Author Topic: Cleaning icons?  (Read 2687 times)

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Offline Lily

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Cleaning icons?
« on: January 25, 2009, 06:22:35 PM »
Not sure if this is the best place for this, but I couldn't find anything in my search.  Any tips on icon cleaning?  I remember one of our priests mentioned we need to use rosewater, but beyond that I'm lost...

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2009, 06:28:32 PM »
Not sure if this is the best place for this, but I couldn't find anything in my search.  Any tips on icon cleaning?  I remember one of our priests mentioned we need to use rosewater, but beyond that I'm lost...

Do not use rosewater on mounted prints, or painted Icons.
Rosewater is used only to clean frames and the glass of covered Icons.
My Icons are either painted or prints mounted on wood and most have no glass cover.
I clean them the traditional Greek way- dusting them with paper or cotton wool and then burning the paper or cotton wool. Even the dust from an Icon is Holy.
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Offline mike

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2009, 06:30:46 PM »
Well... it depends on what an icon is made of. Icons can be printed on paper, painted on wood and made in many other different ways. You should match the cleaning chemicals to the icon material.

If You are wondering if icons need any special treatment because they're blessed I don't know what to say. I've never heard about it. In my house we clean icons in the same way we clean rest of the house objects.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2009, 06:31:42 PM by mike »

Offline Riddikulus

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2009, 11:45:34 PM »
In my house we clean icons in the same way we clean rest of the house objects.

I must admit, this is the case in my house. I just wipe them down with a damp cloth as I would framed photos, pictures, etc. If I had heard that icons were to be treated differently, I had forgotten. But what ozgeorge has said has made me stop and think that perhaps my practice is incorrect.
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Offline Hopeful Faithful

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 02:40:22 PM »
The modern antichrist lithograph and photograph icons which are created by man-made toxic and wicked chemicals are not possible to clean, not even if sprinkled with holy water. This page http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/practical.aspx gets at least one thing right in saying Orthodox are not to embalm with formaldehyde, yet today icons are made with wood products like plywood that contain this unclean thing. Such things are a disgrace. Then there is the spiritually defiling and uncanonical acrylic paints which some believe are acceptable, they too are inherently unholy and unable to be any different. I decided long ago to use bronze icons made in centuries past, it is a safer way to go. I was persuaded to believe that only river water should be used to clean them, as Christ was baptized in the Jordan. I have heard of the good belief that it is better to have no icons than risk having a bad one. Just some more things to think about.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 05:02:53 PM »
I realise this is a case of pearls before swine, but the miraculous myrrh-streaming icon of St Nicholas, produced in Wisconsin, in which this manifestation of God's grace became manifest, was, in fact, a paper printed icon, mounted on pressed board, and one which had been designated as a "second", as there was a minor flaw in the mounting process. I have been priviledged to see, stand before, and venerate this icon a few years ago. Truly a humbling experience to see the myrrh exude from the icon before my eyes as I stood before it. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

It is not what an icon is made of, nor whether egg tempera or acrylic, or offset printing is used for the making of the icon: it is what the icon represents that is important. To insist a true icon "must" be made of entirely "natural" materials to be considered worthy of veneration is tantamount to idolatry and iconoclasm. To call thsuch icons, miraculous or otherwise, "modern antichrist lithography" only betrays your sad, blinkered fanaticism, HopefulFaithful.

As for using river water to clean icons, what of those of us who live nowhere near a river? It is a minimum of a three-hour drive for me to find river water, that is, if there is enough flow in it. Does this mean that I am a deficient Orthodox Christian?
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 05:08:29 PM »
The modern antichrist lithograph and photograph icons which are created by man-made toxic and wicked chemicals are not possible to clean, not even if sprinkled with holy water. This page http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/practical.aspx gets at least one thing right in saying Orthodox are not to embalm with formaldehyde, yet today icons are made with wood products like plywood that contain this unclean thing. Such things are a disgrace. Then there is the spiritually defiling and uncanonical acrylic paints which some believe are acceptable, they too are inherently unholy and unable to be any different. I decided long ago to use bronze icons made in centuries past, it is a safer way to go. I was persuaded to believe that only river water should be used to clean them, as Christ was baptized in the Jordan. I have heard of the good belief that it is better to have no icons than risk having a bad one. Just some more things to think about.

This is silly.  During Communism they used to weep just to be given the paper icons we throw away (I'm sad to say that I've had to rescue them more times than I can count).

