Bronwyn's Blog

Things to consider when sending your art (painting) overseas

(or anywhere for that matter...)


(PS - apologies for rambling again, but someone’s got to do it! I can’t bear the stress that this particular aspect of our trade has caused us and hope that something in the above at least makes one part of the trip a little easier!...and to those that "got-the-t-shirt", please add to this - every little bit helps!)

Congratulations! You’ve sold a painting! Now all you have to do is send it on its way to its new forever home over the sea……nobody panic (!).

Since I am (happily) privy to this particular debate (any many others!) on a nearly daily basis, I thought I would try and give you a few tips in terms of getting this right….or at least try to make the journey a little smoother – for you and your painting! It is what we are here for!

Aside from bringing your painting straight to us...remember:

STEP 1: You are a BUSINESS - Carry yourself like one 

(Calculate your COST and CHARGE! I know it is easier said than done... it's the idea I am trying to get across!)

I don’t need to tell you. Being an artist is one of the toughest vocations there are. There is nothing worse than having sold a painting, only to learn afterwards how exorbitant packaging, insurance and transport costs on same is going to be.

Before determining the selling price of your art (and regardless of what you think you will fetch for your painting), calculate the quantifiable cost to you first. i.e. what it physically cost you to produce the painting. Canvas, paint, brushes, mediums…..and (what this article is designed to help with) - SHIPPING.

Perhaps, we tend to skip this step because we fear that our cost price, (obviously in our subjective opinions) will exceed the price we can get for the painting in the first place….? Just a thought. I had. Once.

Transport costs are real and you have to let your client understand clearly and from the start, that these costs are to be considered and that the final price may change as a result. 

Always make sure that you reserve this right. You can then work out your selling price from there.

STEP 2: PACKAGING - Small / Light packages = cheap. Big / heavy = expensive.

You have to package your artwork in such a way that whichever transporter is moving it, calculates their rate according to the lowest possible volumetric weight. This does NOT mean fold your painting into a tiny square and send in an envelope (!). Be realistic – look at lightweight materials that are strong enough to protect your artwork without being too bulky and taking up too much space.

HOW to package?

Many of you may are already familiar with the following (and reliable) starting point for specific guidelines on how to package your art “according to gallery standard” would be https://support.saatchiart.com/…/Saatchi_Art_Packaging_Guid…

But, whether you are going to ROLL your painting, or send it STRETCHED on a frame, all depends on the individual variables for each work – Enter ETH Canvas...

STEP 3: SEND YOUR PAINTING IN A TUBE (Roll your painting)

At ETH Canvas, we use either a solid underground waste pipe (400mm OD) or pvc gutter pipe (110mm OD), to ensure optimal protection for your painting (they work much better than the mailing tubes anyway and you can cut them as long as you need), and depending on the individual requirements. We use an inner and outer tube and fit the rolled painting securely in the tube.

For detailed information on how to do this, please click here: http://www.eandtcanvasses.co.za/transporting-your-painting-…

STEP 4: ART PAKK TRANSPORT BAG (if you are sending a stretched painting)

To eliminate the need for all of the traditional, "gallery-standard" packaging material requirements (including corner protectors!) use our fantastic new, environmentally friendly (and reusable) Art Pakk transport bag – endorsed by international galleries!

ETH Canvas recommends the Art Pakk bag for inside our transport crates when transporting abroad.

Say goodbye to bubble wrap and tape and frustration forever! Please click here for more information on this fantastic new innovation! http://www.eandtcanvasses.co.za/art-packaging.html


Interestingly enough, expert stretching facilities in overseas countries is sorely lacking, perhaps due to a lower demand.....? (I don't know) Regardless, this may leave your foreign clients finding themselves having to approach a framer for a solution, who oftentimes themselves need to consult a carpenter for help...(I kid you not!), making this already expensive service an utterly exorbitant one!

