View Full Version : crating framed works on paper

10-22-2010, 11:54 AM

What is the standard (or is there one) for crating works on paper? Which orientation is safest, flat or vertical? My first thought is to ride them flat due to potential matting/hinging stress when riding vertical but I hear other concerns when they ride flat.

Thank you for your help!

T. Ashley McGrew
10-22-2010, 09:02 PM
Hey, welcome to the forum!

What a great and appropriate question! My response may ruffle a few feathers - I certainly hope so anyway!
I have been dealing with works on paper since the the early 1980s starting out in a gallery program (Northlight Gallery)at Arizona State.
In the interceeding years working as a professional in the field I have noticed that there have been several institutions that have emplimented a policy of only packing works of paper to ride flat.
From what I can tell this is often the result of the institution having a WOP arrive at a venue with a failed hinge and possibly related damage to the artwork that is inaccurately attributed to packing/crating design.

If you are familiar with the actual physics of the situation you know that the G force level sustained by a framed hinged WOP in even the most marginally cushioned crate during transit is not sufficient to cause a hinge to fail under any conditions short of dropping if off of a fairly tall building.
If you go back and examine the source of most of these decisions, the "failed" hinges often tend to have "failed" in the sense that the hinge paper came loose from either the backing or the artwork itself instead of having torn through the hinges themselves. This indicates a failure in judgement in terms of the adhesion of the hinge that is the result of the mixture of the paste used.
Even in cases where the hinge itself is torn, often that is actually an indication that either a hinging paper was selected that was too light for the weight of the work being hinged, or that not enough hinges were used.
It can be a very complex calculation determining the tissue weight, number of hinges as well as the size of the hinges used to match a given size and weight of a Work on Paper - especially if it is float-mounted.

I say this as someone who has mounted many hundreds of pieces from gossamer-thin palladium prints on transluscent tissue to large heavy contemporary prints.
I should mention that this is not really an easy thing to do well, and there really isn't an accurate formula for this kind of calculation. In other words it can be more or an art than a science.
That said, if you "mess up" it is better to "fess up" to an error in judgement rather than to needlessly alter crate specs for an entire institution in an effort to cover your behind.
A few reasons why this is not really a good thing is that ride-flat crates tend to be much harder to configure in a way that is both practical in terms of size (going through doorways and such), ecomomy in terms of their "footprints" related to shipping costs, and ease of use in terms of minimized handling.

The standard for many years was endloading slot crates for larger works on paper and top loaders for smaller pieces.
For properly prepared hinged works on paper and anything with photo corners this should still be the case.
I would be most curious to hear actual credible evidence from folks out there to the contrary and most willing to see the arguments to back it up on the website.

As a disclaimer though, I do have to mention that in this instance I am talking only about reasonably stable materials.

Obviously pastels, charcoals or any other particularly friable media or works in fundamentally unstable condition are another matter entirely.

Also the consideration of the danger of glass glazing riding flat or of static build-up related to the use of various kinds of plex (that can literally pull the media off of the paper) or ultimately the sometimes prohibitive expense involved in the use of laminated glass which attempts to provide a solution for both of the issues above) continue to be part of a lively, lengthy, and ongoing debate.

I guess getting back to your actual question you are right in wondering whether there is a set standard in a general sense for this broad category of work. In my experience the real answer is no.

The good thing is that this is definately the place though to examine this issue.
Thanks for posting this question.
Looking forward to input from other experienced professionals!