The art industry is globalised, and as such, shipping costs are incurred by almost every artist. When you buy your art prints or posters online, there’s a good chance you’ll receive a tube in the post, as rolling art for tube shipping is an excellent measure to protect the artwork from damage during transit, provided additional steps are taken.
The most obvious protection methods are to wrap the rolled art inside acid-free paper in tubes that are 4+ inches longer than the length of the print or poster, and the same in diameter and then use bubble wrap above, below and around the print before sealing in an art tube for shipping.
When your art arrives, there are usually instructions on how to prepare the artwork prior to framing, but that is dependent on where you bought the art, and if the artist is aware of the pre-framing requirements for rolled-up art. For some artists in their early stages of selling art online via marketplaces, they may not have sufficient knowledge of the framing process to advise you on appropriate methods.
With that in mind, if you buy your art or any prints that arrive rolled up in a tube, follow these steps before you put the art into a frame.
Step 1. Find a large area that’s clean and dust-free to roll your art flat
The first step before you take your artwork out of its packaging is to make sure you have enough space to work with it. Chances are when you bought the print; measurements would have been provided. If it’s a large print of 40” x 60”, you’ll need a clear and clean area just larger than the size of the print so you can roll it out flat. If you don’t have the table space, clear some floor space making sure it’s free from dust. For added protection, you could also line your floors with a dust cloth or similar material to lay your artwork on.
Step 2. Weight the art using books or paperweights
Once your art is rolled out, weighting each corner of the print for around 24-hours will help prevent the piece’s tendency to roll up. This is needed before you put it into a frame as if it isn’t left to flatten out first, it can cause the corners to tighten up inside the frames leading to wrinkling around the corners.
Use something with a flat surface that’s clean and free from acidic material. Heavy books like an old dictionary or a paperweight are examples of items you can use to weight your art prior to framing.
Step 3. Removing wrinkles in art
There can still be times when wrinkles appear even after being weighted, and it can happen with canvas prints and paper prints alike. To get any creases out of artwork, a damp cloth can be effective to smoothen out the wrinkle. Depending on the deepness, it may need some heat applied to iron out the crease. This can be done (with caution) using an iron set at medium temperature and using a damp cloth as a barrier between the surface of the iron and the art. The iron should only be in contact with a damp cloth and never directly applied to the art itself.
There is an exception to this, and that’s for watercolour paintings as wrinkles are natural with this type of work, and it’s just because of the nature of water on any material. Slight wrinkles on watercolour paintings are natural so don’t try to iron those out.
Once the above steps are complete, you’ll find your artwork is flattened and ready to be put in a frame without the risk of curling.