Oh no, you might think I was giving up pottery”.
Don’t worry, I am not giving up pottery.
What I do want to talk about is shipping pottery.
Just recently I have heard from several would be #Daniware owners that they would buy my pottery but don’t want to risk it breaking during shipping.
I have also heard from other potters that they won’t sell online because shipping pottery is scary and they don’t want to risk shipping pottery because of fear of breakage.
This post is for both of you!
My Business is primarily on-line so I ship a lot of pottery.
As of October 2019, I have lost only 1 piece shipping pottery and that was my fault. I almost knew it would break and I took the chance. It did and I replaced it. I got Shipping Pottery down!!
Here is how I pack….
- Bubblewrap. Before I wrap each piece in bubblewrap I wrap them in yellow tissue paper, because it’s pretty and I am all about yellow. I buy my bubble wrap at Walmart. Word of caution- don’t use those air pillows. I use to use them at the beginning of my shipping pottery days but those shipments always broke! The bubble wrap I use has small bubbles like this.
- Newsprint paper Crumbled newsprint paper makes a wonderful “nest” for your bubble-wrapped pieces. It’s fairly lightweight and very cushioning. I wad up a bunch and place it into the bottom of the box. My wrapped pieces go on top of this. I like at least an inch space around the pieces so I choose my boxes with this in mind. Next, I make a newsprint rope. I take a long piece and just scrunch it width-wise so that I can tuck it all around the piece, like a nest.
- Once you have the pieces safely nested in the box add more crumpled up newsprint. At this point, I usually weigh it using a small digital kitchen scale. Since both UPS and USPS priority round up to the next lb your scale doesn’t have to be a mail scale. If your package weighs 1.4 oz, you will be charged at 2 lbs so use that extra weight to add more paper. Try to pack it tight enough so that if you shook the package, nothing will move.
- Tape it up. I personally don’t get too carried away with over taping. Just a strip where the two flaps meet.
- Add the shipping label. Pre-buying your shipping labels can save you money and time. Pirateship.com is a free service that gives great USPS shipping rates and perfect labels that you print on your printer. I have also used Paypal Shipping but its not really convenient. Since I sell through Etsy I usually use their shipping option but if you sell privately Pirateship.com is the way to go. If you are shipping a large, over-sized packages UPS or FEDEX might be better for you so be sure to check them as well. No special equipment needed for this. You print on your regular desktop printer. Most of my shipment are shipped Priority Mail. I have not had any issues (knock on wood). I prefer to take my shipments directly to the Post Office and get a receipt showing I dropped it off.
- Boxes: I will be honest and tell you right now I do not use recycled boxes to ship my pottery unless its the perfect size and its totally intact. I buy my boxes and I have about 4 sizes that work well for me.Amazon has a decent assortment of shippingboxes
- 8×8” is one of my most used sizes. It’s perfect for my mugs, honey pots, small vases, etc
- 9×9 when I just need a bit more room. Smaller bowls like yarn bowls and jewelry bowls fit well in this size.
- 10” x 10” – since my serving bowls are usually no bigger than 8” this is a great size.
- 12x6x6 – since my butter keepers are two pieces and I wrap each piece separately, this box works perfectly
- These box sizes may not be perfect for you but I do try to find boxes that give me at least an inch clearance all around but I don’t want them so big that I start skimping on packing material due to weight.I buy all my boxes on Uline. They have just about every size you could possibly want. Shipping “shipping boxes” can be expensive and it adds to the bottom line but when I compared the cost to other places, like Staples, it was cheaper for me to buy them from Uline. I did find some shipping boxes on Amazon in the size I use for coffee mugs, jewelry bowls, and yarn bowls, which ship free with prime. I will try them and see if they are as quality as the Uline boxes.
EXTRA TIPS FOR POTTERS
- Handles: When shipping mugs and handled pieces I always make sure the handle is facing a corner and is supported underneath by extra paper. I feel that the corners of the box are more sturdy than the sides and better protection.
- Pieces ship better if you wrap each piece separately. What I mean by that is if the piece has a lid, don’t ship with the lid in place unless you can wrap it securely without ceramic touching ceramic. For my Butter Keepers, which are two pieces, I wrap each piece separately and lay them side by side in a 12x6x6 box.
- Before spending money on Newsprint paper, check out the newspaper office. They sometimes have their “end rolls” they give or sell cheap. I always got mine from our small-town newspaper office however last time I completely ran out and popped over there to get some more they informed me they no longer did that. Since I was now desparate I bought a roll from Staples. Shipping was free (Thank goodness) but the roll was mucho money.
- Never try to stuff a box. If I am shipping more than one piece and I don’t think the pieces will fit comfortably in one box I will pack it into another box and tape the two boxes together which also saves shipping cost.As I said in the beginning, this is what works for me and it has served me well. My pieces arrive in one piece!Feel free to ask any questions or to add additional shipping comments. I would love to hear what works for you.
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