Before starting to write an icon, it is very important to properly prepare the board. It is glued from smaller pieces of wood alternately with a line of rings. This is to prevent the board from bending over time.
The quality of the further work will depend on the correctness of the workmanship and the gluing of the board. The most popular material used in Poland for the production of icon boards is lime wood, which must be properly seasoned. Oak claws finished in dovetail are used to strengthen the boards. Another variant is simple claws driven from the top and bottom edge of the board, so called shoots.
In the initial phase, the board is glued with rabbit glue of various concentrations to close the pores in the tree and protect it from moisture and dirt. After impregnation, the next step is to apply gauze on the board, which stiffens the board and forms the base for the chalk-glue primer. The primer is the most important element during the preparation of the board for the icon. Each of the 12 layers should be applied exactly without haste. The initial 2 layers are distributed by hand to ensure that the primer adheres well to the gauze and to get rid of all kinds of bubbles. The next 8 layers are inserted with a brush and the last 2 with a spatula. Two layers of soil can be applied daily and the process itself takes about a week.
After the board has been primed, the time comes for grinding. Sanding paper of different gradations is used for this. It is very important to remove all bumps and scratches that will be visible during the subsequent gilding process.
When we have a sanded board we can move the drawing and proceed to gilding. Prepare a pulp (special greasy clay) together with rabbit glue. Several layers are applied, which can be gently wiped to smooth the surface with very fine sandpaper or a brush from pig bristles. The gold flakes are glued to the vodka and then polished with a special agate to obtain a shine. Gilding on a pulp is an old noble method of goldsmithing, which gives the possibility to obtain both matt and flash on gold.
After gilding you can start the process of writing the icon. At this stage it is necessary to prepare an emulsion of egg yolk and wine vinegar, which combines with mineral pigments (ground minerals). Colours from the darkest to the brightest are applied to the icon, thus obtaining depth and three-dimensionality.
Before the last element is signing the icon with the name of the depicted figure . It is at this point that the image becomes an icon and does not require sacrifice.
The final process of icon formation is oiling. For this purpose a specially prepared linseed oil with cobalt acetate is used, which is distributed about 8 hours on the icon. After this time, it is removed with clean sheets of paper. In the old days, linseed oil was exposed to the sun for about 12 years to naturally thicken and darken. Nowadays, ready-made cuttings are used, which can be bought in specialist art shops.
In this way, the icon is protected for about 100 years, but also the intense colour of the pigments used is extracted.