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Packing Screen Prints For Shipping: 4 Reasons Your Artwork Arrived With Damage

by April Carlson

Collectible screen prints are popular with buyers and sellers across the United States, and these collectors often choose to ship prints to other people by courier. It isn't particularly expensive to use a courier service for these transactions, but if you don't pack the prints properly, they are liable to end up at their destination with signs of damage. Here are four reasons why.

The tube you chose was too small or too thin

You need to buy the right tube for your print, and it's easy to underestimate the tube size you need. The rolled up print should fit comfortably inside the tube with extra room at the top and bottom for packing material. As such, the height of the tube needs to exceed the height of the tallest edge of the print by several inches.

What's more, while a courier will look after your property, you need to remember that packages can still sometimes get wet from rain. As such, you must make sure the wall of the tube is thick enough to offer protection from moisture. Professional screen printing businesses now increasingly use thicker, longer tubes to protect their products, so it's worth learning from their example.

You didn't use the right wrapping paper

Screen printing is a delicate process. The finished product is often rich in color, but the surface of the print is susceptible to various types of damage. For example, if you touch a screen print with a greasy finger, you may leave an unwanted mark on the image.

Wrapping paper can help you avoid these problems. You can use brown craft paper to protect the back of the print, but you'll need more delicate acid-free tissue paper to protect the front image. Choose a piece large enough to cover the entire surface, or use two smaller pieces that you lay carefully next to each other.

The tissue paper prevents you scuffing the surface of the print as you roll it. Of course, you also need to know how to roll the print properly.

You didn't roll the print correctly

Experienced collectors know how to roll a print without damaging it, but it can take time to perfect the technique. To roll a print safely, you need to apply enough pressure to keep the rolled print in place, but if you apply too much pressure, you can can damage and crease the paper. Collectors sometimes refer to the damage that over-zealous handling causes as 'gorilla grab' because the print ends up with marks that look like a gorilla grabbed it!

Make sure your hands are clean and dry, and apply a firm, even grip. Make sure you hold the print in both hands. It's important to not roll the print too tightly. This can cause creases and scuffs. If you get it wrong the first time, let the print gently unroll. Don't let the print spring out of place, or you may inadvertently damage the corners of the paper.

Once you successfully roll the print, fasten it in place with secure tape. Make sure you apply the tape solely to the brown paper you rolled the print in. It's also a good idea to fold over one corner of each piece of tape. This just makes it easier for the recipient to undo the roll.

You didn't secure the print properly inside the tube

Once rolled, the print still needs further protection inside the tube. Bubble wrap is the best way to protect the precious paper. You may not need to roll the bubble wrap round the entire print. Pieces of bubble wrap fixed to each end of the rolled screen print will stop the paper moving around in transit, which could damage the edges of the print.

When you place the protected print in the tube, fasten the end cap, and gently shake the tube. If the print moves around inside, it isn't secure enough. Make sure you seal the end caps of the tube at either end with packing tape. These caps can sometimes pop off, exposing your precious print to possible damage.

It's easy to damage a screen print, so if you're going to ship one, you need to secure the package properly. Talk to a courier service like Morningside Courier Systems for more advice and for information about where you can buy the right packing supplies.