Shrines & Icons Workshop


Create three-dimensional personal shrines and/or icons using a variety of materials including found objects, hardware, wood, paper, photographs, metal and paint.  In this one-day workshop, emphasis will be on individual expression and an exploration of materials and processes.  Popular iconography and the work of artists who have used the icon as a medium of expression will also be discussed.


The purpose of the workshop is to create a small assembled or collaged work using the distinctive elements of sacred art which communicate a spiritual attitude.  The subject matter is up to you, but be free to let found objects and materials lead the way to the creation of an artwork which will memorialize personal, social, political or environmental concerns or which may simply celebrate the use of new found materials.


Create a small shrine or icon using found materials – use a box, or plaque, etc., or any other thing which can become the container for your ideas (use your imagination).

The piece should have three parts:

  • A decorative top
  • A main body (container) to which doors can be attached if desired
  • A base or legs, if the piece is to be free-standing

It is a good idea to construct the separate parts of your piece before assembling.  For instance:

  • Decide what will be used as the body of the work and what images or objects you are going to use as the focus or central idea
  • Think about the different elements of your piece – decide how each part will fit together
  • Cut out any wood or metal parts. With wood, sand off edges and paint all surfaces. If metal, like tin, is to be punched or worked, do that first.
  • If objects or parts are to be painted, do that first so it can get tried before assembly
  • Glue on paper or flat images.

Materials List

It will help you get the most out of this workshop if you can start collecting stuff which you will use to construct your shrine or icon.  Think about what you want to deify and the items that would make this possible.  For instance, if you want to build your piece around some person, thing or event that is special to you, consider the symbolic nature of whatever you collect and how that will heighten the effect you want to present.  Use your imagination to collect what you want to put into your work.

Something to build your shrine or icon around (required):

For instance a metal, wood, sturdy cardboard or plastic box or plaque.  This will become the base for your piece.  If you want your shrine to be free-standing, think of something that will become the stand.  Keep it manageable.  In other words, small – so that the piece can be finished within the time period of the workshop.

Garage sales and thrift stores are great sources for all this stuff.  Possible things you will want to bring to the workshop which will not be provided and that will personalize your shrine:

  • Small 2D or 3D images like: toys, trinkets, costume jewellery, watches, artificial flowers, knick-knacks, souvenirs, etc.
  • Small bottles or plastic boxes can be used to encase objects
  • Paper images from magazines, old books, photographs, etc.
  • Decorative items which give richness and texture to shrines and icons: sequins, rhinestones, glitter, feathers, tassels, fringe, hardware items like fancy nails, tacks, screws, etc.
  • Also for decoration: fancy papers, wrapping paper, patterned papers from magazines, wallpaper, fabric
  • Your own small drawings, paintings or sculptural pieces

Remember, these are only suggestions.  Use your imagination and bring a variety of stuff that you can manipulate and that will help achieve the look you want.  If you have any questions, please contact me by email:

Bill Blair is a mixed-media artist living in Penticton. Since the early 1980s, he has been creating photomontage images which play off themes of Canadiana and Mexicana, exploring ideas of 20th-century romantic travel ideals, souvenir culture and identity in North America. His artistic practice also encompasses mixed-media assemblages and wall shrines – described by the Vancouver Sun as “dashboard art” – incorporating found objects and vintage guitars. His work has been exhibited in Canada and internationally.

OSA members pay $75 – please call the office to receive your discount.

Course Information




Shatford Centre, 760 Main Street, Penticton


9:30 AM to 4:30 PM


Artisan Crafts


Bill Blair


Saturday, March 3, 2018


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