Saturday, September 16, 2017

Essential Questions: How Do You Pack and Ship Your Work for Temperature Extremes?

Edited by Jane Guthridge

There’s consensus here on the importance of packing well, and some good tips for transit, but diverse opinion on the best carrier to use. Readers, what has your experience been? Please use the Comment feature at the bottom of the post to let us know.

Boxes ready to leave David A. Clark's studio: The better you pack 
the less likely your work is to sustain damage during transit
Photo courtesy of the artist

Jane Nodine I line my shipping boxes with builders styrofoam so it works a bit like a cooler. I use FedEx and I ship early in the week as opposed to end of the week when it will be left in the warehouse or on a truck over the weekend.

Matt Duffin I ship my work to a gallery in Palm Springs and line my boxes with 1 1/2 inches of Rmax (rigid insulation). Temps get up to 120 or so sometimes, so I look for a window when they might drop 10-20 degrees. I have the work held at the nearest FedEx ship center (a little research can tell you where the shipments leave from when they are put on the truck for the final day of transit) so that they don't have to endure a full day of heat in the back of the truck. The gallery then picks them up. No issues so far.

David A. Clark I build a sturdy box, line it well with two layers of foam, one for the outer box and one for the inner box, and then I line the top of the box with silicone release paper so that it will not stick or rub against the surface of the piece. I glue the paper to 1/4" foam and then glue the foam to the box. If you make dimensional work, you might suspend it in the box so that the surface does not touch anything when it is being transported.

Exterior and interior of David A. Clark's small inner shipping box, constructed as he describes above. This inner box will go into a larger box for shipping

David mentions suspending dimensional work. This shot of a relief painting (in oil) by Robert Sagerman, taken at the Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta a few years ago, shows how it is secured within a packing crate. A smaller work could be packaged similarly for transport by FedEx or other carrier

Detail below
Note how wingnuts make fastening/unfastening easier

Joanne Mattera I usually ship second-day Fed Ex—the orange and purple service—because it is much cheaper than overnight. Like Jane Nodine, I insulate for heat and cold, but also for shock, so basically, I pack the same year round. No peanuts. I line the box with slab insulation and wrap the storage-boxed painting (see below) with bubble wrap secured with plastic tape that's tabbed and marked with blue masking tape so that the dealer can find the tape quickly and easily.

What I've learned from FedEx is that they ship all kinds of products, including medicine and food, both of which are sensitive to temperature extremes, so it would be unusual for packages to be left in a truck outside overnight. Most warehouse facilities have some degree of cooling and heating because people work in them. Still, like Jane, I prefer to ship early in the week.

I don't like FedEx ground—the green and purple service —l because the work is contracted out. The drivers don't seem to care whether the work is delivered to the correct address or not, and I’ve found that misdeliveries are treated cavalierly by the company. Whenever I've had a problem with FedEx it has been with Ground.

If I have to ship a lot of work, I try to break up the delivery into several boxes and send each one a day apart. That way, if it's too hot or too cold, or the plane goes down, or a moronic driver leaves a box outside in the searing heat, I would lose only a small part of the total delivery. I don't insure anything, because it's impossible to get reimbursed. My motto: Pack for the extremes of temperature and human intelligence.

I wrote here about a bad experience sending a 110-pound crate (and how good packing saved the work).

Joanne Mattera starts with a storage box that will get bubble wrapped for transit. The 14x14x3-inch box, which holds a 12 x 12-inch painting, is commercially available 
Top left: Several layers of bubble insulate the space under a one-inch-high platform of corrugated. A padded lid consists of a layer of small bubble covered with glassine
Bottom left: Foam stripping, normally used for A/C insulation, creates bumpers to hold the painting securely
Right: The finished box, with photos of the work, cossets the painting during shipping and then serves as protective storage in a gallery's racks, as well as providing safe transit from gallery to collector's destination. JM photos

Susan Lasch Krevitt If your piece is dimensional/sculpture, build the inner box of rigid foam first then use softer foam on four sides as well as the top to create a snug fit. Before you ship, give it a gentle shake to make sure there is no movement. Have the gallery let the box 'rest' unpacked for a day, then unpack it.