Depending on your specific requirement, it may very well be "cheaper" (for your client and you in the long-run) to include the stretching and packaging, in the beginning, rather than sending your client the added surprise of realizing that getting the painting hung, may very well cost more than they paid for the painting in the first place......It's your responsibility to educate your client!

And, I KNOW it may make the initial selling price of your artwork appear more attractive if you try and cut out the stretching and crating to reduce cost..... BUT, keeping repeat business in mind (your AND your client's wallet!) , charging that little bit extra for the work, stretched on a frame and ready to hang, will be well worth it in the end.

We manufacture strong, sturdy, hardboard crates for the safe transport / shipping of your stretched paintings or prints.

For international shipping, our Art Pakk bag is recommended, in the absence of which we will properly wrap, seal and secure your painting within the crate, which is reinforced inside with a timber cross-frame. For a gallery of crates, please visit http://www.eandtcanvasses.co.za/art-crating.html


Oops.....for those that didn't think of that, don’t panic – we can easily arrange this for you, without any risk of damage to your completed work. This specialized fumigation service (for frames, crates, paintings, prints...) is for the issuing of the necessary documentation and stamps, as required by international shipping customs regulations.

(Depending on the place of origin and destination, requirements regarding the export and import of timber products, under which definition stretched paintings fall, will differ from country to country. For guidelines on South Africa’s Guidelines, click here: http://www.nda.agric.za/…/ISPM%2015_guidelines_int_trade.pdf - ISPM 15 Guidelines)


Ok – so everything’s packed and ready to go, and you’ve just secretly cut the heartstrings attaching you to your “precious” (now being carried off into the sunset) when like any doting mother you ask yourself, ‘what if something goes wrong?’ And so you should…. Well at least most of the time.

Whether to insure or not is an entirely different debate (!), but for our current purposes, I’d like to make a few points (just my opinion…. must remember to add a disclaimer….!), given that this is traditionally the “catch-22-cost”…and an “unnecessary expense” … inextricably linked to exporting art, especially for an emerging artist!!!

Consideration 1: Is it as simple as “you can paint your client another painting”? (If so – make sure you cover this at time of sale – problem solved!)

Consideration 2: Do you even have insurance? Regardless - you would need to approach an independent broker for advice on arranging this cover, since it is a specialized cover, excluded from conventional personal and business policies

Consideration 3: What is the agreement between you and the insurer regarding what you will get paid out if something happens? There is a DISTINCT difference between “retail”, “market” and “agreed” value, as we understand it – and often results in massive disappointment on realization that the work is insured for much less than we thought. Specifically when dealing with painting-related claims.

Consideration 4: Do you have proof of ownership or an evaluation certificate? No insurer will pay out without this. What type of proof do they need?

Consideration 5: So you don’t feel like the schlep and take the courier’s insurance, which is extremely limited. Fact. They’re considered “high risk” – so the weight of the responsibility is redirected at you. You end up paying for cover that nobody understands or ever explains to you, and when your painting is squashed under a container at a dock somewhere, you don’t get paid a cent and your client a very unhappy chappy.

(Go back to Consideration 1…..)

Since we try to provide optimal service and a one-stop solution to our artists, at ETH Canvas, we even have this “covered” for you!

IF your art is packaged in an ETH Transport crate, we are now able to include comprehensive and specialized insurance cover in your “packaging and shipping costs” for cover during transport to any destination, worldwide – and at a fantastic rate. R1000 min premium / up to R70 000 worth of cover (and increments thereof). The facility our insurer has designed for us is bespoke to this particular type of transit and has been pre-underwritten to ensure that you get the best value for your money and professionally issued cover.

(NB - This is a facility is offered through our insurer. We are not a broker or a licensed FSP – and this isn't advice - it’s just an extension of the service we offer)


Now you need to find someone to send your insured, fumigated, perfectly crated Bonny, over the ocean.

Forget the horror stories! (EVERY courier has them, and besides, you’re insured).

Offered by postal administrators of the Universal Postal Union or UPU (that’s fancy-speech for “major post offices”), EMS (or “expedited mail service”) is a little heard-of facility that I personally feel is underutilized.

