Moving, no matter what the reason, can be a serious project. However, it is made even more serious when you have costly and intrinsically valued artwork on hand. This art is most likely one of a kind and irreplaceable. Most people would be upset if it were damaged and lost. Many people will pay quite a lot of money to movers to handle the project for them. But what if you don't trust them to do the job well or just don't have the funds in moving to guarantee your artworks' safety? That is why we want to give you a few pointers to at least give you a head start on the process of moving your priceless artifacts.
WHAT MEDIUM IS THE ARTWORK?
The medium of the artwork you are moving and storing is very important to what the process will entail. It will determine the way you package it, how it is moved and stored once it arrives at the destination. Essentially, the process is similar, but the details will vary. For example, your art could be a painting or a drawing. Most likely it is something two-dimensional. The packaging requirements for this medium differs from the packing requirements for a sculpture or three-dimensional piece. However, even in the two-dimensional world of art, there are differences in mediums.
And these differences may require special protective layers. Some pieces may have frames while others do not. These frames may be wood, and some may be metal. Wood frames are susceptible to mold and moisture, which will cause them to warp and may even to inhabit some very pesky creatures. Metal is also not a friend of moisture, which can allow it to rust. The coatings and finishes may also flake off which could cause further damage to the art itself. And then there is the glass that often encases such art. Should that break, it could tear and seriously damage your artwork.
SUPPLIES FOR PACKAGING
There are several ways to package your items for the moving process, all of which depend on the medium of your artwork, as we talked about before. However, in knowing which supplies to use, these items basically can be put into two groups: two-dimensional art and three-dimensional art.
These usually consist of your paintings and drawings. They may have a frame or they may not.
If there is glass, it is highly recommended that you package your piece with the assumption that the glass will break. This means you need to protect the art itself from any damage caused by shards and slivers. This is easily done by covering the glass with a layer of masking tape. Many shipping companies can supply you with a special type made for use on glass and will not leave a sticky residue after it is removed. This layer of tape will ensure that when and if the glass breaks it sticks to the tape and is held in place preventing your art from any damage.
After the glass is dealt with, you can package your piece. This will require a plastic wrap of sorts. You can use saran wrap or, if your piece is larger, purchase palette wrap or tape. This is wrapped tightly around your art to protect it from dust and moisture. For even more protection and to ensure that the plastic does not stick to the art, some people first wrap the piece in tissue paper and then in plastic wrap.
The next step is to wrap your art in cardboard. This is best done by purchasing sheets of cardboard and cutting partially through it or bending it to fit the exact size of your art. The cardboard is taped together with packing tape.
Your artwork should then be wrapped in bubble wrap. This will further protect it from any bumps, jolts, or drops it should encounter along the way. This should totally enclose the package and be taped with packing tape. The last step is to put in into an appropriately sized outer box. This box should be snug fitting. There should be no extra room for movement within the box at all.
This can be accomplished by cutting your box down to the perfect size or by filling any remaining space with bubble wrap. If there is any space left over in the box, your artwork will likely suffer.
This art is usually more difficult to package. For one, it comes in a wide variety of mediums. Most are classified as sculptures of some sort. These can be made from metals, glass, clay, concrete, and many more. Then there is their shape to worry about. Many art pieces of this nature have characteristics that make packaging into a square or rectangular box or crate rather difficult, such as a sword or arm pointing upwards.
To begin, wrap your artwork in a light layer of tissue paper. The next step is to wrap it in bubble wrap. The tissue paper is used to prevent the bubble wrap from sticking to your art and causing either imprints on the surface or pieces of your finish to pull off when it is removed. The bubble wrap should be done it two stages. First, wrap the top half of your sculpture. Do this at least two times to ensure that it has enough padding and protection. Make sure that the top of your piece is covered well too. Tape the bubble wrap into place and then proceed with the bottom half, going over each section at least twice and making sure that the bottom is fully protected as well. Tape this into place.
Now you are ready for an outer box. This can be made of cardboard or wood, depending on your preference. The box should be able to house the entire piece with no parts sticking out. Any extra space inside the box should be filled with more bubble wrap so that there is no movement allowed during transit. Many people try to use packing peanuts here instead. However, this is not recommended. Peanuts can move around a lot, eventually falling towards the bottom of your box. The box, if made of cardboard will expand at the bottom to accommodate this causing even more to fall. This leaves the top of your box empty, and your art unprotected.
After the box is filled and your piece is protected inside, you can tape it up. Just as with the two-dimensional packages, cover all seams with tape and secure it by going around the full length and width. If you are using a wooden crate, use screws instead of nails to secure each side into place. Some people use both a cardboard box and a wooden crate, placing the softer cardboard into the crate.
DETAILS ON MOVING
When it comes to actually shipping or moving your packaged art, there are few things to take note of. For just about any art, it is recommended that you travel with it in an upright position. Transporting it in its normal position helps to ensure that paint or finishes do not chip off due to the abnormal amount of gravity being applied. So "rack don't stack." This also makes it less likely that something or someone isn't applying too much pressure to the weaker areas of the art itself instead of the frame it may be encased it.
Your package should be placed in an area for transit, whether that is a car, van, or airplane that has controlled and regulated temperatures. Temperatures prone to change, especially quickly, will cause levels in humidity to change. This can seriously damage art pieces, such as those incorporating oil-based paints, woods, and metals. A pro-tip for helping with this is to make sure you package it and move it on a day when it is not raining and when temperatures and humidity levels are near the norm for both the space it was in and the space where it will be when it arrives.
Another thing is to make sure your package is labeled as fragile in noticeable, clear letters. Anyone who may come into contact with it needs to know that it should be handled with care. Another labeling tip is to point out where to open the package at when in arrives. For some two-dimensional art, this may not matter too much. However, write or have a label made that says, "Open Here" on the seam where it should be opened at.
Lastly, once your art has arrived, make sure that if it is not immediately unpackaged and set up on display, that it is stored in a place that is neither dry nor prone to humidity or temperature changes such as an attic or a basement. These places are also known to show the first signs of pest infestations, and you will not want your art anywhere near that.
We understand your artwork is precious and not easily replaced. You want to transport it easily and in a way that prevents any damage or injury from the time you move until it is safely placed where it will live after the move. This means the way you package it, move it, and store it all important. Follow these key points, and you will end up with priceless and lovable art for years to come, no matter where or how often you move.