Whether you're an artist who is selling your work online or shipping it to a gallery, there are certain things you need to keep in mind when packing and shipping paintings, sculptures, or other fine arts. Here are fifteen tips to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Keep The Work Upright
If you are transporting or delivering a fragile item that you think might break or get damaged, you should do your best to keep the work product, artwork, or exclusive items standing the correct way up and in the middle of the box or crate that you are using.
By ensuring that your fine arts are always right-side up, you can avoid any potential damage from them toppling over and hitting the ground or another hard surface.
Pad The Boxes
When it comes to packing paintings or other fine arts, using padding is crucial. This will help to protect the artwork from getting damaged during transit. You can use bubble wrap, packing peanuts, or even crumpled-up newspaper to fill empty spaces in the box and help secure the paintings.
If you're shipping multiple items in one box, be sure to pad all sides of each painting, so they don't bump into each other and get damaged. It's also a good idea to put a layer of bubble wrap or to pack peanuts at the bottom of the box before adding the paintings.
Prepare Your Box
Your box should be several inches larger than your sculpture on all sides. This protects the sculpture and projects from impact with the box's sides. Fill several inches of your chosen packing material into the bottom of the box. Many artists use packing peanuts, but remember that these can move around during transit. As a result, some shipping professionals recommend tightly packed shredded paper, and the bottom of the crate should be filled with a material that prevents the sculpture from shifting through and down to land on the bottom of the box.
Use The Right Boxes
It's essential to use the correct box type when shipping fine arts. Avoid using recycled packages that might be weak or damaged in some way. You want to ensure your paintings are well-protected, so it's worth investing in new boxes specifically for shipping them.
The best type of box to use is a double-walled corrugated cardboard box. These are strong and won't collapse under the weight of the paintings. They also have a smooth inner surface that will help to protect the artwork from getting scratched.
If you're shipping multiple items, you might need to use more than one box. Just be sure to label each box with the contents and the destination clearly, so they don't get mixed up.
Wrap The Paintings
Once you've padded the box and added the paintings, it's time to wrap them up. You want to use a soft material that won't scratch the paint. Cheesecloth or unbleached muslin are both excellent options. If you're shipping multiple paintings in one box, wrap each one individually. This will help to prevent them from rubbing against each other and getting damaged.
Add A Hanger
If you're shipping a painting that is already framed, you'll need to add a hanger so it can be hung up at its destination. The hanger should be made of a soft material, such as felt or velvet, that won't scratch the frame.
You can either attach the hanger to the back of the painting with tape or string or tie it onto the front of the painting using a piece of ribbon. Ensure the hanger is securely attached, so it doesn't fall off during transit.
Label The Box
Once you've finished packing up the paintings, label the box with all the relevant information. This should include your name and contact details, the name and address of the recipient, and a list of contents. If you're shipping the paintings to a gallery or art fair, you should also include instructions they must follow when unpacking and displaying the artworks.
Related: How To Label A Box For Shipping
Insure The Shipment
It's a good idea to ensure your shipment, especially if you send valuable or irreplaceable items. This way, you'll be covered if the paintings are lost, stolen, or damaged during transit.
Be sure to get a written estimate of the value of the paintings from an appraiser before shipping them. This will be helpful in case you need to claim with the insurance company.
Related: Shipping Insurance Guide: Coverage and Costs
Use A Wooden Crate
A wooden crate provides better protection for heavier and more significant works with a greater surface area and is more likely to be bumped or jostled. It is best to use new wood free of nails or splinters that could damage the artwork.
Strap Your Work To A Pallet
If your work is fragile or asymmetrical, strap it to a pallet. This protects it from being hit, shaken, or turned upside down. Randy Strong's website provides some good shipping advice for his work, which is helpful for other incredibly fragile artists.
Double-Checking For Stable Packaging
Once you have wrapped and padded your paintings for shipping, it is essential always to check that the packaging is stable. This means ensuring no gaps or weak spots could cause problems later down the line.
An excellent way to do this is by using a tape measure to check the dimensions of your box against the painting inside. You should also try giving the box a gentle shake to see if anything moves around inside.
If you're using multiple boxes, stack them in a way that will prevent them from toppling over. It's also a good idea to use packing tape to secure the boxes together.
Use the Double Box Method
Place the first box (with a taped top) inside the second box and tightly pack the space between the two boxes. This creates an additional barrier between your work and the outside world, keeping it as stable and still as possible. Tape the top of the second box together.
Use Bubble Wrap
Bubble wrap is an excellent way to add a layer of protection to your paintings. Simply place a sheet of bubble wrap over the top of the painting, then use tape to secure it. For particularly delicate works, you can even use multiple layers of bubble wrap. Just be sure that the bubble wrap doesn't cover any necessary painting details.
Related: Pros And Cons Of Popular Packaging Materials
Label The Boxes Fragile
It's always a good idea to label your boxes as fragile, even if they seem sturdy. This will help to ensure that they are handled with care during transit. You can write 'fragile' on the box using a permanent marker or attach a pre-printed label.
Related: What is a Shipping Label, and How Does it Work?
Using The Right Shipping Service
When it comes to shipping paintings, you need to make sure that you're using a service that you can trust. This means choosing a company with experience in fine shipping art that can provide insurance in case of damage or loss. It's also essential to choose a service that offers to track so that you can keep an eye on your shipment and ensure it arrives safely at its destination.
UPS and FedEx are excellent options for shipping paintings, as they offer a range of services specifically for fine art.
So, there you have it! Fifteen tips for packing and shipping your paintings, sculptures, and other fine arts. Following these simple guidelines can help ensure that your pieces arrive at their destination safely and sound. Have any additional questions about packing or shipping your art?
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