Over the past couple of weeks, I have been asked, what is the best way to pack a chawan for shipping? Having verbally described the method three different times, I decided to post a little narrative of my packing method. What follows will seem nothing more than common sense, but I am continually amazed that packing is another discipline that needs to be learned through practical experience. As a side note, we won a large tsubo off eBay many years back and when it arrived in NH from Hawaii, there was a 14” tall by 18” wide tsubo in a 20” square box, no packing material except the pot was filled with peanuts. It arrived in perfect condition, so go figure.
The first caveat is that there is no one way to pack ceramics for successful results. That being said, in 25+ years of shipping chawan, I have never had one arrive broken and cannot say the same for pieces coming to me.
The first thing I do is to cut two strips of small bubble, bubblewrap just slightly longer than the circumference of the box and just the width of the box opening. I lay these strips in a cross, one “vertical, the other “horizontal” (see illus. A), then place the paper wrapped chawan into the box, pushing the strips down. I then fold the excess wrap into the chawan. In the next step, I take four, previously prepared bubblewrap rolls and stuff each one into a corner of the box (see illus. B), this makes sure the bowl will not shift during shipping.
Next I take a piece of bubblewrap, roughly the size of the box opening and twice as long, fold it in half and place it on top of the packaging (see illus. C). Now I put the wood box lid on and gently, yes gently, shake the box. If there is any movement in the box, you need to stuff more bubblewrap either in the corners or on top of the packaging. One real beauty of packing the bowl in its box, is according to most shipping requirements, all fragile objects should be double boxed and what is better than a wood box in a cardboard one?
Once this is worked out to your satisfaction, tie the box shut, wrap in a layer of bubblewrap and place it in a box with at least 1” on all sides (though up to 4” is preferable), top and bottom, pack the voids with a layer of cardboard on all four sides and fill with “peanuts" and this should do the trick.
As custodians of these pots, it is important to pass the pieces along in the same condition as they arrived. Enough cannot be said for packing for traveling and getting there all in one piece.
Important PSA; Don’t drink and pack and ALWAYS pay for the insurance