Basically an international door-to-door service offered by the SA Post Office. (NOT Postnet to Postnet!) Airmail – 14 days transit time. Sea-mail – 30-60 days. Before you say it, forget what you have heard about them not being able to send parcels longer / larger than 1000mm. This is only true for some of them. Others offer EMS.

I have to share an example to make my point.

1500 x 1300 x 150 ETH Crate , ex Woodstock, Cape Town to 

Denver Colorado:

Airmail – R4 000 (Sea-mail – R1 500 … all good things come to those who wait!)

This was insurance excluded. 

To add insurance at the offered R1 000, and R1000 to package and crate – my shipping costs to my client’s door via airmail = R6 000. (Or roughly $460…)

This vs. another quote I got from a “big name courier” of R18 000…. (or approximately $1400…) …Just saying.

In conclusion, I guess what I am saying is bring your painting to us. Let us take care of it ;-)









Review by Clea Witte, SA Artist:

“Last week I had the grueling task of having to find the best way to send 2 of my large paintings to Dubai. The gallery in Dubai asked that I take them off their frames and send them rolled up via EMS, postal services. My first instinct was to phone Bronwyn from ETH canvas. Not only was she able to assist me but also got the job done. The paintings were beautifully and very securely rolled up in a large PVC pipe, as simple as that. I used the EMS section of our local post office, which at first was a challenge as not all post offices offer this service, plus they might argue they only send parcels no longer than 1m, but with some convincing they sent off my paintings which had a length of 1.5m. I thought it would be really expensive to have crates made up for a painting and send it by airmail . . . Seems it is not the case!

I was very impressed to find my paintings had arrived safely at their destination 1 week later. The gallery was pleased with both the paintings and the professional manner in which the paintings were packaged.

A big thank you to Bronwyn and her team for their help and professionalism!”

IT'S A PLEASURE Clea Witte!!

Happy painting guys!

B xxx

(disclaimer: all quotes mentioned in the above were valid at time of writing this article and are not a reflection of what the current costs concerned are - quotes are subject to change at any time. You will have to contact me for a new quotation for each consignment to get an accurate price)


What is cotton duck (canvas) ?


#whattheduck….. #gettingyourducksinarow (…#imacanvasaddict)      


/ˈkanvəs /

Der. 13th century Anglo-French “canevaz” & old French “canevas”, der. Vulgar Latin “cannapaceus”

Or “made of hemp”, der. Greek : κάνναβις




  1. 1.

a waterbird with a broad blunt bill, short legs, webbed feet, and a waddling gait…….. 

…. Guys, I thought to find another excuse for a bit of a ramble, especially on re-considering some of the priceless expressions I’ve had the pleasure of seeing when I refer to our (cotton) “duck” (lol)… just thought I’d help make a bit clearer for those that are interested.

D-U-C-K….. (not D-U-C-T J) simply comes from the Dutch word “doek”, meaning “cloth”.

The word “Canvas”, actually refers to a number of different, closely woven materials …. But has generally become the term used to refer to the cloth that all of you, my angels, paint on.

You get two types of canvas - (a) Linen (made from flax plant fibers and a LOT more expensive) and (b) Cotton (made from the white “candy floss” bit, found around the seeds of cotton plants, and which is more affordable.)

  (Cotton Duck only really became popular round about the 1850’s, with the advent of acrylic paint, whereas one of the earliest surviving oil paintings on canvas was one discovered in 1410, Madonna with Angels, in Berlin.)

Under the Cotton category, you get (a) Plain and (b) Duck…..which is how we arrive at the term “Cotton Duck”, the cloth we use to manufacture the majority of our canvas. (We have a range of different cloth available including our cotton duck range, exotic linens and our new #soontobeofficiallylaunched #iamsoexcitedicouldpop “Velvetine” canvas, designed in-house………but that’s for another article….watch this space!)

