SYS Blog

When you store or ship a painting, should you roll it up? 3 reasons to…

Posted · 47 Comments

Well, I guess the beginning photo tells you why its not good to roll up paintings, new or old! It puts stress on the paint layers and they don’t like it.

A Russian Portrait from about 1900.

A Russian Portrait from about 1900.

This is what happens:

1. The paint layers take on a “memory” and will want to follow the distortions of being rolled up as it ages.

2. If the paint is stressed enough, you will set into motion massive flaking.

3. The only way to correct the damage (extensive cracking, cupping-distortions) will be to line or back the picture.

As this painting aged in its rolled up condition, threads of the canvas gave away and the painting split.

As this painting aged in its rolled up condition, threads of the canvas gave away and the painting split.

So, there you have the proof. Be forewarned. The cost of repair to make it look perfect? About $3,000.00

May I suggest that you go to the main page and sign up for the free e-mail Tips? We won’t send you spam. Also check out the “Products/Supplies.” There are free downloads and you can buy a single chapter of my book that interests you if you don’t want the whole book.

I’m writing from Hawaii where I’m consulting on a historic preservation project. Aloha!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
47 Responses to "When you store or ship a painting, should you roll it up? 3 reasons to…"
  1. Dan Phangan says:

    Hey there,
    I love this blog. Bing sent me to this blog. I found very much good information here. Will for sure buy book and visit it again.

  2. Wallace Montante says:

    Great article I’ve just added to my bookmark list.

  3. Wilbert Kasmarek says:

    Hello, great post. I stumbled upon this blog, but I will definitely visit regularly.

  4. Julie says:

    Hello, great site. I look forward to your next post. I’ve signed up for the RSS feed and for the free preservation tips. Thanks, Julie

  5. Kathy Smith says:

    Your blog is sooo interesting! I love scrapbooking and your website has so much that applies to me. I can see your book talks about photo albums, papers, documents and all things that go into my scrapbooks. So, thanks a lot for all the great info. I’ve signed up for the free preservation tips. Thanks.

  6. Landa Venuti says:

    Hi there, I just wanted to say that your posts are interesting! I have an old painting rolled up. I think I better call you. Thanks.

  7. Joan Costa says:

    How-do-you-do, just wanted you to know I have added your site to my Google bookmarks because of your extraordinary blog layout. I think your site has one of the freshest theme I’ve came across. I’ve also signed up for your free tips. Great info. Thanks.

  8. Markus Weise says:

    Thanks for all the helpful articles. They really helped me a lot! You just got a new subscriber now!

  9. Melia Grossman says:

    Hi,very informative article. I found you blog from Bing. Keep it up and I’ll visit more often

  10. Millie J. Pritchett says:

    I am a regular reader of your site and would just like to say thank you! Thanks for the automatic tip sign up too. Sounds like rolling a painting up is really bad for it!

    I am due to start my own blog an would like to know how to go about doing so. I hear a lot about Blogger is this a good site to use? Thanks.

    • Scott says:

      Blogger is easy but won’t attract people to your website like an on-site does. I’m glad you are enjoying being a regular Millie. Stay in touch.

  11. I am so pleased I discovered your blog post. Many thanks for this. I believe it’s wonderful that there are still individuals around who share awesome material and great posting for nothing without needing something in return. Just consider your self added and I look forward to reading through your next update.

  12. I’ve been searching for this exact opinion from an expert on this subject for a long time. I ship stuff, so… Bookmarked and recommended! Lots of good things on this website. Thanks

  13. How often do you write your blogs? I enjoy them a lot. If you have this painting restored, does is appraise for less because its no longer “original?”

    • Scott says:

      Thanks for asking Alexander. Good question I get asked often (BTW, I try and post several times weekly).
      Regarding the appraisal question: Of course the painting (or any artwork) is worth less in it’s damaged condition compared to a similar item in perfect condition. In the case of this painting, its value is a fraction of the potential value. So, when you do proper, quality conservation and restoration you recuperate lost value. Whether you recuperate all, part or very little is a question for an appraiser. Give International Appraiser Expert Richard Holgate a call at 805 895 5121 (

      And, just a note, I am speaking at the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando Florida at the end of the month (March 2010). So, you can see, I take the emergency preparedness part of my message very seriously. I’ll be talking more about this in the weeks coming up.

  14. Garrison Clubson says:

    Awesome Post. Oh my gosh, I was about to ship some old paintings by rolling them up! This post was a life saver (of the artwork). Thanks and I signed up for the Free Tips and updates. Keep up the good work!.

  15. Lacey Calcetta says:

    I just book marked your blog on Digg and StumbleUpon. I enjoy reading your commentaries.

  16. Carla Ashton says:

    Awesome post. I ship and receive antiques all the time and see this kind of damage often… but I never connected the damage with the way people ship stuff. Duh! This is really good to know. I’ve clicked on your RSS feed for this blog.

  17. Wyath Cieczki says:

    I was looking at a painting the other day and saw the cracks you are talking about and wondered, “What in the world would cause such damage?” Now I know! Very cool to find the answer here.

  18. Luke says:

    Thanks for the advice. So is this true for both old and newer paintings?? As a photographer I have to think about this constantly when shipping or moving printed portraits.

