Transporting Framed Art to/From Show

Larry Peterson

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Resource Provider
Apr 8, 2003
Wilkes-Barre, PA
I will be taking a booth at some upcoming paper and epherma shows to sell framing services for ephemera and also sell some of the ephemera that I have framed (vintage pinups/advertising, etc) and am starting to plan out the logistics of everything (display, what I need to bring, etc).

One of the things that I can't decide on is how to transport the framed art to and from(what I don't sell) the show. I don't want to over pack the stuff, but it has to be able to survive the trip in the back of my truck. My thoughts so far are large boxes, with the pictures standing upright loosely wrapped in bubble wrap and the box filled with enough bubble so they dont' move. Bubble on the bottom of the boxes also. Probably corregated between the pictures also.

Whatever I do needs to be reusable from show to show. Cheap too! Anyone have any thoughts? I know there has to be a better solution than what I have thought of so far.
Before transporting anything with glass in it, criss-cross the glass with removable masking tape. Make a diagonal grid of about 2". This not only reinforces the glass, it keeps shards (in case it DOES break) from damaging your artwork.

You can make bubble wrap "sleeves" for each piece, using packing tape, scissors, and a little patience. Leave a flap to fold over and tape. You can carefully cut the tape on the flap, and re-use the sleeves. Use the big bubble bubble wrap.

Find or build yourself a box out of cardboard or fomeboard that you can stack the sleeved frames in, laying down, with only an inch or two around the largest one.
If you pack the frames standing on end, vibrations from the road can actually knock the molding against the glass hard enough to chip it.
Pack around the frames with a blanket, or the tablecloth you are going to use at the show. Tape a lid down on top. (keep these boxes down to a liftable weight)

Then, tape the box (or boxes) in place in the bed of your truck so it won't slide around.
We transport frames all the time flat in Foamcore boxes with layers of carpet padding between the frames. The carpet padding has enough grip to keep the frames from sliding. The harder thing is getting everything into the show unless you can drive in.
Depending on how large your pieces are - those huge plastic bins from the *BBs* will do the trick. Packable, stackable, waterproof, and easy to carry! With lots of bubblewrap! I store frames in my house in these bins. And that is how I plan to transport the Art Horses to the Auction in November. (current motto: buy-a-bin-a-week!)

I used to do weekend art shows in the 70's and boy I wish they had invented those bins back then! They are some handy!
M&M has bubble wrap bags. The bubbles are sandwiched between two layers of plastic so they last alot longer than regular bubble wrap. They are eminently reuseable, can have an 1 1/2" flap and adhesive for sealing, although I don't recommend that for repeated usage. They can be custom ordered in any size. Cost more than regular but quite a significant labor and damage saving device. Frames in these bags, lying flat in plastic bins are all you will need. Easy to load, unload and a nice wrapping to use upon sale. Regular packaging tape will seal and is removable.
Pickup truck?
I have built a couple of racks that span the side rails on the pickup. They are held in place with "C"clamps. I can use them for both vertical and horizontal transport of art (though not at the same time). They are basically 2x4's with suspended racks so I have 4 layers of shleving to use plus the bed of the pickup. I did get a topper to protect the work from weather and road grime.
If you have a shrink wrap machine, the kind with the hot wire, you can make your own bubble wrap bags. The stuff will fuse together when you cut it with a hot wire, same as shrink wrap.

You don't have to go overly nuts on this. stack them on their ends, face to face or back to back, with a piece of corrugated in between. Have carpet under them and your done. Unless you are traveling to Timbuktu with them, I doubt you even need bubble wrap. The more you do, the more you have to undo at the show.

WOW boys and girls. Some great ideas.

I especially like the bubble bag concept. I keep 24 and 48" bubble in stock so that will work great.

And great tip John on using my shrinkwrap machine to make a bubble bag. I just tried it on some large bubble and it works great.

It looks like I should be transporting them horizontal, not vertical.

You all have given me some great ideas to think about. Thanks.
And the bubble bags can be used be used by the customer when they take their art home.
I don't think I would go with horizontal stacking, unless I absolutely had to.