Nov 13, 2012

How to Ship a Wet Painting

What do you do when you sell a painting before it dries and you need to ship it?

Yeah, yeah, I know, selling a painting that fast is not normally an issue. I'm sure we artists all wish it were a daily problem. :)

But, once in a while it happens.

I recently had a deer painting sell the very day after I finished it and posted it for sale. Normally I put my paintings in a 7 day auction so they have a whole week to dry before being shipped to their new owners. But in this case I had put a buy-out price and it sold right away. I didn't want the buyer to have to wait a week for it to dry before I shipped it. Otherwise, there's not a whole lot of advantage to using the buy-out, is there? So, I had to think of a way to ship it before it was completely dry.

The painting was mostly dry to the touch the next day but still a bit tacky. Certainly not dry enough to tolerate packaging material pressing up against it. I decided to solve the problem by making a little box that would grip it by the edges and keep the face of it from touching anything. So here's what I came up with.

First, start with a piece of cardboard a little less than twice the size of the painting.  Notch out triangular wedges so the points meet the corner of the paintings, as shown in yellow below.

Next, fold the corners over. Make sure the point of the folded pieces lines up with the outer edge of the cardboard. This will insure that the outer walls are sloped inward when folded, which is what you want to do to hold the painting in place without touching the face of it.

Next, fold the ends and sides up, as show below. Tape the pointed bits to the end so their edges line up with the bottom of the box, not the top. Make sure the top of the box slopes inward. This slope on all four sides is important for holding the painting in place. Note the angle of the yellow lines below is less than 90ยบ.

See below how I can tilt the box and the painting will not fall out because the wedge-shaped sides hold it in place.

Next you want to make a little lid for it, something stiff, so that the packaging material will not touch the face of the painting. Here I just added another piece of cardboard, a little bigger than the box opening, to cover the top. Tape it securely on all four sides.

Finally, remember this protective box is not your actual shipping box.It's just to keep the packing material off the painting. Next you need to place the little box in your bigger shipping box and be sure to add packing material like air bags or packing peanuts around it. You want at least in inch on all sides for small painting like this one. For a larger painting you'll want at least 2 inches on each side.

I'm happy to say the buyer contacted me to let me know this painting arrived at its destination safe and unblemished.

I'm sure there are other ways to ship a wet painting. There's probably packaging you can buy that's designed just for that. But, what's better than an inexpensive, nearly-free art shipping crate created from a few scraps of cardboard, some tape, and a little ingenuity? :)

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