Novo-Tikhvin women's monastery: Manufacturing the Icons

Manufacturing the Icons


At the monastery's workshop
At the monastery's workshop

The sisters in this obedience are at different levels of schooling. There are very young sisters who are getting their first painting lessons here in the workshop. There are some sisters who have had art education at college or secondary school. In order for us to move at an even pace and be able to help each other with work we study anatomy, academic drawing and painting with an experienced tutor from a college of arts. To get acquainted with the art of iconography, we took classes at he icon painting school at St. Sergius Lavra, and also in the city of Kursk, adopting experience of the contemporary iconographers.




Icon boards
Icon boards

Starting with the handling of the board and finishing by fixing the depiction with drying oil, we try to follow the instructions preserved from the ancient masters in every step. We make the boards for the icons out of wood that had been naturally dried for several years. For the priming we use natural glue.

In this mortar stone becomes sand, then powder
In this mortar stone becomes sand, then powder
How a stone becomes a paint
How a stone becomes a paint

We make the paints on the basis of egg emulsion from mineral pigments, crashing them in a mortar with a grinder. For example, we use lapsis lazuli which from the ancient times was used for acquiring a very solid ultramarine paint yielding splendid blue colors on the icons of the old masters. The red paint is cinnabar, the yellow one is orpiment, the green one is malachite, glauconite, etc.



Crystal, amethyst, lapsi lazuli, rhodonite, malachite, jasper
Crystal, amethyst, lapsi lazuli, rhodonite, malachite, jasper

We also try to decorate our icons. We make engravings on gold and ornaments according to the ancient patterns on backgrounds and halos; we make golden wreaths adorned with pearls, precious and half-precious stones from the Urals (amethyst, lapis lazuli, malachite, jasper, etc.). Sometimes we place our icons in special icon-cases.

Framework and a wreath decorated with precious stones
Framework and a wreath decorated with precious stones

We paint in ancient canonical traditions. Our ieal is a Byzantine icon of the paleological period, the time of Byzantium's spiritual blossom. In general, icon painting differs from secular painting in purity, loftiness, and clarity of the graphic language. Symbol plays an important role: a conventional color, reverse perspective, golden background that symbolizes God's grace. Some of the first and best of the iconographers St. Andrey Ryblev, St. Alipiy Pechersky and others, were under the living influence of the Byzantine masters. From the Greeks our ancestors received the faith, and from the Greeks did they take over iconographic traditions.

Speaking of our plans, in the future we woul like to learn the art of restoration and to get to know the technique of frescos and mosaics. We hope that with God's help our workshop will grow successfully in the future.