Smart Moving Tips for Artists: How to Enjoy a Hassle-Free Move

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The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory measures positive and negative life changes and their impact on your stress level. Among the 43 most stressful events in life, five are related to where and how you live. Moving can wreak havoc on anyone’s stress level. That stress is compounded when you’re moving financially or sentimentally valuable artwork. For artists or collectors moving precious materials and products, preparation can mean the difference between a happy move and a devastating one. Pack smarter for a smooth transition to your next space.

First, take inventory and organize your work. Separate priceless canvases from the framed needlework your grandmother made for you. While you may appreciate both, you’ll need special supplies and techniques for transporting valuable art. Once you’ve completed an inventory, set up an area in your house to pack all of your art. Take measurements and note special features. Is anything exceptionally heavy? Can it be disassembled into smaller pieces? Which parts are breakable? Taking these considerations into mind, make a list of supplies you’ll need to pack each item. These can include paper, bubble wrap, masking tape, blankets, foam, boxes, and materials to build your own crate. What you use depends on the item.

Framed art or Canvas: Professional movers recommend avoiding newsprint and packing peanuts, as they can damage the art. For art framed behind glass, take steps to keep it intact, even if it shatters in the move. This will help you avoid damage to the art behind the glass. Use masking tape to place an “X” on the glass, then tape the glass around the edges of the frame. For both exposed canvas and glass, wrap the painting in bubble wrap. Be sure that no materials touch exposed canvas. If your artwork is especially valuable, consider building a crate to size. For less valuable items, purchase boxes made to move art, and stack your artwork vertically inside them. Be sure to mark “fragile” on all sides of the box.

Heavy or awkward items: Sculptures and equipment like kilns and easels can be tough to move. These may be awkwardly-shaped in addition to being heavy. Break down your items into smaller pieces before the move if you can. Take pictures at each step to make it easier to put together in your new home. Measure pieces (and the boxes you plan to use) to be sure they’ll get through the door. Pack the sculpture or piece in foam padding. Next, use bubble wrap around the entire piece. Finally, place the bubble-wrapped piece in a box or crate, and add additional padding around the item before sealing. Mark “fragile” and “heavy” on all sides of the box whenever applicable, and use the smallest box you can for heavy items. This protects your movers, and gives your piece less room to move around. For an especially large item, you may have to consider using a crate and crane. In this case, it’s best to consult with a professional. For licensed products, like a brand name kiln, contact the manufacturer. Many have instructions on their website for moving the item, or can recommend a specialist. Weigh the cost of hiring a specialist against the cost of your equipment. How much will you lose if the item is damaged? Is it worth the risk to go it alone?

Insurance: We hate to think it, but accidents do happen, so it’s important to protect yourself in the unlikely event of damage to your equipment and art. In case of an accident, moving companies do have federally or state mandated liability. But that liability coverage can be far inferior to the value of your goods. Instead, consider a special policy – one that isn’t through the moving company – or ask your insurance agent what your homeowners insurance covers. If you’re lucky enough to own a priceless piece like a Van Gogh, make sure it’s listed on your policy so you can be compensated if the worst happens.

You’ve worked hard for your art, so be smart and protect your investments. Supplies, specialist movers, and insurance costs can add up, but the assurance of protection is priceless. If you’re strapped for cash, take a value inventory, and invest where loss or damage would be most devastating, and don’t forget to compare rates when looking for movers. Smart planning and packing is the best way to protect the art you love.

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