A collection of terms commonly used in fine art services that will help you better understand how your art will be taken care of and handled.

Brown Paper or Butcher Paper - Very inexpensive; high acid content; tears easily; slightly abrasive; absorbs moisture; can be easily recycled.

Bubble pack or air fill – Can come in single- or double-wall sheeting, and can be made from polyethylene, polyvinylidene chloride, or polyvinyl chloride. Air is injected into circles (1/4 to 2 inches in diameter) and then sealed. It provides cushioning, but does lose air over time or when punctured. It can leave circular marks if put next to a delicate surface, and therefore, should not be placed in direct contact with artwork. It is waterproof and layers can be built up for protection. It can be recycled in some areas, and some of it is made from recycled plastic.

Cardboard - Comes in many forms: corrugated, flat, rolled, single wall, double wall, triple wall, and boxes. Most cardboard is corrugated layers with a paper lining on at least one side. Wall refers to the number of layers of corrugation. Test refers to the amount of pressure per square inch the material will withstand without puncturing. (The most common is 200 or 275 test.) It is a paper product and does have a high acid content. It is excellent for using as a protective barrier for objects. It can be cut or scored with a knife to create almost any shape; it absorbs moisture and can be coated to minimize absorption. It is very strong and fairly inexpensive and can be bought in ready-made cartons that are excellent for packing objects when filled with a cushioning material. Some cardboard is not corrugated such as mat board.

Cellulose Wadding- Layers of soft tissue-like paper; sometimes having a kraft paper backing. It is available in rolls and a variety of widths (12 to 48 inches) and thicknesses (1/8 to 1/4 inch). Not archival; has good cushioning qualities, especially when used in layers; inexpensive and can be recycled with paper.

Corrugated Plastic (Coroplast®) - A corrugated plastic that is available in 100, 200, 300 and 400 pound densities. It is a rigid inert material that can be formed into boxes suitable for storage and transit. It is an excellent backing material for paintings and framed works on paper and far superior to conventional foam core backings. This material, due to its puncture resistant qualities, is often used to cover the open space in transit frames. It is a stable material made from a copolymer of polypropylene and polyethylene.

Dartek® - This is a nylon film that has no surface coatings; it is softer than Mylar or glassine, and is capable of absorbing up to 10% or its weight in moisture. Dartek® is a good replacement for glassine when wrapping paintings that are susceptible to tackiness and abrasion. It is more expensive than glassine.

Economy Crate -Best for flatwork and small to medium sized objects. Least expensive fully featured crate, but one that will last through multiple uses. Can be customized to lower costs when used for a one way throw away crate.

Construction

  • Lid and back of 3/8" luan plywood
  • Top, bottom and sides of 3/4" HT Sterling Pine
  • 3/4” HT Sterling Pine end blocks nailed on all sides
  • Standard handling markings on exterior
  • 2” x 4” #2 HT spruce skids
  • Screw closure lid

Interior

  • 2” ethafoam blocking on all Interior surfaces
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/8” cardboard with 2” ethafoam spacers
  • All trays have same outer dimensions for uniform stacking within the crate
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom
  • Higher priced foams may can be substituted for more economical Styrofoam upon request.

Felt - Soft, cloth material, which is good for delicate surfaces. 100% cotton is most desirable; most colors are not colorfast and should be washed before using. Cotton felt absorbs liquids and humidity. It can be used as a liner for foam padding.

Foam board, Fomecor® - A closed-cell foam between two skins of paper material available in both archival and non-archival. The non-archival is the most readily available. It comes in white or brown, from 1/16 to 1 inch thick. It is very rigid and can be cut with a knife. It is not recyclable. Fome-Cor brand (International Paper Co.) is a version with an acid-free polystyrene core. Although the core is acid-free, the paper is made from wood fiber, which may become acidic over time.

Foam Sheeting - Many products and types; those listed below are the easiest to find and use. All foam products are environmentally unsound because of manufacturing process, but there are no good substitutes at this point. All foams put off toxic gasses when heated. Avoid cutting with a hot wire or heating gun. The use of hot glue does not seem to cause off gassing, but should be done in a well ventilated area.

Gator Foam® and Gator Board® - A lightweight structural panel made of a rigid polystyrene foam core with moisture resistant, man-made wood fiber veneer exterior. It is available in 3/16 to 1½ inch thicknesses. It is not an archival material.

