Thor and Loki Altar Icons

Many moons ago, I wrote a feature article on a shop in South St. Louis City called Papa Legba’s. While other local metaphysical shops like Pathways and Mystic Valley catered to the city’s Eastern, Wiccan and Pagan communities, Papa Legba’s looked after the St. Louisans devoted to Santeria, Thelema and Magick. The shop had several altars to several deities in the back room which, unlike the elaborate set-ups many people might associate with devotional altars, turned out to be several bookshelves with incense holders and offering bowls set in front of action figures from various fandoms. There is a link between cultural iconography and devotional iconography and people have drawn parallels between certain comic book characters and religous archetypes for years (Mystique with Kali, for instance), but it was very interesting to see something like that on display.

Of course Marvel Comics took it one step further decades ago by incorporating two actual Norse gods into their superhero pantheon: Thor, the god of thunder and Loki, the god of mischief, both of whom have blown up quite spectacularly since the release of Thor and The Avengers. Seeing both of these boys all over my movie blogs and Tumblr dashboard (and wondering if it wasn’t the digital equivalent of water on a prayer wheel) inspired me to add a little something of both of them to my altar space at home.

Plywood rectangle 6″ x 5″
Balsa wood 1/4″ x 3″ x 36″
Distressed hinge 3/4″ x 1″ with screws
Rotary tool with cutting blades and sanding tips
Eyeglass kit with screwdriver
Gloss Enamels black acrylic paint
Craft Smart yellow acrylic paint
Folk Art metallic blue acrylic paint
Folk Art red acrylic paint
Craft Smart grey paint
Royal Court decoupage sealer/adhesive with satin finish
Transparent adhesive book cover
Silver and white patterned tissue paper
Aluminum foil
Blue painter’s tape
Ultimate Glue
3/4″ craft brush
1/2″ craft brush
Emery board

Because I wanted to incorporate both Thor and Loki into the project, I opted to do a hinged frame icon, similar to the prayer cards I’ve bought in the past. Since I’d never worked with wood crafting before (cutting, measuring, sanding) and I’m not quite in practice yet with my rotary tool, I opted to use 1/4″ balsa wood, because it was lightweight and would be easy to cut and sand into the appropriate shape. Since I also wanted a hard smooth surface for the images, I also decided to use plywood squares for the inside of each frame.

I cut the plywood first, accounting for 1/4″ of wood that would frame the image and sizing it just a bit larger than that as I measured and cut it using my pencil, ruler and rotary blade. Once the wood was cut, I replaced the blade with the sander and smoothed all four sides of each piece into shape. Balsa wood is soft and particularly easy to break along the grain of the wood.

I did a Google image search and found the two images I wanted to use. Using the photo editing tools on Photobucket, I was able to tinker with the size, color, layers and shading to get the precise look I wanted for each of them (Thor the warrior has a retro poster style look, while Loki who spends a fair bit of time world hopping in both films is surrounded by stars) I then copy and pasted both images to paintbox and printed the final image at 70%.

Once the wood was cut and sanded, I used the blue tape to protect the sides while I painted the panel sides black and the trimmed edges a light grey.

Once both sides were finished, I opted to paint a different color back drop for Thor and Loki (red for the former, green for the latter) to emphasize certain colors in both images. While the paint was drying, I covered both sides of my printed out images with transparent adhesive book cover, trimming the edges so the plastic was the same size as the paper. I then trimmed a slightly larger background for each — silver and white patterned tissue paper for Loki, silver foil for Thor. Afterwards, I used the decoupage sealer and adhesive to fix both the layers and images to the wood panels.

Once the paint and sealer was dry, I used the screw driver from the eyeglass kit to attach the hinge, using a bit of sealer on the downward facing side of the plate to fix it to the balsa wood.

I’d wanted to create a design for the outside of the panels so I pulled out my books on Norse runes and started hunting. For Thor’s side I picked the world tree, representing the nine realms. For Loki, I picked the celestial star for astral travel. Using the stylus, I was able to carve each rune into the flat outside panel of the balsa wood, removing any splinters as I worked. I then used the grey paint to fill in the carved runes — touching up any spillover with the black paint. Afterward, I sprayed down both sides with the acrylic matte finish.

And there we have it — a lovely icon to the god of thunder and the god of mischief. What do you think?

~ by blackmoodcraft on July 6, 2012.

2 Responses to “Thor and Loki Altar Icons”

  1. Love this! No wonder you’re getting lots of rain! I just have pancakes and beer.

  2. […] my father was gifted for his first communion on display. I also have altars to Coyote and Tara, a hinged icon of Thor and Loki, and my meditative practice and trickster connections are […]

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