A modern iconographer speaking:


“To make an excellent icon, the icon-painter ought to adhere to ancient methods. In old occasions, the traditional background for icons was gold leaf or silver leaf. Gold becoming high-priced, icon-painters typically used simple paints that have been inexpensive and made of organic ingredients. Inside the poor village churches of Russian North, all the backgrounds had been performed with paints of quite light colour. ‘Fon,’ the Russian for background, is not a Russian word. Our icon-painters referred to as it ‘the light’. Priming for the panel was produced of sturgeon glue, also an extremely pricey material. Effectively, in old occasions icons have been not cheap… “ (Father Zinon) Get more information about


Icons are religious photos painted on wooden panels, normally made of linden or pine wood. Their production is actually a long and complicated process. A layer of linen cloth soaked in sturgeon glue is place around the panel. The ground is created of chalk mixed with fish glue. This can be gesso. Up to ten layers on the gesso are applied over the cloth, or pavoloka . An outline of the composition is incised on the gesso using the point of a needle, normally depending on an icon-painting manual.


To prepare tempera paints, mineral pigments are mixed with water and egg yolk. The common minerals are cinnabar for reds, ochre (iron oxide) for yellows and lapis-lazuli for blues. Organic minerals give transparency to colors. Transparency is key in producing the impact of luminosity in icons. Light and dark tones of distinct thickness are brought one on prime of your other, layer just after layer. The white ground reflects light falling on its surface back by means of the semi-transparent tempera. The impact is the fact that of inner light radiating in the image.


Just after painting is accomplished an icon is varnished with boiled linseed oil, olifa. Russian artists added amber to their olifa. The linseed-amber varnish protects icons from scratches and gives them a deeper tone. But, immediately after many years in a wood-heated church or within a candle-lit ‘red’ corner of a peasant hut, the varnish becomes very dark and obscures the image. Within the early twentieth century, to clean the old varnish off the icon surface, restorers used fire to soften the olifa. They put slightly alcohol on the surface of an icon and set it on fire. A restorer then was able to scrape off the olifa varnish and clean the icon.

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