Thursday, May 9, 2013

Packing Small Unframed Pastels for Shipping

I'd been meaning to create this post for a while now. I've had these pics since last summer!

Now and then I get asked how I mail unframed pastels and keep them safe. I've actually been sending unframed pastel commissioned portraits for years, most of which are on paper, and matted, usually 16x20. In the case of those, I put a piece of glassine or wax paper between the portrait and the mat, slide that into a Clear Bag, and wrap the whole thing up with plenty of thick cardboard until I have a flat 'box' about 17x21x1. I've never had any arrive damaged.

For the small pastel paintings that I post (almost) daily and auction off, I have a approach that I modified from Carol Marine's method of shipping her small oil paintings. I just add glassine and skip the little tabs that hold the lid off the painting.

NOTE: This method is for paintings that are done on a board, or on paper mounted on a board. The same method can be used for a pastel on paper; just hinge-tape the paper to a backing board, cover with glassine, and follow the rest of the steps...
 First, trim a piece of glassine to the height of the board, and carefully place the painting face down on the waxy side, and tape the glassine to the back.

 Cover with a piece of foam board the same size as the painting (or backing board) and tape it in place.

 Now cut 2 larger pieces of foam board for the top and bottom of your outer package, and some 1/2 inch thick gatorboard for support around these over-sized edges. Tape the gatorboard supports into the edge spaces with double-sided tape.
 (NOTE: If your painting is on the 3/16" gatorboard, and your foam board topper is also the standard 3/16" size, the 1/2" gatorboard supports will be just the right height. If your painting is on 1/2" gatorboard, or some other size, you'll just need to adjust your formula and to build your edge supports the right height to support the lid, without leaving too much wiggle room.)
 Tape the lid in place.

 Now you have a sturdy 'sandwich' with the painting safe inside.
Wrap this sandwich in some small bubble wrap and slide into the mailing envelope!

NOTE: I've since gotten into the habit of ordering the 9.5" x 12.5" sturdy Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes, and use those for all 5x7's and 6x6's, and if I make the sandwich edges narrow enough, even the 6x8's will fit. I also purchased a roll of the slightly-sticky bubble wrap, the kind that will wrap around an object and hold on! I love it!

If you're shipping a larger unframed pastel painting, I would follow all these same steps, but I'd use the large bubble wrap instead of the small and then wrap in cardboard. OR make an investment in some Airfloat Printpads. They're designed to protect and would probably last through a few uses.

Let me know if this is helpful!


  1. Thanks for sharing!! Perfect timing. I have a commissioned painting that will have to be mailed, and I had no knowledge on how I was going to do it.
    Rita Ball

  2. The generosity and sharing of your vast knowledge is appreciated by me and many others, I'm sure. Thank you so much!! Happy Mother's Day.

  3. thanks so much for sharing this great info--I've recently begun doing pastels and was wondering about shipping with glassine or wax paper--great tips!

  4. Glad to be of help! And Happy Mom's Day right back to you (to any of you moms..!)

  5. It was wondering if I could use this write-up on my other website. Shipping to Australia

    1. Hi Greg, feel free to use however you wish! If you include a link to my blog I appreciate it! :)

  6. Thanks so much for this very informative post, Rita. I'm still nervous when mailing out my work- visions of bent drawings or broken glass fill my head. I always tell my clients its like sending a child out into the world : ) Anyway, thanks again and enjoy your day!

    1. You're very welcome, Andrew! Glad to be helpful!

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