27 August, 2007

Mailing Large Fine Art

Unwrapping the Big Strongbox


My artwork, Large Tri-Color Forest (framed size is @42" x 35" x 2.5"), needs to be shipped to Dayton, Ohio. That's half way across country! In this post, I will detail the professional method for handling this big task.

Full of Foam

Masterpak is the company where I get my puncture proof, and properly insurable boxes. The product itself is known as The Strongbox. Basically, the heavy corrugated cardboard box has two sandwich layers of egg-carton foam, and a cunning middle layer of foam that is die cut both on the rank and file.

They do cost a pretty penny, in spite of the advertisement to the contrary, and they are also expensive to ship EMPTY. The insurance people would frown hard, in the event of a damaged frame, if you don't do your part as an artist to use the professional materials at your disposal.

Mark for Size, Then Rip Along the Die Cut Line

Clean, Shrink Wrap the Frame and Update Your Business Card

Almost Ready

I Add Bubble Wrap

My patrons pay the shipping for the art, and I pay for the box itself, and the return bill for getting my expensive Strongbox back. Also, I charge the patron for the insurance in case of damage or loss to the artwork. In the event that the art is damaged in shipping, I will eat the insurance cost and, of course, refund the patrons for everything.

So far, I have had good experiences with shipping framed (glazed with glass) art cross-country. My carrier, until they screw up, is FedEx.

My strategy in shipping is to use next day air, since the fastest method involves the least handling. As a good example of the perils of slow shipping, I received permission from my kind patrons in Ohio to ship the box itself from their company (based in New York, but shipped from Mississippi) at the lowest rate to save myself money. They were fine with that, but the Strongbox did arrive at my door with a thick layer of dirt on it. Luckily, it was shrink wrapped and the cardboard was sufficiently clean.

I have explored kid glove shipping, but the expense is way prohibitive. Even if my works of this size went for $10,000, I still wouldn't be able to afford the custom shipping offered by carriers such as FedEx or UPS.

If you live in a large, Metropolitan center, there are services available that handle the shipping of fine art, door-to-door. Look into that yourself, as I am going to continue to live in my nice, remote corner of the planet, thanks.

Lastly, I phoned FedEx to pick-up this big item at my door. It's the quickest method, and it also allows me to have a second person here to handle the load-up of the clumsy large box. The weight is nothing to speak of, but the size is difficult to manage. When the delivery guy shows up, I will make out the return bill to put in the box, and the shipping bill to Ohio. Then, the 2" inch tape gun, and a layer of shrink wrap. Don't forget the prayer!

I'll let you know the results in the next few days.


  1. The art and package arrived beautifully. The art is hanging in my patron's office, and the big box has been returned via FedEx.
  2. Apparently, the Strong Box is not made in Tupelo, Mississippi and the tag pictured above is not correct. The box is manufactured in New Jersey, somewhere, and I will be updating that picture soon to reflect the actual source of manufacture.
  3. My personal opinion, based on my good results to date, is that these boxes are well worth the price. I am also getting a refund on my shipping cost for the original ship of the big Strongbox. It turns out that the shipping rate is not cheap, but fair compared to other really big packages that one gets.


Martha Marshall said...

Thanks for the detailed post. You are very wise to send it next day air. Ground shipping is a very rough ride for anything.

I've used one art shipping company that picks up the work at your door, when I had a show out of state. What a pleasure that was, and worth the cost.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks for reading, Martha.
I did a "bid" for the lowest bidder specifically for shipping art, just for kicks. But, I stopped short of registering. Presumably, I would have gotten some "quote" from Acme Art Shippers for my precious piece.
Living rurally has it's drawbacks, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Great entry! I'm sending my peeps over here.

Casey Klahn said...

Thanks, Alyson. Maybe wait one more day to see if the art gets to dayton OK!
What are "peeps"?

Anonymous said...

I wondered how you mail larger pieces. This is a huge help Casey! Thank you sooo much!

Gesa said...

Ah... this is how to do it... I've been looking into posting some of my bigger items but in the end decided to hold off for the time being as it seemed too difficult... sticking with small scale 9x12 postable paintings for the time being... LOL

Casey Klahn said...

Remember the expense up front for these mailings. The shipping of the empty box from Mississippi was the same as the cost of the box - both over $100 !
But, the box is re-usable, if you can get your patron to post it back to you. I enclose the return bill, and all they need to do is call the carrier, and slap the bill on the box.

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