Packing and Shipping Paintings

Packing and Shipping Paintings

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Protecting paintings, antiquities, and artifacts is essential during shipping, especially when they will be transported over long distances. Galleries and investors choose accredited art relocation companies to handle the complexities of the move. However, anyone who invests in art or chooses to move art over even a short distance should take time to understand how it can safely be transported to a new location.  

Most novice art investors move paintings. For this reason, we have put together a list of essential packing tips that will reduce moisture, stabilise, and protect the artwork during shipping.

Pack your painting like a pro with these essential steps for packing a canvas

You will need packing tape, artist tape, foam, scissors, cardboard, measuring tape, glassine, brown paper, and a large table. You will also need a shipping box and stickers, or paperwork provided by the moving company.

Step 1

Place the foam on a large stable table. The foam creates a safe working surface for delicate artworks.

Step 2

Place a sheet of glassine on the foam and position the painting face down on top of the glassine. Glassine is air, water, and grease resistant paper that will protect your paintings, prints, and drawings during shipping and storage.

Step 3

Cut the glassine to a size that allows you to fold the paper over the edges of the back of the canvas. Secure the glassine with artist tape. Do not use masking tape for this step.

Step 4

Wrap the canvas with bubble wrap and secure it with packing tape. Use more bubble wrap if the piece needs extra padding.

Step 5

When you place the painting in the shipping box, ensure that the canvas is secure and will not move around. If there is too much space between the edges of the box and the painting, fill the space with more bubble wrap or foam. If there is a lot of space, layer the painting with more bubble wrap.

Step 6

If you are packing more than one painting in the shipping box, wrap each painting individually and place a piece of hard cardboard between them. Always make sure that the wrapped paintings are facing each other in the box. The back of the paintings should face outward.

Step 7

Secure the box with packing tape and make sure that the box is labelled according to the mover’s specification. Use a “fragile” sticker if one is provided.

How to pack a framed painting or print

When you pack a framed painting, tape the glass with artist tape (create a star over the glass) so that damage to the glass during transit does not cut and cause damage to the artwork. When the glass is taped, completely wrap the piece with brown paper and use cardboard corners to protect the frame by placing them over the brown paper. From there, follow steps four to seven.

How to pack an unframed watercolour painting

If you are packing an unframed watercolour painting, use an archival board that is the same size as the painting (or slightly larger) as a backing. Place the painting face down on the board and slide it into a clear archival polypropylene bag. Secure the bag around the painting with tape on the outside. If you are packing more than one painting, pack them individually before layering them in the shipping box so that they do not rub against each other causing damage to the art. If you are using a reinforced shipping envelope, create additional stability by adding a hard piece of cardboard on either side of the plastic bag to avoid damage from bending.

When you should consider shipping paintings with a specialised transport company

If your paintings have cultural, monetary, or sentimental value, consider using an accredited fine art transportation company such as Elliott to move them to your new location. A specialised moving company will ensure that oil and acrylic paintings are, for example, shipped in specialised wooden crates and that packaging materials are of the highest quality and standard. If you are not sure how to go about relocating your artworks, ask Elliott for advice.

Elliott is a member of ICEFAT, a global network of trusted partnerships, founded in 1977.

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Thank you for your interest in our removal services. Unfortunately, we no longer offer local/middle-distance removal services in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. With recent changes to our business, our focus is now solely on long-distance and international removals, and as a result, we cannot provide you with a quote for your move. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding. Please let us know if you have any further questions or require assistance.