Sean Egan began his apprenticeship as a cutter with Waterford Crystal in 1974. He qualified and worked as a master cutter for some years. In 1984 , when the opportunity arose in Waterford Crystal to train as an engraver, Sean, who was always good at art, jumped at the chance. Sean started his 5 year apprenticeship and then spent a further 5 years training to become a Master Engraver. During this time he also attended night school, for 2 years, in the local Art College. As a master engraver and cutter of consummate skill, Sean has a prodigious output of work to his credit. His work is much sought after for its inspirational and dedicated themes, and sheer quality of craftsmanship. He has a natural ability, and in total spent over 35 years with Waterford Crystal.
Over the years, Sean has worked on many famous trophies such as Players Championship (golf), Cricket World Cup Trophy, Hockenheim Prix Trophy and the Volvo Ocean Race. He also specializes in depicting wildlife scenes and marine life.
The Creation Process
Copper Wheel Engraving is an old-established technique of cutting and engraving glass, having been established in Germany and Holland in the 15th and 16th centuries, and enjoying an unbroken tradition since then.
Copper-Wheel engraving is considered one of the most difficult art forms known to man as the craft takes 10 years to master.
The glass is cut with a copper wheel or disk, rotated in a lathe, whose edge is charged with an abrasive powder suspended in oil. The wheel is fixed, and the glass is offered up to the wheel to make the cut. By using different rotational speeds, different size and edge profile of the wheel, and types of abrasive, a wide variety of texture and line effects may be achieved. Larger wheels with a rounded or vee-shaped profile may be used to give deep cutting which is difficult to achieve with flexible drive engraving. On the other hand, free-hand and calligraphic work are more difficult with the copper wheel.
The copper wheel can be used with softer abrasives such as iron oxide (rouge) or zirconium or cerium oxides, to polish and soften the texture of glass engraved with other techniques.
Look very closely at the incredible detail from the smallest bud vase to the largest trophy. Every piece is hand-held to one of 50 spinning copper-wheels as each stroke of the design is engraved into the crystal by hand. Nothing, but absolute perfection in every cut.
Through the ages, artists have delighted in seizing the moods of life, of nature and of precious moments, fixing them in time for all of us to enjoy. Crystal is the perfect medium for the elegant beauty of engraving and these Ancient arts have been practised by man for thousands of years. The artist is able to express himself with the most delicate of strokes of the copper wheel on crystal.