Return to Sender
You my dear friend are now a part of history, very pointless and inconsequentiial piece of history, but nonetheless this is the first.
This is my first ever “HOW TO” blog.
What do you think about a “How to be an artist” blog? No way, too easy. That’s grab anything, stick it anywhere and call it art. Everyone does it, those lucky few make money at it. What I’m “How-To-ing” about is getting that wonderful piece of art you just created to the gallery on the East coast and back again. (or West coast if you are so inclined.)
It’s great creating art and selling it straight off your easel, don’t even have to worry about framing. But on occasion when that doesn’t happen, one must paint it, frame it, send to your gallery, or if it’s a good enough of a piece, enter into shows.
I am very fortunate to live an an area where if I were so inclined could be entering shows locally all year long and never have to ship my art elsewhere.
But that would be too logical.
I of course spend half of my time taking part in shows across the country, in places that are difficult to find even with my GPS.
How’s that old saying go by one of the original prophets… “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a soul without honor.” Sure, it can be interpreted a bazillion ways, but I take it “you ain’t no one at home, till you’ve made it somewhere else”. Kind of a drag, but it’s often the way it is.
So I send things via courier to places far and wide, which just so happens to be different than when you ship a painting when it sells. After a show if it does not sell, it must be returned, subsequently it must then be repacked by the gallery, labeled and shipped. The package or crate I use to ship paintings needing to be returned are not the disposable type you use in a sale.
What I want in my shipping package or container is:
- Safety for the artwork: cushioned packing materials, snug fit
- Sturdy: able to take drops, falls, kicks, stacking
- Ease of access: not a mystery how to open and close
- Mobility: light, easy to carry
I believe being on the receiving end has influenced how I build my containers. I have put on several shows/exhibitions and have had to unpack, and repack artwork, and it is not an easy task. Most containers are not made for reusing, things are easily lost, poorly labeled, and often piecemealed together. Artists are great at creating art, but many times they’ll wrap it in a T-Shirt and send it out for delivery. When on a trip my paintings are all mumbo-jumbo in the back of my van, among all the gear, frames, suitcases. Organizing your vehicle for a road trip is an entirely different thing and something I need to start thinking about… again.
Oh yeah, shipping…
…I like wood boxes! Some galleries do not allow shipping in these type of containers, and in those circumstances I actually spend money on a high end cardboard box made specifically for shipping art, but that is a bit pricey, though building a crate such as I do is not cheap.
Now how do we do it?
I’m not going into the boring detail of every move in making these boxes. I’m saving that for my book, in the meantime you can get the idea here, and press me on it later.
- 1/4 sanded plywood (I like the sanded, less splinters in hands) ($18 for a 4×8 sheet, enough for 2)
- 8′ 1×4″ = shipping 1 painting, 1×6 = 2 paintings, 1×8 = 3 paintings ($8)
- 8′ 1×2″ for bracing lid
- 1″ thick sheet of foam insulation board (Owens Corning) ($15)
- 1″ & 1 1/2″ wood screws ($3)
- wood glue ($4)
- 2 strong hinges ($10)
- 4 “T” brackets, 3 or 4″ ($6)
- carrying handle ($7)
Cut it and put it together. Artists are for the most part very good with their hands, and with those hands fill them with tools and get going. Measure the top and bottom plywood to be about 4″ larger than your painting. This allows for a couple inches of padding and the wood frame. The frame must be cut to fit the plywood, glue and screw them in place. Use the 1×2″ strips for the lid, cutting to size and glueing and screwing just inside the edge to create a frame. Attach this with hinges to the wooden box you had just built. Cut insulation board to fit inside the box and glue into place. I like to cut opening in the insulation and place painting in snuggly. Bend “T” brackets to fit around edges, mount on lid. These will be later used to seal crate. Should be just 4 screws holding things securely. Please drill pilot holes before you screw into the wood to keep from splitting. Use lots of glue, the thing can’t stay together too well, but you can try.
Does any of this make sense to you? If so you now have a nice safe container for shipping your art… if not you have now just spent $75 on a pile of lumber and hardware that couldn’t save even a fresco.
Really if you want a more detailed blueprint for building let me know. EMAIL
Make sure if there is a specific way packing needs to be repacked that there are instructions clearly marked. I like to have photos of the artwork that should be packed in this box with titles. I secure this inside along with artists name and address. Don’t assume they have all that info. Put all your return shipping documents in an envelope inside the container.
I mark on the crate what screws need to be removed. They do not always do the obvious or what you thought was the logical choice.
Shipping art is not a lot of fun, but it’s the nature of the beast, and how are you going to find out if it will “play in Peoria” if it never makes it out of Springfield?