    • Scott says:

      Luke, thanks for your question. The answer has two parts: First, roll your canvases or paper prints onto a bigger roll or tube to minimize damage. A 6″ tube is infinitely better than a 1″ tube. Second, both new and old painting will be damaged but you may not see the results of your damage for years. The damage on old paintings, now, was often inflicted when the paintings were new.

  19. Patty Masons says:

    Really love all these stories… have been reading them daily. Your other posts on Facebook are fun too. Thanks a lot again for this awesome work.

  20. Inga Reynolds says:

    Great article here, and a valuable reference for insurance carriers and agents. Personal property policies need to be aware of these types of problems so we don’t get hit for claims on pre-existing conditions and problems caused by poor choices on the part of the owners. Prior to reading this, I would have settled on this damage. Now, I know its the fault of the person who rolls it up.

  21. Chantay le Baron says:

    I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now! you guys are great and thanks for adding to your posts so often with good tips and stories. I love your Facebook pages too. Great stuff.

  22. Chantay le Baron says:

    Thanks for this blog post. We ship stuff all time and get asked about this. I’ve sign up for your updates, tips and downloads. I want it all! Keep it coming.

  23. Konta Osobiste says:

    Very informative post. We deal with people rolling up artwork all the time, so, thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

  24. Howard Black says:

    We are about to ship a valuable painting and came across your blog post. Thank Heavens! We need help packing, setting up arrangements with a shipper, getting insurance and help in dealing with customs (its an international shipment). Can you recommend someone in the Los Angeles area that is a professional provider of these services?

  25. Scott says:

    Cookes Crating in Los Angeles is the do-it-all-in-one-stop professional that you need. They are very experienced. I’ve worked with Bryan Cooke for 25 years or more and think very highly of his company.

    Say ‘hi” from me.

  26. Can you restore an old poster with a computer software? I’m guessing that we don’t have a real art conservator in our area in the Philippines. Can I roll up the poster for storage?

    • Scott says:

      Maria, here are the answers to your questions:
      1. Copying then “restoring” a photo or poster on the computer doesn’t “restore” the original, obviously. My information is all about saving the original items.
      2. Check with a local museum or art gallery.
      3. Don’t store rolled up posters in cardboard tubes. The cardboard accelerates the aging, yellowing, staining. Also, the tighter the rolling up, the krinkled the paper will get and the more difficult the poster will be to unroll in the future.

  27. sok noni says:

    I come to your blog all the time. Thanks for updating it so often. This info was great for my shipping dept. to know.

  28. Kari Byron says:

    Great blog and thanks for the info. In another post you mentioned photos and preserving them but I was wondering about insurance issues if I loose professional photos and the like? I’m a professional model and have a lot to be worried about.

    • Scott says:

      Well, there is a lot to your question! Actually, you’ve asked two questions; important questions when wanting to be prepared and, especially when protecting your livelihood and business assets (your modeling photos). So, let me answer publicly with two short answers. Then, if you like, you can email me and we’ll discuss particulars privately.
      1. Make excellent copies and keep them (your second set) some other place than in your home. Preferably, keep a set in a different region of the country or even in a storage facility online. Digital copies need to be updated every 5 years. I like having archival printed copies. If you live in Hurricane Country, you’ll understand about having a copy in another location far away.
      2. Contact your home insurance agent for business asset coverage. But if they are of no help, you can contact an insurance broker like Huntington T. Block in Washington DC and they’ll figure it out for you. You can also contact an appraiser friend of mine, Richard Holgate, at
      My email is
      All my best Kari and I love your Mythbuster’s Show!

  29. Nicole Kelly says:

    I am new in your Blog and I found it interesting to go with. I am promising you that, I will be a regular reader of your posts.

  30. Great blog and thanks for the info

  31. Shirley Gonzalez says:

    Thanks for the instructions and tips. The reasons for not rolling a painting are so logical.

  32. Michael Wilson says:

    Rolling up a painting seems like a good idea… till you hear it from a professional about what can happen. THANKS!

  33. Susan Roberts says:

    I never thought rolling up a painting could cause so much damage.

  34. Clarence Jackson says:

    My goodness. I never realized. Thanks for saving me a bunch of money and heartache.

  35. maria says:

    I’ve also signed up for your free tips. Great info. Thanks.

  36. Mathew says:

    I thought that rolling a painting would be a less hassle but in the end, it will be more hassle to pay $3,000.00 for the restoration. Thanks for posting this. I find it very helpful.

  37. Lois Patterson says:

    Great article about something I have a problem with: my grandfather’s artwork all in storage. I think its going to be sad to pull it all out. People would be smart to take note of your good info.

  38. Mary Wilson says:

    I’m in trouble. We rolled up some kind of old paintings for shipping and storage. We did it as recommended by our shipper. Seems we asked the wrong person. Your info seems very credible.

  39. Alex says:

    thanks for the information 🙂

  40. Patty says:

    So, thanks a lot for all the great info. I’ve signed up for the free preservation tips. Thanks.

  41. Linus Redding says:

    Thanks for all the helpful articles. They really helped me a lot! Thanks and I signed up for the Free Tips and updates. Keep up the good work!.

Comments are closed.