Whether you are shipping your own artwork, or artwork that you own, you want to make sure it is packed safely. Below are suggestions, options, and materials for wrapping paintings on canvas or panel. This article focuses on a “do-it-yourself” approach, offering 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). Read on to learn how to wrap and ship paintings.
Preparation to wrap and ship paintings
- 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. If you can’t use glassine, wrap your work in clear poly or plastic, sealing the seams.
- 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.
- 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.)
Shipping paintings in a crate or box
- If your painting or paintings are small (approximately less than 24″ in both directions), 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.
- 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. You should have the crate built so that it’s inner dimensions include 1-3 inches of space larger than your fully wrapped works. This space should be filled with high-density foam or styrofoam to cushion the works from any bumps.
What to include on your shipping label
- Your return address, contact name, and phone number
- Your recipient’s address, contact name, and phone number
- Receiver’s hours of operation (if sending to a business, ie a gallery)
- Any other shipping specifications you think will protect your work, such as: “fragile”, “glass”, “do not stack”, “this way up”, etc.
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)
Thiessen Art Services (custom crates, wrapping, shipping, and more)
PacArt (CANADA-WIDE) (custom crates, wrapping, transportation, and more)