Painting with encaustic wax is a joy. I love the organic, translucent qualities of the finished piece. But, shipping encaustic art can be a bit tricky, and even mysterious.
I have been a serious encaustic painter for nearly 5 years. My work is exhibited around the West, but I have avoided shipping my encaustic art for fear of damage, special crating, and huge shipping costs.
Encaustic art is prone to chipping and damage in extreme temperatures. It can crack or shatter in cold conditions, and melt in heat. Encaustic art should be treated like you would an living creature. For example, you wouldn’t leave your pet in an overheated car in the middle of summer, nor freezing temperatures during the winter.
Because of this, I have always hand-delivered my paintings!
However, this past summer my painting, “Spring Moment” was featured in a special juried exhibition at the Encaustic Art Institute in New Mexico. The exhibition showcased artists and myself from the book, “Encaustic Art in the Twenty-First Century” by Schiffer Publishing. My piece was selected for the Encaustic Art Institute’s permanent collection!
Great, but I had to get my fragile encaustic painting all the way to New Mexico, and I was too busy to drive it there! Shipping was the only option.
Thankfully, Doug Mehrens, Founder of the Encaustic Art Institute shared his helpful tips for shipping encaustic art. He has shipped over 500 encaustic paintings. My painting made it safely to New Mexico without melting in the middle of July!
Shipping Encaustic Art the Easy Way
*Remember, insulate against temperatures under 40°F and over 80°F. Insulate against shock such as jarring, dropping, etc.
- Be sure to label your artwork or put a piece of paper in the packing that is the label to your piece.
- Wrap the art in wax paper or Glassine interleaving paper. Secure it with colored painter’s tape, so the person unwrapping it can gently undo the paper.
- Next, wrap the artwork with large bubble wrap preferably, not small ones. Double wrap with at least 2 inches of bubble wrap on all sides, then secure it with tape.
- (For smaller paintings) Find a sturdy, double thick corrugated box. Make sure it is at least 5 inches larger than your wrapped piece on all sides. Pour in peanuts in the bottom, slide your painting in the middle of the box and fill it to the top with more peanuts. Tap the box to settle the peanuts, and fill in any voids.
- Close the box, and tape it completely with strong, clear packing tape. Be sure to label the box with your name, address, email, phone, etc. on the outside.
- Be sure and add – fragile, handle with care stickers on all sides.
- (For larger paintings) For larger works, you will want to double box your painting. Choose a box that your artwork will fit in snuggly, or build your own structure out of foam core, etc that it will fit snugly in.
- Close the box, tape it and label the box with your name, address, email, phone, etc. on the outside. Also, what painting fits inside, as you may be shipping more than one. Also helpful is directions as to how to repack your artwork, like arrows, etc. Especially if your piece has a 3 dimensional quality to it. Don’t assume that your gallery will remember how they unpacked your piece when there sometimes are over 50 paintings to unpack within a week for a show.
- THE OUTER BOX should be sturdy and not a flimsy, recycled grocery store box. Like above, use a double thick corrugated box. Choose a box that is larger than your first box at least 8’ all around. Pour in 8” of peanuts in the bottom, place your box in the middle and pour all around it, to the top, then tap it a few times to get them settled and fill the voids. (large bubble wrap works well too)
- Next, seal the box completely with strong tape, label with all the proper labels – fragile, handle with care stickers on all sides. They work much better than using a felt tip and printing it on the box. Be sure to put them on all sides.
- It is best to ship on a Monday or Tuesday, so your beautiful art is not stuck in a truck somewhere over the weekend. This can be especially hazardous in extreme heat or extreme cold.
A word about insurance – If YOU did not pack the artwork properly and it gets damaged, insurance will not cover it! To avoid this, I have the UPS Store pack my encaustic artwork for me (according to the directions above).
There are more expensive and complex ways of shipping encaustic art, but these directions worked! Keep in mind, shipping encaustic art during the winter months with freezing temperatures is not advisable.