Image Transfer Process    Sunday, January 17, 2016

Experimental image transfer attempts.Here at Chimera Graphic Arts, we offer not only graphic design services but also unique decor items available for purchase. Most of these items involve a process of transfering graphic art onto objects using a polymer-based heat transfer process.

If you're considering ordering an item from the online shop, you may be wondering why there is such a broad variation in pricing and delivery time.

Wonder no more, for here all shall be revealed!


Material is the key factor in cost, and in custom orders can play a role in prep time as well based on how difficult the materials are to acquire and/or work with. Common materials used:

  • Pine - cheap, lightweight, readily available and easy to work with.
  • Basswood - usually used for its availability as rustic 'log' rounds or plaques, these are a bit more expensive than pine but are usually easily obtained and easy to work with.
  • Other woods like Aspen, Poplar, Oak, can be more expensive and heavy.
  • Reclaimed Wood - This wood comes in a vast variety of species, shapes, and colors. While generally not expensive as a raw material, the artist must invest a lot of time selecting suitable pieces and prepping the surface to take the image - some of which end up as failed attempts. While reclaimed wood offers a lot of unique character to a piece, it's unpredictable to work with and variation can be broad. For this reason, custom orders on reclaimed wood must be specifically commissioned. 
  • Polymer Clay - Usually used for jewelry and tiny transfers, polymer clay is easy to obtain. Its ease of use depends on the size and shape of the piece.
  • Fabrics such as Canvas, Burlap, or Linen - These materials are usually affordable, require little if any surface prep, though failed image transfer attemps render the material unsalvagable.  Added expense may be acrued if these materials are stretched onto bars or framed.
  • Manufactured Items - sometimes image transfer is completed on manufacturered items, with materials ranging from glass, plastic, or metal. Pricing on the items can vary drastically.

Surface Prep 

With the exception of reclaimed wood pieces, which often require extensive sanding and some trial and error, surface prep is usually a simple process, but it can be time-consuming and cause delays.

Raw boards without any distressing require almost no prep, though sometimes a tannin soak is employed to provide some warmth of color and more even tone for woods that will be taking a heat transfer. Usually a distressed look is preferred, and several layers of a combination of iron oxide, tannin, and acrylic with sanding are used to get the desired look. The real time investment is in drying time between layers, which can add days to delivery time. Attempting an image transfer on material that is not fully dry can cause the image to bubble and distort.

Image Prep

Existing images, or images customized with something simple such as a name, incur  little or no additional design time. Client-provided images that require editing, quotes requiring custom typographical treatment, or other requests can incur additonal time and expense.

Image Application

Most of our current images are applied with a polymer heat transfer process, and the time this takes depends on the material as well as the complexity of the design. Designs that can be applied with a single transfer are much less time-consuming thatn designs that require layering together pieces or multple transfers, due to layout or size.

Other methods of image application are also used, including decoupage and direct print. Milling and hand-painting are also used for some objects, and laser etching and cutting will be available mid-2016.

Finishing Techniques

Finishing techniques can also affect the time and cost of a completed product, though for most items, an acrylic sealant will suffice. Beveling, hand-painting, edging, and custom framing are also sometimes used.

Pricing & Custom Orders

Pricing on objects is generally calculated at the usual $50 per hour design fee, plus materials cost. If you'd like something made-to-order, most custom design work on an art decor item can be completed within 1-2 hours of design time. Please don't hesitate to ask for an estimate. 

A New Year, A New Venture    Thursday, January 7, 2016

So here I am, opening my new web site, my new store, my new business. I just finished writing up a description for the "About Us" page, and I'll be honest here; it felt a little disingenuous. Who is "us" but me, at my computer, at 1 am, trying to create something real out of a mess of latent knowledge, scattered materials, and a pile of side projects?

Of course, much of the same can be said about most people starting a new business venture. Or heck, if we're going to talk about disingenuity, even established companies. Have you ever read the back of a cereal box or a shampoo bottle? I mean REALLY read that copy and thought about how ridiculously self-important it sounds? I'm reminded of a moisturizer commercial I recently watched about twenty-seven consecutive times due to the sponsorship of a show I binge-watched over the holidays. It offered the bold claim that it makes skin 2x AS LUMINOUS.

I'm not sure what that means, but allegedly it's "clinically proven".

If you're reading this early blog entry on my remote corner of the internet, it's likely because you personally know me and my situation, which is that for the past thirteen years most of my time and energy has gone into being a stay-at-home parent. I've had some personal projects and a handful of freelance gigs each year to help sustain my skills, but I haven't had to actively try to sell my skills or work since I was in my 20s.

This isn't to sell myself short. I'm actually pretty darn capable and creative if I do say so myself. I'm proud of what I do, and I'm really looking forward to doing it for a living again, but this time, I hope to do so on my own terms. I hope that over the coming years, I can find my niche and make this work. I hope that even though I'm trying to get away from the disingenous glossy commercial design I did when I last worked full time, that I can still work the illusion of making things twice as luminous. That is, after all, what a graphic artist does.

So I hope you'll come back from time to time, have a look at my work, and keep me in mind if you need some luminosity in your life.

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