Your work has been accepted in an exhibit. Now it’s time to prepare and pack it up for shipping. What is the best way to do this? What do you need to do? Priscilla Alden and I recently co-curated a tapestry exhibit: Tapestry…The New Wave (TTNW) in Maine. We had several tapestries shipped to us. The range of packing was a surprise. We received everything from work in a box with no protection from the elements to well conceived and executed packing.It inspired me to write this post.
Here are some elements to consider:
Label Your Work
It is important to have a label of some kind on your work that will not come off easily. I used to make a handwritten label using muslin and a permanent marker similar to Minna Rothman’s label above. Sara Hotchkiss’ commercially made label is simple, but effective. Frances Crowe uses a hand stamp she had made up to make her labels. She stamps muslin and hand sews the label to the back of her work.
One of the entries for TTNW by Sue Pretty used labels printed on fabric then hand sewn onto the back of the tapestries. It is very clean and professional looking so I have started to do the same. All you need is a printer. The product is produced by June Tailor Inc.:Sew-In Fabric Sheets for inkjet Printers. The package includes 10 sheets of a white fabric adhered to paper. You simply design your label in any word app and size it appropriately to print. It only works with inkjet printers. I purchased it from Joann Fabrics in the US and it is also available online.
You need to decide what information you want on your label. Below is a list of possibilities:
- Designer name
- Weaver’s name
- Tapestry Title
- Date completed
- Studio name and address
- Telephone number
- Website or other socila media
Label Your Packing Materials
If you want to have all your packing materials returned you need to label everything. This includes any fabric bags, plastic bag or sheeting and bubble wrap or paper. It works best if you write directly on the materials with indelible marker. Sewn on printed labels work well on fabric bags. When 30 or 40 works of art are being unpacked by several people things are bound to get a bit out of order no matter how careful and organized people can be.
A few more things to consider:
- Have two copies of any forms required, one for yourself and one for the venue.
- Shipping address clearly marked on your box and any return shipping information required.
- Return shipping payment and label if required
- Protect your tapestry with appropriate coverings, including a final layer of plastic, in case your package gets left in the rain.
- Use an appropriate sized, strong, reuseable box or tube that is a bit larger than your work so you can add additional padding. If using a tube I recommend a screw top as opposed to a push in top. I once lost an item that went through customs. The push in plastic top was gone and in its place was clear tape barely covering the opening.
- Bubble wrap or paper is preferred. Don’t use plastic peanuts of any kind. They are messy and annoying.
When shipping overseas I always label my box and any paperwork: “Textile Sample to be returned to sender” This helps to avoid and taxes, but nothing is foolproof.
I encourage readers to write about your experience with shipping especially international shipping in the comments section below.