Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tips on Shipping and Framing Encaustics

Tips on packaging, shipping, framing and hanging encaustic art – by Douglas Mehrens

After 6 years of receiving, hanging, storing and returning artwork - shipping over 500 pieces of encaustic art from the Institute, I would like to share a few things I have learned. These are of coarse my own opinions, and most of this you might already know and follow.


1. If you are not on a dead line, save your money and ship it 3 day ground, Fed-x or UPS. It’s basically handled the same way except it is transported at a lower altitude and arrives without a weekend interruption. If you ship often, then consider an account which will lower the cost.

2. Insurance is expensive and if your artwork is package right, labeled properly, (put fragile, art, handle with care, on all sides of the box, larger the better – (NEVER SHIP WITHOUT THESE LEBELS), then you should feel secure to take out the standard amount that is covered with the shipping bill. However if you want to be fully covered, FedEx covers up to $1000 only, where UPS will cover as high as you want to go. I find that Fed-X and UPS very seldom loose a package. I have never had an experience of a lost package, but have had 2 experiences of damaged artwork. In both cases, the artwork was not packaged properly so the insurance would not have covered them.

3. If at all possible do not ship on a Thursday or Friday. If you can, ship on a Monday or Tuesday. This makes sure your beautiful art is not stuck in a truck somewhere over the weekend. This can be especially hazardous in extreme heat or extreme cold.


If you love your art, treat it lovingly. Packaging is the #1 priority. When you hand-deliver your art anywhere, wrap it and put it in a box just like you were shipping it. BUT when you are shipping it, if you want to avoid problems - double box it and follow these steps.

1. Wrap the art in wax paper using colored tape, not clear so the person unwrapping it can gently undo the paper.

2. Wrap the piece with large bubble wrap preferably, not small ones. Tape the same way, at least 2 inches on all sides.

3. Choose a box that your artwork will fit in snug if you can, if not put the wonderful static, messy peanuts all around it. Or, build your own structure out of foam core, etc that it will fit snugly in.

4. Close the box, tape it and label the box with your name, address, email phone, etc. on the out side. Also, what painting fits inside, as you may be shipping more than one. Also helpful is directions as to how to repack your artwork, like arrows, etc. Especially if your piece has a 3 dimensional quality to it. Don’t assume that someone will remember how they unpacked your piece when there sometimes are over 50 paintings to unpack within a week for a show.

5. THE OUTER BOX should not be a box that is from the grocery store, or some other flimsy box. Use a double thick coriaged box; choose one that is larger than your first box at least 8’ all around. Pour in 8” of peanuts in the bottom, place your box in the middle and pour all around it, to the top, then tap it a few times to get them settled and fill the voids. (large bubble wrap works well too) Then seal the box completely with strong tape, label with all the proper labels - fragile, handle with care, and use the store-bought ones that are large and bright. They work much better than using a felt tip and printing it on the box. Be sure to put them on all sides.

6. Last but not least, be sure to label your artwork. You may have put a piece of paper in the packing that is the label to your piece and you may have sent label information to the gallery…..but things float away like socks from a dryer and you need to have label information somewhere on the painting.


This is for the artists that understand a framed piece quite often is worth more than an unframed one. Also, a framed artwork usually sells easier than unframed ones (at least in my experience). However, there is something to be said for allowing the buyer to purchase your piece at a lower price and have it framed to suit their needs. Again, my experience is most buyers wouldn’t know what to pick out or just don’t want to bother with having to take it to a framer.

Many encaustic artists finish the sides of their paintings in wax, allowing the creativity to flow out all sides. It is contemporary in look and some of these are good as stand-alone art. You have to be the one to judge that for yourselves. However there is one problem in this style for galleries who store your artwork. Even thought most storage spaces are covered with carpet or soft surfaces, there still is a big risk that when theses pieces are set on their sides, there is potential for chipping.

If you do frame your piece, it is better to set the art back from the front of the frame at least 1/8 of an inch. If it is even with the frame, then there is possibility that it may get damaged. For those of you who beautifully paint on all of the sides, a good option is to float your art inside the frame 2 – 3 inches within a border around the art, so the sides can be seen. If you have never done this, take one of your small pieces to a framer and have them show you what it would look like. You might be happily surprised.


The best looking piece of art on a wall is one that is level, and parallel with the wall not on an angle. With most constructed encaustic art panels, the piece can be hung by its frame. It takes two level nails, and when hung – the artwork is level and does not move. If you use an eye hook and wire ALWAYS put the eye hooks inside the frame not on the outside. This way it will hang flush on the wall. The saw tooth hanging clips are really hard to deal with, again because of the way the painting cannot hang flat on the wall.

ALWAYS sign your art. Collectors look for signatures and often decline a sale for lack of signature. A signature can be on the side as well as the back, if you are not inclined to sign on the front. A date when the artwork was finished is also appreciated. Included should always be a label on the back with your name, title, size, date painted, price and description of the piece. Also a phone or email address is always appreciated. This label can be taken off by the buyer if they want, but the label also needs to be secured well enough that it doesn’t come off when transporting.

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