Dartington Crystal

With elegant, modern designs in Dartington Crystal and glass is the perfect choice for the home or to give as a gift. We stock a large selection of Dartington Crystal glass including wine glasses, champagne flutes, tumblers, drink gift sets and decanters and jugs.

Dartington Glass as it was originally called was established in 1967, in Torrington, Devon, as a manufacturer of quality glassware. Since then it has developed and evolved many ranges of crystal and glassware based on its key skills of design and glassmaking.

The story began in the 1920's at the beautiful Dartington Hall in Devon when a wealthy American heiress and her Yorkshire man husband; Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst founded the Dartington Hall Trust. Based at Dartington, near Totnes, South Devon, their original vision was to assist the economic regeneration of rural areas through a combination of enterprises spanning business, education, the arts and country crafts.

The Dartington Hall Trust soon became a multi-faceted concern with a diverse range of interests from cheese making, carpentry, farming, forestry and education through to the conducting of research into rural communities.

During the early 1960's, it became evident to the Trust, that to the north of the county there was an ever-increasing demand for new industry due to population migration to the cities. This depopulation and the lack of employment for young people were the basis for which the idea of a glass-making factory evolved.

In order to provide the expertise required for this enterprising idea, the Trust recruited the first Managing Director, Eskil Vilhemson, from a Swedish Glass manufacturer, who in turn recruited a team of Scandinavian glass blowers and brought them to Devon. The factory was officially opened in June 1967 when it employed just 35 people.

Over the following years, glass blowing skills were taught to English craftsmen, working originally to Scandinavian designs and later to the work of British designers. Many of the original glass blowers remained in Torrington and have been a key strength over the years in developing Dartington Crystal into the leading name in English crystal.

Initial concepts are refined before the inspiration and creativity of the design team translates them into drawings. These drawings are used by the glassblowing teams to reproduce into prototype samples. Once final approval has been granted the product is scheduled for large scale production.

At Dartington Crystal each piece is a true original. Individually made by a team of up to 12 craftsmen led by a master glassblower who has perfected his skills over at least 10 years. The raw materials of crystal (sand, lead oxide and other compounds) are melted in a clay pot within a special furnace at 1400 degrees. A certain amount of broken glass (cullet) is added to this mixture or 'batch'.

The blower gathers molten glass (a gob) from the furnace on the end of a blowing pipe. The gob of glass is rolled smooth in a scoop before being blown into which starts to form the required shape. Often the molten glass is placed inside a graphite mould while being blown to help create the final shape.

Many additional forming processes and techniques will be used by the blowing team depending on the item being made. Once the item has been fashioned and shaped as required it is placed in a temperature controlled tunnel called a lehr. Slowly passing through the lehr gradually cools the glass to room temperature.

After 3 to 10 hours in the lehr each piece is inspected. Any piece not meeting the highest standards is broken up and recycled as cullet - to be melted again in a future batch.

The top part piece created at the blowing stage (called the moil) has to be removed by 'cracking off' using localised heating of the item. Pieces are then finished to remove sharp edges by grinding and polishing. Rims of drink-ware are reheated and melted to ensure a smooth finish. Each item is then individually washed and inspected.

Finally the Dartington Crystal name stamp is applied to those items that pass final inspection before the product is packed and transported to us and in turn our customers.