Wave Triptych work in progress ©2011 Katherine Kean
I've had the desire to make larger artwork, and I also appreciate convenience, which may be why I've been looking at making modular artwork, such as triptychs and diptychs, as they are called when placed side by side. When they are stacked one above the other it is simply called a modular piece.
Size is a consideration, not only in storage, but also in shipping. There are size restrctions to what can be shipped through UPS, FedEx, and the USPS. There are also insurance limits. Fedex will only insure up to $500.00 and UPS up to $1,000.00. The US Postal Service does not seem to have the same qualms about insuring artwork for shipment.
I recently sent artwork across the country and chose USPS just for this reason. I got a strongbox from the Airfloat company. This is basically an art/mirror box such as those sold at Uline, but Airfloat had the better price.
It is a lined box with perforated foam that is easy to cut to conform to the artwork, so that the art rides in a cushioned support. I ordered the version that has a reinforced lining to resist punctures. The boxes are strong and lightweight and reusable. Between the strongbox and the insurance I had confidence. I needed that confidence when soon after the box was picked up it mysteriously dropped out of the tracking system and for two days was "lost."
I've had a history of ups and downs with the Postal Service. Once, I was told that my 4 1/4 x 6" postcard announcements were too big, resulting in a surreal tug of war across the counter as I tried unsuccessfully to take them back. Another time the mailman could not find my house to deliver a package and so just dropped it by the side of the road. On the upside every claim I've ever had has been settled swiftly and completely.
In this case I called customer service and got trapped in one of those voicemail loops where the system kept asking for the label number; which when entered instructed me to contact the sender, which happened to be me. It was a voice system and I ended up yelling "No!" and "Help!" at every option, another surreal moment until an actual person eventually picked up and took down my information.
As the day wore on and the package was not found I was having very negative thoughts and not sure what to do. As it became evening I decided that there wasn't much I could do, at least not until the next day and so I put the Post Office, labels, tracking, and insurance out of my mind. Around 8:30pm the phone rang. It was the Post Office, calling to say not to worry. No, they hadn't found my package, but were sure it would turn up soon. It was suggested that I call the Post Office on the other end and ask if they'd seen it. This seemed a little too easy but this is exactly what I did the next day. Miraculously, or so it seemed at this point, they had all the label and tracking info, told me it was on the truck and would be delivered momentarily, and it was.
Will I use USPS again for shipping? It looks like I will, at least for anything valued at over $1,000.00. Have you ever shipped artwork? If so, what service did you use and what shipping materials, and was it a good experience?