Where in the world do you get the idea that formaldehyde is "unclean."  Is this the new Judaism?
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Offline Keble

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 08:43:36 PM »
Well, when they went to write the mural icons in St. Nicholas OCA cathedral in DC, they were originally going to use egg tempera (hence their request for 15,000 fresh eggs). But the old iconostasis, which had been done in tempera, had shifted color very badly, apparently because of the air pollution. So they changed to acrylic.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 09:32:36 PM »
The use of "river water" suggested in this thread is a misunderstanding of traditional practice.
In traditional practice, whatever is sacred is cleaned in such a way that what is cleaned from it cannot be trodden on underfoot. This is simply a mark of respect. Thus, for example, in our Churches, we bury the ashes from the Thurible in a special, marked place where no one steps. Another way we clean sacred objects is to wash them in a river or the sea, because the flowing water ensures it cannot be trodden underfoot. Each time I became a GodFather, I had to give my GodChild their first bath a week after their Baptism. The inner Baptismal garments which they wore had been in contact with the Holy Myron, and thus, I had to wash them in a bowl of water, and then take the water to a nearby river, creek or the sea to dispose of it as it would be highly disrespectful to pour the Holy Myron into the sewer.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 09:33:40 PM by ozgeorge »
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Offline thetraditionalfrog

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2009, 03:49:06 PM »
I clean my icons with Holy Water or Theophany water (water blessed from a local river). I sprinkle just enough water to clean (so I don't have run off) and use a cloth I only use for cleaning icons and holy/blessed objects with.
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Offline The Mad Russian

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2010, 02:36:53 PM »
Hello. I have read all the questions and replies about cleaning ICONS. Unfortunately none has anwered my question. I have been asked to clean Painted Icons on Board that has candle smoke covering them over a long period of time. I would be nice to use the Holy Water, etc.... but that is not my problem. I need to know how to get the smoke residue off the icons without removing any of the paint and gold leaf. I have tried warm water with a touch of soap in it, Bestine, 100% mineral oil....but none of them will do the job. So here is my question: How do I remove candle smoke embedded onto painted Icons. Thanks you for any help you can offer. Dmitri (The Mad Russian)

Offline Salpy

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2010, 02:42:03 PM »
Welcome to the forum, Dmitri!

Offline Evagelia

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2010, 03:38:15 PM »
Hi, I hope I will be able to help you, but you need to write something more about the icon, as I understand this is  a hand painted icon, but you don't know what was used to paint the icon... egg tempera maybe? and is covered with varnish? and the gold, it is probably real gold, but just to be sure I ask..

You see without this information it s difficult to say what is safe to use in order to clean the icon..
I would suggest to try to clean with peroxide :take one cotton bud and using hydrogen peroxide slowly and very carefully in one point ( of course not in the middle of the icon) just see if it will do the job. The thing is that if the icon doesn't have varnish you would have to be 100 times more patient ;) and also in case the gold on your icon is not real then too much hydrogen peroxide and too much power and the gold can stay on the cotton bud  ;D
but if it is real gold as i think it is, the things are a little bit easier. You have to know that many old iconographers after putting gold on icon has been "cleaning" gold with cotton with peroxide, because after it was easier to paint on gold (letters and some details only)..
as to the parts of the icon which contain color you would have to use again peroxide but in much more careful way, because it is easy to distroy an icon.. so you would have to touch the place with cotton bud and peroxide and after to move to another place, and after to come back to the first place, and again to move somewhere else..

So.. try a little if it does the job and how it goes, hopfully it should have varnish so destroing the icon wouldn't be so easy.. if not.. well than you need to be very carefull and patient..
Try this method but on a small peace of the icon, if it doesn't work, although i think it will, than I can  call my teacher to ask, but I think her first answer would be the same with mine ( I'm learning iconography in one of the best Byzantine Iconography schools in Greece.. so if not me my teachers will know how to help)

The treatment of the materials used for cleaning an icon - if it is water- the water must, as ozgeorge wrote - go to the sea, river or be left in a church (churches have places for water from after baptism), any other material used to clean like cotton buds, cotton, paper etc. must be burnt. the same thing happens to the paper towells which one uses to clean his fingers after pouring new oil into the oil candle for God.  The same procedure. It has to be burnt.
I wish I could help better but my english doesn't allow me to express my thoughts in nicer and correct way... :/

Offline Evagelia

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2010, 04:01:11 PM »
and yet I would like to add  that I haven't heard that the icon has to be cleaned with holy water, in fact I don't think it has to be cleaned at all using water, egg tempera after a long time becomes resistant to water and todays icons usually are protcected with varnish so water will not harm icon, just I think from time to time it is good to remove the dust with cotton and after to burn the cotton and that's all..
Icon doesn't need to be treated with holy water because it already is holy.

thetraditionalfrog just don't wash this cloth- never! if it gets dirty burn it :) or if you wash it - first water from washing take to the river, sea or church :)

I wanted to modify my last answer but I can't... don't do like I wrote.. forget it. it is too dangerous, to easy to destroy the icon.. I will ask and I'll let you know :)
The best would be if you could say if it has varnish protection or not... if it has and it isn't possible to clean the icon, it would be recomended to remove varnish together with the dirt and to cover with new varnish... but i'll ask for other possibilities and I'll let you know!
« Last Edit: July 14, 2010, 04:28:39 PM by Evagelia »

Offline Evagelia

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Re: Cleaning icons?
« Reply #14 on: July 14, 2010, 04:48:52 PM »
I got the answer, first try to clean it just with white bread.. if that won't work than try to treat it with foam from for example something which is for cleaning carpets.. it is not recomendet to use butter or other fats because they could leave not nice sign on the painted part. It is difficult to say what could work without to see and know about the  painting technique used in the icon..

sorry for the confusion.................