Whats the best way to send painting across the country?
June 5, 2009 10:02 AM   Subscribe

Whats an inexpensive way to send 2 paintings from Boston to San Francisco?

One painting is 4 ft. x 5 ft. and the other is 1-1/2 ft. x 2 ft. The bigger one is oil on canvas, the other is acrylic on canvas, and they are both stretched on wooden frames about 2 in. thick. They're a gift for friends and don't have a high monetary value, so I'm definitely not looking for museum quality shipping. I'd prefer to spend under 100$ each.

Is there a specialized service that will get them there undamaged? How much would that cost?

Would it be possible to use something like Fedex or UPS, or just the regular postal service? How should I package them to avoid damage? Do I need special stickers on the box saying "be careful!" or something like that?

If you've ever sent paintings through the mail, I'd like to hear about your experiences.
posted by askmeacct to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put them in a double thick mirror box with padding on the corners. Write "DO NOT LAY FLAT on them.

UPS and Fedex shouldn't have a problem with them. Th maximum "length + girth" size can be 165 inches for most carriers (130 in for USPS).

You are well within the size limits for the carriers.
posted by bensherman at 10:22 AM on June 5, 2009

FWIW, back in 1995 UPS shipped a bunch of framed prints (in glass) from LA to Tokyo without incident for me. These were packed quite well in double boxes &c. by a pro packing shop.

Due to the glass I couldn't get insurance on the shipment but I was younger and more risk-taking then.
posted by @troy at 10:30 AM on June 5, 2009

I worked for an art business, and we always shipped things like this unstretched in a tube via UPS with insurance. This was a very inexpensive way to go.

You might want to compare prices to shipping them boxed vs. unstretched. The savings might allow you to ship them to a local frame shop who could re-stretch them for your friends (you could ship the stretcher bars in a second tube).
posted by extrabox at 10:46 AM on June 5, 2009

Yeh, I'm an active collector and anything stretched will incurr additional cost solely due to size.

I'd suggest taking them off the stretchers and shipping the paintings in rolled up in a cardboard tube. Even with insurance this will be cheaper than shipping on the stretchers.

Use the money you save to pay a local to re-stretch the paintings. I pretty much always acquire non local work this way.
posted by Mutant at 10:50 AM on June 5, 2009

The one thing I learned about packing art (both from personal experience and from an uncle who packs large - like huge - pieces of art and sculpture all day long at work) is that you don't want your art touching the box on the outside. Basically what is said above, double boxing, foam spacers between the art and the outside box, something like that. The outside box is frequently punctured and you want a buffer between that and what you are shipping.
posted by magnetsphere at 10:51 AM on June 5, 2009

Having moved from NYC to SF and shipped many boxes, I would recommend that if you're shipping boxes to buy the insurance, even if it's to insure the minimum of $100 worth of value. When the UPS lady came to pick up the boxes, I noticed that she took all the insured boxes first and treated them VERY carefully, while the rest of the boxes got run-of-the-mill treatment.
posted by choochoo at 10:57 AM on June 5, 2009

Thanks you all for your help.

If I decide to ship the paintings unstretched, How would I go about finding a local frame shop in SF that would restretch them for me? Would my friends have to go and pick it up at the frame shop or could they be delivered?

Alternatively, does anyone know of a pro packing shop in Boston that would help me package the paintings still on their stretchers?

Thanks again!
posted by askmeacct at 2:34 PM on June 5, 2009

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