Shipping internationally can be a "bucket of eels", says Andy Cooperman as he shares information on the difficulties of international shipping.
Don't let your boxes get lost in the confusion of customs, forms, VAT, and other taxes. Shipping across international borders can be expensive with consequences. Plan ahead with all the proper forms (in quadruplicate). Dot your "I"s and cross your "T's" at every step of the way, or your packages may be lost at sea in a bureaucracy of paperwork and unexpected expenses.
At the end of the presentation listen to more information from the audience about shipping to Canada and returning to the U.S. offering additional international shipping tips and explanations.
During the SNAG Professional Development Seminar about shipping several of the speakers gave excellent tips for making and using a crate to ship their art or craft. In this post, I am digesting these great crate tips into one post.
CRATE TIP #1 Screws holding on the lid need to be long enough to screw into the solid wood of the body of the crate. I'd say at least 1/2" to 1" deep. Keep in mind that the lid may be used as a handle, or pushed one way or another as a crate is moved around. The crate may be shipped sideways or upside down. Will the lid stay on?
CRATE TIP #2 Leila Hamdan recommended marking the screws on the crate to indicate which screws should be unscrewed in order to remove the lid. Pure genius, maybe even obvious, but I never thought about it before. You don't want the exhibition sponsor to disassemble the entire crate when they only need to remove the lid.
CRATE TIP #3 Leila Hamdan recommended ADDING HANDLES to your crate to facilitate handling. Great idea! Even a small crate can be heavy or hard to carry. Handles could definitely help the shippers and handlers if the crate is in that middle ground where the crate is heavy but not so large that a forklift is needed.
CRATE TIP #4 Secure work inside the crate so it can't move. This was mentioned by Kim Cridler, Leila Hamdan, and Brigitte Martin. Movement inside a crate (or a box) is a recipe for disaster. Give the box or crate a shake. There should be no rattle sounds. Assume that the box will be turned on its side or upside down regardless of the UP arrows. Securing the work one way or another is a shipping necessity.
CRATE TIP #5 Do not enclose oil, liquids, or non-essential items in a crate with the artwork. In Leila Hamdan's lecture HORROR STORIES: Packing and Shipping Recommendations for Artistsshe showed a crate where a container of oil was shipped inside the crate with the artwork. This is a recipe for disaster if the oil container leaked or broke free and rolled around inside the crate hitting the artwork. Either ship the oil separately or perhaps it could be purchased locally by the exhibition sponsor. This approach also saves on shipping weight and shipping dollars.
Throughout the summer the PDS Committee (Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman) discuss, debate, stew, and brew about the PDS topics for the next year. I am wondering...do the readers of ASK Harriete have issues that they think would make a good program topic? What are the pressing issues for artists and makers? What kind of professional information is needed, wanted, or desired? I am waiting to hear from you privately or publicly in the comments.
Shipping is expensive and it seems to cost more all the time. The cost of shipping large-scale work can be prohibitive. More problems arise when the size of your box or crate exceeds the limitations of standard shipping options like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. It can be very stressful, and the shipping solutions aren't all that easy to find on your own.
That is why Kim Cridler's lecture "Shipping Large Sculpture" is so great. Kridler offers multiple options for shipping large-scale work outside of the white glove, professional art shippers that are impossible for most of us to afford.
Are you prepared for success? Do you think ahead about shipping when you design the work? Kim Cridler shows how she disassembles her work for safe shipping.
Are you planning for shipping in your schedule three months in advance? See how Kim Cridler plans ahead.
Are you planning for the shipping expenses? What are the options?
What shipping documentation would exhibition locations expect to see? Cridler reveals her recommendations.
Kim Cridler working on large sculpture in the studio.
Kim Cridler with finished work in the studio (above).
Blanket wrapped shipping. Suspended inside the truck.
Sculpture by Kim Cridler installed.
This presentation Shipping Large Sculpture and the handout by Kim Cridler were originally given at the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar.
The PDS occurs each year during the SNAG Conference. Organized by Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman. The PDS provides professional development information for the arts and craft community.
Please feel welcome to share this information with your fellow artists, makers, and arts organizations.
The exhibition Humor in Craftopened first at the Society of Contemporary Craft on July 20, 2012. I do wish that I could be there! What a hoot! Curated by Brigitte Martin, the exhibition is based on the book she authored by the same name Humor in Craft.
"Humor in Craft" opens at Kendall College of Art and Design, Grand Rapids, MI.
Exhibition dates: March 4 - April 19, 2014
The opening was April's Fool Day, April 1, 2014
Get the book from your local library or bookstore to see silly, serendipity, superfluous, or simply entertaining interpretations of humor. Nothing is expected or ordinary. The full-color book includes 235 makers.
There are several catalog essays from a wide range of authors. A round of applause to everyone that attempted to write about humor. What a challenge! I found the essay by Garth Johnson memorable as he offered historical background on humor in ceramics.
Below a selections of work from the book: "Corncorde" by Craig Nutt Installed at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The blender body and lid are all painted copper construction. Essentially, I fabricated by hand a manufactured object as a commentary about our consumer society. Carefully constructed using sheet metal, the appliances are not found objects.
The ballerina inside the transparent plastic blender container pirouettes to a wind-up music box playing "May Your Wish Come True". (15" height x 5" width x 5.5" depth)
A custom-made pierced crown on the top of the blender container says Misstress of the Home. (Mistress in the title is misspelled intentionally.) I wanted the "MISS" to refer to the Miss America style of beauty competitions. It is also autobiographical as my name "Harriete" means "mistress of the home." Imagine that! Yes, it's true! I AM kind of obsessive about my house. No Kidding. Come and visit.
