Our shop produces some of the finest icon boards in the United States. They are hand-made to order by experienced craftsmen. The skills necessary for producing the best icon boards include carpentry and plaster work, but additionally years of experience to handle the multitude of complications that can arise over the course of making an icon board.
Vertical Grain 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 vertical grain boards as possible- adding even a higher level of stability. This is one example that sets our icon boards apart from those of other producers.
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 with vertical grain that has much greater stability that limits future warping. All our boards are made with such vertical grain wood.
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.
Vertical Grain Braces
As an extra preventative against warping, we insert vertical grain red oak braces into dovetailed slots in the backs of the boards. Once again, due to being vertical grain the braces are more stable and will not shrink in width as much as if they are flat-sawn.
True Gesso Finish
Customers 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 rabbit hide 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 hide glue, chalk, and 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.