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Thread: Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

  1. #21

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    Old photo paper boxes also work great.

    I think this is an iffy proposition. I sent a submission to a magazine in England and made the mistake to send the prints in a photo paper box. The sent me an e mail saying the box had arrived bent and had creased some of the prints. Fortunatelly some of the prints were fine and they published 3.

    I have come to the conclusion that the mail in any country acts as collaborators so that if anything can be done to the package it will be done, either leaving or delivering.... :-)

  2. #22
    Photographer, Machinist, etc. Jeffrey Sipress's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Santa Barbara, CA

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    Tubes are certainly controversial, but using a larger diameter helps the loading and unloading. Consider using PVC or ABS pipe that can be had at a local plumbing supply. Use 3, 4, 0r even 5" diameter, depending on the size of the print. Pretty indestructable and cheap.

  3. #23

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    I've used 3" tubes and 4" tubes. 4" tubes are way better, and I'll never order another batch of 3" tubes. I'll probably try 5" tubes next time.

  4. #24

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    For rolled prints, I package them the way prints were delivered to me from Calypso Imaging, often reusing the packaging. They typically send the prints rolled onto the paper core tubes from their Lightjet. I've adapted the process slightly, using the tubes and 36" craft paper. Craft paper is taped to the tube, rolled one complete time, print is placed face up on the craft paper and then rolled up inside the craft paper. Multiple prints can be rolled end to end in sequence (you just need more craft paper). Once rolled up, the craft paper is taped in three places along the length of the tube. (I put a piece of tape on the receiving portion of the craft paper as well to accept the tape so that it can be attached and removed without losing its tackiness) with the leading edge of the tape folded under for easy grasping. The entire tube is then rolled in bubble wrap or closed cell foam sheets (again reusing packing materials from Calypso or my Epson printer), the square core plugs put into the ends of the tube and back it goes into the paper box the tube arrived in.

    I also use this method for delivering shipments of posters. I've wrapped stacks of as many as 75 posters on a tube. With prints, though, one needs to be careful that there is no bump in the rolling (hence the rolling prints sequentially rather than stacked if possible), as this will transfer to the print surface.

    Most folks I know ship their flat prints in wood containers. Wooden frame, plywood or masonite sides, deck screws. Secure, but very heavy.

    For shipping flat prints (framed or unframed), I've crafted my own lightweight, reusable shipping crates out of Coroplast (plastic cardboard). The design is similar on the outside to the ABS ones made by Light Impressions, but inside, I have a wood frame made of 1-by firring strips with Simpson corners. The coroplast is screwed onto the wood frame with sheet metal screws. Corners are riveted and reinforced with ABS. The prints are placed in Clearbags and taped to sheets of coroplast that match the interior dimensions of the container. I alternate the Coroplast sheets with 3/4 inch foam sheets to insulate the prints from shock and perforations.

    If I am shipping framed prints, I cut strips of 3/4 foam to "frame" the print within the container.

    The crates are secured with nylon webbing and Fastex clips and taped at the corners for extra insurance. Takes me no more than ten minutes to package a shipment of prints safely. A prepaid return shipping label is included inside the package to get them back to me. The Coroplast runs $13 for a 4x8 sheet. Firring strips are $1.50 each for 10 feet. Simpson corners are less than a buck each. Foam sheets are $6 for a 4x8 sheet. It takes me two to three hours to make one, which lasts and lasts.

    I've not uploaded any jpegs to this site, but happy to send snaps of the shipping cases if folks are interested.

  5. #25

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    Plywood and duct tape! I buy the cheapest plywood paneling I can find at the local home improvement store. The reason for using paneling vice plain plywood is the paneling has a finish on it which makes it smooth, splinter-free, and keeps things cleaner. I cut it to the appropriate size, a couple inches larger than the item being shipped. Sandwich the prints between two sheets of paneling then seal the edges with duct tape.

