Project and pattern by Randi Maria Sider-Rose, Iconographer

Peasants in 19th century Transylvania discovered that, although hand-painted icons from Greece were out of their price range, they were able to produce their own icons on glass. Following in this tradition, icons are painted on glass in the reverse order that one would paint on wood. The resulting glass icons have the vividness and immediacy of folk art, while still being icons in the aid of prayer.

If, like the Romanian peasants, you want an original icon but have a limited budget, you can commission a glass icon from Immanuel Iconography Studio. Or you might like to try this glass icon project yourself. A glass icon makes a treasured gift. And glass icons can be done as a devotional project for a small group during Lent.

The Romanian peasants would have painted everything on the back side of the glass. To simplify the project, you can trace the pattern of the icon onto the front of the glass, then paint on the reverse side of the glass with the traditional medium of egg yolk and natural dry pigments.

Gather your materials.

To remember our Creator God, the iconographer working in egg tempera gathers up the materials — metaphorically the whole world in the elements of animal, vegetable, and mineral — and offers them back to God.

  • A 4×6 picture frame with glass. IKEA is an inexpensive source.
  • Pigments (the dry color). You’ll need four colors:
    • Buff Titanium
    • Red Oxide (made from iron)
    • Ultramarine Blue
    • Yellow Ochre
    • If you can’t get these at a local art supply store, you can order them online from Kremer Pigments. The smallest size of each, 100 grams, will be plenty, even for a group project of up to 20 people. The cost is about $8 per color.

  • Palette or small containers to put the paint in.
  • An egg.
  • A sharp knife, a small measuring cup or pitcher, water, a spoon.
  • A dropper bottle (nice, but not necessary).
  • Paint brush. A #4 round suitable for watercolor or acrylic works well.
  • Sharpie pen and DecoArt Gold pen.
  • Gold-colored paper or aluminum foil to back the painting at the end.
  • Pattern for the icon.


home altar with candles and icons
Iconography is first and foremost an act of prayer and service. Humility, not artistic skill, is the basic requirement. Before working on an icon, pray and sign yourself with the cross.

Break open an egg.

Holding the egg over the kitchen sink when you break it
Tap the egg against the side of a sink, inserting your thumbs into the crack, and pulling it open.

Children can help with this stage. They love the tactile nature of glass iconography, especially because it is REALLY how icons were and are painted by real iconographers!

Separate the yolk.

use your hand to separate the yolk and the white
Let the yolk fall into your hands, the whites falling through your fingers. Rinse the yolk gently under running water.

Dry the yolk.

dry the yolk by rolling it around on a paper towel
Dry the yolk by rolling it around a paper towel. Rinse and dry your hands off too.

Drain the yolk.

hold the over a cup, then pierce it with something sharp
Grasp the yolk in one hand and poke it with a knife with the other hand. Let the INSIDE of the yolk (the yolk minus the yolk sack) flow into a container.

Add water.

stir water into the yolk
Mix in two teaspoons of water. Stir with a spoon. Transfer to a bottle with a dropper, if you have one.

Trace the pattern.

trace the icon pattern onto a piece of glass
Trace (or draw) the desired image onto the glass with Sharpie pen. Use the DecoArt gold pen for the edging on the Theotokos’s mantle or gown. Move the glass around to include whichever image or image combination you like.

Paint the flesh.

paint the flesh over the face and hands of the figure in the icon
Mix a portion of the egg yolk with Titanium Buff pigment until the paint is like heavy cream.

Cover all the flesh with this color (face, hands, the Christ image including loincloth), without regard for any of the details. Just cover it all with thick paint. Dip often into the paint so you are not spreading too thin.

Paint the cloak.

paint the cloak red
Mix up the red paint and cover the cloak, along with any flowers that you want to have colored red.

Do not touch the wet flesh color with any wet red color. They will bleed into each other. This is why the cloak has lots of trim: to keep the colors separate.

Paint the undercloak.

paint the undercloak blue
Mix up the blue and paint ther undercloak, along with any flower details that you want to be colored blue.

You might experiment with watering down some or all of the blue for a more transparent effect, which will let the gold paper shine through.

Paint flowers and leaves.

paint the flowers and leaves
Mix up the yellow paint and paint any flower details that you want to have colored yellow.

Add blue pigment to the yellow paint to make green for leaves.

Add gold backing and frame.

put gold paper behind the glass
Let the paint dry several days, if possible, or at least several hours.

Put the gold paper or aluminum foil on the back of the glass, and place them together in the frame.

If you prefer, you can use copper tape around the edge of the icon, attaching the paper to the glass.

Read More

Anastasis icon of the Resurrection: Iconographer Randi Maria Sider-Rose explains the symbolism and meaning of the Anastasis icon.

Celebrating Pascha: The Queen and Lady of Days: Orthodox Christians can be a little bit over-the-top when it comes to celebrating Pascha.

17 ways to use Catherine’s Pascha: There are so many ways to extend a picture book! Here are crafts, cooking activities, homeschool projects, and more that you can use to engage your kids and make Catherine’s Pascha more memorable and more fun.

Buy the Book: Catherine’s Pascha

Catherine doesn’t like vegetables. She doesn’t like naps, and she doesn’t like it when her mom combs her hair. She loves hot dogs, chocolate cake, and her best friend, Elizabeth. Most of all, she loves Pascha! Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, is celebrated in the middle of the night, with processions and candles and bells and singing. And Catherine insists that she’s not a bit sleepy.

Celebrate the joy of Pascha through the magic of a book: Catherine’s Pascha. Available on Amazon,, and my webstore.

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