Painting icons on glass is a traditional Romanian activity. Pupils still learn how it’s done and try painting icons themselves, at least in our school, due to our dedicated Art teacher.
We are taking part in a Comenius project called „PLI. The Place we Live In”, with four more schools from Spain (the coordinating school), Poland, France and Italy (you can see some of our work here) and, for the transnational visit we have just hosted last month, we thought of inviting our guests to a typical activity, something that they had never tried before. So, we organized a traditional glass-painting workshop. It was not very difficult, because the Art teacher had prepared the „negative” of the paintings and the Romanian pupils helped their foreign partners. The icons came out really beautiful, the kids had fun painting together while listening to Romanian music at the same time, and maybe even discovered new skills.
A „definition” of the glass icon says that it has to be done according to a model (izvod). The model is used for a few icons and then stored again for some time. It usually has no anatomical proportions, but balanced chromatic patterns . The models currently used are 200-300 years old.
The old icons on glass are not signed because they are not original. The writing is Cyrillic, but being illiterate people (not all apprentices could write), the name of the saint they represent is often hard to read.
The icons on glass appeared for the first time in Transylvania (a richer region, with many forests to be used as a source of fuel for the glass manufacturing).
The first icons were found near Cluj, Nicula, then Sibiel, Fagaras.
There are several elements of a typical icon on glass: it represents a character or more, the remaining space is filled with flowers borders, rope borders (Nicula), stars borders Fagaras (Olt), Brasov (Scheii Brasov). In Moldavia, icons are adorned with flowers larger than the human representations .
Typically, icons on glass are painted using brushes made of cat, squirrel or horse hair. Colors are almost pure, without combining them and are made by the painter himself using natural ingredients.
The icon can have a central character such as the Mother of God, appearing in three postures: happy, with the Holy Child, grieved, with Jesus on the cross, or at the Lord’s birth.
The frame is rubbed with a wax candle and brushed in order to get an old look.
An interesting detail is that the glass icons often have a painted border to indicate the margins (not to think that it was covered by the frame).
Class 8A, School n. 92, Bucharest