Packing an Oil Painting: Slick Tips

Posted in: I'm a Mover, Pro Packing Guides

[Synopsis: Packing higher-end art calls for special materials and top-notch techniques.]

We come across large picture frames and mirrors often enough to know how to pack them. Wrap them in newsprint – or better yet, large sheets of kraft paper or that brown paper the big guys always have on hand. Grab a mirror carton or custom-size a box and pack the corners with packing paper and tape it up well.

Nothing to it, right?

But the day may come (if it hasn’t already) when we come face to face with an oil painting. We may use the same brown paper process and come away unscathed, but there are a few tips and tricks we can employ to keep that piece of art in prime shape, maybe even impressing our customer in the process.

Our Weapons of Choice

For the specialized packing we are about to attack upon we’ll need a few things we might not normally have on hand:

  • Bubble wrap
  • A mini roll of plastic wrap (on a handy-dandy dispenser)
  • A locking tape measure
  • Some large sheets of foam board
  • A knife to cut them to size

For that ultimate professional touch, we’ll arm ourselves with a couple of new weapons, namely artist tape and a type of water-resistant, grease-resistant paper called Glassine. And, as the guys in the following two videos prove, the ability to wield a tape gun can really come in handy.

Food For Thought: Video #1

In this first videoour host tackles his oil painting pack job by using foam board and a mini roll of shrink wrap to make what he calls a painting sandwich. Pretty slick, ay? (Start at the 2:35 mark. It goes to about 3:50.)

Note: Our painting sandwich maker uses peanuts for protection – and makes a decent mess of things. We suggest sticking with packing paper.

Mega-Supplies: Video #2

The host of our second video is a real stickler for protection. But so are his customers. First, he breaks out his Glassine at about the 1:23 mark. To keep it in place he uses artist tape rather than packing tape or even masking tape. Watch from the 1:43 mark to hear the (probably obvious) reasons why.

Done with the Glassine, he turns to his massive stash of bubble wrap, keeping the flat side against the surface of the painting. And he uses PLENTY of the stuff, in two different bubble sizes! We may not need to go nearly as crazy – unless our customers want us to. Ask them ahead of time.

For glass frameworks of art, our hero puts strips of artist tape right on the glass, to prevent damage to the art should the glass crack or break in transit.

Finally, at about 14:50 he talks about putting cardboard corners on before the bubble wrap. He also ensures the safety of the piece by placing a piece of cardboard over the front/glass side.

Note: He does admit that not all of us will have mountains of the stuff on hand, and suggests at the 6:25 mark using sheets of Styrofoam. Again, this is an option – but so is our packing paper.

Wrapping Up

We may or may not encounter a customer with fine artwork. But they do exist, and what if those people are looking for someone who knows how to handle their oil paintings or other expensive paintings? If you have that skill on your list of offered services, you may just get the call over someone else.

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