Welcome to the 2nd installment of my 3-part series on how to pack paintings for shipping. Having explored the method for rolled canvases, we now turn our attention to paintings that are shipped with structure (aka: on stretcher bars or on a frame).
Disclaimer: I'm not talking about packing framed artworks with glass, as shown in the following photo. I'm talking about packing canvas paintings that are stretched over wooden or aluminum bars, to maintain their shape and structure.
- Acid-free paper
- Bubble wrap
- Corner protectors (can make them out of cardboard)
- Sturdy cardboard or foam board
- Packing tape
- Large, robust box
- Box knife
Wrap the painting in acid-free paper
Standard practice is to place the paper on a large, flat surface, the place the painting face down, on top of the paper. Cut the paper to the right size, and fold it over the edges of the painting, taping it shut like a present, on the back side of the painting
Create a cardboard shield
Encase the wrapped painting in a cardboard or foam board cutout, conforming to the size of the frame. This adds an additional protective layer. VERY IMPORTANT: if there is any texture to the cardboard, it must face away from your artwork, as you don't want it pressing into your painting.
Wrap in bubble wrap
Wrap the painting in bubble wrap, texture side out, covering every edge and corner. I like the 1-inch bubble wrap (with the larger bubbles). This step is vital to cushion the painting. Again, the smooth side should be on the inside, the texture of the bubbles, facing out.
Add corner protectors
Fit corner protectors on each corner of the frame for added protection against knocks and drops. Tape them in place.
Box and secure
Place the painting in a large box, ideally tailored to its size. Fill any gaps with more bubble wrap, air pockets, or packing peanuts to prevent movement. Seal the box securely with packing tape.
I like to write the "TO:" address in by hand, directly onto the cardboard box (I always worry that the paperwork could somehow get lost!). I have a "FROM" address labels printed up, that affix to the box, as well. Don't forget to add the "FRAGILE" stickers to your package, and if you don't have them, be sure to write it on all sides with a magic market, so that people handling the package will easily see it. Add your clear envelopes with packing slips. If you want to attach an envelope with a 'thank you' card, that's always a nice touch, too!
This method is a blend of art preservation and practical logistics, designed to keep your structured artworks safe, whether in transit to a local gallery, or to an international collector.
Remember, the way we package our art is a reflection of the care and respect we have for our work and its recipients. As your pieces journey to new destinations, they carry not just your artistic vision but also your commitment to their preservation and safe arrival.
Here are quick links to each of my packing series, below.