7 July 1995

CRYSTAL GAZERS

KATHERINE INSLEY of Gwynedd-Merioneth FWC used to live near to Royal Brierley Crystal, so it was a great idea for her to organise an outing for her new found friends in Wales to see how the exquisite glassware is made.

As it was a really cold day we were pleased to watch the first stage where the gas-fired furnace melts down the glass in pots that are made on the premises.

The men work in teams called "Chairs" and have traditional names such as "Servitor", "Bit-gatherer" and "Taker-in". The molten glass is removed from the pots with a stainless steel tube which is blown down to start the long process.

When each piece of glass has been made it is cooled down very slowly and then marked with black guidelines to show the cutters which pattern needs to be applied. Each piece is cut by hand on a diamond wheel and then polished by dipping into acid. This removes a thin layer of glass and leaves a brilliant shine.

Some of the designs are cut twice, the first cut being polished and the second one is left giving a white effect of engraved flowers.

The final inspection then takes place and, if perfect, the piece will have Royal Brierley engraved on the base and is then packed in tissue and the distinctive red boxes. Other pieces are sold in the factory shop, and the FWC members certainly enjoyed looking at all the different designs and most of us bought mementos of a very interesting visit.

In the afternoon members went shopping at the Merry Hill Centre, home of 260 shops and with its own monorail!

Jean Howells

Wendy Jones, Katherine Insley (centre) and Rona Pierce-Jones shop for mementos of their visit to the glass works.