This question kind of goes along with the whole framing thing because it’s all about how to keep your finished artwork safe and undamaged. There is nothing that will make you want to drink more than spending 50 or 60 hours on a painting and then have it damaged unnecessarily.

For years I built my own boxes to ship my paintings. Now I have them custom made…

But then, I also slept on the floor of my apartment because I didn’t have any furniture and I waited on tables so that I could afford to paint, so I will give you both methods since I have experienced both.

Self-Made Shipping Boxes
I used to make my own shipping boxes out of quarter-inch plywood, leaving about 3 or 4 inches of space all around the finished, framed painting. I have happy memories of spending hours (slight exaggeration – not to worry) wadding up newspapers to fill in all the space around the painting.

I would put masking tape in strips across the glass. I believe the theory behind that is if it breaks in the process of shipping, the broken glass will hold together and not totally destroy your painting…HA ! Being the recipient of some of my paintings coming back to me from galleries in a million pieces, I can tell you that the tape on the glass has never saved any of my paintings!

What saves them is to make sure that they travel in a proper shipping container!

Next, wrap the painting in some bubble wrap and then pad it all around with the wadded-up newspaper until the painting is very tight and cannot move in your box.

Up to this point you may have used nails in your great construction effort and I’m here to tell you, don’t ruin all your hard work by nailing that lid on top of the box! No point in tempting fate…UPS or FedEx will do that for you! Now is the time to get out your power tools and screw that hummer on and you’re ready to go.

Another lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to write on the box with a marker the shipping address and your return address. After spending a week trying to track down a painting that I sold to a woman in the UK, I can tell you that those little FedEx stick’em-a-bobbers don’t always stay where you put them.

Custom Made Boxes
The way that I ship my paintings these days – now that I rarely sleep on the floor – is to pick up the phone and call a great guy who makes shipping containers for my paintings.

These boxes are made out of very heavy cardboard with foam rubber inserts that have a cutout exactly the size of the finished outside frame dimensions. He custom-makes each one, but I suspect that you can find something similar online in some different sizes.

He came out to my studio years ago with a custom-made box for me to try out. I put a small framed painting that I wasn’t fond of in it (actually I hated it – do you ever have paintings like that?!), we sealed it up and I threw it down a flight of cement stairs in front of our gallery. I figured if the shipping box and pastel painting could survive that, they could survive anything that FedEx or UPS had to offer!

He stood by me while I opened up the sealed box and found the hated pastel painting in perfect shape. We have been happily working together ever since…

All kidding aside, I use Federal Express to ship my paintings – usually 2-Day Air.

Framing Tips by Lesley Harrison

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