About Our Icon Boards

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Custom Boards

Our shop produces some of the finest icon boards in the world. They are hand-made, individually by an experienced craftsman. Due to high demand, we are limited in the number of orders we can fulfill. Therefore, our boards are only made to order. For stocked standard sizes, we offer the Kaluga line of boards, made by an associate craftsman in Russia. This ensures that we have the time to craft all our custom boards with the utmost attention to detail.

Gessoed icon board

Quarter-sawn Linden

We put tremendous care into our true gesso boards even before the first coat of gesso is applied. Northern linden- preferred for it's tight grain, light weight, and stability is locally cut and sawn into rough planks by our chosen sawyers. After delivering the lumber to be kiln-dried, we finish them at their final thickness. We select as purely quarter-sawn boards as possible- adding even a higher level of stability. This sets our icon boards apart from those of other producers.

quartersawn icon board
flat sawn with text

Quarter-sawn vs Plain-sawn

Warping, especially cupping, is a common problem in solid wood true gesso boards. It is evident in most old icons. We combat this with our choice of wood species as well as the best method of sawing.

Quarter-sawing is a more time consuming and expensive way of sawing a log. The end result however, is a board that has much greater stability that limits future warping.

Plain-sawn boards will expand and contract in width due to changing humidity levels throughout the year and when traveling from one climate to another. Quarter-sawn boards will do so at a much lesser extent.

quartersawn braces

Quarter-sawn Braces

As an extra preventative against warping, we insert red oak braces, also quarter-sawn, into dovetailed slots in the backs of the boards. Once again, due to being quarter-sawn, the braces are more stable and will not shrink in width as much as flat-sawn.

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True Gesso Finish

Customers often comment on the beautiful, smooth surface of our gesso. To begin the process of applying gesso, we seal the board with shellac. Next, we apply a pure linen cloth by soaking it in the glue and smoothing it over the surface of the board. Once the cloth is dried crisp over the board, we trim off the edges and begin the application of many coats of true gesso: a mixture of rabbit skin glue, chalk, and powdered marble, suitable for egg tempera, oil, acrylic, encaustic, and more.

True Gesso Boards Hand-made with Care

The process of finishing the board at this point requires us to give much time and attention to detail. We've made the process our own and employ several techniques that are difficult to master, but give brilliant results. The finished white surface is porcelain-smooth. The back is finished with shellac to seal the wood. If you are looking for the finest true gesso boards available, then look no further.

Fr. Dimitri Kulp