"We Made It": Waterford Crystal

Founded in the Republic of Ireland in 1783, Waterford used to be a brand only your granny would own – or perhaps a wedding gift given but never used, mostly out of fear you’d break it. Now, though, new designers and designs make splashing out on cut glass rather more chic proposition. And from chandeliers, champagne glasses and decanters to trophies, awards and wine glasses, Waterford Crystal’s designers have to keep busy with new lines.

John Connolly, Chief Designer and Master Glass Cutter, has over 30 years of experience with Waterford, and was influential in bringing back many neglected styles, such as the champagne saucer. “In the late sixties coupes faded in popularity until I included a coupe in the Lismore Essence line in 2006 which – we describe as a champagne saucer. This seemed to spark interest again in the loved coupe and the opulence of the fifties.”

John and other Master Cutters use two key methods – wedge and flat cutting. Technology has advanced over the years and their arsenal now includes diamond-edged implements, but even so a Master Cutter like John must have the experience and the sensitivity to use the exact amount of pressure to cut the crystal but not burst through it, ruining the carefully conceived design. It takes at least eight years to to learn how to create the distinctive cut that Waterford is known for, and become a Master.

This year's Mad Men Edition not only looks and feels like something from the TV series's outrageously elegant world, it is also part of the funky-elegant Mixology Collection – a glassware series fusing retro chic with modern tastes. These are glasses that match Matthew Weiner’s TV vision and the obsessional attention to period detail that made Mad Men what it was. Waterford gets the specifics right. Hefty crystal, a deep pleasing cut in the body of the glass and a band of gold or platinum at the lip speaks to the sixties' sense of no-holds-barred optimism.

Global Design Manager Matt Kehoe, a recent addition to Waterford's top team, explains they worked hard to make the design express both past and present. “I have many favourite pieces,” he says. “One is the Hibernian pattern designed in the sixties by Waterford, simple but beautiful in its complexity to make – and that inspired me to design my most recent, and now favourite, Mixology collection. Some say it's very modern but I like to think it's a more classic contemporary style with snippets of Waterford’s cut patterns from the sixties, but in a contemporary shape. Very elaborate, chic, it reeks of gold and is very sexy... if I do say so myself!”


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