Protecting Your Art....A How To Guide

Recently, I was at an outdoor show and it started to rain and with that rain came a little wind, so you know what happened, right?   One of the my larger paintings fell over and hit the ground. When I inspected the piece, I discovered a nick/ding on the edge of the painting…ouch!    A well meaning friend said “that’s teeny tiny, you can just paint over that.”  But the fact is, I can’t, it was chipped off down to the gesso and there’s about 7 layers of paint that made up that sky color.

So what’s an artist to do??   Well, as we were packing up our things later that day, I paid special attention to how other artists were transporting their precious cargo and noted the following:

One was using old blankets and large beach towels to wrap around his art.
One was using fabric sleeves he had sewn to put his art in.
One was using bubble wrap sleeves for his large photo prints.

I researched the bubble wrap sleeves early last year, and they can be pretty costly if you’re on a tight budget, so those were out of the picture for me.  I REALLY liked the fabric sleeves that the one artist made, but I can barely sew on buttons and I don’t own a sewing machine.  The old blankets and big towels sounded ok, but they weren’t secured, so they could fall off easily during transit and there are potentially high costs involved.

I didn’t have any ideas until I drove past a Hancock’s Fabric store one evening after work and then it hit me:  I could make the painting/art sleeves by using a product called Heat and Bond (for about $3.50) and I wouldn’t have to worry about sewing.  When I got into the fabric store, I bought 2 yards of dark purple felt ($4.99 a yard) and went home to start working on the idea.  I was very excited…Here are the steps I took:

Measure and cut the fabric to the desired size - For a 5×7 painting, I added a few inches to the sides to make sure that there was plenty of room for the painting to fit into the sleeve.


Apply the Heat and Bond tape to 2 sides and iron them onto the fabric, then let it sit and cool for about 2-3 minutes before removing the tape backing.


Fold the fabric over and line up the edges, iron the sides where the Heat and Bond tape is.

Let the painting sleeve cool again and then you’re all done!!



If you wanted to completely close the sleeve, you can: Tape it shut from the outside with masking tape OR you could put in a zipper by Heat & Bond or sewing. You can also make your sleeves out of fleece instead of felt. Or use towels or blankets from a thrift store, which will help you to keep costs down and be a little GREEN.

So far, I have made 19 small art sleeves and I plan to make larger ones in the next month for the big paintings. Going forward, if a painting isn’t hanging on a wall, I will have it in a sleeve, because I can’t afford for paintings to get scuffed up and damaged.

Special Note: Please make sure that your artworks are COMPLETELY DRY before inserting into the sleeves. An oil painting can take up to 3-6 months to cure and an acrylic painting can take up to a week to cure. (Depending on the thickness of paint layers.)

7 comments:

Patricia said...

Excellent idea to use the bonding tape. For another fabric idea...there are times big box stores put their blankets on sale. I have purchased king sized blankets for less than $10. The fabric is perfect for this use, and sometimes you can snag some pretty cool prints so your artwork travels in style.

Michelle McSpadden said...

Great tip Patricia!! I'll check out Walmart this fall... : )

Joan Marie said...

Very HELPFUL! Thank you!!!
When you SELL the painting does the fabric sleeve go with it?

Michelle McSpadden said...

I gave away 3 sleeves to a patron a few weeks ago who was about to move out of town and needed something to keep her new paintings "safe" during the car transit. The cost for making the sleeves is very low. An artist could add in the cost to make the sleeve with final cost of the artwork itself OR offer it for sale separately. Maybe $5.00 per sleeve for sizes 11x14 and smaller and $10.00 per sleeve for larger sizes. This would definitely help in recouping costs in labor and materials.

Claudine Intner said...

Interesting idea! What type of fabric are you using?

Michelle McSpadden said...

I use felt, but any thick kind of fabric would work...as long as Heat and Bond can be used with it. : )

Lesley said...

Awesome! I asked my mom to sew me something similar, and she gave me her sewing machine. That didn't help! I like this no sew method, I use the towel method and I hate it.