Greg Sullivan, Master Engraver

A note from the artist:

My first real encounter with glass was as a kid when I visited the Waterford Crystal factory on a school tour back in the Seventies. This was the place that made the sparkling bowls and vases that my Dad had won playing golf but were kept out of reach! On the tour we saw Blowing and Cutting but it was the Engraving Department that was the highlight for me. This was where they would draw all sorts of figures, animals, flowers, crests, monograms and logos on glass, a Mecca for anyone interested in Art.

Luckily at the school I attended the Art teacher encouraged my talent and convinced me to do Honours Art for my Leaving Cert. Waterpark College was a school where 4 of those Engravers I met had been taught and they would become future mentors and colleagues of mine.

Greg Sullivan engraving trophy

With top honours from my Leaving Cert., I forgot about glass and headed off to study Art at WRTC. There they taught me how to draw properly, how to approach a subject, to consider shape, form, light, texture and materials, knowledge that would only pay dividends much later.

During the Summer holidays of 1985, a family friend who worked in Waterford Crystal asked what plans I had after college because Waterford Crystal were searching for an Apprentice Engraver. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, to be surrounded and trained by Master Craftsmen in an ancient craft, producing magnificent works for Waterford Crystal and I jumped at it.

 
Track & Field – my qualifying piece

An apprenticeship in those days meant learning how to make your own tools first. Because engraving is done on a lathe, you had to make wheels in a variety of materials - copper, stone, cork, wood and lead - and tailor them to your machine. Then you spent months practicing the basics before being trusted to do a production piece. The Masters would appraise every aspect of your work and constantly offer advice and encouragement.

Five years after starting the apprenticeship, I submitted my test piece to qualify as an Engraver to a committee of Master Craftsmen.

They checked the design, the quality of draughtsmanship, the aesthetics, the depths, the engraving and polishing in great detail and passed it. From then on I was a trusted member of Waterford’s Engraving team. I got every kind of piece to work on, from monograms to prestigious trophies going to the people like McEnroe, Lendl and Edberg, Langer, Faldo, Ballasteros and Norman.

Track and Field rollover image

Rollover image to see close up

 

Superbowl Trophy For the next 14 years I worked away engraving for Waterford, gaining vast experience and knowledge on all sorts of projects and technical developments. In the late 90’s I went back to college to study Glass Technology and Furnace Control to gain a greater understanding of the medium. As the older Masters who taught me, like Mr. Havel and Tom Hayes retired, I suddenly found myself as one of the senior guys. I had by now worked on every top piece Waterford produced and had designed a few of my own pieces.
Superbowl XXVII Trophy

 

Mel Gibson

Mel Gibson holding crystal trophy

Cliff Richard

Greg and Cliff Richard

President Jimmy Carter

Greg meets President Jimmy Carter

 

The emphasis on Engraved Trophies changed in the early Nineties when customers began ordering sculptured work, a move driven by a ‘marketeers’ keen to have their corporate logo represented in glass rather than an image on glass. Being keen to move with the times I began to experiment with shaping out pieces and learn the techniques and skills required to attain a ‘Masters’ in Crystal Sculpture. Greg working on trophy

 

The 2010 Players Trophy for Waterford

Aviva Stadium trophy

 

 

Back in 2001 I built my own workshop at home and stocked it with engraving and sculpting machinery to broaden my skills. It was a place to experiment with my own designs and ideas, independently of my ‘day-job’ with Waterford. In 2008, when the original Waterford Crystal factory in Kilbarry closed, I set up the business and turned the workshop into a working studio. In the last 2 years, we’ve supplied our services and expertise back to Waterford and more recently have began to work with Tipperary Crystal on some of their projects.

 

Aviva Stadium for Tipperary Crystal

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