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How to Package Printed Works for Mailing

16th September 2015 Papers & Presentation

Smaller Prints - A5, A4, A3 size

With smaller prints, it's easier and more economical to send them in flat, strong cardboard envelopes. We use white rigid cardboard mailers. They're very very stiff, relatively inexpensive and are available in A5, A4 and A3 sizes. 

SKU Price (inc) Qty.
Rigid Mailers For Prints Rigid Mailers For Prints

We suggest not using the provided sticky tab on the back of these envelopes to close them, but instead simply closing the flap and taping down securely. The reason for this is that the glue used on the sticky tab is really hard to open and can cause damage to prints upon opening.

Within these we use our ClearBags for extra protection and pretty presentation, and we suggest placing the print plus a backing board into each bag.

SKU Price (inc) Qty.
Backing Boards For Prints Backing Boards For Prints
Crystal Clear Archival Bags for Cards Crystal Clear Archival Bags for Cards
Crystal Clear Archival Bags for Prints Crystal Clear Archival Bags for Prints

Larger Prints - Over A3 size

Once you get over A3 size, it's easier and safer to roll your prints and place into cardboard tubes.

The main things to consider are:

  • Your tubes should have a diameter of 8cm or more, ideally 10cm plus. The smaller tubes are too tight and you may damage the print. Getting the paper curl out of them at the other end can also be a real hassle.
  • They should be made from very firm cardboard , approx 3mm+ thickness, or you can even use PVC piping if you want them to be super strong. You can get them from Bunnings/Reece Plumbing etc and go for a wider gauge pipe. Note: if you do use PVC make sure you use a proper non porous barrier layer to separate the PVC from your prints as PVC leeches chemicals that can damage prints, and storage for any length of time in PVC is not really a great approach from an archival perspective. Also, if you use PVC, use temporary type end caps, not the permanent PVC ones which are very very hard to remove.
  • Your tube length should be about the length of your rolled print + at least 6cm. This leaves room for the end caps and a little padding material. You can cut bigger tubes down to size.
  • We use custom made mailing tubes from Darpac for our 24" & 44" prints which are made with 4.8mm thick walls. If you wish to order your own, just provide Darpac with the internal diameter, length, wall thickness and finish of the tube required as well as delivery information and quantity. You can contact them at [email protected] or via phone on 03 9455 2020.
  • You can use a standard 24" tube from Australia Post for posting 24" prints around Australia, but don't generally recommend them for shipping internationally. They are not up to the rigours of print shipping, but within Australia they are generally reliable.
    SKU Price (inc) Qty.
    Mailing Tubes For Prints Mailing Tubes For Prints
    Protective Materials
    Ilford Galerie Fine Art Glassine 50gsm
    Acid free non-printable interleaving sheets - impervious to water and air, suitable for protecting and storing your fine art prints.
    More info
    • Protect the surface of your print.
      When you roll your print, lay archival polypropylene plastic or acid free tissue paper (Ilford Glassine is great!) over the entire printed surface.
      Roll the print with the printed surface out, not in, which prevents the printed area from rubbing on itself and potential scuff marks.
      We buy clear poly film from Byars, and use the 30" Clear Poly Roll, Item Code: PM30P.   We get larger sizes from Koch.
    • Note that poly film is sometimes lazily labelled as 'Cello Film' - you do NOT want real cellophane as it is acidic, so check!
    • Extra padding material (usually bubble wrap) stops the print sliding around in the tube. Don't wedge it too tightly though or you can kink the edges of your print.
    • You can also put a cylinder of bubble wrap inside the rolled print to provide some internal support against crushing incidents although if the courier mistreats the tube this badly there's not really much that will save it.
    • End caps are essential and should be well taped on. Use the strongest ones you can get your hands on as they help support the tube against crushing.
    • Place some paper around the rolled print and tape that - do not tape the print packaging directly. This means the receiver can remove the paper and tape, then carefully unwrap the print from there with no danger of the tape getting anywhere near the print.
    • There is some debate about whether to tuck the wrapping material into the end of the print. This can cause a kink if you're not careful so we generally don't do it but if you're careful it does provide a neater finish.
    Extra Information
    • You should also read about How To Handle Inkjet Prints
    • We suggest sending an information sheet along with your print describing the delicate nature of the print and emphasising very careful handling prior to, and during, the framing process.
    • Finally, leaving extra whitespace around your image is always a good idea. You can tell your clients the print has extra white space just in case of minor kinks or similar, and that the idea is the framer will trim this off before framing. You can even have crop marks printed in to help with this if you want.

    Using these methods we send thousands of prints each year and in a decade of doing this I can think of only one or two instances of damage with prints shipped within Australia, which were both due to truly absurd mishandling by the shipping company.