Protective Sleeves

Protective sleeves form part of the shipping and handling of the art world. Moving artwork out into the outside world, away from our studios saves on storage space. It also helps with sales as other people get to see it. Personally, I do not wish to be my own best collector…

Sleeves protect

Having spent many hours, years and decades perfecting my art, protecting the work increases in importance. Protection begins with isolation coats and varnish, or mounting on archival matt followed by glass and framing. Then there is the shipping.

Instead of Bubble Wrap

In the past, I have used bubble wrap. This practice has several inherent dangers. Eventually the bubbles disappear, especially where they are most needed, near corners. Corners take the brunt of moving. In warmer climates than mine the bubbles leave their perfect configuration imbedded in the varnish. Not a serious problem on surfaces loaded with texture, nonetheless, not what the artist ordered!

6mm Plastic Vapour Barrier

Recently I bought a roll of 6mm plastic sheeting used for vapour barriers in house construction. It is a lot stiffer and more durable than bubble wrap. The surface is smooth. Bubble wrap has moved into another position on the line of shipping necessities. Instead of next to the painting it serves as crucial protection in the middle layer between boxes ready to ship to other cities. Within driving distance the protective sleeves provide more than adequate protection.

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Nice and straight.
sleeves, protection, blog, mixed media, plastic,
On the floor and crooked.

Floor space

My studio is busy. I am thankful for the floor space my gallery provides for large scale cutting and shaping. Placing the roll of plastic sheeting on the floor I corrected the edge to ninety degrees and placed a small painting next to it. This gave me the measurement I required for the sleeves I intended to make.

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Measuring the next.
blog, sleeves, protection, mixed media, plastic
Measured out.


Unfortunately, I did cut all the 12×12” sleeves out at the beginning instead of starting with the biggest canvases. As a result, I have a lot of left over sheeting that would have done well around the smaller paintings if I had left them for last.

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Smaller cuts.
blog, sleeves, protection, mixed media, plastic
Cut and stacked.

Assembly line cutting

Using the roll as a straight edge, I ran a felt pen along the line and cut out the first strip. This became my pattern for the remaining strips in this size. Pulling the plastic around the painting I marked off the necessary length then used this as my pattern for the smaller pieces. I ended up with sixteen 12×12 sleeves.

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Placing the join in the middle.

Avoiding the strain

To avoid strain on an edge, I placed the join in the middle of one side and used packaging tape to secure the plastic. The bottom of the sleeve received another length of tape and then I turned the whole thing inside out.

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Sealing the outside.
blog, sleeves, protection, mixed media, plastic
Grabbing the corners.



Inside out

The purpose of turning out the inside is to leave a clean surface next to the painting. Joins are never perfect and the glue off the tape can damage the work if it comes in contact. Once inside out I placed another strip of tape on the side joint and inserted the painting.

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Taping the bottom.
blog, sleeves, protection, mixed media, plastic, shipping
Squaring off the bottom edge.

Last bit of tape

The edge of the painting helped me position the plastic so the final strip of tape could finish off the bottom of the sleeve. Only one more thing: labelling.

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Big enough to see.
blog, sleeves, protection, mixed media, plastic, shipping
Label in place


Packing tape is easily removable from the protective sleeves should the label need to be changed. I begin with my name followed by the name of the painting, the media, the inventory code and my address. I cover the entire surface of the label with tape to protect it from moisture. Done.

Shipped for Show

Just finished delivering a painting to the VASA Member Show. The Opening Reception is on Thursday night at 6pm. Looking forward to it!




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