TOOLS PhotoEZ (StencilPro) Silk Screen Film Developing

Update: Looks like these folks dropped PhotoEz in favor of their better product - StencilPro!

The silk screening I've done is made possible by using a material called PhotoEZ. I love this PhotoEZ stuff. Using PhotoEZ as a screened stencil to print on polymer clay is a relatively new technique.

PhotoEZ is a green, photo-sensitive, water-dissolvable plastic film with an embedded fine mesh. You can buy it at

Circuit Bridge introduced a new material called StencilPro. According to Bill (the manufacturer), StencilPro develops quicker and has a much longer shelf life. In general, it's the new and improved version of PhotoEz.

Exposing either film type to strong light (UV light, really) actually changes the film from a water dissolvable material to a water resistant one. If you selectively block light from certain areas, then soak the film in water, the parts that didn't see light, will dissolve away, leaving only the mesh while the parts of the film exposed to light remain.

The material you can use to make the image on the film needs to be anything flat and needs to be something that can effectively block light from passing through it. Sample items are listed below in supply list (image making material***).

However, note the fabulous potential with printouts. Any monochrome image you can printout from a computer can be a candidate for making a silk screened image! You draw your own or you can scan in images such as from Dover books, then resize, refine, etc. to create your own custom images. And with the silk screening technique, you can overlap images, creating wonderful depth.

Your light source for developing the film can vary as well. Strong direct sunlight is the quickest and the cheapest. However, cool white, full spectrum or bright daylight fluorescent light sources will work as well. Development time lengthens with the artificial light sources. Details on specific time lengths is provided below.

* Thanks to Jenny Patterson for sacrificing some of her precious PhotoEZ film to test it with her Ott light.

A while after I wrote this page, Circuit Bridge has updated their website and provided directions: Two direction sets are better than one. ;-)


  Supply List
  • PhotoEZ or StencilPro film
  • film developing kit *
  • light source ** (sunlight will do for most situations, however...)
  • image making material ***
  • thick, black garbage bag (if developing in sunlight)
  • soft, soft sponge or cotton cloth
  • watch or timer
  • pan or bowl of clean water
what's with all those little asterisks in the supply list?

developing kit: If you don't have a Circuit Bridge film developing kit, here's what you need to make your own developing kit:

  • Two 8" X 12" clear glass or lucite sheets (if lucite, at least one sheet should be thick and rigid)
  • 4 giant binder clips
  • 1-2 8" X 12" sheets of black fabric or felt
  • Squeegee, rubber spatula, rubber pottery rib or small foam paint roller
light source: If you've got no sun at the time you want to develop, you can use an artificial light source to develop PhotoEZ and StencilPro film. The film needs a strong UV source, so fluorescent lights work well - no incandescents.

  • Fluorescent bulb
    • cool white or
    • full spectrum or
    • bright daylight (Lights of America MegaLite makes a compact daylight fluorescent bulb; 150 and 200 watt equivalent incandescent output)
  • Lamp that can hold that compact fluorescent bulb and comes with a light shade, shield or reflector.



image making material. Many items could work as long the items effectively block light and lie very flat. Use your imagination and experiment a little (perhaps with just a tiny piece of PhotoEz or StencilPro).

  • very dark monochrome images laser or inkjet printed, painted or drawn on either:
    • overhead transparency
    • inkjet/laser white paper
    • tracing paper, vellum
  • opaque confetti (I found some at Michael's, it comes in shapes like little hearts, stars, circles, etc.)
  • other misc opaque and flat objects, such as:
    • shapes you've cut from dark construction paper
    • shapes you've cut from thin dark sheets of polymer clay (raw or baked)
    • thick plant leaves
    • coins
    • dark colored ribbon
    • brass stencils
    • hardware washers, etc.
    • You got the idea. So go check that misc drawer in the kitchen for something interesting... flat but interesting.

    But you can't ignore the fabulous potential with using the computer to create and manage your images for making these screened stencils! Any monochrome image you can printout from a computer can be a candidate for making a silk screened image! You draw your own in any graphics program or you can scan in images such as from Dover books, then resize, refine, crop, inverse, etc. to create your own images. Through trial and error, you will learn which images work best.