Womanizer, Kitchen Queen has a 10 Button Panel with plastic lamination. There is brass lettering on the front. The small black lettering says LOVE, HONOR, OBEY, CHERISH, MIX, BLEND, STIR, CREAM, SPREAD, BEAR.
Upon return of your art or craft from an exhibition, open the box or crate immediately or within a few days at the most.
CHECK CONTENTS against the Inventory List or Shipping Receipt. Make sure everything that was placed in the box has returned from the venue.
Tina Pint from Jeweler's Mutual Insurance specifically addresses this concern in her lecture Safe Shipping of Jewelry. Small high-value items can be removed from a single box fairly easily and the box reclosed, thus her caution for double or even triple boxing.
Brigitte Martin also describes a similar concern in her upcoming lecture "If Shipping Goes Wrong" when a crate arrived broken in the truck with parts from a sculpture strewn around the truck bed. A great reason to double-box smaller elements inside the crate.
There are several presentations ranging from shipping jewelry from precious materials to large sculptures. There is also a great cost comparison with three different size boxes and different insurance values. Stay tuned.
This post was updated on April 10, 2022, to provide current links.
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in an exhibition with one of my favorite autobiographical pieces Everready Working Woman (left).
It cost $67 to ship it by USPS Registered Insured Mail from the San Francisco Bay Area to Arizona.
However, when the show was over (only a week later )... return shipping by Fed Ex cost $177.26 for the same identical box, with the same artwork, for an identical distance.
That is an outrageous difference. $177.26?...for one lightweight box is a lot of money.
I was so shocked by the price difference, it took more than a day to figure out how to reply to the email asking me to pay the $177.26.
What would you do? Really! Any suggestions?
Pay for the return shipping up to $67 and burn my relationship with the museum.
Pay the full amount of $177.26.
At this point, I have written to the exhibition sponsor asking why the return shipping cost 2 1/2 times more than shipping to the museum.
Here is my email.
J---, While I appreciated your returning my work, your email was a huge shock. It cost me $67. to ship my work U.S.P.S. Registered Insured to the show in AZ To see that the return shipping by Fed Ex costs $177.26. is unexpected to say the least. I am thinking that there has to be some mistake.
How could shipping the same identical box cost 2 1/2 times the original shipping?
Thanks for looking into this further…..
UPDATE: Just found out that they shipped the box FedEx standard overnight. I would swear that my conversation said 2nd-day air. At least it would have been less. I am really upset. This means one show that was up for four days cost $244.26. Not worth it.
I am going to the FedEx office and discussing this issue.
Hopping mad. Any ideas?
I will update this post....with information so stay tuned.
Shipping connects our studios to the world. It is such an important issue that the SNAG Professional Development Seminar dedicated our entire 2012 program to shipping. A recent post Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers compared five shipping companies. The cost comparison handout did not reveal such a disparity between USPS and FEDEX. What gives?
Today's post focuses on some typical bad packing examples & solutions.
This photo (left) is bad news.Loose items (even if contained within a small box) will self-destruct during shipping. If the work can move around during shipping, it will always cause damage.
Look what happened to the necklace during shipping. It arrived broken (right). This is not the shipper's fault. This is bad packing.
"For shipping multiple small items in a large box, sub-divide the box into compartments to prevent movement," says, Leila Hamdan.
A necklace could be wrapped in tissue so beads will not hit each other, then placed in a small box.
This custom-made shipping design for my necklace uses a piece of cardboard covered in flannel. Seam binding glued to the flannel holds the necklace in place with loops. The necklace is tied onto the flannel. A couple of dollars of materials creates a shipping solution, preventing movement during shipping is the goal.
Every box or crate should be completely filled with Styrofoam, foam peanuts, soft foam, bubble wrap, or air-filled bags. Empty space in a crate allows the contents to shift and move.
Always plan for the rough & tumble of shipping. Expect your box to be shipped sideways or upside down.
Kim Cridler protects individual elements in plastic baggies. Then offers further protection by shipping the small elements in recycled plastic packaging. Her lecture, Shipping Large Sculpture, will be posted soon.
More information about shipping is coming soon.
Do you have photos of shipping disasters you want to share?
Or do you need a solution for how to create a custom shipping box?
Note: Shipping cost is not the only issue. Careful handling and availability of shipping insurance are also important considerations.
Not all carriers offer insurance to the full value of the item (which is really misleading and irritating).
Careful handling during shipping is important.It is my professional opinion that UPS should only be used for production work where the objects shipped are replaceable. I do NOT recommend using UPS for shipping one-of-a-kind exhibition work.
USPS "Registered Insured" offers the best handling and full insurance. This is my recommendation for all shipping. Registered Insured is the least expensive option if the insurance value is over $1,000. It has the added protection of being a federal offense to tamper with USPS mail.
As part of the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar about shipping, Leila Hamdan, former Registrar for the National Ornamental Museum and artist, gave an informative lecture with lots of essential shipping information for artists and makers.
Her presentation has been posted as a YouTube presentation with audio. You can watch the same presentation as SNAG Conference attendees.
Here are a few quotes from Leila Hamdan.
"It is surprising how many artists do not know how to pack their work for safety and security."
At the Museum, "it was always heartbreaking to open a package and see that their work had been damaged."
"The way that artists pack their work is a reflection of how they make it."
"Do not fill your box with random bits of materials so it seems as though you've emptied your recycling bin."
"Find a weighted balance [for your shipping box] to avoid having one side of the box heavier than the other."
"Always include your contact information inside the box, so you can be found should the outside label be torn off. And this does happen a lot."