The reason that we use the “Duck” and not the “Plain” variation is that Duck threads are a lot more tightly woven, which is very important – ‘looser’ threads pose the risk of overstretching or even tearing when stretching onto a frame. In addition, the tighter your weave, the better and more consistent the application of your primer. Duck is flexible – and it’s strong.

In weaving a canvas, the “Plain” (vs. the “twisp”) weave is used since it is the strongest and most hardwearing of the weaves. Our canvas, uses a variation of this plain weave, called the “Basketweave” – where two or more threads are bundled and woven (vs. the “one-up-and-one-over” or “balanced plain weave” variation), again for added strength and durability, and ultimately to facilitate the sizing, priming and sanding processes we apply to arrive at our finished product.  The grammage (weight) that we use is also carefully selected to achieve the desired result (depending on how smooth / rough you want the finished product to be)

This is where I have to mention how especially vital it is that the cloth is stretched properly, especially for larger size paintings – at ETH Canvas, our years of expertise in this field have enabled us to supply you not only with professional advice in this regard, but bespoke customization where required.

Besides factors already mentioned, close attention has to be paid to the construction of the frame and the actual way in which the duck stretched. At ETH Canvas, we have taken each and every one of these vital details into account….. even our stretching pliers have been especially imported from Germany (the locally available ones not only damage the canvas , they are just simply not strong enough.)

Without getting too technical, a canvas needs to be “sized” (especially cotton) before priming. This is the process by which a layer of gelatinous material is applied to the raw canvas prior to priming, so as to seal the pores in the surface of the cloth. This ”waterproofing” is vital in preventing fluid (paint) from seeping through into the fibers of the canvas and literally rotting it  (It saves you on tons of paint too!)

As our #canvasaddicts will tell you, ETH Canvasses are expertly sized and primed, with specially formulated materials made from imported raw materials – resulting in the final ground (or surface) being perfectly prepared for any medium! (refer to the image of the back of our primed cloth – 100% sealed!) In addition, and to bring you back to what I mentioned initially, our particular choice (weight and weave) of cotton duck contributes to the efficacy of this process i.e tighter threads, woven in a stronger pattern. It’s quite simply a winning combination!

We aren’t asking you to forget the natural beauty and smooth, stiff painting surface provided by linen, the qualities that originally seduced our masters of old … but to embrace the unparalleled quality that is an ETH Canvas.

All things aside, our cotton duck range is quite frankly the closest you can buy to canvas royalty…. It gives you the opportunity to give your work the ultimate gift - one of immortality, as it transports you through the realms of your creative process. Perfectly smooth, non-absorbent and expertly stretched, with just enough tooth to ensure maximum reflection of colour and light….. (I could really carry on talking forever…lol…but I won’t.)

ETH Canvas….designed FOR artists, BY artists.

