Issue 9 T.O.C. – “Making an Icon Panel” Symeon van Donkelaar

This is part of a blog series revealing the table of contents of upcoming Issue Nine. As is our custom, we’ll be discussing one article per weekday in order to give you a taste of what is come. 

Please note that the subscription window which includes Issue Nine is open now through August 28th.



“Making an Icon Panel” – Symeon van Donkelaar

How do you embody the sacred with common, everyday elements? Using carefully gathered materials – pigments of various hues from the earth, winter-harvested lumber long dried in the attic – author and iconographer Symeon van Donkelaar brings us through the process of creating religious icons, in a tradition that has been passed down through millennia. 

“Traditional icons are the culmination of many different arts,” van Donkelaar writes. “The hands in the studio are engaged as woodworkers, gilders, painters, and finishers, and our eyes see as historians, theologians, and artists.” Beginning with a tree, felled at the right time, dried and cut to specific proportions, and braced with unseen dovetailed battens to mitigate warpage, the transformation of each piece is a multifaceted practice full of symbolism and meaning. 

Rather than being a limiting or restrictive factor, working within this ancient tradition forms a living connection to the practices of the past. “In this way, making a panel in the studio is connected to a vast world of inspiration, myths, and stories,” van Donkelaar writes. These stories are brought to life in these timeless images, created to inspire for generations. 


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