Handmade Icons

Wooden Icons

Icon Techniques



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     Icon Techniques


      We begin by sanding the surface of the board we have chosen with fine sandpaper in order to attain a smooth finish. Then we coat it with lukewarm rabbit skin glue and fine fabric, such as cotton or linen, and several coats of gesso making sure each dries before the subsequent coat is applied. After all the layers have dried we sand the ground with fine sandpaper, and must be done with great precision and care because the surface we are going to gild must be absolutely smooth.

     The board is now prepared and ready to be painted on. First we draw the sketch adjusting it proportionately to the space we have been given. we can start painting the background with blue or an ochre color, or prepare the surface for gilding. We apply a glue, called "mixion". After 12 hours we can apply the gold leaf. The gold we use is 24 Karat.

After gilding we are ready to begin painting the icon. Egg tempera is the basic medium for icon painting, the preferred medium for creating traditional icons because of the mediums greater luminosity and brilliance. The use of acrylic paints for icons is fairly wide spread because it is an easier technique and supplies are easier to obtain, whoever an acrylic painting cannot match the delicate and luminous characteristics of an egg tempera painting. By using egg yolk and natural pigments we create different color tones. We never use acrylics or industrial colors because they not only fail in reflecting the color tones but they also fade after some years. The natural pigments used by the first iconographers have retained their original color, allowing us to admire their work throughout the ages.

     We take care of facial expressions of the Saint. The eyes are painted slightly larger than the norm in order to accentuate their expression more intensively. The pupils of the eyes also become more elliptic. and taking care of shades by painting several coats.

    After few weeks the icon is ready to be varnished, when the chemical fusion of the egg and the pigments has been completed. We then can proceed with the final varnish. The varnishes we use are natural resins.





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