Wrapping Artwork for Shipping Part 2: Paintings on Canvas or Panel

In the first post of this series, Wrapping Artwork for Shipping Part 1: Works Framed with Glass, I emphasized the need to properly prepare artwork for shipping and discussed issues specific to wrapping framed artworks. In this second installment, I will offer suggestions, options, and materials for wrapping paintings on canvas or panel. In my final two posts on this topic, I will cover methods for wrapping unframed prints, and then shipping options themselves. These posts are written with a “do-it-yourself” agenda, endeavoring to offer tips for those who would prefer to do it themselves rather than hire professionals. However, remember: when in doubt, call a professional! (A few professional art shippers listed at the end of this post).

How to prepare paintings for shipping

  1. It seems like an obvious point to make, but paintings should be dry before you ship them (you’d be surprised!). Keep in mind, oil paintings need at least six months to fully “cure” before they are 100% fixed. If possible, you shouldn’t ship before this point. If the work is not fully cured and you have to ship it, be sure to wrap the work in glassine to prevent packing materials from sticking to the surface. It is a good idea to wrap even fully dry work in glassine to protect the surface.
  2. If you have not used glassine, wrap your work in clear poly or plastic, sealing the seams.
  3. Wrap your painting in bubble wrap, with the bubbles facing “out” and the flat side of the wrap facing your work. Tape all seams so they are sealed.
  4. Cut cardboard longer than the height of your work and slightly wider. Center your painting on the cardboard, then bend the edges of the cardboard over the work and tape securely with packing tape.
  5. If you are shipping more than one large painting together, be sure to sandwich additional cardboard in-between the works to ensure rigidity, if necessary. If the paintings are different sizes, make sure the cardboard is the size of the larger work (so that the smaller work won’t dent the face of the larger.)
  6. If your painting or paintings are small (less than 24″ in both directions, I would suggest to be safe), you should have no problem shipping your work in a cardboard box. If you do this, make sure you leave 1″ around the work to pad with foam. You also need to put doorskin or another thin wood on either side of your paintings to protect them from puncturing.
  7. If you decide to ship your artwork in a crate, call around and request quotes before placing an order. In Vancouver, Windsor Plywood builds custom crates for very reasonable prices. You can also try professional art handlers, though their crate building fees are usually higher (see list at bottom of post). You should have the crate built with 1-3 inches of space larger than your fully wrapped works, and this space should be filled with high-density foam or styrofoam to cushion the works from any bumps.
  8. As with any work you are shipping, label clearly. You should include:
  • Return address, contact name and phone number
  • Shipping address, contact name and phone number
  • Receiver’s hours of operation (if sending to a business)
  • Any other shipping specifications you think will protect your work, such as: “fragile”, “glass”, “do not stack”, “this way up”, etc.

My next post in this series will cover how to wrap un-framed prints for shipping, and the final will discuss shipping itself.

A list of resources for wrapping and crating artwork in Vancouver:

Windsor Plywood (builds custom crates)

Vevex (builds custom crates)

Denbigh Fine Art Services (custom crates, wrapping, shipping, storage, and more)

Fine Art Framing (custom framing, wrapping, crates, shipping, and more)

Hambleton Fine Art Services (wrapping, crating, shipping, and more)

Thiessen Art Services (custom crates, wrapping, shipping, and more)

PacArt (CANADA-WIDE) (custom crates, wrapping, transportation, and more)

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