Building shipping boxes is an inevitable part of being artist if one wishes to expand one’s universe. Different circumstances require different materials. For example, I shipped two paintings to Vancouver a few years ago. They both sold. Since I had made the box from plastic corrugated board and dense Styrofoam, I would have liked it returned to me. Empty. The cost was prohibitive, so I left it in Vancouver. I use paper cardboard for that venue these days.
Building shipping boxes
Since the Alberta Society’s selected one of my paintings for their traveling “Earth” show, I decided to again engage in building shipping boxes for the event. Sturdy, lightweight and difficult to penetrate, plastic corrugated sheets coupled with dense two-inch Styrofoam, although expensive, provide exactly what I need . First of all, I set about calculating the measurements. My painting is a thirty-by-thirty-inch canvas on gallery wrap stretchers meaning it is two inches thick. So with two-inch foam on each side, leaving enough leeway to accommodate the thickness of the corrugated board and the bubble wrapped artwork I would need a shell width of six and a half inches. The sides would need to be thirty-four inches square.
Lowering cost of building shipping boxes
Part of building shipping boxes is finding ways to cut cost. Years ago, when plastic corrugated sheets cost around ten dollars, I bought about ten for displaying my students’ work at the end of the year. I had scored the four-foot by eight-foot sheets down the middle so they would bend in half and create a solid triangle on an eight-foot table. Since then, I have been slowly using them for other things. As a result I reinforced the scored side with duct tape allowing them back into the useful category. As I put the box together the taped sides I carefully faced the repairs into the interior.
Exterior shell and interior lining
In addition to the exterior shell, building shipping boxes for artwork requires protective insulation against rough handling as they are transported from place to place. Cutting Styrofoam is easy with a sharp utility knife, a straight edge and the edge of a table to break away the unwanted remnant. I cut both sides of the foam in order to have a straight edge. This time the measurements formed around two side panels, thirty inches square. The ends, bottom and top each measured six inches wide with two end lengths of thirty inches and another two lengths of thirty-four inches for the top and bottom.
Putting it all together
Once everything is cut, I proceed to put the outer shell together with duct tape. I hinged and labeled the top panel so the workers can easily remove and replace the artwork as required. The Styrofoam stands loosely in the interior ready to receive the carefully wrapped artwork. Sealed and labeled appropriately, the work is ready to ship. Actually, building shipping boxes is fun. It is a break in my regular routine and gives time for the paint to dry.