Boswells Blog

26th May 2016

A Boswells Visit to Dartington Crystal

A Boswells Visit to Dartington Crystal

Choosing a gift for a very special birthday or occasion can be difficult. What do you get for someone who has everything? Boswells has a large selection of great quality gifts, so that’s where I started my search. 

Dartington Vase Image

Obviously there would be wine, so glasses and decanters might be nice, and of course bouquets of flowers would need vases. It soon became clear, crystal clear in fact, that I should be looking at Dartington Crystal!

Torrington Image

One of my favourite days out was to the Dartington Crystal Visitor Centre and Factory Experience in North-West Devon, where I enjoyed learning about the history of the only remaining crystal brand still producing in the United Kingdom. During my trip I was told about how the vision, nay “Euro-vision,” of Dorothy and Leonard Elmhurst resulted in a team of talented Swedish glass makers coming to rural Devon in 1967. At that time unemployment in the area was high and rural craft based skills were in decline, so the Dartington Hall Trust opened a new glass making factory in Torrington.

(Image Credit)

Dartington Decanter ImageIn the new factory, those 16 Swedish craftsmen passed on their love of glass blowing and trained the locals to create simple, clear glass for the UK market. Over the years Dartington Crystal has grown to also include Royal Brierley Crystal, Caithness Glass and John Beswick giftware.

Nearly 50 years on and Dartington continues to use high quality natural materials to create beautiful, handmade lead crystal and glassware. The Sharon collection, designed by the late Frank Thrower in 1971, comprises such high quality crystalware that it was included in the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Power of Making, 100 greatest designs exhibition.

Visiting Dartington

Dartington Glass ImageOn occasion the staff at Boswells are fortunate enough to get to visit our suppliers and see the amazing work that goes into producing some of the things that we sell. Dartington has been a real highlight for any lucky members of staff who’ve had the chance to visit.

Dartington Factory Image

After being one of the visitors to Torrington, Jane in our Cookshop observed that Dartington is a bit like Boswells, as you can tell that the staff are not only happy in their work, but they also love to tell people about it. She commented that “It feels like a small family run business; everyone is important, with important roles.” Seeing the work that the people at Dartington are doing, it soon becomes clear why this friendly atmosphere is important, since working with glass is very tricky, and it takes twelve years to become a Master Blower!

Kerry's Glass ImageOn the tour I watched these skilled men and women working together as a team, transforming molten crystal into elegant shapes. They obviously love their jobs and enjoy sharing their skills. I didn’t have a go at blowing glass, but others who did were able to take home a unique souvenir.

Dartington Glass Blower Image

Kerry, from our China & Glass Department, was another lucky Dartington visitor and did have a go at glass blowing; we're very impressed by the result! 

The above photo is the glass kerry made.

After her visit, and seeing just what goes in to making the crystalware, she commented that she “Realised why they were so expensive—when you see the work and craftsmanship that goes into each piece.”

Handmade crystal is understandably expensive, as it takes years of practice to be able to produce almost identical pieces to such high standards. Meanwhile, Nick Davey, the Master Engraver, hand engraves the crystal and creates pictures so lifelike you can almost see them move. Any pieces that don’t make the grade are recycled as cullet (waste that can be re-melted) or can be sold as seconds in the factory outlet. Given the skill that goes into making each piece It’s no wonder that masterpieces can be commissioned for thousands.

Dartington Essentials Champagne FluteFortunately the Dartington ranges you’ll find in our China & Glass and Gifts Departments won’t set you back anywhere near that much. All of our Dartington Crystal is sure to catch the eye, but not to completely empty your pockets, and we currently have some great savings on the Dartington Wine & Bar Essentials range that are definitely worth a look.

Making the Most of Your Crystal

There is a lovely, satisfying feeling to gently cleaning and polishing heavy crystal glasses and holding them up to the light to admire the sparkle. But sometimes life gets suddenly busy, and on those days wouldn’t it be great to just stick them in the dishwasher? Well thanks to Dartington's new Shine On range, you can!

Shine On Red Wine ImageThese glasses are specifically designed with heat treated rims to resist chipping and with shorter stems and curved profiles to minimise contact between other items in the dishwasher. The material is designed to be strong and durable and with a long lasting shine. The Shine On range also comes with a lifetime guarantee so you can relax knowing that they will always come up with a brilliant sparkle.

