Introduction: Pacific Northwest Orca Silkscreened T-Shirt

I took a trip to Seattle and fell in love with the art of the peoples of the Pacific Northwest.  I wanted to try to make some of their style of art and thought that it would be cool to put it on a T-Shirt.

Step 1: Get Inspiration!

The Makah people live at the far tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.  The Cape Flattery Trail is really amazing.  It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the end of the trail to get to the pacific ocean.  The trail takes you to the farthest most northwestern point in the Continental US where you can stand.  This link and the photos below are what you see when you get there:

The Makah reservation (Neah Bay, WA) was inspirational for me. 

I fell in love with the art form of the Makah.  

Step 2: A Rainbow That Did Not Move for 90 Minutes

Talk about inspiration!  After the trail hike, there was a rainbow that stayed around for nearly 90 minutes over the Neah Bay.

Step 3: Learn the Art Form / Make the Design

When I got back from the trip, I searched for text books and found these on  They are great resources.

I was able to use them to help me make my first Orca design.

I drew the design on paper, scanned it into Corel, then cleaned up the vectors.

Step 4: Cut the Art on a Vinyl Cutter

Tech Shop has a vinyl cutter that works really well for vector art that does not have any gradations.

You can also learn more about doing the vinyl process by this instructable:

After you cut the art out on the vinyl cutter, you affix the negative image to a 150 line screen. 

Step 5: Mount the Screen on the Silk Screen Press - Do a Test Print

Mount the screen on the press.  The press that TechShop has allows you print four screens that you can register. This will give you up to 4 colors on a shirt.   I'm only printing my Orca in Hunter Green -- A traditional color of the Makah.

After you mount the screen, you need to flood the screen with the ink.  You use an ink squeegee to draw the ink onto the holes on the screen.  Note the angle of the squeegee relative to the screen -- 45 degrees.

Once you've done this, place a test piece of fabric down (the blue fabric), and do a test print.

Step 6: Lay Out the Shirt and Print

The last thing to do is to lay out the T-Shirt so that the design will be imprinted about a hand's width from the bottom of the collar. 

You lower the screen and print.

These are the results.

When you are done, you need to let the ink dry, then take an iron and a piece of muslin and heat set the ink/design by ironing over the muslin with the iron on a "cotton" setting.

I made it at TechShop!