Commissioning an Icon
What is a commissioned icon?
The main work of the Conestoga Iconographic Studio is the creation of original icons for churches and homes. These can vary in size from small works of personal devotion to large public icons. But, all of them are created in the same way—using local materials from the village of Conestoga to create a vision of heaven.
The materials used to make each icon are unique to the village, and are very much a part of its style. The wooden panel is made from trees locally harvested on a Mennonite farm. The pigments are foraged from Conestoga’s soil and plants. The paint is made from the studio’s chickens and it’s varnish out of wax harvested from the studio’s beehives. Only the 24kt gold used to gild the icon is not made in the studio (at least, not yet …).
All these materials are used in traditional methods that are both beautiful and long lasting. These are all very special, and their use appropriate to the icon’s nature. The wooden panels are solid linden wood which are stable and tough. The egg tempera paint has a depth of colour unmatched in any other medium and will last for centuries. Gold neither tarnishes or fades. An icon made like this is an investment for generations to come.
What is the process of commissioning an icon?
There are many reasons to commission the creation of a new icon. The founding of a new church, or moving into a new home, is often one. Blessed services like a baptism or marriage is another. The birth of a child, and the desire to create something that will witness to him or her throughout their life, also leads to an icon being commissioned. And, the desire to bring honour to a newly canonized saints can lead to a new icon also being a blessing to the larger church community.
Whatever the reason, commissioning an icon begins by making contact with the studio. When you write the studio, be sure to include the name of the saint, reasons for the desired icon, and the event (or date) for which the work is intended. These details can then be worked out in a followup conversation by phone or email. Once everything is arranged, a 20% deposit is usually requested.
When it comes time to have the icon created, many things begin to happen. It is the responsibility of the patron of the icon to support the work with their prayers and that of their community. Readings from the life of the saint depicted leads to a drawing (or, “cartoon”) being created which is then shared and discussed. After cartoon is reviewed to everyone’s satisfaction, the work begins. Over the next month, the icon’s panel will be prepared, laid with pure gold, painted with pigments from the earth, and named. Once completed, a photograph of the final icon is emailed, and with the patron’s approval, shipped to them.
What is the cost of commissioning an icon?
The cost of these icons takes into account the time, talent and materials needed to create these works. Original icons like these are not intended as a, “little gift” (such a need is better served by the prints offered here). The final amount asked for any icon is mostly based on its size, but its complexity can also be a factor. Portrait icons of the saints can be painted any size, however very complex festival works, like a Nativity icon, require a larger panel. As an estimate:
|Dimensions||Type||$ CAD||$ USD (est)|
|30cm by 38cm (12″x15″)||Portrait icon||$1600||$1200|
|45cm by 57cm (18″x22½”)||Portrait icon, or |
simple festival icon
|60cm by 76cm (24″x30″)||Complex festival icon||$3600||$2700|
Shipment of the finished icon can be arranged by the studio, but at the patron’s expense.
Contact the studio.
Given that an icon can take one to two months to finish, the studio’s calendar is often booked many months, to even a year, in advance. However, wherever possible, everything will be done to have the icon ready in time to meet an event’s deadline.
Please contact the studio if you’d like to discuss the possibility of commissioning an icon for your family or church.