Printapalooza Stamps Impression on South Campus

For one sunny afternoon, FSCJ South Campus turned into Jacksonville’s most exciting T-shirt center as Art Guild students produced an array of colored shirts at the annual Printapalooza event Wednesday, March 25.

Playing energetic music and showing off designs ranging from whimsical to serious, the Art Guild transformed the M3 building into the day’s festive zone, attracting crowds of interested students and showcasing the works of the college’s artistic talent. “Everything’s done by hand,” said FSCJ Art Guild secretary Stephanie May. “We ink the shirts up, we ink the blocks and we print them all right here. It’s creativity going on.”

Still, it takes a lot of work–and some help from Print Studio Jax, which furnished equipment for the afternoon–to translate those designs onto fabric. May took some time to explain the process.

The materials: “We buy the blocks blank. It’s MDF board, which is basically just wood pulp that’s been glued back together and compressed.”

Sketching: “We have special carving tools specifically for this. We all pick our image or we’re assigned one, and we just hand-draw the image right onto the block and project the image with a projector.”

Carving: “After you’ve sketched it onto the block, all you have to do is just carve it and determine which size tools and cuts you want to make.”

Of course, would-be printers have to keep in mind that the block will produce a mirror image on the shirt. “You have to remember that everything is backwards,” said May. “You’re doing all the words backwards, the images backwards. When you print it, it will correct itself.”

Once the students have the block correctly carved and facing the correct direction, there’s just one step left in the process. “After you’ve printed your image and carved it out, you just take some ink and slap it on the block,” said May. “Then you roll it through the press with paper and fabric.”

Printapalooza, in its fourth edition according to May, usually draws several dozen students each year and forms one of the Art Guild’s major annual events, along with the related Blocktoberfest event during the fall semester. Among the guild’s coming attractions is April’s iron pour directed by professor Michael Cottrell, in which students use liquid iron to make sculptures.

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