Glassine - A paper product used primarily for interleaving between prints or drawings, because it has a neutral ph factor. It is available in rolls or flat sheets. There are only two manufacturers in the U.S. so it can be difficult to obtain. Testing has shown it to have an abrasive effect in certain applications. It has a definite shelf life of three to five years.

Gore-Tex® - A barrier laminate with polyester felt on one side and Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene) on the other. It is impermeable to liquids such as water, yet it transmits moisture and other vapors, making it ideal for art humidification. The porous quality of the membrane allows for the release of vapors while restricting the passage of larger molecules of the same compound (creates a moisture barrier while allowing the object to breathe). It is excellent for wrapping objects and lining cavities. It has an extremely slick surface and is very durable. It is an excellent material to use against larger or heavier items that have extremely fragile surfaces. The disadvantage of this material is that it is extremely expensive and generally is used only when other materials fail to meet the need of the object.

HD Crate - This crate is recommended for oversized and very heavy items. Additional 3/4" 1 x 8” pine overlap resulting in a tapered 1 ½” batten to provide greater resistance to deflection.

This creates panels that greatly strengthen the crate. This crate is recommended if easy disassembly of the crate is required for storage between shipments, or when removal of multiple sides offers an advantage for packing or unpacking.

Construction

  • 3/8” or 1/2" plywood, 3/4” 1 x 8" HT Pine batten overlaps and 12" HT Sterling pine mending plates over long seams.Ends extended to overlap skids
  • 4” x 4” #2 HT spruce skids
  • Bolt or screw closure

Interior

  • This style of crate can be configured to any level of custom packing to meet your expectations or fragility of the object.

Hollytex - A spunbonded polyester fabric that is lightweight yet strong, lint-free with no pigments or binders. It has a very calendered, smooth surface. It is used as a release and interleafing paper.

Loose fill - Extruded polystyrene chips or “peanuts” are available in different shapes that mesh together; are used loosely in a container and packed around an object. They need to be packed tightly around the object, and the container should be shaken to get the fill to mesh correctly as objects tend to shift to the bottom of the container. They are available in a variety of sizes, can be reused, and work well for filling voids. While they give overall support, there is a limitation to how much weight they can support. They are very unsound environmentally and are not biodegradable. Vegetable starch peanuts with names like “ECO-Fill” are the biodegradable answer to polystyrene peanuts. They are made of vegetable starches and water and can actually be eaten. They are water soluble and work the same as the peanuts for filling voids, giving overall support. This is a material that should be used more widely and could replace polystyrene.

Marvelseal® - An aluminized nylon and polyethylene barrier film that can be used for lining crates, sono- tubes, and storage shelves or mounts. The film will resist the passage of vapors together with other gasses and pollutants. Marvelseal® is excellent for lining transport crates when objects are going to be stored in them for long periods of time. The material easily welds to itself and other surfaces by the application of heat. Custom-made bags can also be made to completely encapsulate an object.

Multi-Use Standard Crate - This crate is one of our top selling models with some travel crate amenities added on. Fully battened and durable, it is very presentable.

Construction

  • 3/8" Luan Plywood sides with 3/4" HT Sterling Pine Battens glued with waterproof wood glue and nailed on both sides
  • All exposed edges are routed quarter round
  • 2" x 4" #2 HT spruce skids
  • Screw closure lid
  • Standard handling markings on exterior
  • Metal handles
  • This crate may be customized by adding a gasket and or a bolt closure

Interior

  • Padded with 2" polyester urethane foam on 4 sides and riding edge
  • Optional full Tyvek lining
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/8" cardboard with ethafoam spacers
  • Trays notched for hand spaces
  • All trays have same outer dimensions for uniform stacking within the crate
  • Interiors clearly marked with object identification for repacking
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom

Museum Crate - Built to the highest standard for domestic and international museums.

Construction

  • 3/4" MDO Plywood panels on all sides
  • 3/4" HT Sterling Pine or oversized 3/4" MDO Battens glued with waterproof wood glue and nailed on all sides. Wood choice based on crate size
  • Exposed edges are routed quarter round
  • 2" x 4" #2 HT spruce skids
  • Bolt lid closure with neoprene gasket
  • Standard markings stenciled on the exterior (arrows up, umbrella, broken goblet, dims. & weight)
  • Artcore Signature Finish painted exterior with HD metal or wood handles

Interior

  • Fully lined with esterfoam, 4” on all sides and top, 4" on riding edge
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/2" foamcore and 2" ethafoam blocking
  • Interior padding is notched for hand spaces
  • Interior trays have the same outer dimensions for uniform stacking
  • Interiors clearly marked with object identification for repacking
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom
  • End-loading Crates equipped with slotted Interior structure, carpet or felt faced surfaces

Muslin - Soft, cloth material, though abrasive to some surfaces. Good protective layer where soiling may be a problem.

