How We Pack Pottery For Shipment

We have shipped pottery from our studio to locations around the World. We have shipped pottery to Florida, Maine, New York, Alaska, Texas, Hawaii, and all across Canada by bus, mail, and courier. Since most carriers will not insure something they consider fragile other than to guarantee the box will arrive at its final destination, our packing is our insurance. Statistically we have zero breakage. In over tenyears of shipping literally tons of pottery we have had a total of less than 10 pieces broken in shipment. We guarantee our shipments will arrive unbroken, and we replace anything broken in shipment. The following is a step by step look at how we pack pottery. In this case we are packing a four cubic foot, 18 inch x 18 inch x 24 inch box, with 18 mugs and a 12 inch bowl.

Clicking on a "thumbnail" picture will give you a larger image.

12 inch by 250 ft roll of single face corrugated cardboard

We start with a roll  of 12 inch wide single face corrugated cardboard. Every piece of pottery will be individually wrapped in cardboard.
Mug to be wrapped
Here a piece of cardboard has been cut the proper length to wrap a mug.
Stretch film plastic is used instead of tape
Stretch film plastic is used instead of tape . Not only is it easy to apply but when the recipient opens the parcel it is much easier to open. This way there is much less chance of breakage. Also for recycling purposes the cardboard remains clean.
Each mug is wrapped in its own protective cover
Each mug is wrapped in its own protective covering  so no pottery surface can contact another.
Bowls receive the same cardboard cover.
Bowls receive the same cardboard cover. In this case the cardboard is wrapped in both directions.
Cardboard covered 12 inch bowl.
The cardboard wrapped bowl is protected from contact with any other piece of pottery.
100 mugs and 2 12 inch bowls ready to be packed
Here is the complete order of 100 mugs and 2 twelve inch bowls ready to be packed.
4 cubic foot boxes purchased new
These 18 x 18 x 24 inch tall boxes are purchased new. We always use new boxes to ship as reused boxes tend to be "tired" and look tired.  Also, when a parcel has a professional appearance there is a very good possibility it will receive professional handling on its journey.
The box bottom is taped shut
Packing tape is used to close the box with three strips. One at the center seam, one across the center of each flap then a strip to seal the ends of the flaps so there are no loose edges to catch when the box is sliding or being handled.
16 cu ft bag of "Enviropack" corrugated cardboard
We used "Enviropack" perforated cardboard for packing in boxes as cushioning around the sides and ends and between pieces as required. It is 100% recyclable, bio-degradable, and works well to fill voids and hold and cushion the pots. We purchased it in 16 cubic foot bags from Specialty Packaging in Edmonton. Specialty Packaging closed in late 2008 and we have not found another source for this material. We are currently using biodegradable (soy based) "peanut" packaging..
Four to five inches of enviropack in the bottom of the container
First we place four or five inches of uncompressed enviropack (now peanuts) in the bottom of the container.
Nine to twelve mugs will fit in one layer
Nine to twelve mugs will fit in one layer. They are fit snugly against each other and then panuts are pushed into the area between the mugs and the container walls.
A twelve inch pottery bowl is set on top of the mugs.
One of the twelve inch bowls is set on top of the mugs.
Enviropack is used to overfill the box
A final layer of packing is added. It is packed firmly around the bowl and slightly overfills the box.
The packing is pressed down and the box is sealed.
The packing is pressed down into the box and the top flaps are sealed in a manner similar to the bottom. Three strips of packing tape are used. One across the center seam where the flaps meet and one across the center of each flap. Two other strips are used to seal the ends of the flaps to prevent any edges catching when the box is sliding or being handled.
The box is labled
Labels and stickers are applied. The shipping label is completely covered with tape to prevent any moisture from causing the ink to run. Fragile stickers are applied on all sides as well as our personal label announcing another pottery shipment from Out of the Fire Studio. These make it very clear the contents are breakable pottery. These boxes have a label which points to the top of the box and says this side up, but this is a guideline, not a rule. When a box is being handled by automated equipment, or when room is tight in a van or trailer, up may become sideways or even down. We always assume the box will sit on any of its sides at some time during shipment. An industry standard is that the box be capable of falling four feet onto a concrete surface without breaking. We have never actually tested the concept but as we said earlier our pots are delivered unbroken, time after time.
Shipment of five boxes ready to go
Here is the complete shipment ready to go. 151 pounds of pottery in five containers. This shipment is going by bus so it will travel on one waybill. If it was being mailed each box would be shipped separately.

Do's and Don'ts of Packing

Do use new materials. Do wrap each piece separately.  Do snugly fill each box. Do have at least 4 inches of cushioning between the product and the box. Do tape down all loose edges. Do label clearly. Do a professional job. Do be environmentally friendly.

Don't use old boxes. Don't use newspaper. (Newsprint ink smudges your products and the customers hands and clothing). Don't overload the box (for example these four cubic foot boxes usually hold 30 to 40 pounds of pottery maximum). Don't leave anything loose to rattle around. Don't cut corners. An extra five dollars on packaging is cheap insurance.

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