By the hands of a talented hagiographer ! As we are getting closer to the 15 th of August or Dekapentavgoustos, ( when accordingly to the Greek Orthodox Christian calendar the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is celebrated), I am very happy to finally fulfill a very old oblation to Virgin Mary. The very talented hagiographer and gifted artist Eva Miskou Varela ( email@example.com ) is recreating an 1860 Byzantine icon of "Panagia Eleousa tou Kukou" Primarily, the artist found an aged thick wood, without any knots in it (preferably cedar, cypress, oak, lime-wood, mountain pine or walnut) and prepared the wood panel.
The panel is strengthened by the use of traverse sections of the same wood, so that no warping is produced with passing of time.
Then, the hagiographer glued linen cloth on the wood with one layer of hot glue (rabbit glue and water) and passed the surface with a brush, applying 6-7 layers of a mixture of zinc, stucco filler or plaster of Paris and glue.
The wood with the cloth left to dry and then sanded down with sandpaper , until a smooth and fine surface texture is produced.
The next step was to transfer the outline of the figures, from the paper copy to the prepared wood panel, using a pencil and then edging the lines with a sharp knife.
The talented hagiographer Eva, then prepared the surface which will accept the difficult and time consuming technique of water gilding with 24K gold leafs and engraving (στιλβωτο χρυσο με τσουκανικο)
At first the artist isolated the area where the water gilding technique will be applied
She used masking tape around that region to avoid the spreading of the red bole base into unnecessary areas
Then the hagiographer applied 10 layers of the red bole with rabbit glue mixture.
Before applying the next layer, Eva, had to wait until the previous layer was completely dry
Finally Eva smoothed the red area by the use of very fine sandpaper
Before applying the 24K gold leaf the hagiographer moisturized the red area with water
She then applied the first layer of gold leaf. Few minutes later she applied the second layer of gold leafs.
After 30-60 minutes of drying time, Eva polished the gilded area with an agate burnisher tool.
The hagiographer pressed the agate slightly on to the gold by making circular movements.
At the end Eva performed the difficult technique of Tsoukaniko on the polished gold surface creating a detailed and beautiful engraving design.
Stay tuned as the talented hagiographer Eva will send me step by step photos from the progress of this difficult, sacramental, and greatly inspirational Art of Hagiography