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Pictures and mirrors are typically easier to pack than other fragile items. The key is having the right packing materials for the job. Smaller pictures should be placed inside a Dishpack carton; while larger pictures should go inside a specialized mirror/picture box.
Once you setup the mirror carton, place a layer of crumpled up paper on the bottom-of the box to provide cushioning. Size permitting, 2 pictures of like size should be packed into each box. Each picture should be carefully and individually wrapped with paper or bubble wrap. It is important that pictures are loaded either face-to-face or back-to-back in order to prevent any marring or damage to glass.
Once both pictures have been inserted into the container, fill in any excess space around the perimeter of the box with paper. Try not to overfill the middle of the box with paper. An overfilled box will be significantly bowed in the mid-section and has the potential to create damage (especially with canvas paintings).
Once you have finished the packing, pick up the box and gently shake it. If you hear any movement inside the box, then additional paper is required to properly secure the contents.
Labeling is important. Make sure that you label your mirror cartons on flat surfaces with your name, the room that the paintings came out of, and an arrow indicating the top of the box. The word “fragile” should also be prominently displayed on the container.
In the absence of budgetary constraints, having professionals pack your fragile items is both easier and preferable from a liability standpoint. Having said this, if you are going to pack the fragile items yourself, following are some hints that should make this process easier.
1) Whenever you are packing, make sure that you have a good workspace setup. Place the box that you are packing on top of another box so that you avoid potential back issues associated with bending at the waist repeatedly.
2) The vast majority of fragile items can and should be wrapped in plain newsprint. Do not use regular newspaper for packing, as the ink has a tendency to stain china. Setup a flat surface and lay the packing paper on top of this space.
3) Fragile items should be packed in a “Dishpack” or “5.2 cubic foot” box; which is double corrugated and specially designed for breakable items.
4) Dishpacks should be packed in “tiers”. Begin by creating a layer of crumpled up paper at the bottom of the box. Proceed to wrap each piece individually with multiple pieces of paper. Heavier (and less fragile) items should go on the bottom of the box; constituting the first tier. Once the first tier is complete, fill in any remaining gaps with paper and create another layer of cushioning. Continue with this process until the box is completely full. Stemware and extremely fragile items should be placed on the top of the Dishpack.
5) Remember that structure and support for a box are provided internally as well as externally. Make sure that any extra space is filled with paper. There should be no extra space inside the box.
6) Make sure to label any fragile boxes with your name, the contents and a vertical arrow pointing upward to indicate that the box should not be loaded on its side. In addition, the word “fragile” should be displayed prominently on at least two adjacent sides of the box.