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How do I package flat artworks like drawings, collages, etc.?

Below are instructions for how to package:

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.



Flat artworks under 48”x48” 

What you’ll need:

  • Glassine paper or acid-free archival tissue paper  
  • Plastic sheeting, poly wrap, or plastic bag
  • Archival quality foam board at least ½” thick or two-ply cardboard
  • Bubble wrap or shredded/wadded clean white paper
  • Packing tape


Step 1 – Wrap the painting in acid-free, archival tissue paper or glassine. Note that any material that comes into contact with the surface of the work should be archival quality. We advise that you avoid touching the painting’s surface with bare hands by wearing white cotton gloves or placing acid-free tissue paper between the work and your fingers when handling.

Step 2 – Take four (4) 8”x 8” square pieces of glassine paper or acid-free tissue paper (you may adjust the size of the squares to better fit the size of your work) and fold each in half diagonally to create a triangle, then fold in half again to create a triangle pocket. Place one pocket onto each corner of the painting.
 
Step 3 – Taping only onto the tissue paper corners, tape the wrapped painting to a sheet of foam board (or two-ply cardboard) the same size or slightly larger than the painting for a firm backing. 
 
Step 4 – To protect against moisture, wrap the glassine-covered artwork with plastic sheeting/poly wrap or put it inside a heavy plastic bag. Use tape to seal all areas where water can enter and cause damage.
 
Step 5 – Place the wrapped artwork between 2 pieces of foam board (or two-ply cardboard), forming a “sandwich”. Also, the borders of the foam board should extend a minimum of 2-3 inches beyond all edges of the artwork. Use packing tape to bind the foam board sandwich together, adding extra tape to the corners for reinforcement. Make certain the sides are taped down firmly to ensure that the artwork doesn’t shift around within.

Step 6 – Place the foam board-covered artwork into a cardboard box with approximately three (3) inches of space on all sides. Fill the empty space with bubble wrap or wadded/shredded clean white paper to ensure that the artwork doesn’t shift during transit. Seal the box completely shut with packing tape, reinforcing the corners.
 
Step 7 – Affix the shipping label to the package and put clear tape over the shipping label so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. With felt tip pen, write “FRAGILE” in large capital letters on the box, or use ready-made “FRAGILE” labels.


 

Flat artworks larger than 48” x 48”

What you’ll need:
 

  • Glassine paper or acid-free archival tissue paper
  • Plastic sheeting or poly wrap
  • Bubble wrap
  • Foam board at least ½” thick or two-ply cardboard
  • Cutting tool of your choice to cut cardboard to size
  • Packing tape


Step 1 – Wrap the painting in acid-free, archival tissue paper or glassine. Note that any material that comes into contact with the surface of the work should be archival quality. We advise that you avoid touching the painting’s surface with bare hands by wearing white cotton gloves or placing acid-free tissue paper between the work and your fingers when handling.

Step 2 – Take four (4) 8”x 8” square pieces of glassine paper or acid-free tissue paper (you may adjust the size of the squares to better fit the size of your work) and fold each in half diagonally to create a triangle, then fold in half again to create a triangle pocket. Place one pocket onto each corner of the painting.
 
Step 3 – Taping only onto the tissue paper corners, tape the wrapped painting to a sheet of foam board (or two-ply cardboard) the same size or slightly larger than the painting for a firm backing. 
 
Step 4 – To protect against moisture, wrap the glassine-covered artwork with plastic sheeting/poly wrap or put it inside a heavy plastic bag. Use tape to seal all areas where water can enter and cause damage.
 
Step 5 – Place the wrapped artwork between 2 pieces of archival quality foam board (or two-ply cardboard) that are at least ½” thickness, forming a “sandwich.” Also, the borders of the foam board should extend a minimum of 2-3 inches beyond all edges of the artwork. Use packing tape to bind the foam board sandwich together, adding extra tape to the corners for reinforcement. Make certain the sides are taped down firmly to ensure that the artwork doesn’t shift around within.
 
Step 6 – Next, build a wooden crate and seal the work inside. To do so, follow all the steps given in the FAQ: “How do I pack work in a crate?


