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packing and shipping to avoid breakage

updated fri 26 jan 07


Meryl Ruth on tue 23 jan 07

I would love some help regarding packing and shipping art works to =
avoid breakage.

I've had an unfortunate experience recently regarding two ceramic =
pieces breaking in transit even though I took great care to stabilize, =
use bubble-wrap, pack with peanuts, double box, etc. I sent my work =
quickly paying a higher price for this speed because UPS told me the =
quicker a piece gets where it's going the safer. Yet even this didn't =
help. My ceramic works are pretty delicate --- as can be seen on my =
Website at --- but I'm sure even more fragile =
items can be shipped without damage, if I only knew how. Any =
suggestions to avoid this in the future would be most appreciated. Are =
there informative websites with packing tips, etc?

Meryl Ruth, Porcelain Grace

Jeanette Harris on tue 23 jan 07

>I would love some help regarding packing and shipping art works to
>avoid breakage.
>Meryl Ruth, Porcelain Grace

Wow, Ruth,
That's just stunning work!

I have some thoughts for you: Think high density foam rubber,
constructed cardboard supports, bubble wrap, double boxing and a
sprayed-foam box interior.

Find some good cardboard that will bend into smooth curves so that
you can custom cut pieces and tape them together to make forms to
support the negative spaces in your pieces. Do that first.

Find someone in the computer business who gets that great packing
foam that acts like Memory Foam--the stuff the mattresses and pillows
are made of. I hoard every shred of that I can lay my hands on. Use
that to pad the pointy stuff in your work and cut or shape it to fit
and create good cushions then bundle the whole thing up with bubble

Next Step:

Read and assemble all the materials before starting. (I know it
sounds dumb, but..........this is something you have to start and
finish in one go.) You're going to make a 'sandwich' of plastic
lining, sprayed foam, lining again, wrapped work, lining, foam then
lining again ---all in a box. Read on:

Get a can of the construction-type insulation foam (comes in a can
with a straw to direct the flow). Get a good-sized box, one that will
accommodate your work all wrapped up in bubble wrap. The box should
have lots of room to 'float' the work. Wrap the bubblewrapped work
in heavy plastic and tape down.

Line the box interior with more heavy plastic cutting and folding it
to create a liner that fits in the square bottom and has lots of
'overflow' up the sides and out. (You will trim this off later.)

Spray the lined interior with foam up to the half-way mark and lay
another sheet of plastic sheeting it that while it's still 'fizzing'.
(Do a test run of spraying a little bit of the foam out and watch how
much it expands before doing this. You want the foam to reach half
way up the box interior because it is 1/2 of the 'custom crate' you
are making.)

When you feel the foam is about to quit foaming, quickly lay the
wrapped work on the foam bed and press it gently down in it so that
it comes half-way up the wrapped work bundle.

Place a second sheet of plastic over the wrapped work making sure
it's tucked in and snugly laying on the work. (You don't want any
gaps because that will create open spaces that the work can rattle
around in.) This second sheet should extend out over the edges of the
box and line the interior all the way up and over the edges also.
(You may want to make cuts in the four corners and overlap them to
fit from the area where the work is and create snug square corners.)

Now spray foam into the box over the liner that is covering the work.
Allow it to expand and solidify. Ttrim it off so that it is flush
with the top lip of the box and lay a final sheet of liner over that.
(All this liner is so that the box may be opened without having to
destroy the box. The first thing I sent like this, I just sprayed
the foam into the box, put in the plastic liner, the piece, more
liner and then sprayed foam to the top. The recipient had to tear
the box outside to pieces to get to the 'sandwich'. Good thing the
piece was going to stay there. heh Their comment was, "It's a good
method to use to protect the work from breaking, but it's definitely
NOT my favorite packing system." If you have the plastic liners up
against the box wall interiors, the foam will come away from the

Trim off the plastic liner edges, seal up the box, place in a larger
box with at least 3" of peanuts on all 6 sides and ship.

Jeanette Harris
in Poulsbo WA


Michael Wendt on wed 24 jan 07

You pose a challenge with the large
loopy parts and parts that may be just
barely attached.
I propose the following:
1.)Make a sample set that incorporates
the key parts that are breaking but keep the
finishing time to a minimum for testing.
2.)Try cutting a piece of 1/4" plywood the
size of the bottom of the inner box.
3.)Try various lagging methods to the
plywood (i.e. cable ties through holes
drilled in the plywood, strapping,... etc.)
4.)Fasten the plywood to the box bottom
with glue.
5.) leave the box empty. No bubble wrap,
no loose fill. Place this box in an outer box
and pack that box with styro.
The idea is to stabilize the base of the
item and not have anything touch the
slender parts. If they are strong enough,
they will ship this way. I have shipped
some delicate pieces like this using this
Michael Wendt
Wendt Pottery
2729 Clearwater Ave
Lewiston, ID 83501

Alex Solla on wed 24 jan 07


In light of the difficulties you are facing, and the price you are getting
for your work, I would suggest
that you are a prime candidate for the foam in a bag method of shipping.
Couple of folks posted links
about this last week or so. Really easy to use, pretty pricy for most
potters, but I think your work
would be protected best with this method of packing. Inner box with foamed
bags, outer box with 2-3" styrofoam,
try sheet styrofoams as well as peanuts. See what works best in light of the
difficulties you've had.

And please, report back to Clayart what you decide to do.

Alex Solla

Cold Springs Studio Pottery
4088 Cold Springs Road
Trumansburg, NY 14886

607-387-4042 voice/fax

Meryl Ruth wrote:

I would love some help regarding packing and shipping art works to avoid

Irene F.Gulla on thu 25 jan 07

In a message dated 1/24/2007 10:40:40 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
monkeymind@COMCAST.NET writes:

I really enjoyed looking at you unusual art work. So many times everything
seems to be so blah but your work has so much imagination and gives you a
happy feeling. I loved it. Irene

sacredclay on fri 26 jan 07

Your name was familiar and I just couldn't ring a bell where, so I
checked out the rest of your website and now I know! Some of your
works are at Stretch Gallery in NC! This is one of the few times when
the pix just doesn't do the real thing justice. The gallery is right
next to the class studio area and alot of my adult students comments
on how beautiful your pieces are. The are simply stunned when I point
out that a few are teapots. It truly inspires/enthralls/awes them!The
owner, Rick Crowley, really thinks highly of them. Congrats on
getting into the "Funk-tional exhibit"! Warmly, Kathryn in NC

> >Hi,
> >I would love some help regarding packing and shipping art works to
> >avoid breakage.
> >
> >Regards,
> >Meryl Ruth, Porcelain Grace
> >