How to Pack Ceramics and Glassware for Storage or Shipping
Packing pottery and glassware can be a bit tricky. Since my mother is a potter I have tons of experience moving, storing, delivering, and displaying ceramics. My mom is great at making teacups, teapots, figurines, and even whistles – but making them is where she draws the line. I take charge when it comes to selling, shipping, delivering, and storing these fragile items. I’m here today to share my experience:
Many people use newspaper or bubble wrap to protect ceramics. That’s fine if you happen to have them on hand, but I prefer a product called Cushion Foam Sheets because they are durable and reusable, which saves me a lot of money in the long term. They also don’t get my hands all dirty like the ink from a newspaper does.
Start with the trouble spots. Anything that sticks out of the main body of the item is a trouble spot. This includes handles, spouts, hands and arms on figurines. Wrap these details separately first and secure that wrapping with a piece of tape. The cushion foam sheets are especially good for this part because bubble wrap can pop and newspaper rips but the cushion foam wraps securely like cloth would. If you don’t have cushion foam sheets, newspaper is probably better than bubble wrap for this part.
Then take a larger piece of foam (or bubble wrap) and wrap it securely all the way around the outside of your item. Secure this with just enough tape to keep it in place. You don’t want to wrap this like a mummy with the packing tape because someone is going to have to unwrap it later. The more difficult unwrapping it is the more likely that the item gets broken after it arrives safely – which defeats the whole purpose!
This should fit snugly into your smaller box. If there are open spaces where the item could shift around in the box, you want to stuff more cushion foam or bubble wrap into those spots. There should be enough packing materials that the item stays in place even if the box is jostled. Seal that box up with tape. Feel free to wrap the entire box in tape like a mummy. The more secure the better.
The next part of this is only necessary for extremely fragile items. The above steps are probably sufficient for most items but if you’re packing fine china or a delicate figurine you’re going to want to use the “box within a box method.” I learned this from a 7th grade school competition to drop an egg off of a building without breaking it, and it’s basically the same concept as shocks on a car.
The mistake that people often make with the box-within-box method is forgetting to put packing material into the bottom before putting the second box in. This is where I use packing peanuts, but more cushion foam or bubble wrap would also work.
First, put some packing material down in the bottom of the box. How much? Well…basically, the more packing materials on each side of the box the better. I’d say at least 2 inches on each side of the box, 6 is better, a foot might be necessary if it’s a really large item. Go with your gut and what you can afford. Make sure this layer is small enough that after you put the box in there will still be room to cushion the top of your smaller box with packing material.
Put the smaller box containing your item onto the center of this bed of packing materials. Pack more cushioning material around each side of the box and then on top of the box up to the top of the new box. You should pack this in firmly, though not too tightly. The smaller box should not be able to shift through these packing peanuts in shipping but should be held snugly in the center of the larger box full of packing material.
Tape this up – and you’re good to go! Your fragile item is now as safe as it can be for shipping or storing.