Tea set (M76.1)

Catalogue Record



Chris Knight


Tea set

Made in





Tray made from a mixture of silver and dyed-red and anodised aluminium, with handles and round cylinder decorative features around the edge.

Materials and techniques

The white precious metal, silver and anodised and dyed aluminium were fabricated using spinning, piercing, filing, soldering and general hand fabrication techniques along with machining (lathe and milling).

As all the forms are off centred from each other, the combination of a lack of any straight or flat joints and the lack of any one major datum required lengthy and patient fitting of every component. It was necessary to gradually ease each piece into place. Firstly by careful fitting of forms to edges to create a good joint and then filing this back so that the components were gradually located at the correct angle in the correct location.

The silver is hand finished to a high polish using abrasive papers, polishing compounds and felt pads. The aluminium is hand finished with abrasive papers prior to industrial anodising and dying.

Note taken from the Maker File.


height:  8.5cm
width:  56cm
diameter:  35cm
Packed Length:  70cm
Packed Width:  46cm
Packed Height:  49cm

Object number




Rebecca de Quin - ABDS Newsletter (Sep-04)
  • Tea Set, Chris Knight, 2004, Crafts Council Collection: M76. Photo: Heini Schneebeli

Maker's statement

The completely open brief was initially quite a dilemma. When one is allowed to do anything it is often the case that nothing comes to mind or that we are unable to settle on any one idea. Thus I initially approached this commission by suggesting very vague outline proposals. The candelabra and pair of jugs were relatively well formed in my mind, however, I really had no idea or predetermined vision of a tea-service when I put forward the initial suggestions to Amanda and Rebecca. It was very refreshing to be commissioned almost blind in the eyes of the commissioners and myself. Usually my work develops through an organic process over many months or years. An idea gradually starts to focus on a particular object and so at the point of 'desining' I have something to work from. Not usually a well resolved idea, but certainly more than a blank piece of paper. In many cases, as with this design, I work forward from previous designs, picking up from where they finished and moving forward. I regard each finished item as a punctuation mark or sentence in an ongoing conversation with the material an subject. The difficult challenge set by a tea-service is not only the range of objects, parts and functions which must all work in harmony to create a cohesive aesthetic and utility, but also that I have already pushed the design to an extreme with the Tea-service designed for the Goldsmiths 'Silver and Tea' Exhibition in 2000.

I enjoy the demands of designing a complex partnership of objects, functions and ergonomics, whilst attempting to push the object sideways - to create a new aesthetic interpretation alongside a slight functional development. I aimed to create a ritualistic piece that focuses the users attention on the ceremony of serving and drinking tea.

The idea of a gently rocking teapot allowing the tea to percolate without the need to rattle a spoon around the pot.

I am interested in the combining of precious metals with more industrial materials such as plastics and aluminium which allow the addition of bold colouring. The partnering of non-precious metals with silver would mean that the pieces cannot be hallmarked and as such will have to be referred to as 'Precious White Metal'.
Silver is a rewarding material to work with. Its many qualities of malleability, weight, colour, instrinsic preciousness and hygiene are all important in both the making and finished product.

Silver's prime quality is its malleability which frees the maker from the restraints of high cost tooling and investment. Thus I can pursue varied ideas through one off or batch production by flexible processes.

I employ other materials, such as anodised aluminium, to introduce colour and a non-precious, almost engineered assocation within my work. Often these materials are significantly beautiful in themselves, but are able to tone down the precious and expensive aesthetic inherent to silver.

I utilise many traditional hand and machine manufacturing techniques, particularly spinning and soldering. It is important that I do not become restricted through any one particular technique or skill and that I remain flexible through low cost hand making processes.

The contradiction around my partnership between hand, material and eye is that I do not wish the making to be visually celebrated. I remove all traces of craft, preferring a more engineered aesthetic. For now, you will not see a hammer mark. My hand is removed by the final polish.