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How do I package a sculpture?

Since sculptures vary widely in terms of size, weight, delicacy, etc., it’s impossible to provide a set of directions that will work for all. Please use these directions as general guidelines, and, if you’re at all in doubt, please email or call us for packing instructions tailored to your piece. Contact us via email: support@saatchiart.com. Our business hours are Monday - Friday 9am - 6pm; Saturday 9am - 6pm; Sundays – closed.
 
What you’ll need:

  • Bubble wrap
  • Packing tape
  • Shredded paper
  • Sturdy cardboard box for sculptures smaller than 12” and weighing under 5 lbs
  • Custom wooden crate for sculptures  (see the FAQ: “How do I pack work in a crate?”)

 
Step 1 – Securely wrap the top half of the sculpture several times around with bubble wrap. How many layers you use depends upon the form and fragility of the work. Remember to pay attention to especially delicate portions of the sculpture. Cut the bubble wrap and secure the cut edge with tape.
 
Step 2 – Add protective top layers over the work using several pieces of bubble wrap large enough to cover and overlap the previously applied wrapping. Seal all around with tape.

Step 3 – Wrap the bubble wrap around the bottom half of the sculpture several times. Make sure to overlap the bubble wrap applied to the top half of the sculpture to ensure full coverage. Cut the bubble wrap and secure the cut edge with tape. Also, use the tape to seal the overlapped seam in the middle where the 2 pieces of bubble wrap meet.
 
Step 4 – As you did with the top of the work, create bottom protective layers for the sculpture with pieces of bubble wrap large enough to overlap the previously applied layers on the bottom half of the artwork. Seal it all around with tape.

If your sculpture is less than 12” tall and weighs under 5 lbs, you’ll ship it within a sturdy cardboard box. Please proceed to Step 5.
 
If your sculpture is over 12” tall and/or weighs more than 5 lbs, you’ll ship it in a custom wooden crate. For instructions on how to build a crate, please follow Steps 1 -7 in the FAQ: “How do I pack work in a crate?” Then return to these instructions, starting with Step 5.

Step 5 – Before placing the wrapped sculpture inside, fill about 1/3 of the box or crate with shredded paper. If using a cardboard box, reinforce the bottom of the box with extra packing tape (across the flaps and up the sides) before filling with paper. Make a shallow well in the center of the shredded paper and set the sculpture inside of it. Fill the remainder of the box with shredded paper, surrounding the sculpture. Make sure you securely pack the shredded paper around the sculpture to minimize internal movement as much as possible during shipment.
 
IMPORTANT: Make sure that the crate or box’s dimensions are approximately two (2) to three (3) inches larger on all sides than the sculpture itself for sufficient buffering. Also, there should be more shredded paper underneath the sculpture than elsewhere due to gravity compression.
 
Step 6 – If you are using a cardboard box, seal the opening securely with packing tape using the H-taping method. The H-taping method involves using long strips of packing tape to completely seal the opening flaps of the box. Use one long strip of tape over the horizontal opening between the two flaps, and two strips over the vertical sides of the flaps—forming an “H.” Apply additional vertical strips of tape as needed across the sealed flaps for added reinforcement. Illustrations of this method are provided by different sources online. Just type “H-taping method” into the Google search box.

If you’re using a wooden crate, seal the top lid shut with screws ONLY (no glue) so that it is easily removable by the collector.
 
Step 7 – Clearly indicate on the crate or box which side is the bottom and which is the top by writing “THIS SIDE UP” and by drawing an upward pointing arrow on all of the side panels to let shippers know which direction the crate/box should be held or set down. Or, you may purchase ready-made “This side up” labels.
 
Step 8 – Clearly indicate which panel is the removable lid by writing “UNSCREW THIS SIDE ONLY” so the collector knows which panel to remove. . If needed, write any instructions (using a black felt tip pen) on the crate that will help the collector easily remove the lid.
 
Step 9 – Affix the shipping label to the outside and put clear tape over the label so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. Clearly mark the crate or box as “FRAGILE” in large capital letters using a heavy black felt tip pen, or use ready-made “FRAGILE” labels. 

Please follow the instructions appropriate for your work. For complete instructions, download our complete Packaging Guidelines (which also includes information on the common causes of artwork damage, the proper packing materials, links to additional resources, and more) located at the bottom of this article. 

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