The Philadelphia-born artist priest slowly inhaled, opened his mouth wide over an unfinished icon and released a long, belly-deep breath. Augustinian Father Richard Cannuli was warming the thick layers of a mixture of red clay, glue made from animal hide and a drizzle of honey that had been painted in the shape of a halo on a wooden panel. He then gently affixed a strip of 23-carat gold leaf to the dried clay. "I breathe three times so that I want to get my breath moist" and warm so the clay gets tacky enough for the thin gold leaf to stick to it, he said. It's like re-enacting creation, he said, when God breathed life into Adam -- a name that comes from the Arabic "Adeem" for "skin of the earth" or clay.