Considering how to pack your work shouldn’t be an afterthought. It will obviously have an impact on how safely your work will travel, how professional you appear to your client and how much your shipping will cost you.
Choose your packaging material carefully depending on how you need to protect your work.
There are lots of online tutorials for packing artworks and sculptural objects – find out what works for you but never skimp on the packaging material.
Don’t assume the box or package will be handled carefully – using fragile tape will not guarantee it will be handled with care.
Imagine the box will be dropped at some point on its journey – have you used sufficient packaging to ensure fragile items remain unbroken?
There are a number of ways of packaging your work. We have compiled the following tips from makers, curators and art handlers.
- Have the right tools. Good quality corrugated boxes or plastic crates in various sizes; packing paper, bubble wrap, shredded or crumpled packing paper, tissue paper or foam chips, pliable cardboard, scissors, cotton tape and packing tape.
- A large table to pack on is also an essential tool.
- Double boxing fragile items can help to absorb impact if the box is dropped. Objects should be carefully wrapped in a box and then this is placed inside another box with either foam chips or shredded paper packing in between.
- Include handling instructions for any items that need special care in lifting or unwrapping. Remember that you may not have any control over who opens the parcel – this could include customs officials, so be as clear as possible with your packing to ensure the likelihood of damage is minimized.
- f you are packing items that are sensitive to handling (silver for example) include a pair of cotton gloves in the box.
- Use clip lid clear plastic crates – you can then clearly see if the insulation packaging is all around the items and there are no gaps. You can also add a list / image of the contents under the lid which can be clearly seen without having to unpack to check the contents.
- Don’t pack too many items in one box – you need sufficient space for insulation material to avoid breakages.
- Try cotton tape to secure wrapping to objects. This cuts down on the risk that sticky tape will adhere to the object and cause damage to the surface – and it is reusable. Or secure tissue paper and bubble wrap around small items with elastic bands for fast and easy packing.
- Using (acid free) tissue paper balls around delicate work is a good shock-absorbing tactic.
- Consider packaging as a part of your brand, branded packaging can give added value, and a message inside the package about care of the product is a good example of good service, the buyer remembers the service and recommends to others and/or returns as a customer. Jenny Llewellyn includes packaging as a part of her brand plus provides customers with care for instructions and a catalogue of new work to inspire new purchases.
- If you are shipping using a wooden crate, make sure you use treated wood, as some countries do not allow untreated wood (ISPM15). The crates will be stamped with an identity mark showing how it has been treated and where it has come from. Freight companies can make custom crates, which are a worthwhile investment if you have space to store them and use a number of times.
- Include a Packing List of all the items within the box – see our document template section.
- Clearly label the outside of your box with your name and contact details and number the boxes if you have several.