Updated: Sep 21
Have you ever shipped something marked "fragile," only for it to arrive in a crushed package with a pile of shards on the other end??
I've shipped a LOT of packages, and most contained glass in one form or another. I joke that marking a package "fragile" is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Unfortunately, fragile items break, often. I have learned through experience how to package my glass items to minimize breakage.
You can have the best materials and resources, but you don't have a guarantee that those fragile items will make it to their end destination intact. It's not realistic! We are glass artists who repurpose glass, often in broken form, to create new pieces of sustainable art! We buy vases, cups, plates, and many other prized glass items from thrift stores, only to break them to make beautiful new art!
If you sell art, glass, or anything considered fragile, you are going to risk breakage during shipping. There are several things you can do to mitigate the damage.
The following are a few measures that could mitigate damage to fragile items while in transit:
Use properly sized boxes — too big, then items may move around — too small, not a good idea either. Don't use torn, dilapidated boxes, only ones that are still in great shape. No matter how good you are at taping a box, assume a damaged box will not make it to the destination in one piece. Recycle those Amazon boxes!
Purchase sufficient shipping insurance. If the contents are worth $105, insure it for $200!
Restrict movement — there should be no room between the materials and the items — a snug fit is what you're looking for.
Seal tightly. Tape the box up securely. Some packing tape is poor quality and will not stay stuck. Make sure you use several strips in a crisscross format to ensure sufficient contact with the package.
Bubble wrap or packing peanuts? Both work and the combo is perfect!
Crumpled packing or craft paper makes good recyclable items.
Place the shipping label properly. If you print it yourself at home, make sure it's legible.
Mark the package as fragile where it is clearly visible
Be discerning about which postal carrier you use
Communicate shipping terms to your customers. They should be aware of your return policies and whether you will reimburse them in case of breakage ...
While accepting the probability that the glass items you are mailing will likely break — it's called shard art, after all — knowing the facts can help you avoid repeated issues. Have you seen Mary Hong's art? She coined the term "shard art," and she can create anything with broken media, including ceramics, china, wine bottles, embellishments, etc. She's the original shard guru! I took one of Mary's 2-day workshops a few years ago, and I marveled at her amazing creative talent and vision with seemingly useless items! A little bit about epoxy resin because a blog post without sidetracking is just boring!
What about shipping that freshly resined piece of art? There are several factors to consider before mailing it:
Shipping a piece of art before the resin is fully cured — it can take up to two weeks for the resin to completely dry!
Assume all resin is created equal. Casting resin cures/dries differently from coating resin, and so does UV resin, so always check the recommended guidelines before placing anything on top of a resined surface. While most coating resin dries to the touch within 24 hours, it can be tacky in spots for longer. In this case, you may need to take additional measures to fix the problem.
Avoid placing any rigid options against the resined surface, no matter how dry it is — an ugly indent is like a scar and will be an unsightly detractor.
If in doubt, buy the accessory shipping kit from the shipping carrier that costs a little extra. Do not blindly trust shipping carriers.
Blindly accept shipping rates. If you ship a LOT of items, you should qualify for commercial rates, which are substantially less than retail. Check out websites that offer rate comparisons. Avoid unnecessary trips to the post office or shipping facility by printing and processing your own shipments.
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To be continued...