Whether you're an artist who specializes in oil paintings or a collector who prefers that type of artwork, at some point you may have to relocate your pictures from one home to another. Moving them across town is usually not a problem, but transporting them long-distance to another state requires extra care be taken to avoid damaging the artwork. Here's what you need to know about moving oil paintings long distance.
Packing the Paintings
The most important part of safely moving your oil paintings across state lines is packing them the right way. Moving company employees are generally very careful with the items they're handling, but you still need to protect your paintings from accidental drops or things that may fall on them during transport.
If your painting is set in a glass frame, apply masking tape to the glass from edge to edge in an "X" shape. The tape will hold the glass together if it cracks or breaks during the move. Cover the entire painting in bubble wrap or similar material, which will cushion the artwork from bumps and jolts.
Paintings that aren't protected by a glass must be wrapped in clear non-patterned non-acidic plastic wrap, wax paper, or glassine first. Don't use bubble wrap directly on the exposed canvas, as these products can leave impressions in the oil paint. It may even be beneficial to put spacers at the corners of the frames so there's a small amount of space between the pictures' surface and the plastic wrap. Once you have covered the pictures with the first layer of plastic, you can put bubble wrap over them.
The best place for an oil painting is in a crate. The sturdy wood will protect the picture from most things that may fall on it. However, if you're low on funds, you can use a durable flat box. Center the painting and fill the empty space with newspaper or thick strips of Styrofoam.
Oil paintings should always be loaded on their sides, not flat. If something does fall on the box, it'll hit the frame rather than the face or back of the paintings. The paintings should be placed at the bottom of the truck. Oil paintings can take a long time to dry—days to dry to the touch and months to completely dry enough for varnishing. Depending on how long ago the picture was painted, temperature fluctuations in the van can cause the paint to melt and/or crack. Heat rises, so the bottom of the van will be coolest. You should also place the pictures away from the doors where heat and cold from the outside may also negatively impact the artwork.
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