An icon is written in a profound atmosphere of prayer. It also requires the very highest standard of technique. It is what you are commissioning, a work of art with theological and spiritual depth that will last centuries, a treasure for the faithful passed down for generations to come. You can commission an icon for your own prayer and also as an unusual gift, sacred and deeply personal for your family and friends.
Fr Alex’s icons are made using traditional techniques and materials, namely egg tempera on gessoed wooden panels. The pigments include semi-precious stones azurite and malachite, and natural earths such as the ochres and umbers. Extra thick 23 ½ carat gold leaf is used for the gilding.
In order to commission an icon it is important to have an idea of what subject you want, the size of it, the amount of gold leaf (if needed), if there is a special date for completion. You also need to have an idea how much you want to pay. With all that in mind, you may send an outline of your proposal to the iconographer, Fr Alex, and then details can be worked out in a friendly dialogue.
To work out the price one needs to consider the number of hours spent and the particular materials used. It begins by making the board, covering it with gesso, adding gold leaf and finally painting. Sometimes smaller icons are more complicated and take much more time and energy than a bigger and simpler icon, depending on the subject and number of figures within it. The techniques and the choice of the design also need to be considered.
As mentioned before, the cost of an icon depends on the size (any can be ordered). It also depends on the choice of background. There are three choices: burnished gold, matt gold leaf and painted. 1) Burnished gold is quite a complex and time consuming process, hence the higher price. 2) Matt gold leaf uses the same 23 ½ gold leaf as in burnished gilding but is applied with a different technique that leaves it semi-polished surface. 3) Painted background uses traditional colours which includes yellow, red ochre, English red, white, deep blue pigments. A matt gold halo can also be included if desired.
A 10% deposit confirms the commission. With larger works, materials must be paid at the beginning (almost 20%) and part way through the painting of the icon. Most icons are paid for in three sections (materials and initial work, the mid-term payment when the main part of work has been completed, and a final payment on delivery. If you wish you can discuss a more suitable and regular payments, even monthly instalments. Costs of carriage, either by mail or by hand, are not included in the prices.
At the present, there is a waiting time of 4 and 12 months, depending of the number of existing commissions. It is because icons are handmade, in a rich and ancient way, with durable materials, that they cannot be made overnight. Small icons take at least a couple of weeks. They can also take months depending on the size and complexity of the subject. The iconographer commit himself to put his life at your service for a certain amount of time. In doing that he prays and paints asking God to be a channel of God’s grace and love, and so offer this to you and your life, your church and those who will contemplate them.