Why not use special glassware for every occasion?
At some point, perhaps during the end of the 80s gross excess and impossibly high interest rates, celebrating with special glassware became too much work, or at least just not worth the effort.
The crystal of our grandparents’ generation got packed away. New Year’s was toasted with regular stemmed champagne glasses — or beer cans. Crystal was just not part of the party.
With the resurgence of scaled back elegance that is visible in the mad collecting and displaying of mid century modern furniture and accessories, crystal is a perfect fit for this new mixed era of high end with relaxed design.
The Irish excelled in the art of glass blowing, a tradition founded on patient and meticulous hand craftsmanship. This Irish skill seems to manifest no small amount of magic in creating something so beautiful, and also so intricate. Moreover, the balance, weight, and ring of crystal is no small feat.
Brothers George and William Penrose founded the Waterford Glass House in 1783 and determined to make Waterford crystal in "as fine a quality as any in Europe… in the most elegant style."
King George III ordered a set of Waterford Crystal sent to his residence at a fashionable resort, where "it has been much admired" by court society. In 1851 a suite of ornamental banqueting crystal was displayed at the London Exhibition to universal acclaim; and in the same year the owner, George Gatchell, was forced to close the Waterford factory, largely owing to crushing taxes.
Almost 100 years later, when Irish independence rekindled a passion for Irish arts in the later 1940s, a group of businessmen brought back the industry that had made the city of Waterford famous.
Glassmaker Kael Bacik hired fellow Czech Miroslav Havel as Chief Designer for his fledgling glassmaking operation in Ireland. The traditional cutting patterns made famous by the artisans of Waterford became the design basis for the growing product range of the new company, and it is from these designs in 1952 that Havel created “Lismore,” still Waterford’s best-selling pattern.
After a few years, with careful artists under the guidance of Bacik and Havel, Waterford Crystal reclaimed its pride of place.
When I was a child my grandmother would make jello for me regularly during visits in the summer. She mixed it up in pyrex and then let it set in Waterford “Colleen” champagne saucers. Jello never tasted better.