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Pack your work for show delivery

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This article discusses how to pack your work for upcoming NMPCA shows, and might have some ideas for generally packing your work for galleries, shipping or other shows.

The description of this packing is geared to meet the requirements of the NMPCA Celebration of Clay (COC) show. Show committees have adopted this method since 2013. It makes it easy for volunteers to organize, transport, and return work to members. While it may take more time and effort than you are used to doing for your own gallery or show, it is needed for the group situation.

Here’s a description of how to pack:
  • Deliver work in a sturdy box with generous cushioning. Mailed work should be double boxed. Do not use tape on the wrapping material when packing your artwork. Box should have lid that covers the piece. The work must not extend above the top of the box.
  • Tape or tie one copy of artwork label to work, with your signature to validate the insurance valuation price or value declared to the art center.
  • Place in box one page bio/artist statement for the COC binder and business cards. (suspended due to COVID-19)
  • On outside of box affix prominently a photo or sketch of artwork and another artwork label.

Ever wondered what this really means? Here’s an example of preparing a piece. Click on the illustrating photos to see larger view.

Before you can pack the work, you must: Finish the work, measure the dimensions, give it a title, and decide what price to put on it. Then, take a good digital image of the piece and prepare a file according to the instructions. Follow instructions for the specific show.  Here is an article about how to prepare the image.   Register the piece for the show. Read the instructions for the show, fill in the registration, and pay for the entry through the online payment method.

Step 1. Prepare the paperwork to go with the piece: For the Celebration of Clay, print the artwork label sent in the confirmation email. Print a small picture from your step 3 image for the outside of the box.

Step 2. Get a box/boxes ready. Double box is best, but you might consider packing small works with plenty of bubble wrap in a single box. When double boxing, make the inside box 1-2″ larger than the piece, and the outer box 1-2″ larger than the inner box. A single box should have at least 2 inches packing space on all sides.

Pack your work for NMPCA showsMaterials gathered to pack a sculpture for the NMPCA: inner and outer boxes, tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, extra cardboard...
oh, and the piece with it's label attached.

If your pieces don't fit the boxes you have, it could be wasteful to buy new boxes.  You can recycle shipping boxes you have on hand. This means generally rebuilding the boxes. The picture above shows the materials gathered to pack the sculpture shown. The inner box on the left was sized OK as is, and the outer box on the right was cut down and combined with another box’s cardboard. The two boxes in the first image at the top of this article were both rebuilt. Use tape to put the boxes together.

Step 2. Pack the piece (with label attached) in the box. Use clean packing, although it can be reused. Best to use bubble wrap or unprinted newsprint or packing paper. If you must use packing popcorn, tie them up in a plastic bag so that they can be removed easily and won’t spill everywhere. In courtesy of the volunteers who will unpack the box, don’t put a lot of tape around the packing that you wrap around the piece. That takes a long time to undo. Just wrap bubble wrap or paper around the piece. If essential to close, use a little blue masking tape, as that is easy to remove.

Showing the inner box with the sculpture wrapped in bubble wrap (no tape), placed inside the outer box with extra cardboard underneath as padding and packing paper and bubble wrap slid down between the inner box and the outer box to keep the inner box from shifting.

Outer box has been sealed with easy-to-remove blue masking tape. A label with contact information and description is fixed to the outside, along with a small picture of the piece to aid in finding the box when it is sold or returned.

Step 6: Close up the box. Using clear tape, affix the label and picture of the piece to the top or front of the box. Use blue masking tape or some other easily removable tape to keep the box closed.

When you are done, the piece should be secure, not rattle or move within the box, with at least 2 inches of packing all the way around the piece. If shipping, wrap the box in plain paper to provide a clean surface for the shipping address.

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