B x



Once or twice before, this particular question has been posed to me, since, “…if a canvas is stretched properly in the first place, surely it wouldn’t require wedges?”
So, I thought I would try and make it a bit clearer for you :-)
This is true to a degree, but ultimately dependent on a number of factors, including the size of your work (dimensions of the canvas), the chosen frame profile (depth), your medium and style, whether it is due to be transported anywhere and even where you are located! Room temperature changes (caused by sunlight, cold or humidity) can affect the fibres of your canvas – and as it becomes heavier, it may move and loosen.
Wedges / Spacers / Chocs or Keys –are adjustable “wedges” of wood that are fitted into the corners of canvas frames – (8 wedges for each frame, and two per cross bar.) used for “re-tightening” your canvas should it have slackened (become loose or ‘bouncy’) over time / transit / temperature or simply because of pressure applied to it during the painting process. This is particularly true of larger, box frames (38 mm).
Most pre-made, cheaper canvasses have “slots” cut into them (where wooden or even plastic wedges are supposed to go) and the wedges themselves supplied separately – leaving you with the (very intricate in some instances!) job of fitting them into their ‘designated spaces’ before being able to tap them in. However, we used a special dovetailing system, which provides for the wedges to be pre-fitted at all the necessary points – this also alleviates some of the stress of ensuring that the tightened canvas has equal tension all round and that they don’t splinter or crack the corners of the frame when you are tapping them in (a common complaint I hear time and again). We use only kiln-dried (so most of the moisture has been removed) timber, and since it is knot- free, the tendency for the wood in the frames to split is eliminated (a common problem in frames made from timber containing ‘knots’)
Our handmade (!) wedges actually work! And, we are one of very few (if any) local suppliers that are able to manufacture box frames with a wedge system – right up to a profile of 50mm. In addition, and unlike other systems, there is little to no chance of damaging the canvas when you hammer the chocs in, since they are designed almost as a unit, unlike their often sharper (and damaging to the canvas) counterparts.
If you flick the centre of your canvas with your fingers once your painting is dry, and it vibrates like a drum membrane – tightening is good. The less vibration, the more tightening required.
Some tips when using your wedges:
- If your canvas is unprimed, don’t use the chocs until priming is complete, since priming also makes the canvas more taut.
- With a rubber hammer, gently tap the end of both wedges into each corner for smaller canvasses, working your way around to each corner. (as you tap the wedge, the space at the corner of the stretcher may increase)
- It is advisable to check the tightening after each wedge position and that you stop once the canvas is taut enough – once the wedge is embedded, it can’t be removed and can create too much pressure, warping your frame.
- For larger canvasses, you need to expand the facing stretcher bars first, in order to keep the tension on the canvas even, i.e tap the wedges that push one of the stretcher bars in one direction, then rotate the canvas and do the same for the wedges pushing the opposite bar, in the opposite direction. Repeat for the other sides.
- It is never a good idea to tap too hard, for obvious reasons, since you always run the risk of overcorrection or the wood splitting – tap means “tap” (not bludgeon in!), even if you go around a second time.
Optimal storage tips to extend longevity of your work:
Keywords are: COOL and DRY
Always try and avoid:
- Direct sunlight or changes in temperature
- Leaning panels and stretchers against walls and directly on the floor (use blocks to raise them)
With regards product – we manufacture wedges for stretchers (23mm profile) and boxes (38mm up to 50mm).
With regards pricing, the wedges-system is literally loaded with 10% on the price of the standard stretcher or box, to give you an idea of what these types of canvas cost.
Please contact me directly if you have any further questions in this regard – I just thought I would share since information is always king!
Have a GREAT EVENING and happy painting!
- b


How to roll a painting for transport



At no point do I claim to be an expert on anything, but in my humble journey, the need has arisen to know how to do this (among other things...) properly! .. hence, through trial and error and a bit of research, I thought I would share in case it comes in handy for anyone. Ultimately, it is up to you to do the homework and ensure that you are using the correct wrapping technique for your particular work, depending on the medium, size etc.

(most of you probably know all of this already - and any additional input is always welcome! Information is king, after all!)


This method obviously works for acrylics and recently painted oils...aged paintings should not be rolled if you can avoid doing so, since their paint film is no longer flexible. It is not advisable to roll paintings exceeding 1.8 m on their long side.


MOST importantly - make sure your painting is DRY. It is not worth letting your or your client's impatience make you send it too early - you don't want the paint to crack and peel later! As you all may know, with oil painting, each additional layer of paint should contain more oil than the layer below to allow proper drying. This is not a hard and fast rule of course, and it is ultimately the quality and type of oil that leads to a strong and secure paint film, as well as the drying medium, if any, that is used, and even the paint colors themselves. On average, and especially on larger works, oils can take between 6-12 months to cure properly.


 Once dry, designate a flat, clean  surface to work on (table or  section of floor). Cover the area  with a clean protective sheet.


 Place two - three sheets of wax  paper (a spare piece of canvas - not too coarse in texture - works best) down, ensuring that the area is at least 5 cm bigger than the outside edges of the painting itself. If you have to overlap the sheets to get the area big enough, ensure that the overlapping edges do so with at least 4 cm.


