Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Learning Experience

Which is what people seem to say when something goes wrong and they're trying to be positive...

I received work back from a show and the work was not packed properly. I was mad at first but now I'm just mad at myself. It's mostly my fault. I helped unpack the work but wasn't there to pack it up at the end. I just assumed that someone who helped unpack would pack it up or at least clue that person in...

Never assume.

So what happened was that whoever packed the paintings didn't put the archival paper on top of the paintings. This allowed the bubble wrap to lay directly against the surface of the painting and the pattern of the bubble wrap was transferred to the wax. It's hard to photograph but you can see it in the photo above in the right half - those shiny areas.

Maybe it's easier to see in this one - you can see dark and shiny circles:

What gets me, though, is that there was a piece of paper in EVERY box. Every painting was sent back packed in the correctly labeled box but the protective paper was disregarded underneath... Somewhere along the line it seems like someone would have wondered what it was for and clue in. Oh well...

Lesson: I should have included detailed packing instructions.

Fortunately it can be fixed. I will have to reheat each piece very carefully with a heat gun - that seems to make it go away. If you've done encaustic, though, you know that that can be tricky. Sometimes if you heat something just a teeny bit too much the wax will begin to run and you can lose your images, sharp lines, etc.

Here are the foamcore boxes that I make for my paintings. There are a few that I made out of cardboard, too...

I put labels on the top and sides with my name and address and I tape a thumbnail image on the top and sides as well.

Yes. I'm anal retentive.

But in a good way?

Update:
Kirsty Hall wrote a great post about packing artwork.

I also posted about packing and shipping previously (and obviously didn't take all of my own advice!).

And I should also mention that Cheryl McClure found some perfect already-made boxes.

9 comments:

Kesha Bruce said...

I generally like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but obviously your artworks were packed by someone who had no idea what they were doing. (which happens alot from what I hear.) Any idiot knows to NOT put bubble wrap directly in contact with the surface of a painting.

Send your photos to the gallery. At the VERY least they should know that they have been damaging artworks...so they can make sure they don't do it again.

What if it was something you couldn't repair?

Kirsty said...

Sorry to hear about the damage, that sucks. I hope you're able to rescue the work.

I'm going to write more about this issue over on my blog because it's an important one.

Liz said...

oh, that is a such a bummer... i've had that happen, and the feeling in my stomach... argh, not one I want to repeat... is it at all repairable? From what I could see it's a beautiful piece too

Mary Richmond said...

oh man....and I hate to say it but it just seems so.....dumb!Especially with encaustics, the surface is so obvious that you would think the person packing would be aware. And maybe they were just in the packing zone and not paying attention. In any case, good luck rescuing your paintings and I'm sorry you had to go through this. As you did mention, though, it has been a good learning experience for you and by sharing it with us, we learned to be more careful and include packing directions, too! so thanks for sharing a tough lesson

CMC said...

Being fairly new to encaustic...I'm going to try to take this to heart and remember to not take it for granted when I ship them out. BIG PRINT....be sure and place glassine on the face of the painting before closing the box lid.

So far the four that I've shipped four day ground have been fine when they arrived.

Alyson B. Stanfield said...

Excellent advice, Deanna. When I worked in museums, we were used to getting detailed packing and shipping instructions--but not so much from the artists themselves. And there is no reason you shouldn't have the same standards and expectations of another museum, gallery, or traveling exhibition service. Unfortunately, so many art spaces use volunteers for stuff like this. I encourage artists to inquire who will be doing the unpacking and packing. This won't stop the problem, but at least it will cause people on the other end to pause and think about who they're putting in charge of such an important job.

Casey Klahn said...

I don't want to spam you, but I have a post on this subject,too.
Cheers!

Karine said...

I think we all feel your pain. It is good to share learning experiences with each other, so that we can learn from each other! Thought you might be interested in my most recent post:
http://ponosmom.blogspot.com/2007/10/search-for-galleries.html

ming said...

I lost a very important painting, because a curator, had it in 'safe keeping' for me while I was out of town...

ming
www.artmakr.com