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  • Mark Harris

How to Successfully Transport Artwork

Guest blog written by Mark Harris.

Moving can be an ordeal, but when it involves precious artwork and supplies that need to arrive free of damage, you’ll have to take some extra steps. Whether you are moving to a new art studio or transporting artwork to your new home, Hannah Kate Makes shares several ways to make sure your art arrives unharmed.

Wrap Paintings Appropriately

The biggest risks to paintings are breakages, tears, loose and missing elements, impacts, smudges, and fingerprints. The most common culprit of these damages is people, including yourself, so be careful as you begin removing and taking down artwork in preparation for packing. Wear gloves when handling artwork and make sure you have enough space and time to move to avoid being distracted and accidentally damaging your painting.

How you pack your painting will differ depending upon whether it is framed. To pack a framed painting, find a box or crate large enough to fit the painting, and aim to leave three inches of space on each side of the frame. Ask neighbours or friends if they have any spare boxes, or visit your local supermarket or hardware store and ask if you may use their leftover packing crates. Wrap your painting with acid-free tissue paper to avoid smudging and discolouration, and follow with a layer of bubble wrap. Make sure the bubble wrap adequately covers the corners, as they are most likely to be damaged during transport.

Once you’ve wrapped the painting, place a layer of foam in the box or crate to create a protective layer for the painting to rest upon. Pack the 3 inches of space left over with packing material, such as bubble wrap, newspaper, or packing peanuts to the point where the painting fits snugly to reduce movement during transport.

If the painting you are packing is unframed, be careful not to directly touch the artwork with your bare hands and wrap the painting in acid-free tissue paper and plastic to protect against moisture. Fold a piece of acid-free tissue paper into a triangle, and place a triangle on each corner of the painting. Mount the painting to a sturdy piece of foam or cardboard, being careful to use tape only on the four corners with tissue paper. To finish the packing, place layers of cardboard on each side of the painting and secure it with tape. Be sure to label all paintings as fragile.

Keep Fragile Sculptures Safe

Like paintings, sculptures are susceptible to damage during transport and often have odd and unusual shapes, making them hard to pack and move. Packing sculptures requires a bit of planning, but it can be done. Start by identifying the size of the sculpture, and disassemble it if possible. Find a box that is larger than the sculpture, aiming to leave at least three inches of space on all sides. Using bubble wrap, wrap the upper and lower half of the sculpture with two layers of bubble wrap, and secure it with packing tape. Don’t forget about the middle half, wrapping the area where the two halves connect.

If certain areas of the statue are more delicate than others, consider placing extra bubble wrap in those areas. Once the sculpture is adequately wrapped, fill the remaining empty space inside the box or crate with paper or packing peanuts to prevent the statue from moving around while it is being transported.

If your sculpture is too large to fit inside a box, wrap it using large rolls of bubble wrap and moving blankets, and secure it with packing tape. Since there isn’t a box for added protection, go heavy on the wrapping.

To Pack or Not to Pack?

If your intention is to move to a larger home, you’ll need to get your current house ready for sale. And in addition to making any necessary repairs and improvements, both inside and out, you’ll also want to carefully stage your home. So consider keeping some of your favourite artwork out. Especially anything that feels warm and inviting. Pieces that are avant-garde or too abstract could affect your sale, so consider putting those away with everything else. If you’re not sure whether something can stay, talk to your estate agent, and get their opinion.

With a lot of wrapping and a little bit of planning, you can ensure your artwork is ready to be safely transported to its new home.

A huge thank you to Mark Harris for contributing this guest blog; you can reach Mark here.

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