Dartington Spangle Glasses

We stock many of Dartington’s crystal and glassware ranges, both in store and online, so you should be able to find something special to suit your price range and style, from everyday glasses to the popular Glitz range (with real Swarovski elements). Now the only thing left to do is to choose one…

All glass blowing images are courtesy and copyright of Dartington Crystalour sincere thanks to them for allowing us to include them in this blog. For more information on Dartington, and their amazing day trip activities, click here

14th August 2014

Brighten up your summer dining with these great table decoration ideas

Brighten up your summer dining with these great table decoration ideas

Summertime is here and it’s definitely time for BBQ’s, picnics and alfresco dining. In store, we have some great ideas on how to create the perfect decoration for outdoor dining. It’s the best time to bring some colour and character to your table. Here are some of our ideas which will hopefully inspire some of your own!

Spode Plate

Floral dinnerware sets

If you want to have special dinnerware for summer, choose one with a floral pattern or anything else that reminds you of the sun and holidays! 

Bright /pastel glasses

Besides the plates and cutlery, having bright and colourful glasses is also a good way to bring some joy to your summer table. In store you can find sets of glasses or mix and match single glasses of different colours.

Lanterns and candles

Lanterns and candles can be really useful if you plan to stay outside and enjoy the summer nights after dinner. They can also be a lovely way to decorate your table as they come in a range of bright colours and patterns.

Paper lanterns and garlands

If you have trees in your garden or an umbrella for your garden table, you have a fantastic opportunity to highlight your dinner table! You can go with a set of colourful paper lanterns or even create your own garlands with fabric or tissue paper. They look can look fab attached to walls or hanging from trees.

Mason drinking jars

If you want to add some style to your table this summer, you should definitely think about mason drinking jars. They are perfect for flavoured water, homemade lemonade or even smoothies. Just add colourful straws, some fruit on the top and they will combine yumminess with good looks!

Colourful napkins

They are easy to find and they can be a good place to start if you want to add a specific theme to your dinner. Try with one single colour or plenty of different tones.

Vase and flowers

Wibble Vase

 Flowers – a summer classic and essential loved by everyone! You can buy a beautiful arrangement from the florist and put it in a vase, pick flowers from your garden or wild flowers from the countryside. Alternatively why not use them to make hand-made seating cards. The Dartington Crystal “Wibble vase” is an ideal vase as it showcases the beauty of the flowers whilst understating its own elegance.

If you want some more summer decoration inspiration, drop by the store – we have everything here and much, much more.

11th August 2014

Useful Checklists: Our Guide to your Festival Essentials

Useful Checklists: Our Guide to your Festival Essentials

The time has come for the first festivals of the year, and like each summer, thousands of us will gather to listen to the music, dance and simply embrace festival experience. Attending a festival requires a lot of organisation especially when you want to avoid spending a lot of money on things you forgot to pack. This year you will have no excuse: we’ve made a useful checklist of all the essentials you might need!

Sleeping Essentials

First, the sleeping essentials, because even if you’re planning to party till morning, you will still need some rest and a certain level of comfort to sleep. This includes:

  • Tent 
  • Sleeping bagView Burts Bees Shampoo
  • Sleeping mat
  •  Pillow
  • Some warm and comfy PJ’s to sleep in

Hygiene Essentials

You may not be able to have a proper shower during your festival, but with the following products you can live without having shower and more importantly tolerate going to the shared toilets: 
Hand sanitizer
• Toilet roll and/or tissues
• Wet wipes/dry shampoo when there’s no shower
• Travel sized toothpaste/deodorant/soap/shampoo

But whatever you do – do not forget the hand sanitizer and toilet roll!

Outdoor Essentials

During your festival, whether it’s sunny or rainy, the first thing you need is to be comfortable in what you’re wearing. You also need to take care of yourself and be prepared in case of an emergency so make sure you take:First Aid Kit• Comfortable clothes
Sunscreen, sunglasses and hat
• Raincoat/waterproofs
First aid kit

Don’t forget to take a fully-charged mobile with you and also a back-up battery if you have one. It will be really useful if you need to call someone or to find info quickly.
Our final piece of advice if you’re going to a festival, especially if you’re going there with a car or if you have extra space in your bag, is to bring your own food. It will save you a lot of money as at festival food can be super expensive (and often pretty poor)!