Place the painting, FACE DOWN onto the wax (or glassine) paper. Paint, once dried onto linen, has more flexibility when curving slightly outwards than when being turned in on itself and being "squished" together. If rolled outwards, the painting is stretched, and if there is any hairline cracking, these will be invisible when the painting is laid flat again. Rolling oil paintings inwards causes the paint to crease, chip or flake, which become clearly visible when the painting is laid flat again.


You want to roll along the short edge, since this gives the packaged structure more stability than a longer one. Carefully roll the painting as loosely as possible - ensuring that there are no lines or bends in the buffer paper. If this happens, unroll it and start over. Do not fold the painting when you start rolling, as this can damage the painting - try and make the rolling action as smooth and consistent as possible.


First prize is to buy two tubes - one to roll the painting around (called a "roller")and one to put the rolled painting into. It should be as wide as possible and be longer than the ends of the painting. Be sure to protect the painting from the roller with either a polyethylene foam such as Plastazote, or Dacron wadding covered with clean white cotton fabric - especially if the painting is textured and has irregularities in the painting’s thickness. (PVC pipe or carpet roll tubes also work well - as long as they are as solid as they are lightweight)


DON'T use any material that may be difficult to remove - for example clingfilm or tissue paper. Also, don't use any material that is coarse or textured (like bubble wrap) against your painting, since this can imprint itself onto your painting. The art must also be able to breathe...If using loose pieces of canvas, ensure that is it a fine weave. No printed material like newspapers or wrapping paper - only acid-free paper is an option.


Once rolled, use (a good quality!) tape at regular intervals to secure your roll. Don't attempt to use strings to secure the roll, since these can place undue pressure on the painting and cut into the painted layers. A great tip is to fold the end of the tape into a "tab" so that the unpacker doesn't struggle to remove it. If the tape is difficult to lift, the unpacker may end up tearing the paper, and damage the painting, in an attempt to unwrap it. Another good idea is to use red or blue colored tape - which is easier to see (and locate) than transparent tape.


When it comes to your tube, a heavy duty mailing tube is always best. Look for one that is at least 10 cm longer than the shortest side of your painting when flat. The width of the tube of course depends on the diameter of your work when rolled : regardless, the tube will need to be at least 10 cm - 15 cm wide (if not wider, depending on the size of the painting - recommended minimum diameter is actually 20 cm, regardless of the size of painting). If the painting is very long, it will be thicker when rolled, so aim for your tube to be at least 10 cm - 12 cm wider than the diameter of your rolled works. Also, make sure you have proper end caps for the tube - simply taping it shut will damage the painting.


You need to prevent the painting from moving around inside the tube as well as to prevent moisture from getting in. This is where bubble wrap does come in handy. With the bubbles facing outwards (they provide excellent "traction" between the painting and the tube, further reducing possible movement inside), roll your rolled painting in the bubble wrap until enough cushioning is achieved so as to allow the painting to fit snugly in the tube. Tape again. Leave a 10cm piece on each end which can be folded over and taped, like a present, to further protect the ends of your painting - be careful not to squash the ends in this process. Remember, if you struggle to get your painting into the tube, the unpacker is going to struggle to get it out....RATHER BUY A NEW TUBE.


Secure the lid of the tube and secure with tape for additional security.

Viola! Bye-Bye Baby! :-)


(It is advisable to clearly mark the tube FRAGILE, and clear instructions that its handlers carry and store it in a VERTICAL position - within reason obviously, but as far as possible, since lying on its side in a horizontal position can also place undue pressure on one side. The idea is equal distribution of pressure throughout, and as far as possible)


Although it seems like a viable storage option, be sure to tell your client to unroll the painting immediately after transport. It should be stored flat if necessary, and be re-stretched on a new frame as soon as possible after receipt.


I hope this can be of use to you soon in future when you send that next commission of yours to its new home.....!


Happy painting !

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