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Essential Supplies

Iconography is a technical art and having the proper tools and supplies is essential. On this page I detail what I provide in the cost of tuition, the basic supplies you will need to purchase for yourself, and suggestions on where to find these supplies. My recommendations come from my experience and the preferences I've developed. As you get more comfortable with this practice and the acrylic medium you will discover your own preferences.  


The Essential
Workshop Kits

STANDARD KIT included in tuition cost for every student, every workshop 


The Standard kit includes:

  • a gessoed wooden panel 

  • 1-3 sheets of 23ct. gold (depending on the icon) 

  • a color copy and tracing of the icon 

  • supplemental paperwork


If this is your first workshop with Sophia Icon Studio, you have the option of purchasing a small kit of highly recommended supplies. Most of these items can be reused many times.


The kit includes:

  • a plastic mixing well 

  • size (glue) for gilding 

  • a gilding brush 

  • makeup sponge

  • sandpaper

  • 3 handmade transfer sheets (made using Conte crayon in bistre, noir, sanguine)

  • 3 Conte crayon pieces for refreshing transfer sheets

  • pipette

  • dental tools and cotton swabs for lifting paint

  • printed Iconographer's Prayer and Rules


For more experienced first time students who may already have the above supplies but don't have experience with gilding. Available for purchase in our store, this kit includes:

  • makeup brush

  • size (glue) for gilding

Option to purchase extra 23kt patent gold sheets at $5 per sheet. 5 sheet limit. Please email us for more information.


Paints and Brushes

All students are responsible for acquiring their own set of brushes and paints.


At a minimum, you will need a medium round brush for larger areas and a small round for detail work. Look for soft brushes with a good point when wet and “spring” in the bristles.


My recommendation:

Princeton Heritage 4050 Series (synthetic sable), ROUND, short handle, in sizes 6, 2, and 0. These are high-quality mid-range brushes and worth the small investment. 



All online workshops will be taught using Chroma’s Jo Sonja Artist Colors (acrylic paints), which provide a velvety matte finish ideal for icon painting. All instruction will be based on these colors and I will not be able to provide instruction using other brands as colors and mixes do not always correspond. 

Please purchase the following (16) Jo Sonja colors:

  • Burnt Sienna

  • Burnt Umber

  • Carbon Black

  • Gold Oxide

  • Indian Red Oxide        

  • Napthol Crimson            

  • Napthol Red Light           

  • Raw Sienna

  • Red Earth 

  • Storm Blue

  • Titanium White

  • Ultramarine Blue

  • Warm White                 

  • Yellow Light            

  • Yellow Oxide

  • Pale Gold (or another brand of comparable gold paint)


Additional Items to Gather

In order to be fully prepared for our time together, be sure to gather the following items prior to the first day. Have your space all set with items close at hand.

  • Ample table space

  • Desk lamp

  • Paper to protect your workspace (we won't be too messy but it doesn't hurt)

  • Computer, tablet or smart phone with WiFi capability

  • Glass or ceramic plate to use as a palette (do not use paper or plastic!)

  • Water cup for rinsing brushes (I like to have two)

  • Pencil for tracing – preferably both a colored pencil and a graphite pencil (mechanical pencils are great)

  • Pencil sharpener

  • Artists' erasers -- gum, kneadable, and white (often comes in a kit all together)

  • Scissors

  • Ruler 

  • Paper towels 

  • Small glass or ceramic dishes for mixing paints (optional)

  • Cling-wrap or Glad Press n’ Seal wrap to keep paint fresh

Check out the Sacred Space section for ideas on other ways to make your work space feel more like a place of prayer.

Note on Costs and Suppliers


Cost of paints and brushes will vary slightly depending on your supplier. A set of 3 Princeton Brushes (6,2,0) should be roughly $20, excluding shipping costs. A basic set of the 16 Jo Sonja paints should be roughly $55-60, excluding shipping fees. So there is a $80-100 investment for first timers, but a well-cared for set of brushes and paints will last you many icons, and can be used for other creative projects. 


Brushes and paints may be available at your local art supply dealer, but are also available for online ordering through Dick Blick (paints available online only), Cheap Joe’sJo Sonja'sJerry's Artarama or from another local art supply dealer. You can also check Amazon but they don’t always have the correct items.


Please make every effort to purchase these supplies on your own and make sure you have the correct colors/sizes. If you have questions or concerns, please let me know. Below is a contingency plan should you have any trouble.


This contingency plan is for emergency purposes only. (The idea of an "art emergency" makes me smile...)


Most supplies should be readily available online through various sellers, but occasionally there has been a breakdown in the supply chain making it difficult to get a hold of specific items. 


  • If you can find all paints except a few specific colors, you can purchase 15ml samples from me at $2.50/sample. 

  • In the rare case that it is impossible to get any supplies in time for the workshop (e.g. you registered last minute) you may purchase from me a set of 3 Princeton Heritage brushes, and a custom-made supply of Jo Sonja paints (15ml samples of all 15 paints, enough for 2-3 icons). $25 for brushes, $40 for paints, or $60 for both. 

  • If you need these emergency supplies, you must let me know at least 1 week in advance, and I cannot guarantee that supplies will be available. Thank you for understanding!

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