Nomex® - A family of products produced by DuPont, made from aramid fibers. They are available in a variety of forms from very soft and fibrous to more rigid. The softer products are generally used for packing museum objects. This is an excellent material for lining cavities cut from polyester foam or Ethafoam®. Nomex’s® unique ability to stretch in one direction prevents bunching and folding of loose material within a cavity. Often an object can be compromised when placed in a cavity that is not tightly upholstered due to an increased risk of appendages catching on folded or bunched areas. Although Nomex® has a soft surface, it is also fibrous and should only be used with objects that have smooth surfaces that are not likely to snag or catch on its fibers. It is permeable to air and water; non-dusting, chemically inert and flame resistant. Not all Nomex® products possess all these properties in one product.

Packing blanket - A material that should not be forgotten because it provides an excellent source of protection. Most packing pads or blankets are cloth with cotton-batten filing and quilted stitching. There are also paper pads or throw-away pads that have a paper cover with cotton or other filling, but are for a single use.

Plastic sheeting or Polyethylene sheeting - Made in a variety of widths and thicknesses; clear or opaque; will deteriorate after time when exposed to sunlight (the UV component). It is water repellent, especially if seams are sealed. It is non-abrasive if clean. Some manufacturers use talc or other additives) in the processing and there can be a residue, such as an oily film. It can be recycled, but it is difficult to find places that accept polyethylene sheeting.

Polyester Batting - An extremely soft material that can act as cushioning in cavities and as loose fill in interior Fomecor® or corrugated plastic boxes. This material, due to its fibrous nature, needs to be used in conjunction with a soft wrap (objects can easily snag if not covered properly).

Polyester Felt - A soft, felt material that can be used for a variety of applications. It is excellent for lining slots for non-ornate framed works and covering pallets for large sculptures. This material adds minimal cushion and is mostly used to cover wood and other hard surfaces that can damage an object. The material should not be used in slots containing frames with fragile surfaces or against objects with patinas and/or fragile finishes (the felt will buff or shine bronze surfaces). Soft Tyvek® can be used in conjunction with the felt when it is necessary to touch sensitive areas of an object.

Polyethylene Foam (Ethafoam®, Polyplank®) - Closed-cell foam; waterproof; available in sheets and rolls from 1/8 to 4 inches thick; 20 to 48 inches wide, and 108 inches long.

Available in the following densities: .9, 1.9, 2.2, 2.6, 4.0, 6.0, and 9.0 PCF. It is easy to cut with a knife or saw; excellent memory when used within the proper cushioning curve. The foam is virtually impermeable to water and has stable chemical properties making it a suitable material for long term storage containers. It has a naturally waxy surface quality. It can be recycled back to the manufacturer. There is also a recycled product, Ricter Foam®, with a 1.7 density. It is chemically inert and is non -abrasive. It can degrade in ultraviolet light (sunlight).

Polypropylene (Propafoam®) - A durable, non-dusting, closed-cell structured foam that offers very good cushioning properties at low densities. It is chemical and moisture resistant and has a good thermal insulating factor. It is comparable to polyethylene foam in memory, shock, and vibration absorption.

Polypropylene wrap – It is a chemically inert and breathable wrapping material that protects the surface while also providing cushioning. This is an excellent material for soft wrapping paintings and framed works for local or one-way travel. It has a slick outer surface that makes it ideal for interleaving objects (plates, cups, etc.) for one-way travel. This material can be used in combination with polyethylene sheeting when an object needs to be completely sealed and cushioned.

Polystyrene, Styrofoam® - Hard surfaced foam. It has very little memory and is not good for cushioning; better for filler. It is not environmentally sound and very toxic if heated. It is available in sheets usually 4 x 8 feet, and in thicknesses from ¼ inch. It is a cheaper alternative when insulation is required within a crate. It provides very little cushioning and has a very low memory factor. However, if used in conjunction with polyethylene strips (for cushioning), it can be a cost-effective means of insulating and cushioning a two-way crate.

There are polystyrene foams that are recyclable; check with the manufacturer. Almost all polystyrene is now CFC-free.