  • From left to right, top to bottom:
    • Chinese character stencil and printout on white paper, stencil was made from
    • star confetti and stencil
    • construction paper slivers and stencil made from slivers
    • hardware washers (but no stencil, yet)
    • dragon PhotoEz stencil and brass stencil (note the PhotoEZ stencil is the negative)
Sample Images

Click on the image to the left to access the full size jpg file. Click on that full size image and save it to your computer.

The full size image is a 300dpi file that will print out a 7.5" x 10" size sheet. Each image's printout size is approximately 1.38" wide x 1.5" high.

If you want to select and produce stencils of specific images you will need to edit the file.

I recommend printing the image(s) on a transparency sheet, using the best quality printer setting to get the most opaque printout.

That printed transparency becomes the mask you place over the undeveloped PhotoEz film. After developing the film, what you see as black will become the open areas in the stencil for the paint to go through.

  Film Developing Steps

In a dimly lit room, remove a sheet of the PhotoEZ film from its black plastic bag. It's a rich emerald green. It may be necessary to cut the 8" X 11" sheet into desired size pieces. After cutting, immediately return any pieces you're not going to use back in the black plastic bag to protect the film from developing. Keep undeveloped film away from strong fluorescent sources.


Assemble Film Sandwich
Remove the protective plastic sheet from the film you're about to develop. This is worth repeating.

** Remove the protective plastic sheet from the film! **

Make the following sandwich, starting at the top:

  1. clear glass or lucite,
  2. light blocking pattern/image or flat pieces, making sure placement will leave at least 1/2" border or margin around sides of the film. I prefer using images printed on transparency sheets.

    If using an image printed on white or tracing paper, flip the paper so the image faces the film to create sharper edges in the film

  3. PhotoEZ film (shiny side up, mesh side down and protective film removed ;-),
  4. a rigid board darkened with a black background (preferably slightly padded with fabric or felt).

Clamp the sandwich so nothing slips or moves.

3. Develop Film
Orient the sandwich so light hits the top of the sandwich. Develop film for exactly the time required for that image background and light source - no shorter, no longer.

If you've opted for sunlight, orient the sandwich so it is as perpendicular to the sun as possible. Example, at noon, the sandwich can lie perfectly flat. Earlier or later in the day, you should angle the sandwich so it directly faces the sun.

Also, if you are sun developing, make sure you have a total light blocking container or bag to put the sandwich in before and just after the development period.

If you're using artificial light, the sandwich should be 2"- 4" from and perpendicular to the lightbulb(s).

Note: If the exposure time is too short, more of the film may wash away - if the exposure time is too long, more of the film than you intended will remain.

Developing Times for PhotoEz Overhead transparency or flat objects Tracing paper or vellum Inkjet or laser white paper
Sunlight 30 seconds! 40 seconds 4 minutes
Full spectrum fluorescent light 4 minutes 5 minutes 14 minutes
Daylight fluorescent light (e.g. Lights of America MegaLite compact lights) 6 minutes 8 minutes 24 minutes
Cool white fluorescent light 14 minutes 20 minutes 40 minutes
13 watt Ott light* 20 minutes    


Film to Stencil
Unclamp the sandwich. If you examine the film, you'll see the areas exposed to light will be a slightly darker green than the areas that saw no light. Soak the film in clean water for 10 - 11 minutes.

Gently shake the film while in the water and gently, gently wipe away the dissolving film with a soft natural sponge or your finger tips. You should be able to view the fine mesh in the areas where the film dissolved away.

Blot the stencil between some paper towels and press gently to remove excess water. Remove the stencil from paper towels and allow film to completely air dry.


While air drying, re-expose stencil to your light source for 10 minutes to further cure/toughen the film. Now, the stencil is ready to use.

Now that you've got a PhotoEz stencil, click the link below to learn how to use it.

Using a PhotoEZ Screen

There's nothing better than having a great tool when you need it.


Last update to this page: 11 Jan 2015. Send comments, questions or suggestions to Desiree McCrorey.