First Things First!
When beginning new Icons, one of the first decisions to make is what kind of Icon boards to use. Egg tempera is a medium that builds layer upon layer of translucent layers of paint using the yolk of an egg and natural pigments. This requires a stable, absorbent, smooth, and flat surface to paint upon.
Icons first appeared in Egypt during the third and fourth centuries. At that time, panel preparation consisted of animal hide glue, linen cloth and chalk grounds. This is still the traditional support for egg tempera painting.
Making Icon Boards
- Because a High Degree of knowledge and skill is required in the preparation of Icon panelist is necessary to learn properly. Because the boards are unsurpassed in reliability and longevity, it is worth investing the effort and time.
- The panel should be of wood in order to ensure that there will be no cracking of the paint surface. As a result, canvas will not be suitable because of the slight movement of the surface. Pine, Larch and fir are the most commonly used woods in Iconography. You can use some finer grades of birch plywood also.
- Pavoloka, the linen cloth covering the wood panel and receiving the many layers of animal skin glue and chalk, protects the painting from irregularities in the wood surface. Consequently, this protects the image on the icon from the possibility of wood staining.
- Calcium carbonate, chalk, gypsum, marble dust or alabaster is mixed with the warm animal skin glue and applied to the wood panel, on top of the linen in many layers, often sanded between the layers. Additionally, after about eight layers of gesso and final sanding, the panel is ready for painting.
- Gessoed Icon panels are therefore costly due to the materials and time intensiveness of the preparation. It can take 5-8 days to complete an Icon board.
Icon Boards Can Be of Any Size or Shape
Churches and museums often use large Icon boards. Sometimes they can be heavy, but mounting them to the wall is a relatively simple process.
While some Icon boards have an arched top, some are rectangular, and still others can have carved detail on the borders.
Boards can have an indentation around the border, called a kovchek. This is a traditional Russian style.
Find an Icon Board:
A short list of Icon board preparers that I use is on my Resources page.
First things first! First of all, choose the size of your Icon! In addition, choose the kind of board you wish to have it painted on.
Commissioning an Icon is a simple process. God inspires the subject or Saint in the Icon. A patron saint of a church is a popular Icon for a memorial gift. An Icon memorializes Gospel stories in a way that even children can appreciate. An Icon lasts forever!
Icons are great gifts!
Our fast paced twenty first century world needs Icons! God and His saints keep us ever mindful of who we are and what we are doing, They inspire us in many ways that bless our daily lives. Please contact me with any questions.