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Best ways to secure artwork for shipping

The time to start preparing the move is here! You’ve probably done some research. Did some planning ahead too. Then, going through a list of things you want to move with you, you realize something. That beautiful painting you love, or that precious statue that really adds a sense of refinement to your home. You surely wouldn’t leave those behind. But what is the best way to move them? How do you prepare those items in a way that you won’t be stressing over them during the transition? There are many things to take in consideration! Lucky for you, we’ve prepared this article on how to secure artwork for shipping, just for such cases. So read on, and relax. You’re in the right place.

Hiring professionals to secure artwork for shipping

Unless you’re a person from the art business, you will undoubtedly need some help. Probably the easiest and most stress-free way for you to prepare your artwork for shipping is hiring special moving services. After all, its crucial that your art stays intact during the move. Doing the packing and protecting your items yourself can turn out just fine. But hired professionals that do such tasks daily will know many tricks to perform and pitfalls to avoid, that you might not even think about. So going with a professional service to secure artwork for shipping, could be the right choice. Also, it will save you time and stress. Both of these really come to the forefront during any moving process, so keep that in mind.  On the other hand, if you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, here are some tips to help you along.

Moving  framed artwork and mirrors

One of the most common art pieces found in most homes is also one of the most fragile. We’re talking about framed items and mirrors of course. Due to the glass component of the artwork, you must take extra care in order for it not to break during the moving process. If the glass panel of your framed painting or poster cracks during the move it could damage the artwork itself! So, first of all, use duct tape, or masking tape to make diagonal lines along the glass pane of your artwork. You can make an X shape or many intercrossing diagonal lines. This trick will make sure that even if your glass does crack, the shards will stay in place, minimizing the danger of them causing damage.

Several framed pictures.
Framed artwork is the most common, but also quite fragile. Take care when preparing it for a move.

Next, you want to get some corner protection. You can get Styrofoam or cardboard corner protection from your local art store, or fashion them yourself. Then, put a piece of thicker cardboard up against the glass of the artwork for added protection. Wrap it all up in bubble wrap and tape the wrap so it doesn’t move. If you’re moving more than one framed item or mirror, it’s a good idea to pack them into the same box, facing each other. Then fill any excess room with soft packing material such as Styrofoam, or even wrap it all up in a blanket. Leave as little leeway as possible, so your artwork doesn’t shuffle inside the box during the move. Tape the box up and visibly mark which side is up and mark it down with “Fragile”, to signal to your movers to take extra care with the box.

Moving oil paintings and unframed prints

The thing that makes it harder to secure artwork for shipping is not having a frame. And that’s exactly the case with these pieces. Thus, the packing process will be a bit different than that of framed artwork. First, you want to use gloves when packing these items as to not leave marks on the piece. Get a pair of Nitrile gloves or cloth gloves to work with. Next, you will want to get Glassine paper. This is a special kind of paper, that will make sure no smudges are produced during the move. Place the Glassine on the face of your art piece so that it goes nicely over the edges and then cut it. Then fold the excess paper and tape it to the back of the artwork.

A woman painting on canvas
When you secure artwork for shipping, take extra care with unframed art, as it is exposed and unprotected.

It would be a good idea to get artist’s tape for this, as it won’t damage your piece if you accidentally tape it to the artwork itself. Next up is the bubble wrap. Place it over the glassine with the flat side facing the art. This way the bubbles won’t leave an impression on the piece. Industry professionals recommend wrapping the artwork in bubble wrap twice, to make sure no damage occurs. The rest is pretty much the same as with the framed pieces. Pack them tightly in a box and label them to avoid any damage occurring. And save the gloves for unpacking too.

Moving statues, figurines, and other breakables

With these items in question, we could write a whole book on how to secure artwork for shipping! There are just so many variables. If your Artwork is large and heavy, you should consider getting a moving crate. If it’s a piece of china, you should try and acquire some triple-walled china boxes. In any case, you want the entirety of the piece wrapped in bubble wrap. Also, get some packing peanuts and fill the bottom of the box you’re putting the art in, depending on the weight.

A vase with flowers. When you secure artwork for shipping, bear in mind its shape, size and frailty.
Breakables need to be fixed in place, so they don’t shatter during the move.

The heavier the piece the more you need, as it will press down on the packing peanuts and make the compress. Finally, you will want to place the art piece in the middle of the box, with enough room to secure it on all sides from shuffling about, either with Styrofoam, packing peanuts or just a blanket. If your statue is of an irregular shape or has protruding parts, you want to pack it alone in a quality box, so as to avoid any damages.

Moving with your artwork abroad

Another thing to consider is whether you will be moving within your country or internationally. When moving abroad, there can be different legal requirements that are not present when moving with your own countries borders. Some countries have laws and policies aimed at restricting the export or import of certain pieces of art. Wouldn’t it be disheartening of going through the trouble to secure artwork for shipping, only to have it confiscated at the border? To avoid such a case, it’s really smart to do a bit of research and find out how your art classifies and whether you should be worried about moving it abroad. To help people along with this, the lawyers from IBA (International Bar association) have compiled a useful report which lists legal restrictions on the movement of art in several countries.  You can also contact your government’s cultural department to get useful information as well.

Making the move

Whether you decided to hire professionals or you chose to face the adventure yourself, to secure artwork for shipping takes time and patience. Doing it rushed can cause irreversible damage. So, set enough time aside, take it easy and follow these tips, and you will be all set. One your move is done and your art pieces are decorating your new home, remember us so we can share in the joy of that moment. Good luck!