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Orthodox icon technique. Short description

  • Working with the board
    Working with the board
    Through these images we are illustrating a brief introduction of the traditional orthodox icon technique. The icons use carefully chosen wood panels as basic support, with perfectly flat surfaces, over which we apply the linen cloth using a special glue. After drying for 12 hours and examining the cloth, we apply the gesso(traditionally called "levkas"), in succesive layers, using a substance made from glue, water and another inert material. After the gesso becomes dry and uniform, we polish the surface with agat stone or sandpaper, until it becomes extremely smooth and with a matt appearance.
  • Applying the leaf and glue
    Applying the leaf and glue
    Here we draw the contours of the face and other shapes. After engraving the lines we use the gilding technique applying 4-6 layers of shellac, over the areas onto which the gold leaf will rest. This method ensures the impermeability of the these areas, in order to safely apply the glue, used to fix the golden leaf. After another 12 hours, while the surface has the necessary adherence, we apply 22kt golden leaves, using a special and fine precision technique, in such a way that the edges of neighbouring golden leaves overlap each other. After 24 hours, we need to clean and smooth the surface, in order to remove any excess leaf pieces, and than isolate the leaf with a protective coating substance.
  • Painting the background and first colors
    Painting the background and first colors
    The colors are prepared from dry pigments, combined with egg yolk emulsion, vinegar and water. The colors are painted in very thin layers. We begin with dark tones, gradually moving towards light tones, in the areas clearly delimited by the drawing lines, using a soft and fine brush.
  • Painting the details
    Painting the details
    This step involves the actual painting of the clothes, hair, faces and hands, in this order, according to erminies.The fine details of the icon and the symbols are kept for the final. Again the colors have to be painted in succesive layers, as thin as possible, from darker to lighter tones. At this stage all the details of hair and clothes are completed.
  • Finalizing the icon. Varnishing
    Finalizing the icon. Varnishing
    Once completing the details of faces and hands, after all the paint layers have dried, the icon needs to be varnished with a good quality vernis. The icon edges, texts and symbols need to be finished, before applying the vernis. Also, one must not forget the spiritual development of the artist, required in completing an icon, as a holy object that pictures those unseen, in those that we see, through imitation and representation. Working with an icon needs to truly become a creative prayer, for the icon to become place of holy presence.