AfriMod Sellers’ Guide: Shipping Pottery/Ceramics Safely

How to ship pottery and ceramics safely:

As a rule of thumb, always double box pottery and ceramic items before shipping.

The Box:

There are many previously used, but perfectly good, boxes that can be reused (see How to Reuse Cardboard Boxes for Shipping). Instead of buying boxes, just collect boxes of different sizes whenever you can and keep them for later use to pack your products for shipping.

Collect a lot of square and cube size boxes (small-to-large) to accommodate round pots, bowls, etc. Square flattish boxes are great for plates. Rectangular flattish boxes are great for platters and miscellaneous ornaments. Tall square boxes are good for vases.

Double-Box:

Remember, you have to always double-box pottery and ceramics so as to help prevent breakage (leading to customer dissatisfaction, refund of purchase price and loss of income to you). You need 2 boxes for all pottery/ceramic items you ship to buyers. The first box needs to be about 10cm (4 inches) larger than your item so as to have enough room for foam, packing peanuts, bubble wrap, shredded paper, etc. That means larger in each dimension (i.e. 10cm or 4 in taller, 10cm or 4 in wider, and 10cm or 4 in longer). The second box needs to be 10cm or 4 inches larger than the first box in all dimensions as well.

Choosing your Boxes:

The boxes need to be sturdy, corrugated, with no tears, dents, or water damage. Make sure the boxes don’t have an bad odor. Generally, it is best to dismantle boxes so you can rebuild them turned inside-out. (see How to Reuse Cardboard Boxes for Shipping)

Package to Prevent Breakage:

Bubble Wrap, foam, packing peanuts, etc are your friends when packing for successful delivery. Your box will not be handled with care by your Post Office or Courier, instead it will be thrown, tossed, stacked, piled, and dropped, so you need to pack well. Start by wrapping your ceramic creations in bubble wrap or foam.

Know your Product:

First, look carefully at your item. Are there any corners, rims, delicate protrusions? If yes, those places will need a bit more extra padding. So get some bubble wrap or foam, big bubble wrap, little bubble wrap…doesn’t matter, use whatever you have. Wrap the object in 2 layers of wrapping, tape it up so the item can not protrude from the wrapping. Now, take another look and see…check out places you think might need extra protection. If you can still easily feel the object inside the wrap instead of the wrapping that surrounds it, then it needs more cushioning. Add more foam, bubble wrap, paper, etc. to those places you still feel the item poking through. Now, suppose you dropped it from a 2 inch height, do you think it will bounce a little or get damaged? Your honest opinion should determine if more wrapping is added or the item is good and ready for the next step.

Packaging:

Now get your boxes. Start with your inner box. This box should be 5cm or 2 inches larger on all side than the object (before wrapping). Make sure the bottom of box is taped and glued securely. Place your wrapped item in the box, making sure it fits comfortably. If too much room, add packing materials such as, packing peanuts, foam, shredded paper, etc.

The Inner Box:

Packing peanuts come in different colors and shapes…it doesn’t matter. Some packing peanuts are Styrofoam, some are starch based and are biodegradable, doesn’t matter. Fill the extra space in your inner box with filler. Make sure the filler you choose surrounds the item on all side including under the item itself. Completely cover the top of the box with your filler, then close the box flaps. Tape the box flap down securely. In addition, tape-up the box with another strip of tape going all around for better security. Your box might bow out a little (not too much) from the heaped packing foam, peanuts, paper, etc…that’s OK.

Outer Box:

Next, get your outer box. Put 2 inches of packing materials, foam, etc in the bottom of the outer box and place the taped up inner box centered on top of the packing materials, peanuts, foam, shredded paper, etc. Place more packing peanuts, foam, shredded paper, etc in the box making sure they flow down the sides of the inner box. Stuff the sides by pressing down the packing materials in between the inner box and outer box sides. Keep adding more until the sides won’t stuff anymore but don’t over do it. Now add enough packing materials on top of the inner box; such that it heaps up a little. Then close the flaps of the outer box. The outer box might bow out a little… that’s OK. Tape up that box making sure at least 2 strips of tape go around the package so it is secure.

Ready for Shipping:

Your box is now packed and almost ready to send. Make your Customer Address labels…handwritten is OK. Write clearly and tape the address label to the top of the box. Make sure the tape completely covers the handwritten label so the ink will not get wet. Use permanent markers if possible. Now you are ready for the Post Office or your Courier.

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