Protecting Your Art…A How To Guide

Like a lot of artists, I have contemplated the following questions:  How can I protect  my work and get it from the studio to the show/venue without getting it dinged up and scratched?     How can I do it easily and without spending a fortune?  

Answer:   Art/Painting Sleeves

Recently, I was at an outdoor show and it started to rain and with that rain came a little wind, so you know what happened, right?   One of the my larger paintings fell over and hit the ground.   When I inspected the piece, I discovered a nick/ding on the edge of the painting…ouch!        A well meaning friend said “that’s teeny tiny, you can just paint over that.”   But the fact is, I can’t, it was chipped off down to the gesso and there’s about 7 layers of paint that made up that sky color. 

So what’s an artist to do??    Well, as we were packing up our things later that day, I paid special attention to how other artists were transporting their precious cargo and noted the following:

  • One was using old blankets & large beach towels to wrap around his art. 
  • One was using fabric sleeves he had sewn to put his art  in.  
  • One was using bubble wrap sleeves for his large photo prints.

I researched the bubble wrap sleeves early last year, and they can be pretty costly if you’re on a tight budget, so those were out of the picture for me.   I REALLY liked the fabric sleeves that the one artist made, but I can barely sew on buttons and I don’t own a sewing machine.   The old blankets and big towels sounded ok, but they weren’t secured, so they could fall off easily during transit and there are potential high costs involved.     What to do, what to do… 

I thought about my art transportation and storage issues for a few days and didn’t have any ideas until I drove past a Hancock’s Fabric store one evening after work and then it hit me:   I could make the painting/art sleeves by using a product called Heat & Bond (for about $3.50) and I wouldn’t have to worry about sewing.    When I got into the fabric store, I bought 2 yards of dark purple felt ($4.99 a yard) and went home to start working on the idea. 

Here are the steps I took:

Measure & cut the fabric to the desired size –  For a 5×7 painting, I added a few inches to the sides to make sure that there was plenty of room for the painting to fit into the sleeve.    (See my little 5×7 painting next to the ruler?  The piece of fabric for the sleeve is about 1.5 times width and 2.5times the length of the size of the painting…that’s just a funky picture angle.)

Apply the Heat & Bond tape to 2 sides and iron them onto the fabric, then let it sit and cool for about 2-3 minutes before removing the tape backing.

Fold the fabric over and line up the edges, iron the sides where the Heat & Bond tape is. 

Let the painting sleeve cool again and then you’re all done!!

If you wanted to completely close the sleeve, you could:  Tape it shut from the outside with masking tape  OR you could put in a zipper by Heat & Bond or sewing.   You could also make your sleeves out of fleece instead of felt.  Or use towels or blankets from a thrift store, which will help you to keep costs down too and go GREEN. 

So far, I have made 19 small art sleeves and I plan to make larger ones in the next month for the big paintings.   Going forward, if a painting isn’t hanging on a wall, I will have it in a sleeve, because I can’t afford for paintings to get scuffed up and damaged. 

Special Note:  Please make sure that your artworks are COMPLETELY DRY before inserting into the sleeves.  An oil painting can take up to 3-6 months to cure and an acrylic painting can take up to a week to cure.   (Depending on the thickness of paint layers.) 

post by Michelle McSpadden  


2 Responses to “Protecting Your Art…A How To Guide”

  1. Great post. Hope to read much more great posts in the future.

  2. Great tips! Thanks for the post!

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