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How to use an Ikonart Custom Screen Stencil Maker 

How to use an Ikonart Custom Screen Stencil Maker 

how to use an ikonart

In the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, finding versatile and reliable tools can be a game-changer for unleashing creativity. I kept seeing ads for the Ikonart Screen Maker and I wasn’t entirely sure it would work. The idea of diy screen printing without chemicals really appealed to me! I decided to order one and give it a try. The Ikonart custom screen stencil maker promises to create custom, reusable stencils without needing to use emulsions or chemicals. The results were absolutely astonishing!

Ikonart stands out as an innovative solution for DIY enthusiasts because it offers a wide range of possibilities for creating custom designs on various surfaces (paper, canvas, fabric, glass, etc). From personalized apparel to home décor and beyond, the Ikonart Screen Maker empowers users to bring their artistic visions to life with both ease and precision.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started screen printing from home

Affiliate disclaimer: Although I stand by all of the products I use, I can receive a small commission from any products purchased via my affiliate links.

  • Ikonart Custom Stencil Kit – I purchased the one with the bundle so that it came with everything needed to get started. The kit comes with:
  • Exposure unit (very easy to put together)
  • Photo sensitive Ikonart Films (they have separate films for fabric)
  • Clipboard
  • Squeegee
  • Laser film and ink jet printer film (you’ll use the laser printer film if you have a laser printer and the ink jet if you have an ink jet printer)
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Printer
  • Screws and Alan wrench, wing nut

Not sure which paint to use? Check out this post on the best acrylic paints for 2024!

*I love ordering supplies on Amazon because there are tons of selection results, free shipping (typically ships within a few business days) and it’s never final sale so if you change your mind, you can send the supplies back. Check out my favorite items on my Amazon storefront. You’ll find a full page of all of my favorite things!

One of the most compelling features of the Ikonart Screen Maker is its versatility in application. Whether you’re a seasoned crafter or a novice DIY enthusiast, this incredible tool offers endless possibilities for creative expression. With the ability to create reusable screens from virtually any design, users can customize a wide range of surfaces, including fabric, wood, glass, ceramics, and more.

The process is completely straightforward and I had success from the very first time I used it. Thankfully the Ikonart kit came with very easy to read instructions. Alternatively you can visit their youtube channel where their creative director (Fawn Giese) gives incredible tutorials and step-by-step instructions to get started. Her videos also have loads of project ideas.

How to use the Ikonart Screen stencil unit

  1. Create your own artwork on your computer. You can either make your own or use SVG’s found online. You want the very best artwork possible. You do not want it to be pixelated. Vector artwork is made of lines and scales better. If you do not know how to make an SVG or PDF, you can always look on canva or etsy. Otherwise, many people use Illustrator, Silhouette Design Studio and Cricut Design Space. Be sure to mirror your design! This is very important! Etsy has inexpensive svg files and sometimes that is the easiest way to go when you’re not confident about making your own designs. If you have a different design software, feel free to use that!
  2. Print – design artwork needs to be crisp, make sure it is 100% black (no color). Be sure to print in grayscale but it cannot have different values. Adjust the printer settings so that you can get the highest ink density. 
  3. Load the translucent film into the printer. Print on the laser or inkjet films depending on your printer. Hold up to the light and make sure the black isn’t splotchy. When learning you might have to play around with it a bit. People love the Canon Pixma but any printer will work. 
  4. Start by putting together your screen unit. The stand comes packaged in a flat box. Remove all of the packaging. The stand base has a hole in it. If you look at the hole, one side is counter sunk and the other side is flat. You want to place the short screw into the countersunk side. Push it through and screw on the longer pole. You can use the allen wrench to tighten it. Take your arm (also has a countersunk screw hole and a non-counter sunk side) and the screw goes into the counter sunk side. Add the light and screw it to the pole using the wing nut. 
how to use an ikonart
Put together your screen unit
  1. Plug it into a wall outlet. Test out the on/off switch on the light and make sure it works. Some people like to connect the plug to a remote control outlet but I haven’t tried that yet. 
  2. Decide whether you want to use fabric film or stencil film. Turn off the lights and make sure the black light is off when you remove the film from the packaging. One of the most common problems people encounter is exposing the film too early. Seal the packaging tightly.
  3. The Ikonart kit includes some sample stencils to test out the machine on your own before wasting the photosensitive film since it is expensive. Once you see it works, you’ll start designing your very own custom artwork. Once you begin making your own with the included films, you can cut them down to size so you do not have to use an entire sheet. The kit comes with 5 sheets of photosensitive film, so you might want to order some extra packs. They last a long time! Make sure the lights are off when you cut the film and then seal tightly.
  4. Lay stencil down onto the black base (textured side up) and lay artwork on top of it and make sure it is flush on the stencil. Use the palm of your hand and gently rub to eliminate any air. Add the clear cover sheet and make sure it is flush (gently rub it down)
  5. Turn off any bright lights in your work area. Set a timer for 35 seconds and turn on your exposure light. Once the 35 seconds is up, turn off the Ikonart light. Exposure times may vary but 35 seconds seems to work best for me. Soak the exposed stencil in lukewarm water for a minute. Once the warm water hits the film, you will start to see the design. The water softens the blue emulsion. Don’t leave it for too long.
how to use an ikonart
Turn on the Ikonart light to make your stencil
  1. Place the stencil onto the clipboard and place it bumpy side up. Spray it out. Use a trigger jet nozzle or a high pressure sprayer. Make sure the water is lukewarm but not hot. Washing is very quick.
Wash off your stencil to reveal the design
  1. Blot the extra water and lay out to dry before using.
Let your stencil dry before using
  1. Cut stencils apart. Take a black sharpie and write the word back on the back of it. This is extremely important in order to be able to reuse your screen stencils. 
  2. Prep your surface (wood, glass, etc). If you are adding it to a painted surface, sand between coats to eliminate brush strokes. Ridges will make it hard to stencil. You can always add Coco’s chalk powder to thicken the paint. You can use a heat gun to speed up the drying process. The paint needs to be completely dry before using the stencil.
  3. Mix up your paint by using regular acrylic paint and gradually add the chalk powder. Use a 1:1 ratio. This creates a chalk paste. When using the purple stencils, make the paste a bit thinner so you don’t see the mesh lines. Chalk paste dries quickly so make it as you need it.
  4. Time to apply the stencil. Peel the back and press it onto the surface. Add globs of paint to the stencil in a few spots and use a silicone squeegee to drag it. Don’t push too hard but use a bit of pressure.
Use a squeegee to add paint to the stencil
  1. Slowly lift the stencil to reveal the design.
Peel back the stencil to reveal the design
  1. Clean your screen stencil. Rinse – rinse film and use your hands to remove the paint. Next place the wet stencil onto the clear backing to use for another time. No need to remove the excess water. Do not wait for the stencil to dry to put the backing on. Be sure to place the clear backing exactly the way it came (which is why we write “Back” on the back of it) otherwise it will ruin the stencil. If you put the backing on the wrong side, you’ll need to grab a piece of new purple film or blue stencils and start again. 

