Flat Pack Portfolios
(works on paper)
Shadow boxes and crates
(stretched canvas, sculpture)
How to make a flat pack portfolio
If the artwork has some curl to it, you can lay a sheet of glassine over it and put a light weight on it until it gets a bit flatter* *if it has been in a tube for a very long time it may need conservation for this
For most works on paper such as photographs, drawings, watercolors, and most prints, wrap it in a glassine envelope.
Make sure the glassine has a little extra room - you don't want to squish the artwork
Next make your photo corners. I like to use 100% acid free cotton paper. Some people make them out of glassine.
Put the photo corners on the artwork like socks. Take care not to make them too tight, they should fit just so - not too snug or too loose.
Secure your photo corners with tape. Be careful that the tape is aligned in such a way that it is not easy to tear into the artwork (always remove tape away from the direction of the artwork)
Secure all four corners
If the work is especially large, or being shipped or stored vertically, you might want to make it a "sushi belt". This is a bit of extra glassine or sometimes a sheet of thin Tyvek. Just gives it a little extra security.
Label the face of your portfolio and close gently. Note about portfolios: This is acid free foam core. I also like conservation grade coroplast. For shipping I like MasterPak print packs and boxes.
Notice how I am bending the edge of the tape over itself - this makes it easier to "pull to remove" later. No broken fingernails.
Put tape on the edge
At regular intervals. No need to put more tape than this. If it is going to go outside you can wrap it in plastic at this step.
Remember: Always label!
Logging it away safely in the flat files.... Note: if this is being shipped be sure to caution shippers not to tap or shake the work as this can cause buckling in the paper.
And entering it into the database for easy finding later.
Flat pack portfolios
Flat pack portfolios are suitable for:
Photographs in good condition
You can also add extra spacers inside of the portfolio to prevent it from closing too firmly to gently hold works such as:
Works with heavy impasto
Works with collaged mixed media that are not flat
Aging photos that risk cracking if pressed totally flat - although these should probably be in a box, depending
Flat pack portfolios are great for long term storage. If sturdy they can also be used for local transport with plastic wrap around the outside. More protection is needed for long distance transport.
1 Existing portfolio larger than the artwork by at least 4" on each side (like Masterpak or Cachet) -or- Make it with 2 acid free foam core sheets larger than the artwork by at least 4" on each side, preferably 3-6mm thick sheets to make into a portfolio -or- Make it with 2 sheets of heavy double wall cardboard can also work (note that it can't be bendable like the usual single wall)
1 Roll of Glassine or a couple sheets of Glassine larger than the artwork size. Glassine is good for most work on paper.
For extra sensitive antique items you can use archival tissue paper
For totally flat non-stretched works with oil or acrylic paint elements you should use Dartek, or Tyvek.
1 roll Sturdy Packing tape such as 3M 375 clear 2" wide tape roll
1 roll Archival Artist's tape (or in a pinch painter's tape is OK)
4 sheets of Paper for making photo corners, ideally a thin, non-textured acid free,100% cotton rag or linen paper. Although you can use glassine for this too. In a pinch regular typing paper is OK as long as it doesn't directly touch the artwork (the artwork should be in glassine anyway).
1 Marker for labeling when you are done
Note about shipping:
If you want to ship it, you can put the flat pack portfolio inside of a sturdy box, making sure to pad out any extra space so it doesn't shake around. Masterpak sells the box and portfolio as as set. Then you can ship the box the usual way via Fed Ex if it's not high value - just be sure to recommend insurance that covers the value of the art in case of damage. For blue chip artworks always use high end art handlers to move the work.
If the work is already framed and is being shipped locally, wrapping in brown paper/ thin foam and cardboard is fine. If it is going long distance, I recommend a Masterpak box or for high value works, having an art handler build a crate.