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How to Pack Artwork

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Every home can benefit from good artwork. Paintings and sculptures add character, class, and style to your abode's decor. If you need to move your artwork, you want to keep it safe. Packing artwork can be difficult since it is often fragile and irreplaceable. Here are a few things to keep in mind to safely move your art.

Create an artwork inventory

Before you can move your artwork, you need to account for all of it. Create an inventory, listing all the art pieces that you own. Look for any letters of authentication that you have for rare or expensive pieces.
  • If you are unsure about the value of an item, get it appraised. The appraisal certification will let you insure the piece for an accurate value.
  • Insure all artwork while moving. Free moving insurance only pays 60 cents per pound, so any artwork is extremely undervalued without additional insurance.
  • If you own any pieces that are too big or expensive to pack yourself, you need to hire specialty movers. These professionals have the expertise and tools necessary to handle delicate, cumbersome, and expensive art items.

Gather packing materials

You'll need the right tools and materials to pack your artwork. Look around the house for these items or purchase them from a packing store or moving company.
  • Packing tape
  • Masking tape
  • Telescopic and/or regular boxes
  • Thin cardboard panels
  • Packing paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Labels/markers

Packing sculptures/statues

Statues and sculptures vary drastically in size, shape and weight. Much of the trouble packing them comes with finding the right box or container. You may need to ask movers to create a custom crate for heavier pieces. The following are general guidelines for packing sculptures and statues:
  • Disassemble what you can.
  • Wrap the piece completely in bubble wrap.
  • Place the piece in a sturdy box that is slightly larger than the outermost edges of the piece.
  • Fill the box with packing paper until the piece cannot move around in the box.
  • Seal the box with packing tape and label it "fragile".

Packing framed art (paintings)

Paintings and large photos often come in frames that can be expensive. These frames sometimes have glass coverings that protect the art's surface, but also make the item more fragile and dangerous for a move. Special care must be taken when packing these pieces of artwork.
  • Place the frame on a flat surface.
  • Using masking tape, (not the heavier packing tape) make an "X" on the glass of the frame. This will keep it from shattering if it cracks during the move.
  • Place a thin cardboard sheet over the face of the painting even if it is covered in glass. This is to create a barrier between the glass or paint and the bubble wrap which could smudge or damage the surface of paintings.
  • Wrap the entire piece in bubble wrap and seal with packing tape.
  • Place the piece in a box that is slightly larger than the dimensions of the frame. You may need to use a telescopic box if the painting is too big.
  • Fill the negative space in the box with packing paper until the piece can't move in the box.
  • Seal the box using packing tape and label it "fragile."

General tips

  • Use packing paper rather than newspaper. The ink from newsprint could rub off or react with the surfaces of paintings or sculptures.
  • Disassembled pieces of statues and sculptures need to be labelled accurately so the piece can be put together again without trouble.
  • Use receipts, certifications, and recent appraisals to get true replacement value protection for your more expensive pieces of artwork.
  • Hire a moving company if the packing and moving seems too complex for you. All you'll have to worry about is finding the right company and buying good insurance for your artwork.

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on October 15, 2014 - Moving Expert
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