Embroidered icons

Mother Marina’s embroidered icons
I started making embroidered icons somewhat 20 years ago. I had never embroidered anything before, I only knew how to sew and to knit. Thus, at the beginning I thought that I would be easier for me to knit an icon that to embroider it.
We lived in the city of Pskov back then, and there were virtually no one who could teach me how to make an embroidered icon.

First, I was not doing that well, so I had to redo things many times, and I also had to read and study a lot about old Russian applied arts. Some of the problems I gradually solved, but the new ones kept arriving every day. This is what makes a creative process so engaging – you never stop learning new things.

I use various fabric and materials: parts of old clerical vestments, beads, contemporary fabric, even small pieces of rocks and stones.

First embroidered vestments were found in 17th century episcopal graves. Embroidery was widely used in monasteries, royal and prince palaces. Holy banners, shrouds and icons were kept in the churches and in private houses.

Embroidered icons require painstaking work. It was common that several women worked on one icon, sometimes it could take a few years. They were kept with a great care and taken out chests few times a year, for the big religious holidays and celebrations.

Expensive fabric (silk, velvet, brocade, gold and silver cloth), beads, gems and precious stones were commonly used for making of embroidered icons.
For faces and hands, dyed silk was used as well as common threads.