Packaging Fine Art for Shipping

Packaging fine art for shipping is an art in itself. Before beginning it’s journey to it’s new home, everything possible must be done to ensure it gets there safely. I recently packaged some fairly large pieces to send, and this is how I did it. The piece in the example below measures 40 inches high x 30 inches wide. It is an oil painting on a cradled wood panel, so quite rigid. If you are packaging a canvas on stretcher, you might do more reinforcing in your packaging. Likewise, pieces framed under glass might need special considerations I don’t discuss here. Really big pieces might require a wooden crate. Do your research! Google is a mine of information. So here’s how I do it, step-by-step:

1. Glassine

1. Cover the surface of the art with a layer of glassine. It’s acid-free and will protect the surface from subsequent layers of non-acid-free materials, such as cardboard.

2. Glassine

2. Here is the glassine wrapped around the art and taped at the back with sturdy packing tape.

3. Cardboard

3. Cut a piece of cardboard to fit the dimensions of the art and lay it on the surface.

4. Cardboard

4. Tape the cardboard sheet to the glassine at the edges.

5. Plastic

5. Cut a piece of sturdy plastic that will wrap around the entire art with generous overlap.

6. Plastic

6. Wrap the plastic around the art just as you would a gift, and be sure to seal every edge and opening with sturdy packing tape. If, heaven forbid, the package should end up in a puddle of water (and I’ve seen it happen) the plastic should protect the painting sealed within.

7. Bubble Wrap

7. Cut a large enough piece of bubble wrap to roll around the artwork at least twice. More cushioning is better than less!

8. Bubble Wrap

8. Securely tape the bubble wrap across the seams and edges.

9. Cardboard Corners

9. Make four cardboard corners to fit the wrapped artwork (some measuring is required) and insert onto the corners. Tape securely in place.

10. Cardboard Again

10. Cut two pieces of cardboard about three to four inches larger at each edge than the artwork. Place one on the bottom and one on the top, then tape them securely together, pinching the edges together a bit. The artwork should not be able to shift inside this container.

11. Cardboard Box

11. If you don’t have a crate or box big enough to fit the art, you’ll have to make one. Here is the first of four parts of the box being built to fit. Use generous overlaps and plenty of tape.

12. Finished Package

12. Here’s the finished package with all edges sealed securely with sturdy packing tape. “Fragile” stickers have been added. This is one of three going to the same address, so I’ve noted that on the package too. Next—off to the shippers!

Shipping art can be fraught with worry and nail-biting, but packaging the art properly should help take some of that uncertainty out of the equation!

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2 Responses to Packaging Fine Art for Shipping

  1. Rebekah January 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    I never thought to piece together boxes before… Genius! Great tips, thanks Dorothy!

    • Dorothy Siemens January 27, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

      I’ll pass on the genius comment to my husband! He’s actually the packager — he used to be a professional picture framer and had to package art to ship all over the world.