What you need:
Plastic Wrap, Ruler, Sharpie, Shipping Cardboard, Box Cutter, Bubble Wrap, Scissors, Cardboard Box, Scotch Tape.
Step 1 – A Protective Skin of Plastic
If the artwork has a frame, remove it. Use the plastic wrap to protect paintings from scratches and scuffs. There’s nothing complicated about applying the wrap, but the secret is to pull the wrap tightly around the artwork, applying pressure the entire time you are wrapping the painting, so the wrap doesn’t become bunched or tangled. You should pass the wrap over the surface multiple times to cover all of the artwork. Then carefully cut small slits in the back of the plastic so that the art can breathe.
Step 2 – First Cardboard Padding
Now we’re ready to add a layer of protective cardboard. This layer of cardboard is going to create a kind of first box that will help absorb shock if the package is dropped. You can measure the width of the painting and double it, measure the depth of the painting and double that, then add a few inches for good measure and mark the cardboard using your Ruler and Sharpie. Use your box cutter to make your cut. Now measure the length of the painting, add four inches (10 cm) and cut the cardboard to the proper length.
Now, lay the cardboard flat, place the artwork roughly in the middle, and fold the ends of the cardboard over. Tape the overlap to seal the cardboard closed. The cardboard will naturally fold over the corners of your artwork. Instead of cutting and folding this extra space, simply squeeze the sides together to form a kind of empty triangle and tape it closed. By taping the ends in this way, you are creating an additional buffer at the end of the artwork that will act as a great shock absorber.
Step 3 – Bubble Wrapping
Just like we did when we were wrapping the plastic around the art, we want to keep some tension on the bubble wrap as we are applying it to the artwork inside the first layer of cardboard. Keeping the wrap tight will allow us to maintain clean edges and prevent bunching.
Now you can fold the bubble in half lengthwise and then tape it to the edges of the painting, and you can add an extra foot or two to accommodate the layer of cardboard we added and to take into account the fact that the corners will steal several inches from us due to the volume of the bubbles.
Step 4 – The Outer Box
Now we are ready to slide this whole, neat package into the cardboard box. We want to fill this outer box as completely as possible. The number one cause of damage to frames and corners of the artwork is movement allowed by extra space in the box. You can go about eliminating this space in one of two ways. First, you can cut the box down to size, or you can fill any voids with bubble wrap. Either option is acceptable if you don’t have a lot of extra space. The bubble wrap takes less time than performing surgery on the box.
Step 5 – Taping
The first step to good taping is to use good tape. Use the highest quality tape you can find.
The next secret to good taping is tension. Low tension will cause your tape to bunch and fold as you are sealing your box. To get the right tension, once you have enough tape, you keep it tight, line it up with the seam, and then lower it onto the box – keeping tension on the tape by pulling the tape.
We encourage you to tape all of the seams of your outer box, including the short seams at the ends of each flap. This may seem like overkill, but any un-taped seam is a potential snag, and if something catches under the seam, your box could easily be ripped open. You can also always apply tape all the way around the length and width of the package to tighten everything up.
Step 6 – Fragile
Affix the shipping label to the package and put clear tape over the label, so it doesn’t get removed during shipment. Using your sharpie, write “FRAGILE” in large capital letters on the package, or use ready-made “FRAGILE” labels.