    The prints themselves are placed inside archival poly bags before being sandwiched between the paneling.

  6. #26
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    What about shipping framed work to a show? This is where I've had my only disaster (on the return shipment). This situation adds the element of the work being framed, and also the element of the gallery having to re-pack everything and ship it back to you. My consignment form has a blurb saying "you have to pack it up the same way i packed it," but this doesn't always get taken seriously.

  7. #27

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    I admire the simplicity of a couple pieces of plywood and duck tape for shipping unframed prints. But for framed prints, the most common solution seems to be the wood crate made of plywood (or masonite) with sides constructed of 1 by wood strips. The plywood is attached to the 1 by frame with deck screws. The problem with this method is primarily the weight of the crate, and the screw holes get looser with use and some screws back out enroute to the destination.

    For major exhibits, there are firms that construct crates with multiple slots for prints. One gallery we deal with uses a company called Freight and Crate ( which specializes in shipping artwork. If you live in a major metropolis full of museums, these types of firms are easier to locate.

    We also used mirror boxes (available at places like U-Haul) and lots of bubble wrap to ship prints framed in plex in our early years. Worked like a charm, but did require care in packing.

    The motivation for my recent method was that I had a few unframed prints damaged by my major courier (FEDEX). I thought they were adequately packaged, but it didn't keep them from getting bent. So, clearly they weren't adequately packaged. In response, I built the Coroplast shipping containers I mentioned above. Print packing time went from 45 minutes to 5 minutes, with the only downsides being time to construct the package the first time, and cost of shipping to get it returned to me with each order. For the time I save in packing, I am happy to do it this way.

    There is a limit to the size of a crate one can construct with the Coroplast, which typically comes in a 4x8 sheet, though I did locate larger sheets, but would have had to special order a large inventory to get them at an affordable rate.

    For my own framed prints, the above mentioned cases have worked wonderfully. They are very quick to pack. For a recent pair of prints destined for a travelling group exhibit, I custom crafted a case as I would normally, taking into account extra space to framed the frames in foam bricks. The bricks were all marked (A, B, C, and D) as were the spacers designed to keep the frame faces and plex from rubbing. A clear set of instructions made it easy for the next person to repack the crate, snap the fastex clips and it was on its way. I am guessing it took them no more than five minutes to read the instructions, put the prints and foam in the crate and snap the fastex clips. When the show was concluded, the prints were returned in perfect condition.

    Another technique we use to prevent the plex from abrasion enroute is to wrap the entire piece in palette wrap. Amazing stuff!

  8. #28

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Chapel Hill NC

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints


    Where do you get Coroplast (and what is it). Also what are simpson corners and where do you get them?


  9. #29

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    Locally I get Coroplast from GE Polymershapes, who supplies everything from Acrylic to ABS. If you look under "plastics" in your local phone book, you may find a supplier. Coroplast is constructed much like cardboard with a honeycomb design. I find it is not quite as stiff as some cardboard, but lightweight, waterproof and generally more resistant to wear incurred in repeated use. A lot of sign shops use it to mount signs on. Because it constructed like cardboard, when fabricating the shipping crates, I treat it like I would cardboard, scoring and then folding. By making sure the grain of the honeycombs for the lid is 90 degrees off from that of the base, I obtain some extra tensile rigidity. The wood frame and the 3/4 foam panels and nylon webbing provide the additional rigidity. I reinforce the corners of my lids with strips of ABS. Everything is either screwed together, or in the case of the corners, riveted and then screwed to the wood frame.

    Simpson corners are available at most hardware stores. Simpson manufactures a number of metal fasteners desiged to speed construction, such as joist supports. The pieces I use are 90 degree angles with a lip, stamped with Simpson Strong-Tie RTA 1.

    If I get a chance, I'll post some jpegs.

  10. #30

    Shipping and Mailing Photographic Prints

    I built a little web gallery of the crate specifications. Lets see if this link works:


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