If you are an artist who is getting ready for an exhibition across the country, then you may be concerned about how you will transport your artwork. If you are flying to the exhibition, then it simply does not make sense to try to slip paintings into your luggage. This is especially true if you have stretched oil canvases that need to be delivered to the gallery. One of the easiest solutions to this conundrum is to unstretch, roll, and ship the artwork in a mailing tube. Keep reading to find out how to do this.
Preparing The Artwork
It can be difficult to judge the thickness or diameter of your painting after it has been rolled, so you should begin by rolling the painting first and then purchasing a tube for it. Find a large surface to work on. Your floor will work just fine as long as you place a tablecloth on the floor. If you do not have a cloth, then purchase a large tube of craft or butcher paper at your local art store to cover the floor.
You will also need one or several large pieces of chlorine- or chemical-free archival paper. This type of paper does not contain any chlorine from the bleaching process. Oil paints contain linseed oil in most cases, and this oil is acidic. This is especially true if cold pressed linseed oil is used to make the paint. An acidic paint next to a paper that contains alkaline chlorine may lead to a chemical reaction and possible damage to the painting. A smooth paper without any texture is also best for shipping purposes.
Place your archival paper across the tablecloth or butcher paper. Center your stretched canvas on top of the paper and make sure the paper is at least 3 or 4 inches larger on every side. Place the painting painted side down on the paper. If the canvas frame has stretcher strips in the corners of the artwork, then slip these strips out of the frame first. Afterwards, use a flathead screwdriver to start removing the staples from the frame. Start at the corners where there are several staples to hold the folded corners in place. Remove the staples from the sides of the frame next.
Rolling And Shipping
Once the staples are released from the frame, gently fold the edges and corners down onto the archival paper. Place more archival paper on top of the canvas. Once the canvas is covered, roll the artwork. Start at a short end. For example, if the artwork is 8 inches by 10 inches, you will want to roll from one 8 inch side to the other. You will want to roll so the front of the artwork is facing outward. This will help to keep the oil paint from bending as severely, and this will reduce the amounts of cracks that form in the paint. If cracks do form, then the openings will fill in as the painting is unrolled.
Use your hands and roll the painting, making sure that both pieces of paper stay in place. Try not to roll the painting tight, or this may cause cracks as well. Once you are done rolling, use a piece or art or archival tape to secure the seam.
You will now need to take your painting to your local packing or shipping supply store. This type of store will have shipping tubes for sale in a variety of sizes. Choose the tube that allows the rolled painting to sit inside with about one-quarter to one-eighth of an inch of space on each side. This will allow you to add bubble wrap around the painting to cushion it. You can also purchase tubes that come with cushioned liners already inside of them. You also have the option of choosing cardboard or PVC tubes. While PVC will offer better protection, you should keep in mind that the material will weigh more. If you want to ship using the United States Postal Service, then the weight may increase the price of shipping, which depends on the weight, size, and the delivery location.