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How to Care For Your Antique Icon: Display. Care. Precautions. Restoration

Caring for antique icons is a simple and straightforward process. Following the basic guidelines will assure that your icon is always kept in optimum condition and properly preserved.

  • Place or hang icons away from heaters, radiators, bright or heat lamps or direct sunlight. Do not place icons in your kitchen or bathroom.
  • It is recommended but not necessary to keep icon in custom wooden case with glass front called kiot which better protects it from dust, light and humidity changes.
  • Avoid extremes or sharp changes in room’s temperature and humidity because they could lead to cracks, separation of paint layer, gesso and wood. The optimal temperature for icons is 60-72 F (15C-22C), Humidity 50%-60%.
  • Do not store icons in a room where walls or furniture are infected by the wood-boring beetle. If the icon already has beetle holes visible on the back of the board - consider consulting a professional icon or furniture restorer. Wood-boring beetles can turn icons’ wood into dust in just 1-2 years.
  • Gently dust icons without using any chemicals or cleaning products. Wipe the dust with dry, soft cloth or even better with wide brush made of natural squirrel hair (can be found in Art Supply stores). In an extreme case, if the icon is very dirty, lightly moist with a mild solution of soap diluted in warm water. Never clean icon’s cover with detergents or cleaning chemicals, because they might get through the slots on faces and hands, which will adversely effect the integrity of the icon’s painted surface.
  • Do not drive nails, cover painted surface of the icon in any type of lacquers or rub it with oil or wax.
  • If you see cracks on the icon or major loss of the painted surface - call professional restoration experts. Do not try to restore the icon on your own because you can cause an irreparable damage. Restorer will examine the icon and propose the restoration which will be best for your particular icon.
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