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Jun 7th, 2012
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Icon Boards (already gessoed) #350272
07/17/10 06:22 AM
07/17/10 06:22 AM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 51
Australia
M
Michael78 Offline OP
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Michael78  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 51
Australia
Greetings all - I am pleased to be back after an absense.

I have only this week commenced an Icon Writing course - where we are attempting to write an Icon in the traditional methods with egg tempera and gold leaf giding.

I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but the teacher suggested I try anyway and see how it goes.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first class, but with such shaky hands holding a brush - I doubt my first effort will even resemble a true icon... perhaps over time with patience I may be able to produce something passable.

I would like to practice as much as possible at home - though the process of obtaining boards, and applying 12 coats of gesso (making the gesso first?!!!) is far too daunting. Purchasing acrylic gesso seems somewhat against the concept of 'traditional iconography', and I believe the icons wont turn out so well on acrylic surfaces.

Does anyone know where one can purchase prepared icon boards? - As in already gessoed? Due to the high shipping costs of blocks of wood, preferably something down here in the southern hemisphere!

Hopefully someone will have some ideas.

Kind regards,

Misha

Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Michael78] #350285
07/18/10 06:59 AM
07/18/10 06:59 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 9,962
Massachusetts
I
Irish Melkite Offline
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Irish Melkite  Offline
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Massachusetts
Michael, my friend,

I don't see prepared boards listed in the on-line catalogue, but you might check ChristianBook. I've admired the site's offerings several times in the past. Its name doesn't sound particularly Orthodox (and I don't know if they are in fact), but the site describes them as having "Australia's largest variety of Orthodox Christian supplies on the Web" and they do have an impressive selection (although no iconography supplies). They might know of a source, if they don't sell them directly.

If you haven't asked yet, you might check with the iconographer teaching your course. While he or she might very well prepare their own, he may also be aware of sources.

Many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Irish Melkite] #351842
08/29/10 03:41 PM
08/29/10 03:41 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 19
Albuquerque
Praetor Offline
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Praetor  Offline
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Posts: 19
Albuquerque
Icon Boards are really easy to make. Though it appears like a long drawn out tedious process, if you can get the wood (I use poplar)cut then it only takes a couple hours to make a dozen or so boards.

I know this is a fairly old thread, however, if you haven't built or bought boards I can post my method and recipes that can make 10 to 12 boards ready to write within a few hours.

In Christ
Patrick

Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Praetor] #351875
08/30/10 03:21 AM
08/30/10 03:21 AM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 9,962
Massachusetts
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Irish Melkite Offline
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Irish Melkite  Offline
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Patrick,

Since discovering this thread prompted your 2nd post in 5 years, I say 'go for it' biggrin . Even if Michael has since found a source, I've no doubt that someone will be glad for the recipe. I think we had one posted here - long go - but finding it in the archives would be a daunting task.

Many years,

Neil


"One day all our ethnic traits ... will have disappeared. Time itself is seeing to this. And so we can not think of our communities as ethnic parishes, ... unless we wish to assure the death of our community."
Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Irish Melkite] #351930
08/30/10 08:10 PM
08/30/10 08:10 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 51
Australia
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Michael78 Offline OP
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Michael78  Offline OP
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Posts: 51
Australia
I agree with Neil!

I have made six boards, but found it very long!!!

The boards were cut at my local hardware megastore, though the rabbit skin glue heating, applying and linen-cloth all took a while (especially to dry).

The gesso process (with 12 layers) I found most frustrating, waiting for each to dry, thinnin each layer and then sanding. If you have an easier recipe - I would love to see it.

I have finished one icon, the one we worked on during classes. I will try to add a picture of it if I can.

[Linked Image]

Regards,

Misha

Last edited by Michael78; 08/30/10 08:12 PM. Reason: trying to add image
Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Michael78] #352414
09/06/10 12:28 PM
09/06/10 12:28 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 19
Albuquerque
Praetor Offline
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Praetor  Offline
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Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 19
Albuquerque
The following is what I do to make Icon boards. Should only take at most 3 or 4 hours and you will have a few boards. But I have to warn you, don't start this if you have an engagement that evening. The second time will go a lot faster. I will tell you what I do and you can adjust from there. My technique is a mix of instruction from a couple of iconographers and trial and error.

First of all you need to pray. Like every step of this process, building the panel needs to be a prayerful act.

Get some wood. I like to use poplar, it is easy to get a 12" by any length piece, and I crosscut them to get a 12"x9" board. If you do not have a table saw most stores will cut them for you for you. Be sure there are no major scratches or gouges.

Sand the boards with some 220 grit sandpaper. Including the edges It needs to be smooth but not glassy smooth to hold the glues.

Now you need a place to work. Easiest is the kitchen table. You'll need to heat and reheat the glue and gesso and unless you have a hot plate, the stove is the place to do this. Put down cardboard to keep glue and gesso off the table. Newspaper will just glue itself to the table. Lay out the boards around the table. I work left to right so I line them up single file accordingly.

