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moh

Dealing With Overkill Packaging

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Hi all,

I have a packaging for shipping question.

Got a 8-10oz mug, I bubble wrap it at least two layers, put it in a 8" cubic box, fill with peanuts.

For insurance purposes the 8" cubic box then goes into a 12" cubic box then filled with peanuts 2" on each side.

 

By the time this 10oz mug is out for shipping, it's turned into a 1 foot cubic inch of a monster with massive amounts of shipping material.

 

After mailing a few of these, it dawned on me that maybe this is total overkill?

 

How do *you* ship a small piece like this?

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I put it in a box that will allow 3 inches all the way around, and build an interior 'box' out of scrap pieces of cardboard (I cut up boxes that are odd sized for shipping pots), all 6 sides of the pot. The cardboard keeps the pot from migrating through the peanuts and resting against the side of the box where it can be broken. Fill it up tight with peanuts- you should have to compress the slightly to get the box closed. With this technique I have never had a piece break, and I don't have to use two good boxes. For multiple pieces, wrap them in foam or bubble and tape them together to form a solid mass, then pack the same way. Details HERE.

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The only thing I would mention is not to use the clear packing tape to hold your bubble wrap closed. If you have ever had to unpack a number of things packed this way you start to dislike the person who wrapped it. :-)

A better choice is the blue tape that holds it closed but releases easily.

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I rather like the plastic foamy sheets furniture comes wrapped in. It can protect delicate features well. With the right source it is possible to get free in large quantities.

 

These sheets are also nice for moving around stacks of larger bowls/plates to the market.

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@moh,
I ask myself the same 'over-packing?' question regularly when I look at the shelves with items packed for shipping.  I double-box everything and use as much re-cycled/re-purposed material as possible. I think @Pres has talked about using popcorn as a packing material...and I still ponder that idea regularly.  For me, the extra packaging far outweighs (no pun intended) dealing with a disappointed customer who might open an 'under-packaged' items and discover breakage.

 

I am making a mental note about clear tape on bubble wrap.  I confess to doing that and take to heart the alternative suggestions.  Just another reason to love the people who contribute to this forum!

 

-Peace,

Paul

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I have shipped about 25 mugs that hold 10-16 ounces using a 10 inch square box with no problems.  I  bubble wrap the handle first then do 4 layers of bubble wrap over the whole mug, two inches of packing peanuts on the bottom of the shipping box and then fill with peanuts.  Total weight usually falls under 2 pounds.  I love the 10 inch square shipping box!  Also, my local post office advised me to ship priority mail because ground shipped boxes get rougher treatment. 

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@ibbloom

The reason I add that second box and 2" padding on each side is not just for structure, it's required for insurance by carriers.

I would love to just make it a much smaller package like you have done. Have you not had problems with insurance?

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Insurance will always be a problem if you don't pack the pieces according to their standards, but their standards tend to be overkill. However even if your packing doesn't meet their requirements that doesn't mean it's not good packing. I never pack to their standards and never have things break. I have accepted that I will probably not get an insurance payment from them if something does happen to break, but I'm confident enough in my packing that it's an acceptable risk. For what I'm saving in packing materials it will probably pay for something breaking 1 out of 50 shipments. I'm also not making one-of-a-kind sculptural work, so re-making something is not that big a deal.

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I'm willing to assume the insurance risk because I am only shipping $30 mugs this way and I think that adding an additional box would make the shipping cost disproportionate to the cost of the item.

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I have had a few claims on other items I ship (large rough-turned wood bowls) and FedEx has just paid with no questions.  These are often very heavy items and I use old boxes and no padding.  Sometimes 5 bowls in on 24" x 24" x20" box and weighing 50-60 pounds. 

Once they said they damaged the shipment and just wanted to pay the full insured value.  I tried to tell them there is almost no way they could have damaged them and that I would like to see the bowls.  They would not deliver them.  I think they just lost them and damage sounds better than losing them. 

I did ship some poorly packed pottery a few years ago that arrived broken.  They paid the full $100 insured value with no questions even though it was just a small mug that broke.  It probably takes more resources on their part to look into small claims than to just pay them as long as there are no obvious signs of exploiting the system.

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I have been sending chalices and patens in 14X14X14 cardboard boxes for years. I pack them with bubble wrap first, one layer. Then I place these in a box surrounded by dry popped popcorn-compressed. Send all over the US. No insurance, only marked fragile. Over the last thirty years, the ones I have packed I have only lost one chalice. I send an average of 20 a year.

