Crystal Cutting Techniques
Crystal cutting is a technique that takes five years to perfect. There are three main styles of cutting. Most of the differences between cuts are associated with width and depth of the cutting wheel.
Wedge Cut
Most common cutting technique. Wedge cut can be found on almost every piece in the store. However, the combination of this cut is what creates the design.
• Crisscrossing created diamond like cuts. This is a very attractive way to decorate crystal and very demanding on the cutter. Diamond cutting requires a great job by the crystal blower as well. The piece has to be thick enough so the crossings of the cuts do not cut through. It also can not be too thick as the cuts will be too far apart and will lose some of its appeal.
• Vertical cuts are difficult because the cutters hand has to be very steady. The thickness of the piece here is not as important however, but the clarity and perfection is required from the blower. In most cases these pieces are not as decorated and mistakes are very obvious.
• Combination vertical and horizontal cuts (top of the Overture pattern) requires steady hand and a good eye. Please remember that when the pieces are cut there is water constantly pouring down the wheel which makes cut connections difficult. The cutter has to "feel" how much to cut or they will cross over each other.
Olive Cut (thumb print)
Olive cut is the most difficult because it relies heavily on only one dimension and that is width. Successful olive cutting will have a certain predetermined width. However, if the piece is not thick enough, the cut will go through to achieve the width. On the other hand, if the piece is too thick it will need to be deeper and that takes a long time to cut and a very steady hand. One move while cutting the olive cut and the piece can easily break as this cut puts a lot of strain on the crystal piece itself.
This cut is usually cut vertically to circumcise the piece (Colleen). If one of the cuts is not exactly to proportions it will throw off the entire design.
The olive cut is considered the most elite cutting technique and only the most experienced cutters can do it. The elements of it will be often incorporated in some of the very special and limited edition pieces.
Copper wheel cutting
Not used very much in many of new designs, still it can be found on some pieces. It is a meticulous job to create a diamond pattern with the copper wheel as it leaves a very thin line. Copper wheel cutting is usually very sharp to the feel. The pieces that are decorated with copper wheel cutting are the Apprentice Bowl and Maritana Vase.
After the piece is cut is needs to be polished. After the cutting, the cuts are frosted white and polishing allows the piece to regain its clarity and brilliance.
The polishing is done on the buffer wheels by hand. Some of the lesser quality pieces are polished by immersing them in the hydro-flouric acid.
It has been a trend recently to polish the edges of the cuts very smoothly. Older glass pieces will have very sharp edges partly because the polishing technology at that time was not as developed and polishing took a long time.
Scalloped Top
Scalloped top of the pieces is cut by hand with several different wedge wheels. If the piece is to have a scalloped top or something more intricate like the top on the''Kennedy Bowl'' we will use a variety of different shaped wheels, eg. ''Wide'' Wedge Wheels, Wheels with raised curved surfaces ( wide & narrow ), Wheels with Flat surfaces etc. This is all done by hand by the Wedge cutter.
Footed Pieces
Footed pieces are made of two pieces of crystal. All stemware is made out of two pieces. Once the cup and the stem have been blown, the blower still keeps it on the top of his pipe and the apprentice brings another blob of molten crystal from the kiln. The blower than shapes the foot of the piece with wet wooden tools. Doing it with the stemware is relatively easy but when it comes to 15 lb bowl it takes a lot of physical strength to do it.
The process of manufacturing a single stem from start to finish can take as much as seven days!
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