Rus Articles Journal

How to prolong life to an old icon?

Recently at me the grandmother died and in inheritance from it I got our family relic - an old icon. The darkened Virgin Vladimirovskaya`s face always caused a reverent attitude, and now when the icon became mine, I realized all responsibility for its preservation. I should transfer it to the sons in an appropriate look.

I attentively studied an image, found information on him what sort is a list, approximate date of writing. But one question tormented me: “How to prolong to an icon life?“. Paint from the dark smoked face was showered with places, the board on which the image is written decayed … I consulted to the friends archeologists, restorers, and they gave to me several advice and the house rules on care of old icons written on a tree. I hope that some readers will use these rules. However I want to notice at once that it does not mean at all that everyone can borrow at home with restoration of icons therefore it is important to remember the rule “Do Not Do Much Harm!“.

So, first of all it is necessary to know that the old icon is harmed both the cold, and a heat, and also drafts, dampness, a direct sunlight, microorganisms, bugs are grinders, a mold, vapors of various organic solvents and acids, a smoke, a soot of candles and icon lamps. In our apartments it is very difficult to avoid temperature drops and humidity (for an old icon temperature has to be 15-18 degrees of heat, and relative humidity of 60-65 percent) therefore it makes sense to protect in addition an icon - to place it in the small glazed box (icon case).

Many like to grease old icons with various oils - vegetable and mineral. Seemingly so best of all - both gloss was added, and brightness. Better not to do it. Especially dangerously vaseline (lampadny) oil. Getting through cracks in a paint layer and soil, it changes color and structure of painting over time. If there was a desire to cover an icon with a protective layer, then use linen drying oil of the superior quality - for the face, and wax - turpentine structure for back and lateral. Usually all these measures happen enough to keep an icon many - many years.

If the icon strongly darkened from a soot and others pollution, but a paint layer in a good shape, that to remove a soot and other superficial pollution you will be able such structure: 1 yolk of egg, 5 parts of boiled chilled water, 2 parts of turpentine, 2 parts of alcohol. Carefully shake up mix a brush to a condition of an emulsion. Having moistened a soft brush or a wadded tampon, try to remove a soot and dirt. After that take a pure tampon and wipe all moisture, it can damage to an icon.

If on a paint layer of an icon cracks, swellings, scales, losses of a paint layer were formed, that such icon needs to be strengthened. It is possible to make it the same yolk emulsion: 1 yolk and 5 parts of water (or 3 parts of water and 2 parts of vodka). Carefully to mix an emulsion. To moisten the destroyed places and to dry about an hour, it is possible under an electric lamp. To repeat impregnation several times, and then to smoothly press the lagged behind scales the wrung-out tampon, watching closely not to shift and to tear off paint.

If collapses, lags behind a board and it is showered in the form of firm, strong plates levkas (the material necessary for creation of icons, in fact, it is nothing else, as a primer with which cover the wooden basis of future icon), then it is already accident, the icon immediately should be strengthened. It is impossible to use any artificial glue like BF, casein, supercement, “Moment“ at all! As a last resort, it is possible to apply PVA in half with vodka. If near at hand there is no this glue also, then use flour or wheat paste, gum (cherry, plum or apricot glue). Do not apply wax, drying oil and other fatty substances to this purpose at all as it is done by some, causing irreparable injury to an icon! It is the best of all to get the superior quality of mezdrovy or fish glue. At first in stages it is necessary to make impregnation of the stuck together surfaces liquid (three - or five-percent) structure. Then 7 - 10 - percentage of a scale it is possible to glue finally, having pressed down the place of subbonding by a sack with warm dry sand.

If there were problems with a board on which it is written an icon. It warped strongly, curved - it is not necessary to level! Close up cracks mastic from glue, sawdust and chalk. It is possible to fill in them with hot wax, but only from the back and from sides. If the board is strongly eaten by a bug - the grinder, then for certain it still continues to sharpen it. In this case prepare mix. It prepares on fire from 3 parts of turpentine and two parts of wax (not paraffin!) . Having taken a brush, impregnate a board so that mix filled a time, the courses and openings. Then put a board in a plastic bag, densely tie and you hold so 2 - 3 weeks. The same structure protects further a board from humidity differences.

It is some rules of reanimation. I used them because the historian by training, repeatedly dealt with archeology and some restoration works. Therefore I want to tell at once that only the one who at least once in life dealt with similar works or at least restoration of old furniture can use these rules. If your icon began to collapse and it needs the serious help, try to find the master - an iconics. And if there is no such opportunity, then take my advice from restoration practice, observing all proportions and accuracy. Progress!