In our last post, we explained the differences between traditional stencils and silk screen stencils. If you missed that post, make sure you check that one out first!
To create a silk screen design, you will start with the original image you'd use to make a traditional stencil with bridges, but you will skip adding bridges. No bridges are needed because you will be cutting the design and adhering the vinyl to the silk screen. That holds everything in place eliminating the need for bridges. There are many different types of materials you could use, so most of them will be personal preference. I will give you links to what works best for me to help you get started.
To make a silk screen stencil, this 110 mesh silk screen is a MUST. If you are unsure of what silk screen is, it is a piece of mesh with teeny tiny openings. It is just like the silk screen they use for t-shirts. It is made of polyester. When your royal icing is brushed over it, it will go through the openings in the silk screen and onto your cookie. Your icing must be thin enough to go through the openings, but not so thin that it doesn't. This take a little practice. This roll of silk screen mesh is pretty large, so it goes a long way once you get a hang of using it.
Oracal Clear 651 ThermoFlex Frosty Plus Glossy Clear HTV
You can use either heat transfer vinyl or adhesive vinyl to attach your design to your silk screen. Heat transfer vinyl will require you to use a heat press, iron, or Cricut Easy Press, and a piece of Teflon to adhere the vinyl with heat while the adhesive vinyl is like a sticker and will need transfer tape to transfer the vinyl to the silk screen mesh. The clear adhesive vinyl tends to be a little bit harder to weed but still works great. The adhesive vinyl that I use is the Oracal Clear 651. The Oracal 651 Clear is really tough to weed but allows you to see through your stencil to your cookie. There is a another brand called Starcraft HD Clear that is used by many, but at the time of writing this blog post, everyone is out of stock. If you don't mind the colors, the Oracal 651 vinyl is extremely easy to use and it comes in tons of colors. I prefer using the colored Oracal 651 because it is easier to weed. The only drawback is that you can't see the cookie through it, but there are stencil holders, like The Sweetest Tiers Stencil Holder, that allow you to place your stencil on your cookie in the same spot every time. There are other work arounds if you have other stencil holders too: like using a piece of paper, tracing the outline of the cookie and the holder, and placing your cookie and your stencil holder in the same spot every time.
There is also another brand called Thermoflex Plus Frosty Clear Glossy that is really great. The HTV vinyl is a lot easier to weed than any other, so now it is my go-to htv. It is very important to know, that when choosing this heat transfer vinyl, make sure you are choosing the 01 Thermoflex Plus Frosty Clear Glossy.
Transfer tape is a must-have if you are choosing to work with the adhesive vinyl like the Oracal 651. This is my favorite! It is much better than Contact Paper. Once your vinyl is cut, you would use a piece of transfer tape to move it over to the silk screen. You will need to burnish the transfer tape by scraping over the top of it making sure you are picking up all your pieces when transfer the vinyl to the silk screen mesh. Once your image is placed onto the silk screen, peeling off the transfer tape can be a little time-consuming. You want to be sure to go slow during this part too so you are sticking all the pieces in your image back down to your silk screen. Try pulling it off at an angle instead of from top to bottom and press down anything that lifts up if needed.
If you are choosing to go with the heat transfer vinyl (HTV), you will need this Teflon to cover your vinyl. This will protect it from sticking to your heat press when applying it to the silk screen. This material gives you a huge quantity for a low price and it will last you forever!
1. Heat Press
If you are choosing to use the heat transfer vinyl, you will need some kind of heat press. If you are using the Cricut, they have an Easy Press, which is their brand of heat press. If you do not have a Cricut, or would just prefer a traditional heat-press, this one is compact and heats up quickly. Both require you to use the Teflon sheet to place over the top of your image so it doesn't melt or get stuck to the heat press.
If you are using the adhesive vinyl, you will want to have this scraper handy. While laying the transfer tape to your vinyl, you will want to rub over the top to make sure the tape is fully attached to your vinyl. You will also want to scrape your vinyl onto your silk screen, to make sure it has adhered fully with no bubbles. A smooth attachment is best because it prevents the icing from bleeding when you are ready to put your image onto your cookie. You can also use the scraping tool that is available from Cricut or even a Credit card, but you must burnish it pretty hard.
3. Weeding Tools
To weed out the pieces of your vinyl, you will need a weeder. The Pen has a thin point that Is great for small pieces that can be difficult to pick up. The great multi-color tools gives you options as well. All 3 tools allow you to weed effectively, depending on the size of your image and how small the pieces are that you have to weed. The tweezers will come in handy too for those pieces that are sticking up or are leftover after weeding. If you prefer to DIY your own weeding tool, check out this blog post for tips.
One last thing you may need is a membership in The Colorful Cookie Club. If you need help learning to design and assemble silk screen stencils among tons of other amazing things like designing and cutting traditional stencils with bridges, designing and printing cookie cutters, and so much more click this link to get in on our limited time offer for a Premium Membership with Unlimited Access. It is a one time payment! It is a SUPER DEAL! You can add it to your Christmas Wish List and even receive it as a gift! Click HERE to learn more about it and come join us! It will be the best thing for your cookie business and it will add more fun if you decorate cookies as a hobby.
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