Charlotte Anne Duckworth, owner of the Silver Duck, is based in Devon, currently making pieces for commissions and exhibitions.
The aim is to make ergonomic and tactile pieces that are functional and usable. The cutlery is attached to natural wood, making each piece individual and unique.
Organic forms are used a source of inspiration for the work and as a stimulus during the development process. This quality is encompassed through using locally sourced wood in addition the silver, whilst also making the pieces more affordable. We spent some time with her to find out more…
-Tell us the story behind the brand?
The inspiration behind my work comes largely from my interest in kitchenware and tableware. When I was given the opportunity to make products, this was instantly what I was drawn towards. Nature is the stimulus that drives my designs, and the function and practicality are what guides me towards an end decision. I decided to use natural wood in my designs as I wanted there to be a natural element. There are a lot of different limitations and requirements that influence your decisions that you make whilst designing. Answering the need of function whilst making a product pleasing to use and still be unique and individual is a challenge that I enjoy.
-What has been your biggest success since launching the business?
The biggest success I have had since launching my business would be being able to take part in Goldsmiths Fair this year. Having the opportunity to build stock and present my work to people who have an appreciation and understanding of silver gave me a lot of confidence in my work. After having left Bishopsland Educational Trust to build up my workshop on my own in Devon, I felt a little daunted. Focusing on Goldsmiths gave me the drive I needed to get everything running how I needed it to.
-Is there anything you would do differently?
I wish I had made myself work on a wider range of techniques, though I hope to incorporate this into my work in the future. I have focused thoroughly on building my collection of cutlery that I have not pushed myself into making bigger, more technically difficult and challenging pieces. Now that my cutlery collection is strong, I will look into ways of pushing my skills further.
-How do you feel you brand differs from others on the market?
Throughout the last two years of having my cutlery collection and going to exhibitions and looking at other peoples work, I have not seen cutlery where the natural wood is used. Typically handles are machined into shape through turning or cutting, though I try to use the natural growth of the wood to the benefit the intended function of the piece that I am making. Holly wood is also not a common wood to be seen. Although the qualities of the wood make it durable and strong, larger amounts of it are difficult to come by. Most people are surprised when they find out that holly is as pale as it is and find this quality to be quite striking. People tend use contrasting woods which are darker, such as mahogany or walnut, though the paleness of holly compliments the silver rather than contrasting it. Using tube rivets is another unusual quality of my work.
-What is your most popular item that you sell?
My most popular item is my mustard spoon which gets bought as christening presents. My stilton scoop, which has a slightly higher price, has done well in sales throughout its production, along with my caddy spoons. Though all my pieces get attention and it is depends on the individual who happens to be looking and/or buying.
-What can we expect to see from you in the rest of 2014?
I am slowly working towards designing and making new pieces that correlate with my current collection, although these will not be previewed until 2015. My intention is to focus on larger tableware whilst still growing my current cutlery collection. I have recently started supplying work to new galleries, such as Ada Gallery in Market Harborough and The Art Coop in Barnstaple, Devon.
Next year I have a lot of exhibitions planned, and have recently joined House of Jewellers and will be exhibiting with them at the Chelsea Show in London in March. I will also be applying for Goldsmiths Fair, whilst taking part in Art in Action – Oxford, Craft in Focus – RHS Wisley Gardens, and Collect in the Saatchi Gallery – London in May.
I have also been designing a jewellery range as people mention regularly at exhibitions that it is something they would like to see. I attend for this to be ready in March to premier at the Chelsea Show.
-What advice would you offer to other people thinking about launching their own business?
I would advise people to make as many contacts and connections as they can. There are loads of opportunities out there in regards to funding, learning and competitions. The more involved you are, the more you get noticed and the more opportunities that will arise. Having a good support network around you is always beneficial in terms of advice and feedback.
-Where can people find out more?
I currently have a website thesilverduck.com that showcases my work and has an accessible shop with a few of my pieces for sale. I am also taking part in an online showcase with UK Handmade for their Winter/Christmas show, which is available now. There is a Facebook page and Twitter account where I post updates about upcoming exhibitions and galleries where I supply my work. I have joined Contemporary British Silversmiths with a Graduate Account, so you can see my work on their website as well.