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People often turn to us asking to restore an old icon. This is a very long and complicated process. Some icon-painters think that restores are unfortunate artists who did not meet success. They think so because during restoration a restorer shouldn't make something new realising his ideas but carefully reproduce the lacking places of the masterpiece. But actually to reproduce these lacking fragments professionally one needs to copy the initial artist's manner perfectly. And for this one must possess the same skills and mastership as the painter of an ancient icon. We also should take into account that different icons painted in different times under different traditions and manners of painting are submitted for restoration. A restorer during work imitates the painting techniques of different artists. Ekaterina Iljinskaya says that she learned the icon painting from a lot of masters of icon-painting. When she restores the ancient works of art she doesn't touch the undamaged fragments with the new colours and the icons don't loose their ancience and originality. The fragment restored by Ekaterina fit completely the main icon so the restoration work can be seen only due to photos made before it. We included into the restoration technology process the obligatory photographing of the works of art. We also make special copy graphics of the icon on the very thin tracing paper. These graphics and photos are the main property of our work-shop. Basing on them we learn the iconography and paint new icons. More than that we make enlarged photos of some fragments of icons and these are the education materials for our apprentices. Working with ancient works of art we know what particular colours were used traditionally by icon painters. So in this way we differ from other artists who base in their works on the bright catalogues and albums. Even a very good polygraphy can't reproduce the real colours of an original icon. Painting our works of art we use egg emulsion with adding of natural pigments, i.e. ochres (clays: yellow, red, greenish) and pounded precious stones (malachite, lasurite etc.) The background of an icon we cover with gold leaf and make stamping on it. The stamping makes gold more iridescent; it looks brisk, volumetrical. Following ancient technology we cover a new icon with flax drying oil. The drying oil penetrates into all colour's layers and after some time it becomes the indivisible structure with a colourful layer protecting the icon. We witness that the icons of 11-15th centuries remained in better conditions than paintings made on canvas with oil colours. Icon bears the Word of the Lord, True and Eternal. That's why we use the specific material for icons which can't be destroyed by time. We use well-dried lime boards with oaken dowels on which we gum "pavoloka"- unbleached linen and then make "levkas"- chalk coating. That is an ancient reliable technique. The same technology was used by Pheophan Grek and Andrei Rublev.

It is wonderful that this technology is alive nowadays.

©Екатерина Ильинская
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