Shipping Glass and Pottery: Materials and Techniques for Packing

Shipping glass and pottery requires the proper materials and an attention to details. A shoddy job results in a package that rattles on delivery, and that’s a bad thing.


With the rise of the internet, more and more glass and pottery is being shipped by inexperienced sellers, all too often without proper packing. Seeing that delivery truck come to the door is exciting, but no buyer wants to hear their package rattle as it’s handed to them. All sellers need to learn and follow a few basic guidelines about packing and finding packing materials.

The essential materials are:

  • a good quality box
  • styrofoam peanuts
  • bubble wrap

The Box

A used box is acceptable, but it must be in good condition. That means it’s never been wet, and none of the corners or sided have been crushed. The box should also be corrugated and sturdy, not just one of those thin cardboard boxes small appliances come in from the store. Those aren’t shipping boxes (but the styrofoam in such boxes may come in handy when extra stability is needed). The box should be at least 2” bigger than the item shipped in all directions. That means that an 8” x 6” vase needs at least a 12” x 10” box. manila delivery


Find a way to get bubble wrap. For both weight and effectiveness, it’s the best bet. It’s getting harder to find small businesses with leftover materials when they get shipments in, but it’s still worth trying. If you buy via the internet, it’s also worth saving what bubble wrap you can if it’s not too badly covered with tape. Bubble wrap tends to be exorbitantly priced at office supply stores, but it’s one of the few things where Wal-Mart is as cheap as they claim. Some packing/shipping stores also sell it.

There are two primary sizes for the bubbles, buy the smaller one. Typical sheet size is 12” x 12” on a perforated roll. Wrap the item so that at least three layers of wrapping cover all parts. Use extra on any fragile areas such as handles. If the item has a lid, wrap it separately. Don’t just tape the lid in place.

The wrapping needs to be held in place, and that’s usually done with tape. Fine, but don’t overuse it. Tape the key areas, but avoid wrapping the tape all the way around the item. This just makes it harder to unwrap and means the bubblewrap will be beyond saving. Avoid rubber bands since they may well break in transit. Another option is to put the wrapped item in a plastic bag and use the bag to hold the wrap in place.

Packing Material

Many amateur shippers use wadded or shredded newspaper, but that’s a very bad idea. Wadded paper adds a great deal of weight to the package, and that extra shipping cost can make buyers unhappy. The paper also forms an uneven base with numerous stress points that can easily cause the damage the packing is supposed to prevent. Shredded paper allows far too much motion unless it’s stuffed in so firmly that it becomes the same as wadded paper.

Items are often packed with air-filled bags like small pillows several inches long. These can be very effective, but they are not flexible for size, and if one pillow loses air it creates a very large gap in the packing. Styrofoam peanuts remain the most cost-effective and most protective option when properly used. To prevent the item from moving or settling during shipping, the box must be completely filled.

The Packing Process

Simply pouring peanuts in until the box looks full isn’t enough because it leaves unseen gaps. Begin by pouring in 2-3” of peanuts in the bottom of the box and making sure they’re fairly level. It’s a good idea to put a layer of bubblewrap in next to help prevent the item from settling through the peanuts. After placing the item into the box, pour in enough additional peanuts to almost cover the item. Next, take time to shove peanuts into the corners and crevices. Don’t shove hard enough to crush the peanuts. Just make sure space is really filled where you can’t see.

With a larger box, you may need to repeat this step two or three times, adding a couple of layers of peanuts at a time. With a full box, you can fold in the top flaps so they’re level, not dipping down into the box and not bulging upward. Too much packing is as bad as too little because it puts stress on the item. Fold the flaps in, check the level, and then raise the flaps again to see if any corners now look low or to remove any excess.

Tape the box securely with multiple strips of tape (top and bottom). Apply the address label, and you’re set. A package like this meets the USPS requirements and can withstand the bouncing, falling and tossing that packages encounter.


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