February 14, 2015

Shipping Art and Mosaics, Small Business Owner, Artist, DIY Shipping Tips for Art and Mosaics

Preview "How to Ship Large Artwork, Small Business Owner, Artist, DIY Shipping Tips" | Lucy Designs
I created this shipping method for my art when I had an Etsy store and sold mosaics as well as recycled artwork and canvas paintings.
In 2017 I moved to my new website LucyDesignsArt.com
where I'm focusing exclusively on mosaic art and I still use this same
method to ship and it still works well for me.

I prefer to pack and ship my artwork myself since it gives me more peace of mind than if I just handed it over for someone else to pack. Also, as small business owner, packing it myself is more economical.

None of my pieces will fit in a premade box so I build a box for each piece I ship
which creates a custom fit with less wiggle room and chance of shifting or damage.

I buy cardboard  from Uline both in 275 lb. test and 200 lb. test to create my boxes.
Test is the bursting and stacking strength of the cardboard.
I mostly use 200 lb test, it's a good general purpose weight for mosaics
 or canvas paintings, but have occasionally used 275 lb test for really large items.

If you don't want to buy cardboard, you can usually get large appliance boxes from your
local home improvement store. I did that many times before I decided to purchase cardboard.
For small items I will sometimes recycle cardboard from shipments
I've received that are in good shape and I like that they are getting one more use instead of going
straight to recycle or being thrown away.

In the following photos, I am shipping 3ft mosaic dolphin shapes.

mosaic dolphins

To protect my art, I use 4' x 8' foam insulation panels from Lowe's or
Home Depot. They come in 1/2" or 3/4" thickness, are very lightweight but dense, sturdy,
and fairly inexpensive for the amount of foam you get, usually $15 depending on thickness.
These panels have a clear plastic covering that peels right off.

For an item with an irregular shape like the dolphins, I measure about 1"-1 1/2" around each edge of the dolphin and cut a more uniform piece of foam. This foam cuts easily with a utility knife. 

I traced around the dolphin and used my utility knife to cut the shape out so
my mosaic will fit snugly within the foam.
how to ship mosaics

Since I have so many dolphins to ship, I packed them two to a box.
You can see them here packed in foam with a layer of bubble wrap on the top
of each mosaic as well as a piece of cardboard in between them and on the top and bottom.
This is all taped together for even more stability and ease of creating the box.
You can see my tape gun here. I use 3.1 ml heavy duty tape with the tape gun.
I highly recommend a tape gun/dispenser and learning how to use it. It is much
easier and faster to use instead of cutting tape with scissors, just takes a bit of practice.

To build the box I start with a 30" x 40" sheet of 200lb cardboard
This cardboard comes in lots of sizes but I like the versatility of this size.
If you are using recycled cardboard boxes, make your score lines on the 
 unprinted inside of the box. This will then become the outside of your new box
and keep it looking nice and neat. 

Cardboard can dull blades pretty quickly so a quick change blade
utility knife and a bulk pack of blades makes it much easier and less frustrating.
how to pack art for shipping

I place my sandwiched art on top of my sheet of cardboard and create score lines
with my utility knife around the edges of my "dolphin sandwich" leaving plenty of room
on the edges to create the sides of the box.

By "score", I mean, don't cut all the way through, just lightly cut your
measurement lines so the cardboard will bend neatly.
I use a utility knife and yardstick to keep the line straight.
shipping mosaic art

After scoring, you can then flip the cardboard over and fold along your scores
to start building your box.
how to ship art

Use a spot of glue to connect the corners of your box.

I use a dual temp Surebonder glue gun and Surebonder 601 low temp glue sticks and these 
glue sticks are amazing. They are specifically for sealing cartons and set up in seconds. They are nothing like a regular glue sticks. The glue can be a little pricey but is completely worth
 it in my opinion if you will be doing a lot of shipping and saves a lot of frustration.
glue gun for sealing cartons

You now have the bottom of your box!

I dropped in my sandwiched dolphins and trimmed excess cardboard to be even
with the contents.

What I have so far, now I just need to do the same thing and create the top of the box.

Here I have put another sheet of cardboard on top, scored my lines and then
glued and taped (for extra security) it to my bottom box.

For the outside corners on the top of the box, I trim the excess piece of
cardboard instead of folding it under for a neater appearance.

I add a bit of tape at that corner to keep any box edges from snagging
on conveyors or trucks during shipping.

Here is my box. I measure it...

Weigh it... I use this scale that can go up to 75lbs. A scale is absolutely
necessary if you will be shipping or even listing items for sale so that
you can calculate shipping costs.

I use Fedex or USPS for shipping and print my labels at home. It saves time by not standing
in line and you get a discount by purchasing your labels online.
I use these half sheet peel and stick labels or if using Fedex, they provide free pouches.

I always insure my shipments. Remember, insurance is for YOU so that you
can recover your costs and/or reimburse your customer if there were damage.

Here are my finished boxes ready to be dropped for shipment.

Like I said, I use this same method to ship all of my artwork and it's such
a secure way to ship irregular shaped pieces.
mosaic surfboards, whales, octopuses...
diy artist shipping, mosaic art

shipping artwork
For this 4 ft mosaic octopus, I had free sheets of white styrofoam that came
with some of the big boxes I got so I used it to layer and pad my octopus
how to ship art, mosaics, diy, lucy designs

When I ship square or rectangular pieces, I don't cut out the shape like this.
Instead, I wrap the item in bubble wrap and create my box shape with about 1" excess
 on all sides.I cut foam to line the bottom of my box, add my bubble wrapped
art and cut narrow strips of this foam to line the edges where I left the 1" excess.
I use a spot of glue to secure these strips to the side of the box.
I then add another piece of foam to the top and finish by adding
cardboard for the top of my box. 

Shipping doesn't have to be a source of stress.
I actually enjoy being in charge of the art I've created throughout the entire transaction, 
including shipping, because I know no one is going to put as much care into packing my
 item as I will. I've actually had customers email me to tell me how much they appreciate 
the packing and care I've used in getting their art safely to them!

Thanks for reading!
Visit my new website and as always you can find me on 


  1. Lucy-this was a great article, so informative. There really isn't much out there in regards to shipping and we have to brave it on our own. I am certainly pinning this and saving for later. Thanks so much for sharing this :)

  2. I love your mosaics. They are fantastic. Thanks for the packing advice.

    I wish I knew how you've been able to succeed in the the mosaic business. People here in Mississippi look at you like you've grown a horn out of your forehead when you give them a price on a mosaic piece.

    Like I said love your creations.

    Ramona from Mississippi

    1. Thank you Ramona! Sell them online lol, that's the way to go :)



I've moved to Lucydesignsart.com to focus on my mosaic art. I'm no longer creating dragonflies or mermaids.

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