One-Of-A-Kind Crafted Accessories From Hamburg’s 877 Workshop
For the uninitiated, Hamburg, at the northern tip of Germany comes as a shock. Gales thump in from the North Sea where they wrestle with icy Scandinavian blasts to create a unique climate which, along with Mother Nature’s other harsh-accented, ugly babies like Glasgow and Seattle, births a certain determination and creativity.
Meet Sylvia and Daniel Janssen, a husband and wife team living and working in the Hansastadt who started 877 Workshop in 2012 and who are earning the respect customers from all over the world. Proof, were it needed, that Hamburg’s outward-looking trading tradition is alive and well.
In their workshop, they manufacture casual goods for men with a contemporary and effortless look: bags, belts, blankets, bracelets, coasters, keychains, pins, prints and of course, rings. By “effortless”, they mean that they do the hard yards so we don’t have to.
How It All Began
Sylvia and Daniel both studied art & design in Hamburg with a focus on digital type design. Before their design studies Daniel toiled for years as a master in engraving, Sylvia worked as a designer in advertising agencies. After running their own design studio for more than ten years, they just felt the itch to make something with their hands again. Premium quality, elaborate handiwork, a casual ethic but a rugged design.
Achieving their characteristic, lo-fi style isn’t easy. They do not buy finished parts and make everything by hand. This extends as far as belt buckles, rivets, loops, caps and closures with time-honoured techniques like forging, sand casting, engraving and hand stamping. Even their leather straps are cut by hand from the hide.
All this means that, when you buy Workshop 877, you buy a genuine and unique piece of everything that Daniel and Sylvia have dedicated their working lives to.
Drilling down on the detail, Daniel explains;
For example, our vision of a heavy duty and beautiful belt buckle brought us to use the centuries-old technique of sand casting. Every piece is fashioned in a “lost mould”, that means that the sand mould is destroyed to unveil the cast item.
Because of that, we have to build up every single sand form anew to get each cast. So, it takes quite a lot of time to make just a few pieces.
But the result is worth it: the heavy quality look and feel of the solid cast brass and bronze buckle with its grainy surface and raw, rugged character is absolutely unique and inimitable.
Sylvia is equally steeped in the finest of fine, artisanal points. She told us;
Our leather is also very well chosen – vegetable tanned premium leather from a German tannery which was founded in 1875 and is now run by the fifth generation of the family. The leather is tanned with oak bark and refined with selected fats and waxes for extra durability.
Their traditional art of tanning needs much more time than current industrial tanning techniques but the benefits regarding quality, look and feel remain unmatched to this day.
The tanning process takes at least eight weeks, the leather gets enriched by natural oils and is then dried very gently at room temperature and this saves energy and improves the quality of leather. It is an honest and natural product, skin neutral and suitable for allergy sufferers.
The Silver Bullet
New to the 877 Workshop offering is a glorious range of men’s dirty, rugged signet rings.
Hewn from solid 925 sterling silver which is purer and harder than the standard 725 sterling silver – the 925 is parts-per-thousand so that means that it is 92.5% pure silver – each one is again hand-made.
After extensive research, they finally stumbled upon a totally unique collection of historic, hand-engraved die forms from 1910 in Pforzheim, Germany where, with quasi-religious devotion, the local engravers had etched filigree designs by hand into the hard steel.
No fewer than 10 tons of pressure are needed to deform the heavy plate of 925 Sterling silver in the steel mould to form a ring. But to complete the ring, a lot of work still has to be completed: sawing, forging, filing, soldering, polishing, oxidizing.
They leave the rough forging and file traces in place and tease them out them with a subtle, blackened patina.
Sylvia explains the bloodline of their craft;
Earlier, the signet ring was engraved with the family crest as a stamp seal and was considered a symbol of status, authority and power. Even in ancient Egypt, the Pharaohs wore signet rings and, in the Middle Ages, every blue-blooded family had its own family crest.
Deals were only sealed when the signet ring had been pushed into the hot wax on the contract. Today, the ring still serves it’s purpose and gives the wearer an edgy touch of strength and sovereignty.
An 877 Workshop signet ring is yours for life at a very reasonable €149 and they are happy to monogram most of their products for an ultimately personal touch.
T +49 (0)40 27 16 69 96
Mo – Fr: 10 – 19:00, Sa 12 – 15:00
If you would like to personally visit the workshop, please make an appointment first.