Pack it up, Ship it out
Sooner or later as an artist entering shows, you may find yourself in the position of having to ship your art to a distant city. It is so exciting to have your work accepted to national show. Then comes the concern of having to put one of your “babies” into a box and entrust it to a shipping company to get it to its destination safely. The angst is real!
Working in pastel carries the additional issue of having to ship art that is framed under glass. Yes, you can swap the glass for plexi, but in addition to the added expense, plexi is not a long-term solution for pastel painting. Plexi carries a static charge that is not friendly to pastel paintings. After the work is returned (if it has not sold!), the frame package must be taken apart once again, to replace the plexi with glass. For larger paintings, that is my only practical option. The larger size can mean more flex in shipping leading to a higher chance of glass breakage. Also, glass adds weight, so for larger sizes the weight adds cost for shipping and is frowned upon by those hanging the show. But for smaller paintings, read on…
My first step, after cleaning the glass, is to apply a glass skin. In simple terms, this is a roll of 12” wide low tack masking tape. This is cut to fit and applied directly to the glass. It does not necessarily prevent broken glass, but if breakage does occur, the glass skin will hold all the glass pieces and hopefully prevent damage to the art. (Another good reason for framing pastels with a comfortable air space between glass and the art.) This glass skin peels off easily upon arrival, leaving no residue. Some shippers have even reused it when returning my work!
Now to the packaging… I use, and many shows recommend, specialty boxes for shipping art such as the one pictured from Airfloat Systems. (I am not an affiliate and receive no compensation for recommending these boxes. In the years I have been shipping my art, all pieces have been returned to me safely. They also sell the Glas-Skin. https://airfloatsystems.com) These boxes are not inexpensive, but can be used many, many times. Some of mine look like they have been through a war on the outside, but the inside is in perfect condition. They are comprised of a 1” thick bottom layer of foam, a perforated foam layer, and another top layer of foam. I also purchase the boxes that are lined, top & bottom, with a sheet of plastic for protection from perforation of the heavy outer cardboard.
The middle foam layer is perforated every inch in both directions so that one can tear out a hole in the center that is the size of your framed art. The first time use is easy. With multiple shipments of art of different sizes, the inner layer can become like puzzle pieces to create the proper size hole, but it still works.
As an added safety measure, I place my framed art in plastic prior to nestling it into the middle layer of foam to protect from any unexpected exposure to moisture in shipping. Don’t forget to follow all instructions from the show organizers – labeling, inclusion of a resume, etc. Most venues/shipping agents also request a prepaid label for return of your art at the conclusion of the show.
Once your work is nestled into the foam, place the top layer of foam over it and close the box. All that is left to do is use clear packing tape to secure the box closed. I tend to tape up most open seams for added safety. Add your shipping label to the front of the box and take it to your favorite shipper. It is always a good idea to get a printed receipt with a tracking number so you can follow your art until notified that is has been delivered.
Questions? Feel free to send me a message.