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I hate peanuts and they are terrible for the environment. I bubble wrap (also bad for the environment, but totally reusable) and the use shredded paper. Thankfully, things ship fine. And much better for Mother Earth.

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I assist with shipping out faculty ceramic sculpture all the time to shows across the US.  You can NEVER overpack ceramics, I've seen things I thought were indestructible get damaged by UPS, FedEX, even professional art handling companies have accidents....like when someone accidentally drives forklift fork through your crate, oops!  

 

With ceramics you want it packed rigid, so the item cannot shift in the package.  If the packing is "soft and squishy" you're asking for breakage. I've learned to ALWAYS insure your fine art when shipping, even if it's only worth $50.

 

Good packing takes time, but for the most part this is what we do:

- Everything wrapped tight with soft white packing foam sheeting, filling any voids and wrapping any protrusions if there area any, then a single layer over the top to protect the bubble wrap from popping.  If you don't have it, use newsprint paper instead of foam sheet  Fasten with masking tape.

- 2-3 large diameter bubble wrap layers over the top of the foam sheet.  Fasten with masking tape.

- 3-5 layers stretch-wrap film tightly wrapped around the bubble - THIS is the material that holds everything together and seems to make it rigid before going into a crate/box.

 

From there, you can double-box or crate your ceramics.  For large, heavy ceramics use a wooden crate obviously.  Smaller stuff can likely go inside a standard "doubled-cardboard box" packing (Box inside a box, with packing between the two).  Since a lot of galleries don't like packing peanuts anymore, we have gone toward using rigid styrofoam sheeting lining the inside of the box (wads/balls of newsprint work well too), you can add more chunks of it to build up voids.  If the voids are particularly large, like giant voids of an odd shaped piece inside a rectangular crate - I've successfully used inflatable pool toys to fill the extra space - seemed to hold the air just fine when going from coast to coast over a week's time period and saves a bit of $ since packing materials are expensive.  I've jokingly suggested to faculty several times to just invest in one of those expanding foam packing machines - like how kiln parts come foamed into their boxes so it doesn't shift.

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perkolator, what about putting some delicate thing inside a plastic bag, taping it closed, thoroughly covered with plastic wrapping and then turning on a can of spray foam insulation into the box, loading the item when there is a good layer in the bottom, filling all the rest with separate bags of the spray foam.  it takes a bit of patience and judgement to stop in time but wouldn't the outcome be the same as the way you get kiln parts without the expensive machine?

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glad to know it.  i just found out that the beautiful foam sheets that car body shops had as scrap when new doors, hoods, etc are shipped in IS GONE!  :( called all over yesterday, wanted to make "envelopes" of the stuff for my higher priced long pieces.  the car parts are now shipped in bubblewrap.  da&%.  does anyone know where i might be able to buy some of the stuff?  

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perkolator, what about putting some delicate thing inside a plastic bag, taping it closed, thoroughly covered with plastic wrapping and then turning on a can of spray foam insulation into the box, loading the item when there is a good layer in the bottom, filling all the rest with separate bags of the spray foam.  it takes a bit of patience and judgement to stop in time but wouldn't the outcome be the same as the way you get kiln parts without the expensive machine?

I've tried that actually, it didn't work as well as I wanted (it's actually what inspired using inflatable pool tubes)....but I want to try it again since I've seen ways to improve the foam cure - like with a spritz of water/humidity.  The problem I saw was that we used Great Stuff spray foam in a can, which is a single stage cure - much different than the chemical-cure of 2-part foam used in packaging and modern wall insulation

 

This is why I suggested to faculty to buy one of those machines.  Would love to test one out if knew someone who had it.  Cost has gone down and the tech seems to have improved - one major hangup was the short shelf life once you open the containers of foam.  I think nowadays the containers are smaller and shelf life slightly extended - but still, unless you're using it often it may not be worth it.  There's also the question of what to do if it needs return shipping, since the piece was removed from the "foamed in place" packaging.

 

Faculty buy all their own packing materials.  The soft sheet foam comes in a roll approx 2ft diameter, the bubble wrap in a 40" diameter roll, she buys from a local shipper but pretty sure you can get it from uLine or similar.  The rigid white styrafoam sheeting she usually gets from the guy who builds her crates, but I've gone on emergency to local hardware store to buy foam sheet insulation, which is pretty much the same just more expensive.

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