All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Profile - Kevin Hughes: You may never have heard of Kevin Hughes but I found his skill and devotion to his job are very interesting and I hope you do too. Unfortunately the business he was in closed soon after our interview, though not connected, as did similar businesses all over Ireland. Anyhow have a read and his photo here tells you what he worked at. Face to Face with Kevin Hughes. Kevin Hughes was born and reared in Killymaddy, Knocks on the Aughnacloy Road from Dungannon. His father was Edward and his mother was Florence. In his mid teens Kevin left school and went to work in Tyrone Crystal and has been working there since then. He played a bit of football in his time and now plays golf and likes to go for walks. He is married to Bernie and they have two children. Nothing very special or extraordinary about all of that except that Kevin has an extraordinary talent as a Master Craftsman in the Tyrone Crystal factory. Family. Kevin’s father, Edward, was a lorry driver and his mother, Florence, was a baker in the local bakery. Kevin wonders how his father travelled to Newtownhamilton in South Armagh to get his wife, while he himself married local girl, Bernie McCann. Their two children, Ciara and Niall, live and work locally. Neither of them has followed in their father’s footsteps to the Glass factory, though Ciara has a great artistic talent, which she uses occasionally. First Job. When Kevin was at school he loved sport and, while a student in St. Patrick’s Intermediate, he played on the school football team under Arthur McRory and was team captain. He has great memories of those days and a great respect for his PE teacher, Arthur. His Form-teacher was Val McCaul and he remembers him specifically, as it was he who secured the first job for him. In his mid-teens he just wanted to get out into the work-place to begin work. Jobs were scarce at the time but he knew that his form-teacher, Val, was Secretary of the Tyrone Crystal factory and he went to him and asked him if he could get him a job. About two weeks later he had a job and said farewell to school. However he was totally unaware of what he was heading into and what happened in the Crystal factory. He did know that it was one of the largest employers in the area and had already established itself over a wide area. But, in a childish sort of way, he likely thought that they stuck handles and ears and stems onto glass with some form of glue. He was to get his eyes opened, when he arrived into the factory. Early training. The furnace was the first thing that amazed him. He had never considered that there was such a thing in the factory but he soon learned that it was the starting point and that he was to spend a great deal of his day beside it. He received his early instruction from Gert Elstner, who is still a respected member of staff there. Gert had come from Germany and Austria, through England, and arrived in Ireland to share his skills and knowledge with the people in Tyrone Crystal. He demonstrated and coached Kevin, who spent his tea-breaks advancing his skills. They had seven or eight furnaces with a team of five on each. In order to get sufficient people trained to work on these teams they set up a Glass-blowing school to train new recruits. However the best way of learning the trade was watching others, who were already trained. It is a very demanding job and involves various skills including blowing and stemming (adding the stems and legs). Good coordination and balance are required and Kevin would feel that sportsmen would often have these qualities – good hand/eye coordination. However it was like anything else, like learning how to drive a car – some people picked it up very quickly and it came very naturally to them, while others were slower to get the hang of it and continued to improve at a much slower pace. It is a very highly skilled job and one problem is that you cannot take your work home with you to practice there. You can try other trades, like hanging doors, fixing a bit of plumbing or doing a bit of painting, and become proficient but you cannot train yourself in glass- blowing at home. In the early days he did get the odd burn when dealing with the molten glass but he soon learned how to avoid it. Touch it once and you will be very careful in future. However it is accepted as part of the job and you just get on with it. The Process. The process begins at evening time, when the man in charge of the furnace, Martin at the moment, fills the furnace with the raw- material and the bits to be re-cycled, which is called cullet. The raw material is a mixture of silica sand and litharge. Computers regulate the furnaces and during the night it heats to 1400 or 1500 degrees Celsius. This melts the mixture and turns it into liquid. However this could not be worked with as it would run off the pipes. So at about 6am it cools down to about 1100 degrees, which is the right workable temperature for the glass and it is ready for work at 8am. They will usually continue work until the furnace is empty that evening but there is close cooperation between them and the production manager and they work at whatever is given priority. To get the molten glass out you begin with a bulb and then gather the glass over the bulb in the furnace. Experience tells you how much you need