 

Framed flat artwork

 
Follow the instructions below for framed flat artworks of any size. However, if your framed work is larger than 18”x24”, you’ll also need to refer to the directions in the FAQ: “How do I pack work in a crate?
 
What you’ll need:

  • Glassine paperAcid-free archival tissue paper  
  • Plastic sheeting or poly wrap
  • Bubble wrap
  • Painters tape (if packing a glass frame)
  • Cardboard corner protectors
  • Packing tape
  • Foam board at least ½” thick or two-ply cardboard
  • Shredded or wadded white paper
  • Very sturdy cardboard box if artwork is under 18”x24”
  • Custom wooden crate if artwork is over 18”x24”


Step 1 – Use a sturdy cardboard box or build a custom crate that will fit the framed painting plus approximately three (3) inches of space on all sides. (This extra space will accommodate the layers of bubble wrap to be added.)

Step 2 – If the frame has a protective glass or acrylic pane, remove it from the frame. If it doesn’t, skip to step 6 now.
 
Step 3 – Apply two pieces of painters tape diagonally across the glass/acrylic pane to form a large “X”. Should the glass break during shipment, the tape will help keep the broken pieces together.
 
Step 4 – Sandwich the glass/acrylic pane between two sheets of foam board (or cardboard) approximately 2 inches larger than the glass on all sides. Firmly seal the foam board sandwich all around with packing tape, making sure that the glass/acrylic panel does not shift around within.
 
Step 5 – Wrap the foam board sandwich (with glass/acrylic pane inside) with bubble wrap and seal with tape. You’ll pack this alongside the framed artwork within the box or crate.
 
Step 6 – Wrap the painting in acid-free, archival tissue paper or glassine. Note that any material that will come into contact with the surface of the painted work should be archival quality.
 
Step 7 – To protect against moisture, wrap the artwork with plastic sheeting or poly wrap.
 
Step 8 – Wrap the framed painting in three (3) layers of bubble wrap, using packing tape to secure it.

Step 9 – Add cardboard corner protectors to the corners of the wrapped work. You can buy corner protectors ready made, or you can construct them yourself. A quick search on Google will lead you to several resources offering instructions on how to make them.
 
If your framed painting is larger than 18”x24”, you’ll need to build a wooden crate and seal the work inside. Please follow the steps in the FAQ: “How do I pack work in a crate?
 
If your framed painting is under 18”x24”, proceed to Step 10 below.
 
Step 10 – Sandwich the wrapped painting between two sheets of foam board and tape all the way around to secure it.

Step 11 – Place it inside a sturdy cardboard box. To minimize movement within the box, thoroughly fill any empty areas around the artwork with shredded paper. The more snug the fit, the less the potential for damage. Seal the box completely shut with packing tape, reinforcing the corners.
 
Step 12 – Affix the shipping label to the package and put clear tape over the label so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. Clearly mark the crate as “FRAGILE.”


 

Rolled paper artwork

 
Paper artworks such as sketches, photographs, watercolors, etc., may be rolled and shipped in a heavy duty mailing tube between 8” and 12” diameter, depending on the size of the work.
 
What you’ll need:

  • Heavy duty mailing tube with plastic end caps no smaller than 8” in diameter and up to 12” (depending on the size of your canvas).
  • A second tube of smaller diameter for inner support. (You’ll roll your artwork around this tube and insert it inside the larger tube.)
  • Packing tape
  • Glassine or acid-free archival paper
  • Bubble wrap

 
Step 1 – Sandwich your artwork between two layers of glassine or acid free archival paper. Make sure that the work is completely covered by the paper.
 
Step 2 – Roll the paper-covered artwork around the smaller tube to provide inner support.
 
Step 3 – Next, roll a layer of bubble wrap around the artwork for padding and to seal out moisture. Seal completely with tape.
 
Step 4 – Place this tube within the outer mailing tube. Fill extra space at the ends with extra bubble wrap, but take care not to crush the edges of your artwork. Place the end caps on and seal them shut with packing tape.
 
Step 5 – Affix the shipping label to the package and put clear tape over the label so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. With a felt tip pen, mark the tube as “FRAGILE” in large capital letters.

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