View Full Version : Constructing a better packing method for glass E.Coli

08-07-2012, 09:31 AM
Hi all,
We currently have on display a glass piece by Luke Jerram, E.Coli.
In preparation for this show closing in a few weeks, I'd like to ship it off better than we received it. It came to us with the main body wrapped in glassine and then in a box full of loose packing peanuts. The glassine was pierced in several places by the tendrils, making it very difficult to get it off the piece. (images attached)

Any ideas out there for a better way to pack it?

The tail at the end removes and ships separately. The dimensions are roughly 12" high, 22" long, and 12" wide.

Started thinking of a way to have arms supporting the central glass "bubble," but that was getting complicated. The simplest method that might work could be to simply pack it the same way it arrived, but with bags of packing peanuts. Would just need a tougher material than plastic bags to avoid being punctured by the tendrils.

Any help is appreciated.
Thank you!

08-07-2012, 11:12 AM
Oh man, that will be a tough one. I looked for a few more images online and found this slideshow (http://www.lukejerram.com/glass/gallery/e-coli) that shows the size better. Luckily it is small and like you I first thought of supporting the main "bubble" with ribs or something but it looks like the tendrils are too twisty to easily get a support in there. I'll forward this on to the Listserv and see if anyone has an idea or three.


08-07-2012, 01:33 PM
Here is a reply from the Listserv:

We have the same piece and I would avoid anything too aggressive for wrapping. We have had about 10 of those "tendrils" fall off(some on there own without any pressure being put on them). According to the gallery, the artist used a UV glue but let it cure in the sun and not with a UV light. They are very susceptible to falling off and any undo pressure on those could cause this to happen. I might suggest wrapping loosely in tyvek, nomex or dartek. All are fairly tough yet soft. The advantage to dartek is that you can see the piece. Ours was shipped in upholstery foam which I didn't like, but in hindsight realized it wasn't so bad because there was some "give" to it. I hate peanuts, but that is one option or you can make a well that had Tyvek pillows with batting. I think it's a great piece, but it has been a nightmare to deal with. On a side note, our conservator recommended re-attaching the tendrils with a specific silicone. The gallery suggested epoxy, but the silicone has some give and it is reversible. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Steve JohanowiczPreparatorChazen Museum of Art750 University Ave(mailing address 800 University Ave)Madison, WI 53704Ph. 608.263.2238www.Chazen.wisc.edu (http://www.chazen.wisc.edu/)

08-08-2012, 07:45 AM
Thanks Jason! I just joined the listserv, so wasn't able to send to that just yet.

We had similar troubles with the "tendrils" coming off. Though luckily so far not on their own while on display!
Tyvek pillows with batting is an interesting idea. I will see about playing around with that.

08-13-2012, 01:15 PM
One more response from the listserv:

For what its worth - based on my experience with a Dale Chihuly exhibition, I can recommend the following - his stuff is delicate like your piece and he packs everything in peanuts!!! I thought "what a concept!" But it actually works - further more he doesn't build crates for anything - but uses large triple-wall cardboard boxes - even for international shipment. He leaves plenty of room for a ton of peanuts - puts them in the bottom and then puts the work in when filled 1/3 full then more peanuts around the sides and then fills 'er up. This was anathema to me, but I am now persuaded as we had about 70 boxes packed like this (at a museum I worked for once upon a time) and no losses!!! Sometimes he wrapped little things in bubble first - but bubble is icky - and leaves marks that have to be cleaned off of glass. I recommend non-static peanuts if you can get them.

Cheers and good luck!


T. Ashley McGrew
08-16-2012, 08:02 AM
It is probably worth mentioning here that the Chihuly studio's packing methods are very well known in the packing community and they don't tend to be emulated for a good reason. Damage is frequent (although not as frequent as one might expect).
The Chihuly studio operates as a high-volume operation so when damages do occur they frequently have "spares" for many components. For this unique reason this packing system has seemed to suit their particular needs for many, many years now.
Museum professionals rarely find themselves in a position to take this kind of approach though. The exception for most of us would likely be when packing props or mounts that are also replaceable items. Peanuts certainly can be used to good purpose in the right applications but this particular situation may not be the best example of one.