for a specific object and you need to collect the right amount. Each time you have to have equal amounts so that the objects turn out similar. The next stage is blowing and again you have to learn from experience just how hard to blow. Blowing too hard or too easy will cause problems. However the blowing is not a very difficult task as it is similar to blowing chewing gum. Then stems, if any, are added. It takes team work and all five on the team plays his part in the production of an item. Challenges. They produce a wide range of items for the market and this keeps the monotony away. There is always something different and something new. At the moment they are doing a lot of personalised work, where they make specific items for individual people or companies. This provides a challenge and they never refuse a challenge. They make trophies for various sporting fixtures and Tyrone Crystal items have been awarded at the Formula 1 championship races and will be given at the Golf in Augusta among other places. Kevin gets great satisfaction watching Television and seeing the Formula 1 World Champion being presented with something, which he had a hand in the making here in Dungannon. That makes him feel proud to be part of it. As well, it is very rewarding for him to walk down the street in some other town or enter a building somewhere and see an item of Tyrone Crystal on show. Everything produced in the factory is a source of pride for the workers and Kevin feels that it is their constant desire to produce a quality product that has kept them in business and has kept their products in demand all over the world. Another advantage is that they do their own manufacturing and therefore have total control over quality. They also keep the customer foremost in their minds and work to suit the customer requirements. This means a satisfied customer and creates further business. Often a customer comes in with certain ideas of what he wants and they will try their best to produce the item as close as possible to what the customer has in mind. They have begun producing pieces with logos, pictures, and inscriptions sandblasted onto the cut glass. These are really attractive and they are in big demand in the corporate market but are also being selected for special occasions like birthday, marriages and celebrations. Niall Dynes is expert at this new process and has also introduced a type of colour shading sandblasting, which gives a wonderful effect. Kevin says that they must always look at ways of moving ahead but that they have also reproduced original designs recently and these have become very popular too. They are also one of the few Glass factories involved in the making of Glass Chandeliers for houses, hotels and the like. They also get requests at times to make replacement parts for old chandeliers, which have broken, and they have many satisfied customers for this, which is another source of great satisfaction. Each time the Tyrone county footballers won the All-Ireland final was a boost to their sales as the Crystal Sam Maguire replicas are very popular and everyone in the factory was very proud to be producing this item in these circumstances. Indeed Kevin claims that the day you lose the pride in your work is the day you should retire, especially in a job like his. Tours. The factory organises daily tours for visitors and groups. Kevin does not mind these ‘distractions’, but instead loves to see people coming to see the process. Usually when they see the workmanship and individual attention each piece receives they are persuaded to buy a piece. He gets great satisfaction of doing the work to an audience as it is marvellous to watch their faces as the molten glass takes shape and becomes a bowl, vase or other item. He would also take a peep at the Visitors Book now and again to see the comments added by visitors and he feels good reading the comments. Over the years Kevin has met some very famous people who have paid a visit to the factory. He recalls the visit of Edward Kennedy; Dolly Parton; Michael Wayne (John Wayne’s son); Packie Bonner and many many more. It is great to see all these people and all the tour groups as it means more work and, thankfully in today’s economic climate, a continuing job. Kevin himself has visited other Glass Factories in other places, when he visited the area. He would watch out for tips and different ways of doing things and see if he could use some of these. Master Craftsman. Kevin has worked his way up through the various processes and has become a Master Craftsman though he says that he has never stopped learning. He has instructed many others in the craft and is happy at his work. Gert gave him a piece of advice years ago and it is something he still remembers to this day – ‘always make the next one better than the last one – it may not be any better but at least it will be as good as the last one’. Kevin still works to that maxim. In his younger days Kevin played football for his local club, Killyman, but never won any major honours. However he now plays golf and enjoys that as a way of relaxing. Watching him at his work his coordination and balance are working perfectly and Tyrone Crystal products, from the Master Craftsman’s hand, supplied by Kevin Hughes, will continue to adorn the houses and offices of this world. by Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.
