Whether you are shipping an unpainted stretched canvas or a finished work of art, as a gift to a dear friend or to a gallery for exhibition, you want your work to arrive safely and undamaged at its destination. In order to ensure that your canvas travels safely, it must be packaged securely. Preparing a stretched canvas frame for shipping requires a few simple supplies to be sure your canvas arrives intact and unscathed.
Cut a piece of glassine paper, a resilient glazed paper, large enough to wrap your canvas. Wrap the canvas in the glassine, being sure to smoothly cover the front surface of your canvas. Securely tape the glassine closed on the back side of the canvas. The glassine will protect the surface of your canvas.
Wrap the canvas in a single layer of bubble wrap, securing the wrap with packaging tape.
Cut out smaller pieces of bubble wrap to wrap around the corners of your canvas. The corners are the most vulnerable to dents or other damage, and so require extra protection. Fold the bubble wrap over the corners, from front to back and overlapping the corner. Tape bubble wrap securely in place on the corners.
Wrap the canvas in additional layers of bubble wrap. Wrap the canvas in two layers horizontally and two layers vertically, securely taping the wrapping in place.
Measure your wrapped canvas. Because of the additional bulk of the bubble wrap, your canvas will now be somewhat larger than its original dimensions.
Cut a sheet of cardboard large enough to cover one face of the canvas and all four sides (for example, if your wrapped canvas is 17 inches by 21 inches by 3 inches, you will need to cut a piece of cardboard that is 17 inches plus 3 inches plus 3 inches, by 21 inches plus 3 inches plus 3 inches).
Score your sheet of cardboard, carefully using the utility knife to mark the surface without cutting through, so that the sides (in the previous example, 3 inches on each side of your sheet of cardboard) may be folded upward. This will leave a 3-inch square on each corner of your sheet of cardboard. Cut through one edge of this scored square, so that the flap may be folded over.
Fold the sides of the cardboard up, making an open box sized to fit your canvas. Place your canvas inside. Securely tape the sides of your box up, folding over the corner flaps and taping them in place. Be sure to tape all edges and corners of your box.
Make a second open box following the same steps. Fit this second box over the first, securing your wrapped canvas inside. Tape up all edges and corners of your cardboard box, leaving no open scores or seams.
If your canvas is large or exceptionally valuable, it may be advisable to double-box your canvas, wrapping the first box in additional bubble wrap and building a second box around it. If you are unable to build your own box, you may be able to find suitable sized mirror packing boxes from a moving or storage company, or strong boxes from a company such as Air Float Systems.
Even when canvases are securely packed, be sure to clearly label them as "Fragile" when shipping, and purchase insurance from your mail carrier.