Ruling Pens Rule!!!

For Typepad-1Recently, a friend asked me how I did the border on the St. Michael icon. I wanted to say, "Very carefully," and leave it at that. But she is a fellow iconographer and deserved the long, complicated answer. 

The Michael icon is largely an experimental one. The border is just one of many different techniques I tried for the first time. 

As far as the border is concerned, the difficulties included, first of all, painting on gold leaf (a metal) with a water-based medium. Imagine trying to paint your car with water colors. Secondly, there is working out the pattern I used and transferring it to the gold leaf. Thirdly, there is the actual painting of the pattern. 

Ruling Pen & SuppliesI based the pattern on the Zentangle® pattern XYP. Scroll to the bottom of their newsletter to see the step-out. 

I worked my pattern out on tracing paper cut to the size of the border of the icon board. Then I traced it onto the gold leaf using red Saral transfer paper. Trust me here. Regular carbon paper will not work. 
The paint I used is a mixture of dry pigment and Casein Paint Base Deep Tint from Sinopia. The Casein paint base will stick to the gold and not slide off. I watered it down a bit and added some egg. At any rate, the trick is to get it the right consistency to work well in the ruling pen
The video below shows the consistency that the paint needs to be. 

I got a good pen in an antique drafting set on eBay. It was made in Germany in the thirties. 
I hope this helps in your understanding of some of the craft involved in icon painting.