Friday, July 27, 2012

How to ship artwork

Yesterday I packed up these three 12 x 12 inch paintings to send to my newest collector in California.  There are lots of various tips on the Internet about how to pack and ship art.  Here is what I did.

L to R: In the Grass, Marina, and Fading Summer, oil and charcoal on canvas.
each painting 12 x 12 inches with 4-way wire. © 2012 Morgan Johnson Norwood

 The paintings are stretched canvas on 1 1/2 inch stretcher bars.  Protecting the paintings from damage that can occur during shipping, like laceration through said canvas, is important.
 Materials used: 
Thick insulation styrofoam
Foam packing sheets
2 ml poly bag
Appropriately sized cardboard box
Bubble wrap
Packing tape
Utility knife
Sharpie marker
Long metal ruler
Optional: craft paper

Step 1: 
Cut cardboard pieces the same size as the paintings.  I placed cardboard on both sides of the canvases, and stacked the paintings front to front and back to back.  Between the painting and cardboard I laid a 12-inch square sheet of protective packing foam that I bought from Office Depot (about $16 for a box of 100).  I placed the paintings inside a 2 ml poly plastic bag that I use for bagging larger artwork at shows.  Painters drop-cloth plastic or vapor barrier plastic will also work.

Step 2:
Next I cut down a thick styrofoam sheet I bought from Home Depot (about $6) to create a six-sided box around the paintings.  Be sure to include the measurements of the foam's thickness to create a neat box.  Mine could have been better, as I added the cardboard sheets after cutting the styrofoam and failed to account for their thickness, BUT I think it worked okay.  But let this be a lesson to you, artists.  Measure twice, cut once.

I chose to stand the paintings on their end to avoid weight pressing on the canvas while in transit.  I assembled the styrofoam around the wrapped paintings with packing tape, making a nifty little box.  I taped around the package another time or two to make sure everything felt snug.

Step 3:

Next came the shipping box.  I used a 15 inch cube-shaped box left over from my husband's pressure canner he just purchased (he's gotten the canning bug and has been turning our farmer's market yields into jams and preserves.  Mmmm... But I digress...) 

Notice the large space on either side of my little art capsule.  After padding the bottom of the box with bubble wrap we had left over from our move, I rolled longer sheets of large-bubble bubble wrap  and carefully stuffed the rolls on each side of the foam-wrapped paintings. 

Step 4: 

Last but not least, I included some marketing and contact materials, a receipt, and a personal note, then placed bubble wrap over the top of the box.  I secured the box with packing tape, then covered the box with roll kraft paper.  A shipping label with the recipient's address clearly written, and HANDLE WITH CARE, THIS SIDE UP, arrows, etc. added, and it was ready to go!

Step 5: 
Force the USPS staff and patrons to witness the joy of your otherwise happy toddler melting down (so sorry, everyone.  Thank you so much for your kindness and patience today!) and ship it off.  As expected, priority mail was about $50 to ship the package across the country.  Not too bad, and definitely cheaper than having someone else pack it too.

Fingers crossed!

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