Frequently asked questions about the Ikonart.

​I want to do glass etching. Is this possible?

Yes! The ikonart works with glass etching gel. Etchall cream works best. Be sure to rinse your stencil film immediately after use. Take note that the etching cream seems to break down the emulsion faster on the reusable silk screen stencils.

Can I make custom apparel and accessories?

One of the most popular applications of the Ikonart Screen Maker is custom apparel and accessories. Whether you’re looking to create unique t-shirts, tote bags, or hats, this tool makes it easy to add personalized designs to your wardrobe. From intricate patterns to bold graphics and slogans, the possibilities are truly endless.

Can I reuse the Ikonart screen stencils?

Yes! You can reuse the ikonart crafters screen stencils multiple times. These self-adhesive stencils will only be reusable if you wash them thoroughly and store properly. With the ability to create reusable screens, users can produce multiple copies of the same design or experiment with different variations. This flexibility is especially valuable for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to create custom merchandise for their brand.

Can I make home decor using the Ikonart screen stencil maker?

Beyond apparel, the Ikonart Screen Maker is also perfect for adding custom designs to home décor and gifts. Transform plain throw pillows into statement pieces with personalized motifs or create one-of-a-kind wall art for your home. With the holiday season approaching, the Ikonart Screen Maker offers an ideal solution for crafting unique gifts that are sure to impress friends and family.

What is the difference between the blue and purple stencil film?

The purple film is the ikonart textile film – good for shirts or tea towels

The original blue ikonart stencil film is for all other flat surfaces

What kind of paint should I use?

You will want to use water-based paints only. You can add Coco’s chalk powder to thicken or you can use fabric paint for textiles. Do not use oil based paints with the original ikonart stencil film.

Can I use the inkjet printer film on a laser printer? Or can I use the laser printer film instead of inkjet film?

No. Use the film that is designated for your printer otherwise you can risk jamming your printer.

The adhesive side of my ikonart smart screen stencils are not sticky enough. Is there anything I can do to make them stick a little better?

Add a little water and this will help make stickier stencils. Just note that over time the screen stencils stop working. Luckily you’ll find extra sheets of film in the ikonart custom stencil making kit.

Can I use any bright light or does it have to be the one included in the kit?

While I am sure you can experiment, in my experience the black light included in the kit works best. The light is not harmful – it is a standard black light.

Can the Ikonart stencil maker be used for small business opportunities?

For aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners, the Ikonart Screen Maker opens up a world of possibilities. With its ability to create professional-quality screens in-house, businesses can streamline their production process and reduce outsourcing costs. Whether you’re starting a custom apparel brand, a home décor shop, or an online gift store, the Ikonart Screen Maker offers a cost-effective solution for creating high-quality products with a personal touch.

Furthermore, the Ikonart Screen Maker is designed with user-friendly features that make it accessible to creators of all skill levels. Its intuitive interface and straightforward process ensure that even beginners can achieve impressive results with minimal effort.

Where can I find more information about the Ikonart screen stencil maker?

I have found the Ikonart youtube channel to be incredibly helpful. The videos are very detailed and there are videos about how to avoid common mistakes. I also really like using the Ikonart website as a resource. 

The versatility of the Ikonart Screen Maker extends to a wide range of surfaces, making it ideal for projects such as personalized mugs, coasters, picture frames, and more. Whether you’re decorating your own space or creating thoughtful gifts for loved ones, this tool provides endless opportunities for creativity and customization. The Ikonart custom stencil kit is a total game changer. It is hard to believe that within 2-3 minutes you can have custom stencils and reuse them. Seriously, the whole process is quick and easy! 

The Ikonart system screen maker is a versatile and innovative tool that empowers DIY enthusiasts to unleash their creativity like never before. Whether you’re customizing apparel, decorating your home, or starting a small business, this tool offers endless possibilities for creating personalized designs on a variety of surfaces. With its user-friendly features and professional-quality results, the Ikonart Screen Maker is a must-have tool for anyone looking to express their unique style and vision through DIY projects.