Polyurethane Foams - Polyurethane foams typically have one of two other components: ethers and esters. Although the ester variety degrades at a slower rate, both will turn yellow over time, become brittle, thereby losing their initial cushioning properties. Off-gassing is minimal, and it doesn’t become particularly acidic over time. It should be stored in the dark for optimal life of the foam. In general, direct contact of PU foams with art objects should be avoided. It

Polyurethane Ester Foam –The PU foams with ester components were developed to meet government codes, and are fire retardant. They are a better quality foam, and have a softer, have somewhat of a “silkier” feel. They tend to last longer as they are more tear-resistant, but are significantly more expensive.

Polyurethane Ether Foam - The large majority of polyurethane foams have the ether component, which tends to be more brittle with time, and discolors faster. They are readily available, and come in sheets from ¼ inch thick to as thick as you want. (It is cut from buns or loaves approximately eight feet square and 40 feet long.) Densities vary from 1.4 to 20 pounds per foot. The most commonly used densities are in the 1.5 to 3.5 range. It can be cut with a kitchen knife; has a resilience memory; has insulating capabilities; absorbs moisture. It can be recycled, but is not biodegradable. There is a great range in densities available in the ether variety, from very soft too much more firm.

Polypropylene Foam Wrap - (Astro-Foam®, Micro-Foam®) - Waterproof if properly sealed.

Combines positive cushioning properties with low abrasion. This material is similar to polyethylene, the material used for Ethafoam, but it is slightly less dense and has a higher gloss. It comes in thin rolls 1/8 to ½ inch thick. A recycled product is available.

It is chemically inert and non-abrasive.

Quilted Paper - (Jiffy wrap, Custom wrap) - Lightweight quilted pads. Good for general cushioning of non-delicate surfaces; high-acid content; not very effective without supplemental cushioning.

Reemay - A spunbonded, lightweight polyester fabric made by DuPont. It is very stable, resistant to moisture, and doesn’t stretch. It is easy to cut and doesn’t ravel or produce dust.

Shrink-wrap or Stretch wrap - Can be considered a polyethylene sheeting, but it has a coating that sticks to itself, and it can leave a residue. It is very good for wrapping things quickly or holding them in place. It is very cheap.

Silicone Release Paper - A coated paper product which is available in an acidic form or acid-free. It has a very slick surface; very hard; not much will stick to it; fairly expensive.

Simple Box -The "minimized" crate. Constructed in the same way as an Economy crate but without battens or skids. Also used as an interior box for very fragile items requiring the highest level of protection.

Interior

  • 2” esterfoam blocking on all Interior surfaces
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/8” cardboard with 2” esterfoam spacers
  • All trays have same outer dimensions for uniform stacking within the crate
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom
  • Standard handling markings on exterior

Construction

  • Lid and back of 3/8" luan plywood
  • Top, bottom and sides of 3/4" HT Sterling pine
  • Screw closure lid

Simple Collar Pack -The "minimized" travel frame. Constructed in the same way as a Travel-Frame but without face battens or skids. Used as an interior spacer for very fragile items requiring the highest level of protection and when space is a crucial factor.

Construction

  • Top, bottom and sides of 3/4" HT Sterling pine
  • Web tied and fully wrapped in 4 mil poly
  • Metal handles
  • 1/4” ethafoam lining on all Interior surfaces

Slat Crate - A "see through" style of crate best suited to sculpture and objects. Recommended for when its ease of bracing around complicated objects is important. Often loaded into a full crate if weatherproofing is required or sealed in cardboard for soft transit. Usually wrapped fully in 4mil poly.

Construction

  • 3/4” 1 x 4” HT Sterling Pine boards nailed and screwed together
  • 2 x 4 HT skids
  • Screw closure
  • Standard handling markings on exterior

Synthetic Fibers - Nomex®, Tyvek®, Critics Choice®, Gore-Tex® are some of the brand names. There is a large variety in these materials, from waterproof to absorbent. Most create a barrier, but still breathe. Some are fireproof. Most are very soft, however the softest ones are not waterproof. Range in price from expensive to very expensive. Cannot be recycled; non-biodegradable.

Soft Tyvek® - Made from filaments of 100% high density polyethylene (HDPE), Soft Tyvek is a non-abrasive, gas permeable, non-dusting, water resistant, inert material that is excellent for lining cavities and covering foam pads. This is a relatively inexpensive material that offers some advantages over the more costly lining materials. It is non-woven, and does not have exposed fibers that can easily catch on fragile surfaces. It is a durable material that cannot be easily torn or ripped. Its durability allows it to be used against heavy items that may pitch or slide against its surface. It can be sewn or glued to make good covers for objects being stored. There are some limitations in that it does not stretch and therefore can bunch in cavities, and it has a texture that is not suitable for all surfaces.

