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The art of commissioning

Definition Verb

to order or authorise the production of (something). 
“the crystal glass was commissioned by his wife” 

 
There are various reasons why our customers choose to shop with us – they adore beautiful, luxury
crystal; they desire to fill their home with elements of luxury; they just enjoy gifting beautiful,
handcrafted
items to family and friends. However, the single over-arching reason is the quality and
rarity of our crystal.

Quality is at the forefront of everything we do and something our customers comment on in abundance. As we expand the business, and more people around the world discover our brand, we strive to maintain this at the forefront of everything we do.

Our current lead-time for goods that have to be specially made is longer than normal, at around 8 weeks, so some explanation of the processes we use may be helpful in helping understand why goods are not always available for immediate dispatch.

Whether you purchase crystal for yourself, or as a gift, you are more often than not ordering crystal which will be made especially for you. Demand is such that we rarely have large quantities of stock sitting on shelves, so our artisans are often only able to start production once an order has been placed.


The reason for this is that we want to ensure we are dedicating the same care and time to each and
every order, so our quality is unquestionable each time. Everything we make uses time consuming
2000-year old glass-making processes. Our only concession is to use the very best modern crystal
batch recipes, and that our two traditional 500kg clay-pot furnaces are not fuelled by wood or coal
but modern, cleaner energy.

Automation is completely avoided as our USP is the manufacture of traditional crystal where everything is completely mouth-blown and hand-cut. Adherence to this tenet means capacity cannot be easily increased, or costs reduced, as our objective is to produce the best hand-made crystal in the world, not to look to dilute our USP.


It takes around 15 years to train a master glass-blower, and a typical wine glass requires a team of
three artisans just to blow it. The post-blowing processing, marking, hand-cutting and
polishing requires the skills of at least six other skilled people. From start-to-finish a wine glass will
take on average about 12 days to craft
. Only once a product is completed can it be quality graded.
Being hand-made there are inevitably minor variations between pieces, so we go to great lengths to
curate well-matched collections. Better collections are obtained when the crystal has been made at
the same time and by the same glassmakers. Hence, if you can wait, we recommend you asking us to
make the crystal specially for you.

Minor variations are normal for this type of crystal and may be caused by many factors. If you are
versed in what to look for these indicate the genuinely authentic nature of the product. Factors
include; the age of the crucible; the temperature and humidity on the day of production; the
different members of the blowing team on a specific day; how the glass melted and whether there
are microscopic bubbles in the crystal (a sure sign of being melted in a traditional pot furnace); how
low, or high, the glass is in the crucible; or indeed how windy it was!

The factory team of 21 staff contains many long-serving members of staff, some who have been with
us for over thirty years. The ability of our artisans to effectively collaborate, rather like musicians in
an orchestra, is essential to achieving our products. You are effectively buying small works-of-art,
not just crystal.


Consequently, our aesthetic is slightly different to modern, mass-produced glass from large tank
furnaces as the melting processes and minor variations identify the crystal as authentically hand-
crafted by exceptional artisans
. Mass-produced, modern glass is completely devoid of these
characteristics.
Currently, demand is such that the company is looking to expand – this means recruiting more
skilled staff which will reduce the time customers need to wait. However, due to the traditional
nature of our business, the emphasis we place on recruiting the most talented individuals in the
world of glass
, along with the effects of Brexit, this will take some time.  


The art of commissioning is something that represents to us the old tradition of ordering items to be handcrafted especially for that recipient which implies a waiting period for a quality product. Here are some questions and answers for you so you are fully clear on our process and can place your order with ease and peace of mind. 

What happens when I commission my order? 
When you place your order in a regular manner which we do not have in stock we will class it as a
commission. You will receive a standard ‘confirmation’ email advising that you will receive your
item(s) within 8 weeks of your order date. We then simply ask you for your patience and we will
contact you when your order has been dispatched. If you need it more quickly then please contact
us to discuss the options.


My order is a gift – can you send anything to say crystal has been commissioned for them? 
If we cannot deliver in time, we can certainly send you, or the intended recipient of your gift, a
special letter confirming you have commissioned crystal to be made for them. Simply leave a
message in the order notes if you would like this to be done. It is useful to know the event (birthday,
etc), date, name of the recipient and their address if you would like it sent directly to them.


How far ahead of time do you recommend I place my order for a special occasion? 
We highly recommend ordering 12 weeks ahead of the date you require your order if it is for
something special, so we have the opportunity to discuss and carry out and engraving, or gifting add-
ons and options. 


Are there bespoke commission options available to me?
Personalised engraving and unique collections are possible. Please contact us at shop@cumbriacrystal.com to discuss.

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