* Marian Bonef – born in 1972. He attended the University of Orthodox Theology from Bucharest, Romania. He was specialized in traditional water gilding, with 10 years experience in Romania and abroad. He studied byzantine icons ( 13th century ) from Greece, Macedonia and other orthodox countries to improve his experience in burnished gold.
* Elisabeta Bonef – born in 1977. She attended the University of Orthodox Theology from Bucharest, Romania, the Byzantine Painting and she has certificate from the Painting Comission of the Romanian Patriarchate. She has 17 years experience in painting portable icons. She also has experience in wall painting (fresco) and restauration.
* Gabriel (10 years old) and Teofil (13 years old) – our children – with one year experience in wood carving. They usualy use lime wood. All the items are hand made.
Tehnique – athonite byzantine
* We prepare and paint the icons following the traditional byzantine technique, as it appears in Erminies. It is necessary to have a well dried lime wood on which we stick canvas with glue. After that we prepare a solution which contains bone glue, water and chalk powder; this must be laid down with a brush in 6 – 11 layers. After the complete drying, the surface for painting is polished with fine emery paper. Then the drawing must be done and then the appliance of the gold leaf. We use tempera pigments and egg yolk emulsion. The first layer, proplasmos, is made of the darkest colors of the icons, shadows. The other layers of colors go from dark to the light colors; finally, the drawing- which is the darkest color, and the final lights- which are the lightest colors. After a while, when the colors are very well dried, follows the final varnish, a layer of a solution which protects the icon against dust and water.
The wood must be carefully chosen, not gnarled, not chopped, usually lime wood, well dried. On the back side it has 2 wood poles for not curving. The canvas is sticked with rabbit glue, and then 7-11 layers of sollution: rabbit glue, water and chalk powder.
After the wood is well dried and very carefully polished, the model of the Saint who is going to be painted can be drawn. The painting in egg tempera – according to the byzantine tradition from the darkest to the lightest colors.
* In our studio we gild icons in traditional technique with water bolos and we have a 10 years experience for this technique. For the gold leaf is necessary to put some layers of bolos. After the bolos is dried enough, follows the gilding ( the sticking of the gold leaf) with a solution containing alcohol, water and glue. The gold leaf must be carefully handled; the next step is burnishing with a special agate stone. This kind of gilding requires time and experience. The gilding is ready: the gold leaf is like a jewel.