A few months back, I ordered a random set of icons during Legacy Icons’ moving sale (www.legacyicons.com). A packet of unmounted icon prints came with the other icons. According to the site, they are the same quality prints that Legacy Icons uses, so I began researching how to mount them to wood. It was easier than I thought it would be, so I decided to share how to do it.
First, decide what type of backing you would like to use. Many icon producers use MDF (a type of dense particle board) because it is very uniform, smooth, and cuts easily. I decided to try some birch plywood, because I wanted to see the grain on the back of the icons.
Cut the wood to shape (I measured for 1/4″ of extra space on each side of the print. My neighbor has a router, so I decided to add some bevels on the edges. Sand everything.
Unlike MDF, plywood may have some imperfections. I found regular latex caulk to work well at filling them.
Next, paint the edges and border of the wood. I had a can of red paint that I also used to paint my “heart and cross” carved wood panel near my door, so I decided to use it on the icons.
Now comes the fun part – gluing the icon to the wood. I highly recommend Sennelier’s “Acrylique Lacquer” in a matte finish. I cut it with an equal part of water as it is quite thick, and just keep it in a covered jar. A little goes a very long way.
Coat the board’s top and sides with a good coat, and also coat the back of the icon print. On smaller prints, you may need to curl the side edges back so that they will lay flat. Then, place the icon on the board, trying to minimize any air bubbles.
I found a wallpaper seam roller works very well at pressing the edges of the print and working out any bubbles that may have formed. On one large print, I had to use a small syringe to inject some adhesive into a large bubble and then press it with a board overnight; it still turned out great.
Let the coat of lacquer dry for at least a few hours, and then add several more light coats. I normally apply 4 coats.
Finally, I make a note on the back with permanent marker, apply a coat of linseed oil to the wood, and add some “bumpers” and a saw tooth hanger.
While it is a fun project to mount your own icon prints, it would be very hard to beat the quality of Legacy Icons’ production icons. In addition, they offer many other categories of products (and they’re just very nice people.) Please look them up.