Standard Crate - A fully battened crate suitable for almost any purpose. Economy crates are rugged, adaptable, and cost efficient.

Construction

  • 3/8” Luan Plywood sides with 3/4” HT Sterling Pine Battens affixed with waterproof glue and nailed on both sides
  • 2” x 4” #2 HT spruce skids
  • Standard handling markings on exterior
  • Screw closure lid

Interior

  • 2” polyester urethane foam blocking on all Interior surfaces
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/8” cardboard with 2” ethafoam spacers
  • All trays have same outer dimensions for uniform stacking within the crate
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom

Teflon® - Offers a non-abrasive surface that, when used in conjunction with polyester batting material, is an excellent lining for cavities. This material is extremely stretchable and can easily conform to the shape of the object and cavity. Teflon’s® main limitation is that it is extremely thin and can puncture easily. It is mostly used with light objects with extremely fragile surfaces. The material is available in rolls 12 inches wide; and stretches in all directions, and is expensive.

Tissue Paper, Buffered Tissue, Acid-Free Tissue – Tissue paper is very cheap and is made from a pulp that contains an acidic component, lignin. Acid-free tissue paper does not contain this component, and is made from higher quality pulp. Acid-free tissues can also be buffered, which means that a component is added to push the pH of the paper to a neutral or slightly alkaline range. Buffered tissues can help to scavenge acidic materials as pollutants. It is also soft, and is excellent for building up layers on objects to protect smaller areas or to build out areas with protrusions and filling voids on three-dimensional objects. When crumpled, it can provide a bed in which to lay an object, but it does compress. Buffered tissue should be avoided when packing objects containing wool or silk.

Travel Crate -The Travel Crate utilizes streamlined construction methods that help keep costs down while offering all the protection of the Museum Crate. Recommended for multiple venues or long-term storage.

Construction

  • 3/4" Plywood lid and back, 3/4" Lumbercore plywood or HT Sterling Pine sides
  • 5" HT Sterling Pine end-blocks glued with waterproof wood glue and nailed to crate body
  • All exposed edges are routed quarter round
  • 2" x 4" #2 HT spruce skids
  • Bolt closure lid with neoprene gasket
  • Standard handling markings on exterior
  • Metal lifting handles
  • Optional Artcore signature painted exterior.

Interior

  • Lined with 2" polyester urethane foam on 4 sides and top, 4" on riding edge
  • Interior trays fabricated with 1/2" foamcore and 2" ethafoam blocking
  • Interior foam notched for hand spaces
  • All trays have same outer dimensions for uniform stacking within the crate
  • Interiors clearly marked with object identification for repacking
  • Trays stacked according to object size with smaller objects packed on bottom
  • End-loading Crates equipped with slotted Interior structure, carpet or felt faced surfaces

Travel Frame -Designed to protect paintings with fragile surfaces or works of excessive value. Travel frames attach to the back of a painting and allow a free space around the face and sides of the work. The face of the work is protected by 3/4" x 4 HT Sterling Pine battens. Travel frames are recommended for all high value paintings.

Construction

  • 3/4" x 12” HT Sterling Pine cut for sides and base
  • 3/4" x 4”HT Sterling Pine for lid, or twill tape stretched across open face of frame
  • Cardboard face and back with a gasket on request
  • Metal handles
  • Interior Packing
  • Attachment to art work made with Oz-clips that bolt to the frame with a wing nut, or by directly screwing into the stretcher
  • Frame will be fully wrapped in 4 mil poly, unless faced with cardboard and gasket.

Tyvek® - Made from filaments of 100% high density polyethylene (HDPE). It is a high-strength barrier and wrapping material. It is mold and mildew resistant. It is lint-free, acid-free, and is resistant to wetting, but it allows transmission of moisture and vapor. Tyvek® crate liner is waterproof; relatively inexpensive and chemically stable. Because vapors can transmit through Tyvek®, its use as a barrier to plywood and/or glue off-gassing, especially in a storage situation may not be the best choice.

Volara® - An excellent material for very delicate surfaces. It is smooth and non-abrasive.

Volara® is an irradiation, crosslinked, closed-cell polyolefin foam. This is from a family of cross-linked polyethylene foams, and is very related to Ethafoam. Cross-linking gives a more stable structure and smaller cell structure gives a smoother surface.