Hello faithful cookie lovers!
I know the last few weeks have been filled with posts about how to start a business. But today’s topic is actually related to cookies. I’m going to teach you how to use a silk screen stencil.
About Silk Screen Stenciling
Silk screen stenciling is very different than your average airbrush stenciling. This is because instead of just using an airbrush machine with airbrush colors, with silk screens you use royal icing as the "ink".
Some people do a variation of this with regular airbrush stencils however the problem with using airbrush stencils is that when you apply the icing, the image does not always come out very clean. Airbrush stencils also have breaks in them because the material used to make them is a plastic that doesn’t have anything to be able to connect the letters if a full circle or shape is cut out of them. Silk screen stencils do not require the breaks because the stencil is made out of a layer of adhesive vinyl and silk screen mesh that stick together therefore the entire stencil of the words on it are one joint stencil the technique that you use to apply the icing when you’re using a regular airbrush stencil vs a silk screen stencil is very different.
With airbrush stencils, you'll want to leave a good layer of icing on the stencil so that when you lift it up there’s enough on it to see the image. With silk screen stenciling, you'll want to pull up as much of the excess icing as possible in order to force it through the silkscreen mesh.
Overall, silk screening is cleaner look because you don’t have any under bleed of ink from your stencil. However silk screen stencils are a little bit more difficult to make, they do tend to be a little bit more expensive. I happen to make my own and I'll post that tutorial at a later time but really, if you have silkscreen mesh, a cutting machine and clear vinyl, you can easily make your own at home. There are also some silk screen holders that you can buy such as the Three Sweet Chicks Silk Screen Holder that fits a genie stencil holder and a regular airbrush stencil so it gives the effect of silk screening without the under bleed from the airbrush ink.
How to Use a Silkscreen Stencil
You will need the following items in order to silkscreen on a cookie.
Your silkscreen stencil or an airbrush stencil in a silkscreen holder* *A stencil holder such as the genie holder or the sweet sugar bell holder must be used when using a silkscreen holder. Loose magnets will not work.
A silicon scraper preferably the genie one
A cookie that has been already base frosted for at least 8 hours
Icing that is slightly wetter piping consistency icing. Think almost 20-30 second icing or thin toothpaste
About the materials
In order to silkscreen on a cookie, you need to make sure that your base layer of the cookie has at least had eight hours to dry if not longer. You will be applying a lot of pressure onto the cookie so just putting it in a dehydrator for a bit will not work.
You also want to make sure that your base color on your cookie is a light color such as white. When you silkscreen, the color does not come through very darkly. If you use a light color on a dark base you might not even see it. Also take into consideration that the color of your base will impact the silkscreen image that you put on top so if you have a yellow base and your silk screening blue, the image that you silkscreen onto your cookie may come out slightly green. The same goes with airbrushing.
Next make sure that you have some sort of silk screen holder. I don’t mean magnets, I mean an actual holder such as the genie holder. The reason magnets don’t work very well is because you need to apply pressure on all edges of the holder so that your stencil does not move around as your silk screening. Magnets on the corners are just not strong enough for silk screening. Trust me I’ve tried.
You’ll also need a silicon scraper such as the genie scraper. You can also use the end of a silicon spatula, but the plastic scrapers that you see in some stores won’t work it needs to be silicon because you need to be able to kind of squeegee the residual color off the stencil in order for the image to come out clearly and only a silicon tool can get into the little grooves
On with the Actual Silk Screening
1. When you put your silkscreen in the holder, you want to make sure that the Shiny part is face down on top of your cookie and the mesh part is facing up.
2. Before you even get on your cookie, you can practice silk screening on a piece of paper towel. I highly recommend doing this just so that you get a feel for how much pressure you need to put on the silkscreen. It’ll also give you an idea if your consistency is right. If the image is pulling up a lot when you practice on the paper towel, you may need to add just a touch more water to your icing. If it looks like the icing is bleeding through the design on your paper towel, then your icing is probably too wet and you can add a little bit of powdered sugar to thicken it up a bit. In the course of doing this if you get icing on the mesh part of your stencil, you will need to clean off your stencil before you get onto the cookie otherwise the residual icing will transfer to the nice clean base layer of the icing.*
*note: In order to clean your stencil, you will want to run it in lukewarm water and then use two paper towels to pat it dry. The stencil must be 100% dry in order for you to use it. Do not under any circumstance rub the stencil. It will remove the adhesive vinyl and ruin it.
3. When you’re ready to get on the cookie, place the stencil on the cookie and put a line of frosting right above the stencil.
4. Scrape down with even pressure over the entire image. Once completely covered, scrape off all excess icing off the image as best you can.
5.Then gently lift off the stencil from the corner up.
You'll want to do steps 4 and 5 relatively quickly because if the icing starts drying too fast, your image will come out patchy when you lift the stencil up.
Hopefully if you’ve done everything right, you will have a really nice clean silkscreened image on your cookie. Silk screening it’s very difficult to learn in the beginning but once you get it down it makes cookie decorating so much easier. I can silkscreen 200 cookies in about 45 minutes.
Lastly, regarding the longevity of a stencil, I would say it can last about 100 cookies if not a little bit more depending on how well you care for your stencils. You may have to clean your stencil off every 20 cookies or so. I do recommend if you are doing a 100 cookie order to have a second one made if it’s a custom order just as back up if anything happens to the first one.
I hope this helped and happy stenciling cookie lovers! Let me know if you’re having any issues