All Content Copyright emyvale.net
Profile - Kevin Hughes: You may never have heard of Kevin Hughes but I found his skill and devotion to his job are very interesting and I hope you do too. Unfortunately the business he was in closed soon after our interview, though not connected, as did similar businesses all over Ireland. Anyhow have a read and his photo here tells you what he worked at. Face to Face with Kevin Hughes. Kevin Hughes was born and reared in Killymaddy, Knocks on the Aughnacloy Road from Dungannon. His father was Edward and his mother was Florence. In his mid teens Kevin left school and went to work in Tyrone Crystal and has been working there since then. He played a bit of football in his time and now plays golf and likes to go for walks. He is married to Bernie and they have two children. Nothing very special or extraordinary about all of that except that Kevin has an extraordinary talent as a Master Craftsman in the Tyrone Crystal factory. Family. Kevin’s father, Edward, was a lorry driver and his mother, Florence, was a baker in the local bakery. Kevin wonders how his father travelled to Newtownhamilton in South Armagh to get his wife, while he himself married local girl, Bernie McCann. Their two children, Ciara and Niall, live and work locally. Neither of them has followed in their father’s footsteps to the Glass factory, though Ciara has a great artistic talent, which she uses occasionally. First Job. When Kevin was at school he loved sport and, while a student in St. Patrick’s Intermediate, he played on the school football team under Arthur McRory and was team captain. He has great memories of those days and a great respect for his PE teacher, Arthur. His Form-teacher was Val McCaul and he remembers him specifically, as it was he who secured the first job for him. In his mid-teens he just wanted to get out into the work-place to begin work. Jobs were scarce at the time but he knew that his form- teacher, Val, was Secretary of the Tyrone Crystal factory and he went to him and asked him if he could get him a job. About two weeks later he had a job and said farewell to school. However he was totally unaware of what he was heading into and what happened in the Crystal factory. He did know that it was one of the largest employers in the area and had already established itself over a wide area. But, in a childish sort of way, he likely thought that they stuck handles and ears and stems onto glass with some form of glue. He was to get his eyes opened, when he arrived into the factory. Early training. The furnace was the first thing that amazed him. He had never considered that there was such a thing in the factory but he soon learned that it was the starting point and that he was to spend a great deal of his day beside it. He received his early instruction from Gert Elstner, who is still a respected member of staff there. Gert had come from Germany and Austria, through England, and arrived in Ireland to share his skills and knowledge with the people in Tyrone Crystal. He demonstrated and coached Kevin, who spent his tea-breaks advancing his skills. They had seven or eight furnaces with a team of five on each. In order to get sufficient people trained to work on these teams they set up a Glass-blowing school to train new recruits. However the best way of learning the trade was watching others, who were already trained. It is a very demanding job and involves various skills including blowing and stemming (adding the stems and legs). Good coordination and balance are required and Kevin would feel that sportsmen would often have these qualities – good hand/eye coordination. However it was like anything else, like learning how to drive a car – some people picked it up very quickly and it came very naturally to them, while others were slower to get the hang of it and continued to improve at a much slower pace. It is a very highly skilled job and one problem is that you cannot take your work home with you to practice there. You can try other trades, like hanging doors, fixing a bit of plumbing or doing a bit of painting, and become proficient but you cannot train yourself in glass-blowing at home. In the early days he did get the odd burn when dealing with the molten glass but he soon learned how to avoid it. Touch it once and you will be very careful in future. However it is accepted as part of the job and you just get on with it. The Process. The process begins at evening time, when the man in charge of the furnace, Martin at the moment, fills the furnace with the raw- material and the bits to be re-cycled, which is called cullet. The raw material is a mixture of silica sand and litharge. Computers regulate the furnaces and during the night it heats to 1400 or 1500 degrees Celsius. This melts the mixture and turns it into liquid. However this could not be worked with as it would run off the pipes. So at about 6am it cools down to about 1100 degrees, which is the right workable temperature for the glass and it is ready for work at 8am. They will usually continue work until the furnace is empty that evening but there is close cooperation between them and the production manager and they work at whatever is given priority. To get the molten glass out you begin with a bulb and then gather the glass over the bulb in the furnace. Experience tells you how much you need for a specific