Karen Hubacher I consulted with my husband, an engineer, about temperature protection and he recommended I ask the collector to let the package sit in his home for 24 hours to acclimate it before opening. Worked perfectly!

Leslie Neumann A few museums I've worked with actually have a "waiting room" where the art comes in from the truck, is slowly cooled or heated for a day in that room until it reaches the temperature of the galleries inside the museum.

Graceann Warn I write up an unpacking and packing artwork sheet that I email the client a few days before delivery.

Lorrie Fredette I worked for UPS at the main hub in Indianapolis loading the semi-trucks. While it has been over 15 years since I worked for them, this is what I know from that experience:
. There was no A/C in the hub during the summer, and the temperature in the semis was often over 80 degrees when we loaded
. The loading of boxes and packages begins at 3 p.m. and goes until the facility is empty of packages (meaning everything is on a truck)
. The smaller your package the better. Small packages are sorted out and handled a bit differently
. The boxes are stacked like a wall in the back of a truck. The goal is to create a tight fitting and interlocking wall so everything travels well

. On average, there will be 10 to 12 people who have handled your package during the shipping process—two people at the shipping venue, one UPS driver, one or two truck unloaders, two line workers, one or two loaders, one or two sublocation unloaders/loaders, one more UPS driver. That's a lot of people!
. The hubs have a huge system of conveyor belts. Your package can easily become torn up, stuck, or fall off
. Go for the least amount of time in transit, because it means reduced contact with people and automation. Safety first, people!
.  Follow the thoughtful suggestions and experiences listed by our colleagues here and you have the best opportunity of success

Jane Guthridge I spoke with one of my galleries about shipping and thought I'd pass on their thoughts: They don't use FedEx as they have had many issues with them. They use UPS for within the U.S., because they have had fewer problems with damage, and they can insure for the full amount. They will insure for up to $50,000. She said claims were not an issue and they reimburse for shipping costs as well. I did find out that UPS only insures beyond $100 if they pack the work. The gallery said they have a fantastic UPS store near them, so I'm sure that is a factor.

They use DHL for international shipments as they will insure internationally. They have a gallery policy, but it does not insure outside the U.S.

Graceann Warn I have used UPS 80% of the time for 30 years. I have had good results with them. I have never had to make a damage claim and I ship a lot. I was hesitant to tell of my experience because it seems some of you have had the opposite. Perhaps I'm just lucky! Sometimes I use FedEx if they are faster (ground). Lately I'm shipping via freight due to size and quantity that I ship and I'm trying both companies out for that. So far so good.

Fed Ex has a cool new Freight option where they provide the boxes and then charge a flat rate based upon zones. You can put up to 1200 pounds in each box, which I am a little dubious of but no matter. I go 250 pounds, max. I have studio insurance which covers shipping freight just in case.

Patricia Dusman I have shipped UPS ground for years. Large work too. I line boxes with insulation and ship on a Monday. I don't like the fact that Fed Ex ground uses independent contractors. I have had less luck in tracking things too. I feel more comfortable with UPS.

Elizabeth Harris I'm curious what value others assign a piece on the shipping form. Does it still matter if you have other insurance coverage for your work?

Patricia Dusman I don't insure. It's been discussed many times before but unless you bring it to Fed Ex or UPS for them to pack and insure it's nearly impossible to get your claim paid.

Jane Guthridge My gallery said that claims with UPS were not an issue and they reimbursed for shipping costs as well as insurance value. They insure because they have to pay the artist fee, but also they lose money from the sale as well so they insure for the full retail price.

Graceann Warn I insure up to the deductible ($500) of my studio insurance which covers work in transit.

1 comment:

  1. How do you quote shipping cost on your website, given the many factors (destination, weight,dimensions, boxing)?