What you will need:
Rabbit skin glue
Water
Double boiler (I use a wide mouth mason jar. More Later)
Paint brush 2" or 3"
100% Linen cloth
Calcium Carbonate and marble dust or quick gesso.
pie plate
exacto knife
Strainer
400 and 600 grit wet/dry sand paper.

Now that you have everything it is time to pray.

The mixes you will be using for the rabbit glue are roughly 12:1, 8:1, and 10:1

Get some linen. I go to the church and ask the Sacristan for some old linens. If I visit churches then I ask them for some as well, which has kept me well stocked. Cut the linen so that it hangs over the boards roughly 1 to 2 inches. Any scraps that I have are burned with old palms and willows.

Get 2 Wide Mason Jars. Or you can make your glue and gesso in something else but I think these are the best to make and store glue and gesso. A 2" brush fits in them, they work great in a double boiler and they are easy to clean. Since my wife uses them for pysanky die jars we just buy a case and some lids and split them.

In one jar make up a gesso. I use 12:1 rabbit glue to water. Dissolve the glue in some hot water and put in double boiler. I use a small sauce pan filled half with water kept just below boiling. Add the calcium carbonate (easy gesso) slowly but be sure the mixture does not boil. Mix it up until you get the consistency of heavy/whipping cream (before it's whipped). When the calcium is dissolved cover and set the gesso aside to cool. Don't worry the gesso will bind better with the glue with a cool down period.

In the other jar make an 8:1 glue. Brush 2 coats onto your boards. This first coat should be up and down and the second coat side to side (cross). Let this dry for 10-20 minutes.

Add enough water to make the glue 10:1. Pour the rest of the glue in a pie plate. Then start soaking your linen. squeeze out excess and soak again and then squeeze. You want the linen to be saturated but squeeze out as much as you can. Stretch the linen on the boards and squeeze the bubbles out.

Remember to keep praying.

If you have the time you can let the board stay in this configuration for an infinite amount of time. I sometime let this dry over night but when I need the boards I only let it dry for 1 to 2 hours before applying gesso.

Cut the excess linen off the edges of the board.

Get the pre-made gesso and reheat in the double boiler. By this time it will have gelled and heating it back up will liquefy it again. Stir with a big stick (I use paint mixing sticks) to get the solids off the bottom. You can strain this to get any lumps out.

Start praying and start brushing. Vertical strokes first. Always praying. Move from one board to the next. When finished stick the jar back in the double boiler and stir it up for a minute or two. You may need to add some water to keep the gesso thinned. Then continue with the horizontal strokes. Side to side crossing the boards and moving from one board to the next.

Continue this pattern. Don't let the gesso get too hot or too cold. This first half-dozen to dozen coats will look like you are putting nothing on the linen. Don't get discouraged, don't try to rush the gesso on the board, and don't stop praying. Rushing may cause lumps to form on the board. Thin layers dry quickly. Literally within a minute.

Now you need to continue this until there are 40 to 50 layers on the board. This is a wonderful prayerful time. Up and down, back and forth, prayer after prayer. I will consistently put upwards of 75 layers on a board because of the rhythm I get into. Just keep building the gesso up until you have a good thick lekvas. You'll know when to stop, just pray about it.

If you happen to peal a chunk of gesso off from brushing over a wet layer then set the board aside for one or two of the layers. Sometimes a dollop of gesso falls off the brush and doesn't dry. Like egg tempera brushing over it while it is wet will cause a couple layers to brush off. Setting it aside to dry and continuing on with thin layers can heal this chunk. But it has to be worked slowly again.

Now, as I get near the last few dozen layers I start thinning the gesso more and brushing it on. This smooths the gesso and the sanding, smoothing, leveling is easier.

When you are drawn to stop the gessoing let the board sit for a few minutes to dry. This is a good time to clean up.

Continue praying.

Dry sand the dried boards with 400 grit paper to get rid of brush marks and generally smooth the board. Then take a little water on a 600 grit sandpaper and smooth the board as much as you would like.

Now it is finished, say a final prayer.

This is how I make my boards. This is all done by memory and I might have missed something. If you have questions please ask them. I have reviewed this a few times and I don't think I missed anything but I am human.

Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Praetor] #352470
09/06/10 10:24 PM
09/06/10 10:24 PM
Joined: Aug 1998
Posts: 4,141
Washington, PA
Fr. Deacon Lance Offline
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Fr. Deacon Lance  Offline
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Posts: 4,141
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My cromulent posts embiggen this forum.
Re: Icon Boards (already gessoed) [Re: Fr. Deacon Lance] #363626
04/25/11 09:16 PM
04/25/11 09:16 PM
Joined: Apr 2011
Posts: 1
Wisconsin
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Dimitri Offline
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Dimitri  Offline
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Wisconsin
You can also get gessoed boards at http://stjohnsworkshop.com. Best prices I've found.


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