How to pack Pottery, Glass & other Fragile items

Views 11 Likes Comments Comment
Like if this guide is helpful
These Guidlines do not vary according to the carrier or service used.
All carriers and all services required safe & careful packing of fragile items.
'Fragile' and 'Handle with care' labels are NOT a substitute for careful packaging.
Valuable items should be insured.

1,000,000s of fragile items get sent every day by Ebay sellers.

90%+ arrive in good condition.
BUT even experienced sellers can make mistakes or get into bad habits.
Many fragile items survive their journey despite being poorly packed. The seller thinks he's doing ok until one day ....it doesn't.  
So experienced sellers please read on.
Especially if you are nervous or new to sending fragile items by post or delivery service.
Plese read on and if you follow these guidelines your item(s) will be delivered without problem.

Do's & Don'ts

Boxes / Cartons

Do choose boxes made of corrugated cardboard. 
Do use heavy-duty strong boxes for large or valuable items.
Do "double box" large or especially fragile items (and use padding between the inner and outer boxes)
Do choose an appropriate size of box for the item(s) you are sending. 
 Allow 3 to 4" above, below and to each side of fragile items for padding.
Do use sufficient padding so that your item(s) cannot move around within the box.
 (Under-filled boxes are likely to collapse; overloaded ones may burst.)
Do tape over any serrated sections of your box as this can burst open in transit.
 This has happened with items sent to me ! I have photos to prove it !
When re-using a box, remove the old labels and stickers 
 or black out any information on them with a thick marker pen

DON'Ts

Don't use very thin boxes ( like cereal or confectionary cartons) or damaged boxes
Don't send fragile items in a padded bag without a box !
  This is not an 'Ebay Urban Myth' ! It has happened with items sent to me ! I have photos to prove it !
Don't send pottery, glass or other fragile items just wrapped in bubble wrap and plastic bags without a box !
  This is not an  'Ebay Urban Myth'   ! It has happened with items sent to me ! I have photos to prove it !

Where can I find suitable boxes ? 
 See below - last section.

Wrapping

Glass & ceramics should ideally be wrapped in tissue paper as a first layer.
Do use several layers of bubble wrap or several used padded (Jiffy) bags
 Bubble wrap gives the best protection BUT
 -If you don't have any then wrap in tissue and several plastic bags PLUS 
 a strip of cardboard taped around the widest section + large enough to overhang the other sides. 

Packing

Do place your fragile item(s) in the centre of a package; ensuring they don't touch the sides. 
Your item(s) should be well cushioned on all sides - see "Padding"

Padding & Void Fillers
Do put a base layer of padding in the box to allow for it being dropped, crushed or pierced in transit
Do use expanded polystyrene foam blocks to line the sides, base and top OR
Do use poly chips, foam, airbags or a combination of these BUT
 If you don't have any of these, then use LOTS of newspaper scrunched into balls. (one or two layers)
Do cushion fragile items below, to the sides and above the item(s)
Do use sufficient padding to stop the item(s) moving around in transit
 - when the box is packed, there should be NO shifting noises when you shake it.
Double Boxing
 Padding between each item and all around all the items should still be done even if items are double boxed.

DON'T use shredded paper as this compacts in transit and leaves the upper parts of your box without sufficient padding.
DON'T use paper "Chads" (very small bits from modern shredding machines) as this shifts about in transit + it's also very heavy which means higher postage costs.

Multiple Fragile Items

DON'T allow items inside a package to touch each other 
Do separate multiple fragile items (ie drinking glasses) with cardboard dividers, or  
 - or tape a strip around each one as in the Wrapping section above.
 - or better still individual boxes (Double Boxing)

Sealing
Do use good quality, large size packing tape to secure your box.
Do make sure that all tape is well stuck down with no sticky as this can get caught in sorting machinery.
Don't use string as this can get caught in sorting machinery.

SPECIAL CASES

Metal & Glass together (ie Table Lamps with glass shades)
 Please be especially careful with this combination.
The shade should be bubble wrapped and have its own box or at very least a cardboard wrapping as descriped above.
Without this, there is a very real danger of the metal base damaging the glass in transit.
Old / used padded bags make a good, slightly strong wrapping for small & medium sized shades but still need added protection.

Decanters & their Stoppers
I have been unfortunate enough to have received several deanters over the years badly chiped or even smashed to pieces by renegade stoppers even when both are wrapped in several layerws of bubble wrap.
Decanter Stoppers are often very heavy, frequently, solid glass. They need extra wrapping and cardboard protection to avoid direct contact with the decanter body. 
Extra layers of bubble wrap, double boxing and sufficient filler padding is the only totally safe option.
At the very least wrap the Stopper AND Decanter with a cardboard strips and make absolutely sure theres no movement once all is packed.

Why can't I just tape the stopper in place ?
You can BUT there are several problems with this.
1) Sellotape leaves a sticky residue on the glass when unwrapped. 
 Your customer will not appreciate having to scrub it off.
2) The stopper may come free in transit
3) It requires a longer box, which then requires much more padding and void fill materials which either cost money or increase the weight and postage cost.

Multiple Large Pottery or Glass items together
The larger and heavier the items the more risk there is of destruction !
The first item I received broken was a large Sowerby Fircone pattern glass bowl which got smashed by a compact  but heavy Mdina vase. This despite both being wrapped in bubble and the box filled with poly chips.
Please take extra care in this case & use cardboard wraps or ideally, double boxing.

New pottery & glass items in their original boxes
The thin cartons used as retail packaging are not sufficient for transit.
They would have arrived to the retailer in additional packaging and so you must double box these items too.

Where can I find suitable boxes? 
Look in your garage, loft or dry shed for old boxes in good condition.
Ask neighbours, friends & nearby relatives.
On the street on re-cycling collection days.
In your kitchen / utility cupboards
 For small fragile items, washing tablet boxes & pet food sachet boxes are very strong.
Off Licences & wine merchants
 Boxes which carried 4 or 6 bottles of wine are strong and good for medium sized items.
Electrical retailers - for larger boxes & also foam & wrapping materials.

Please Note 
These Guidlines do not vary according to the carrier or service used.
All carriers and all services required safe & careful packing of fragile items.
'Fragile' and 'Handle with care' labels are NOT a substitute for careful packaging.
Valuable items should be insured.
Have something to share, create your own guide... Write a guide
Explore more guides