale pieces have a final hand polish to ensure the sparkle is extra special.
All our crystal is graded at stages during production and then a final inspection before packing ensures our high quality standards are maintained and our customers receive the very best quality of crystal. Each piece is carefully wrapped and packaged professionally for delivery.
The technique he uses is sandblast engraving, the bespoke pieces are all made with hand cut stencils engraved in layers to produce a subtle quality and depth of field. Neil is a versatile artist who can turn his hand to many styles and works closely with the clients to ensure they are happy with their final pieces. Many of our bespoke clients also use this technique for branding their designs.
Copper Wheel Engraving
We also offer the now rare technique of copper wheel engraving made popular in the 18th Century. Working with a small number of very skilled engravers practising this rare art including Heather Gillespie, a local prize winning artist in her own right.