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The procedure of writing
an icon

I make my icon boards in traditional egg-tempera technique, employing a long and laborious process, in order to achieve longevity.

Each wooden board is soaked with hot skin glue and covered with cotton gauze. After it dries for few hours, 10 to 12  thin coats of Gesso - specially prepared solution of chalk, powdered marble and skin glue as filler and sealer, are applied.

Since ancient times Egg-Tempera has been made exactly the very same way we keep using it today: carefully separated chicken egg yolk is mixed with some white wine vinegar, followed by adding natural mineral pigments to this binder to make the paint.

Nature provides the pigments to be used in painting – from various coloured earth clays which make bright wonderful colours - semiprecious stones, like lapis-lazuli, malachite etcetera can be ground into royal blue, purple, red.

Natural pigments are not so intense as artificial ones, but naturally harmonized and more stable to light exposure.

In order to convert these raw pigments to paint, it is necessary to fine hand-grind them to very fine powder and mix with water and egg yolk emulsion.

Unlike other paint medium (oil, acrylic’s and so on), traditional egg-tempera is a very gradual process of many layers, applied in several steps – one after another, each after previous coat is completely dried. 

That is why it painting an icon can take more considerable time to make – days, and sometimes weeks.

After the paint has completely dried – it can be covered for additional protection with linseed oil or other suitable alcohol based varnish.


Only after these coats are completely dried, the icon can be ready for packing to be sent to its destination. It is a wonderful moment when opening the package and see the icon with in its glory covered with gold leaf background. Icons are a window to heaven.

Why pray with icons?

Christian icons are used to assist in worship. They are a 'window to heaven' and help us to focus on the divine things. We are taught not to reject our physical life, but instead to transform it, as was done by the holy people represented by those images. It is important to note that the icons themselves are venerated only, not worshipped; we only worship God in the Holy Trinity. 

Icons can support your prayer and strengthen a personal connection with the risen Lord.

My aim is to create authentic, personal and sensitive icons with great directness and wide appeal in order to continue the authentic Coptic traditional method of egg tempera painting.

To spread the joy of Christ and worship using all of our sense, I paint icons of Christ, our lady and saints. I am an Egyptian/Irish iconographer.

For further reading follow this link 


By His Grace Bishop Daniel

On the occasion of the first Symposium in Coptic Studies Macquarie University, Saturday 29th of November, 2003


Regarding the use of symbols in iconography, one of the church fathers explains:

In the Coptic Church, icons follow certain symbolism that carries a theological message.

And some of these characteristics are:

First: large and wide eyes to symbolise the spiritual eye that looks beyond the material world, as is written in Matthew 6:22, "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye is pure, your whole body shall be full of light".

Second: large ears in order to listen to the word of God, as written in Mark 4:23: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear”.

Third: Full gentle lips to glorify and praise the Lord, as David said in Psalm 63:5, "My mouth shall praise You with joyful lips".

The eyes and ears are large, to symbolise that a spiritual person spends more time in vigil watching for the Lord, and listening to God's word. On the other hand, the

mouth is depicted small to signify the virtue of silence and humility.

The saint always gazes straight ahead to signify heavenly intent and unbending faith. As the faithful makes eye contact with the saint, an instant communion takes place between the church militant and the church triumphant.