object and you need to collect the right amount. Each time you have to have equal amounts so that the objects turn out similar. The next stage is blowing and again you have to learn from experience just how hard to blow. Blowing too hard or too easy will cause problems. However the blowing is not a very difficult task as it is similar to blowing chewing gum. Then stems, if any, are added. It takes team work and all five on the team plays his part in the production of an item. Challenges. They produce a wide range of items for the market and this keeps the monotony away. There is always something different and something new. At the moment they are doing a lot of personalised work, where they make specific items for individual people or companies. This provides a challenge and they never refuse a challenge. They make trophies for various sporting fixtures and Tyrone Crystal items have been awarded at the Formula 1 championship races and will be given at the Golf in Augusta among other places. Kevin gets great satisfaction watching Television and seeing the Formula 1 World Champion being presented with something, which he had a hand in the making here in Dungannon. That makes him feel proud to be part of it. As well, it is very rewarding for him to walk down the street in some other town or enter a building somewhere and see an item of Tyrone Crystal on show. Everything produced in the factory is a source of pride for the workers and Kevin feels that it is their constant desire to produce a quality product that has kept them in business and has kept their products in demand all over the world. Another advantage is that they do their own manufacturing and therefore have total control over quality. They also keep the customer foremost in their minds and work to suit the customer requirements. This means a satisfied customer and creates further business. Often a customer comes in with certain ideas of what he wants and they will try their best to produce the item as close as possible to what the customer has in mind. They have begun producing pieces with logos, pictures, and inscriptions sandblasted onto the cut glass. These are really attractive and they are in big demand in the corporate market but are also being selected for special occasions like birthday, marriages and celebrations. Niall Dynes is expert at this new process and has also introduced a type of colour shading sandblasting, which gives a wonderful effect. Kevin says that they must always look at ways of moving ahead but that they have also reproduced original designs recently and these have become very popular too. They are also one of the few Glass factories involved in the making of Glass Chandeliers for houses, hotels and the like. They also get requests at times to make replacement parts for old chandeliers, which have broken, and they have many satisfied customers for this, which is another source of great satisfaction. Each time the Tyrone county footballers won the All-Ireland final was a boost to their sales as the Crystal Sam Maguire replicas are very popular and everyone in the factory was very proud to be producing this item in these circumstances. Indeed Kevin claims that the day you lose the pride in your work is the day you should retire, especially in a job like his. Tours. The factory organises daily tours for visitors and groups. Kevin does not mind these ‘distractions’, but instead loves to see people coming to see the process. Usually when they see the workmanship and individual attention each piece receives they are persuaded to buy a piece. He gets great satisfaction of doing the work to an audience as it is marvellous to watch their faces as the molten glass takes shape and becomes a bowl, vase or other item. He would also take a peep at the Visitors Book now and again to see the comments added by visitors and he feels good reading the comments. Over the years Kevin has met some very famous people who have paid a visit to the factory. He recalls the visit of Edward Kennedy; Dolly Parton; Michael Wayne (John Wayne’s son); Packie Bonner and many many more. It is great to see all these people and all the tour groups as it means more work and, thankfully in today’s economic climate, a continuing job. Kevin himself has visited other Glass Factories in other places, when he visited the area. He would watch out for tips and different ways of doing things and see if he could use some of these. Master Craftsman. Kevin has worked his way up through the various processes and has become a Master Craftsman though he says that he has never stopped learning. He has instructed many others in the craft and is happy at his work. Gert gave him a piece of advice years ago and it is something he still remembers to this day – ‘always make the next one better than the last one – it may not be any better but at least it will be as good as the last one’. Kevin still works to that maxim. In his younger days Kevin played football for his local club, Killyman, but never won any major honours. However he now plays golf and enjoys that as a way of relaxing. Watching him at his work his coordination and balance are working perfectly and Tyrone Crystal products, from the Master Craftsman’s hand, supplied by Kevin Hughes, will continue to adorn the houses and offices of this world. by Peadar McMahon and published in the Dungannon Observer.