Box-making for shipping a show!

Box-making for shipping a show!

Today I am busy making boxes from scratch to ship a 16-painting solo show to Findlay, Ohio. My New York gallerist Paul Calendrillo curated the show at the Marathon Center for Performing Arts in Findlay. The exhibition will start with a VIP reception on July 9th and will close on August 9.

Here I am with my homemade hot knife table saw rig in my garage, cleanly cutting Styrofoam panels to size.

After looking into the possibility of driving the works on a 20-hour trip with a U-Haul truck, it seemed more prudent to ship them so I would not miss so much work. I teach drawing and painting full-time at St. Petersburg College in Clearwater and do not get summer term off. If I ship the works, I just have to fly up for the opening and would not get docked pay for more than one day for missing class this summer.

The drawback of shipping so many pieces is the cost, of course. Even the materials to make the boxes ($150 for cardboard and $170 for Styrofoam panels) can evoke sticker shock! Since the boxes are not done yet, I can’t get a quote on the actual shipping price until afterward. I probably need to sit down when I hear that price. : )

I found a way to efficiently cut the Styrofoam panels without causing lots of Styrofoam “snow” all over the place: by building a rig with two utility tables, a hot knife between them, and sliding grooves on the edges of the table that can be adjusted with bicycle clamps to guide the Styrofoam panels so they will be cut straight. It is my own design and I think it’s pretty neat.

This is where I constructed a holder for the hot knife. I turn it on and off by unplugging it from an extension cord, so I don’t have to crawl under the tables each time.

Here you can see the guide for cutting the Styrofoam straight and how it can be adjusted with the grooves and the bicycle clamp in the foreground and far background.

I cut the Styrofoam for two boxes at a time, so I can keep track of the pieces that go with each individualized box. I wrap the paintings in black felt and use cling wrap to keep the felt in place before sandwiching them between Styrofoam on all sides inside the custom-made cardboard boxes. It is quite a lot of effort to make a box that will keep a painting safe when it’s shipped commercially.

I don’t know that many art buyers spend a lot of time thinking of how much effort goes into making an artwork ready for shipping and that this costs time and materials for the artist as well. Of course, auction houses ship art in specially made crates or containers with eggshell foam lining, but those are so prohibitively expensive, that as an artist trying to make any money at all, they are out of the question as an option. 

Here I am guiding the Styrofoam panel through the hot knife.

As you can see, this is sweaty work in the Florida summer heat!

I’m done with a couple of boxes, but have lots to go, so I’ll catch you more later!

These are two paintings wrapped in felt, ready to be boxed!

Have a good weekend!

To see my entire portfolio of paintings, please check out! You can purchase original paintings and fine art print reproductions directly from my website.

Blog post 6 of 22


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