So you need to ship a print, either you’re giving it as a gift or you’ve made a sale or gotten into an exhibition, so congratulations!
Whenever possible it is preferable to deliver prints flat. This minimizes the amount of handling they undergo and with it the chance of scratching, denting, creasing or otherwise marring the print.
Unfortunately, the amount and size of packaging that would be required to ship most prints flat makes that economically unfeasible. (Shippers use what’s called “balloon pricing” where you pay a rate that compensates for the heavier cargo your large, light package displaced.
So the only option left is to get rolling.
In order to cater to all learning styles we’ve laid out this content in multiple ways. In addition to step by step pictures and instructions we’ve also included a slideshow at the bottom of this page.
You Will Need
A print (we can help with that!)
Gloves to handle the print. Note: unpowdered latex or nitrile gloves are preferred over traditional cotton as the latter can shed fibers and mar delicate prints. (https://www.uline.com/BL_973/Uline-Industrial-Nitrile-Gloves )
Glassine to wrap the print (https://www.uline.com/BL_1973/Glassine-Paper
A sturdy shipping tube with interior dimensions 2-4 inches longer than your print and at least 3 inches in diameter. ( https://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-3127/Tubes/Kraft-Mailing-Tubes-with-End-Caps-4-x-48-080-thick )
A piece of paper long enough to encircle the rolled print as “belly band” (We use the strips of paper from our nozzle checks)
Scotch tape to secure the belly band
Packing tape to secure the tube end caps (
Carefully wrap the print in glassine paper (any paper will do in a pinch as long as it’s smooth and large enough but most glassine has the added bonus of coming in practically sized rolls and being archival.
Place the print on a sheet of glassine twice it’s size in the long dimension and fold it over so that the print is totally covered.
Then take the excess and fold it over.
Secure that with a few small
pieces of scotch tape. Make sure the tape is only ever touching glassine, so that when it’s opened only the wrapping is torn and not the print
Next place the wrapped print on the table and start gently rolling it with the grain of the paper (i.e. with its natural curl, the way it came off the roll).
The goal is not to get the print down to size on the first pass, but to gradually introduce the level of curl you need. It may take several passes but roll the print just a little tighter each time and you’ll be able to get it down to the size you need.
ADVANCED TECHNIQUE DO AT YOUR OWN RISK: It is also possible to carefully roll a print AGAINST the grain, so that the two cancel each other out and when the print is unwrapped it will naturally lie flat. Note this will only work if the print is in the tube for just a few days, otherwise you’re just reversing the curl of the paper.
Continue rolling the print down until there is just enough space for it to slide in and out of the tube without snagging, but close enough so that it can’t jostle around. Your ideal tube and print combo is sized so that it almost touches the inside of the tube, but is maybe a 16th of an inch from the walls and caps of the tube on all sides, we want it to slide in and out smoothly but not move around inside the tube.
Be ready to apply your belly band. This is a piece of paper which will keep the print rolled at the appropriate diameter without exerting any pressure on the print. (Remember your belly band will add a tiny bit to the size of the rolled print so roll just a smidge smaller than need to prevent it from snagging.
You can either hold the print with one hand and apply the belly band with the other, or, with a bit of planning, have the belly band laid out with tape on it so you roll the print into it in one smooth motion. Write “TEAR HERE” on the band so that your client knows how to open it.
If you’re lucky there will be enough excess glassine that it will fill the small 2 inch voids at the end of the tube. If not, simply take some scrap glassine or bubble wrap and fill them.
Now slide your rolled print in, it should slide in smoothly without getting caught on the sides, without having any extra room to knock around,
When you shake the tube vigorously you should not hear any movement
Of course if you have a enough on your plate managing your online business, we at Solas Studio can do all of this for you. We offer fine art printing and shipping right from our studio. All you have to do is come in and sign the prints! And we can print on demand for repeat clients as well, only purchase stock when it’s already been paid for!