Packaging Ceramics for Shipping: Make Sure Your Pots Survive Shipping
The following packing guidelines came from Forrest Snyder from when he worked at Baltimore Clayworks:
Baltimore Clayworks (most galleries) reuses all shipping materials for return shipment. If your materials are of poor quality or do not meet the packing guidelines outlined below, your artwork may be damaged. Always assume that your package will be dropped, thrown, hit or otherwise mishandled by your shipper.
Wrapping Art Work
Baltimore Clayworks recommends that each piece be wrapped in bubble wrap. Each item should be surrounded by at least 2 inches (5 cm) of bubble wrap. Newspaper does not adequately protect your piece. Wrap each item separately. Fragile articles need both suitable separation from each other and clearance from the corners and sides of the box. When wrapping, please use masking tape (beige or blue) to secure the bubble wrap. Do not use clear tape, as it is difficult to see, binds too firmly, and may require the use of a blade which could harm your artwork.
Use new corrugated cardboard boxes or custom built wooden crates. If you must reuse a box, make sure it is rigid and in excellent condition with no punctures, tears, rips, or corner damage, and that all flaps are intact. Remove any labels and all other shipment markings from the box.
Choose a box strength that is suitable for the contents you are shipping. Never exceed the maximum gross weight for the box, which is usually printed on the Box Maker’s Certificate on the box’s bottom flap.
- Put a minimum of 2 inches of packing material (soft foam or more bubble wrap) in the bottom of the box. If you must use packing peanuts instead of soft foam or bubble wrap, put the peanuts in small plastic bags (grocery bags work well) to make “pillows.” Please do not use loose peanuts alone, they shift far too much.
- Each item should be placed at least 2 inches (5 cm) away from the walls of the box. This will protect your items from product-against-product damage and shield them from the shock and vibration that can be conducted from the exterior of the box to its contents in transit.
- Surround the artwork with a minimum of 2 inches of packing material.
- Put a minimum of 2 inches of packing material on top of the artwork.
- Seal with proper packing tape. Do not use masking tape or duct tape.
- Cut a rigid foam (Styrofoam or insulating foam works well) barrier for all sides, bottom, and top of the exterior box to shield your interior box from punctures and sharp edge damage.
- Fit bottom and insides of exterior box with rigid foam.
- Put at least 2 inches of packing material into the bottom of the exterior box.
- Place the interior box into the exterior box. Surround with 2 inches of packing.
- Enclose packing/inventory list and any special packing instructions.
- Put a minimum of 2 inches of packing material on top. Close and seal.
- Shake, kick, or hit your package to test. If you don’t, your shipper will for sure.
Louis Katz suggest:
“In addition to packing your work well, if you are selling your work, you need to document the value of your work that’s in THAT box. In every box that you ship, include an inventory of the contents of that box and the retail value. Without this, you may not be reimbursed for breakage during shipping.”
If you open a box that has been returned to you from a gallery, and there is broken work in the box – STOP unpacking and bring the box to your shipping location for inspection.
When you are shipping work internationally, there is a difference between shipping “sample” and shipping work for “retail sale”. This is worth doing some research about.