ÓFEIGUR family-run workshop
“What can I buy that is truly unique to Iceland?” Is a question Icelanders often get from
their visitors. And the answer is: Handmade pieces made by local master craftsmen!
On Skólavörðustígur, Reykjavik´s most versitile shopping street, is a green beautifully
restored timber house from 1881. It houses a family and family business of master
goldsmiths – father Ófeigur and a son Bolli – as well as a master dressmaker; Hildur the
mother. Here they all have their own small working space where they design and make
their very unique pieces; the men mostly out of metals such as gold, silver and titanium
with different kind of Icelandic stones and lava or imported stones.
Hildur makes her pieces out of soft materials and her specialty is hats. Each of her hat is unique and
handmade out of wool and lined with cotton, most with drawstring for adjustable size.
She also makes classic dresses out of material that makes the dress especially nice fitting
– and she can make a dress fit to size before you leave Iceland. To decorate the solid color dress one can buy a handpainted silk wrap or a beautiful unique piece of jewelry made by Hildur´s husband or son.
When Bolli was growing up his father had his workshop at home so Bolli got to try his
skills of jewelry making from very early age, which led him to study jewelry making and
becoming a master goldsmith like his father. (In the shop there is a piece on display that
he made when he was 8 years old). Goldsmiths in Iceland study their craftsmanship in
such a way that they can easily sit down at a 200 year old goldsmith´s workbench and
start working, such are their skills. Today more modern tools are used, but most
everything is still made by hand so each piece is unique.
Ófeigur is also an artist and among other things he makes are big sculptures that can be
seen on the walls of the shop. He also refers to his pieces of jewelry as sculptures – just
on a smaller scale. When Hilary Clinton visited Iceland some years ago she was given a
copper brooch made by Ófeigur, that Madleine Albright saw and liked so much that she
bought four; three made by the father and one by the son. Next time Albright was seen
on International TV she wore one of the beautiful brooches. (On the wall in the shop
there is a thank you letter from Mrs Clinton). These signature brooches of Ófeigur
workshop, each one unique, can still be bought at the shop. And both Bolli and Ófeigur
can make jewelry to order.
Bolli likes to make jewlery pieces out of titanium, which is lighter than silver, never
tarnishes and does not cause any allergic reactions. He uses other metals and materials
as well, he makes for example necklaces with old Icelandic symbols for magic spell and
the Wayfarer, to help him find his way safely, even in bad weather. Bolli likes to pick up
rocks out in nature and make them into unique Icelandic jewelry. He also uses lava in his
jewelry, maybe from Iceland´s latest volcanic eruptions. Bolli had an idea for jewelry in
the manner of the Northern lights but he needed beads in those colors, so he asked Troll
Beads if they could make such beads. They thought not but in about 4 months they had managed to make beautiful Northern light´s colored beads which Bolli now uses in his
Last but not least it is worth mentioning that every month a new art exhibition is put on
display on the second floor so all lovers of art and craftmanship, that want to experience
something unique Icelandic, should not miss a visit to the green Ófeigur house. And best
of all, they will be sure to meet one are all members of this skillful Icelandic family.