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Topic: Posting delicate polymer clay sculptures safely  (Read 1657 times)
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« on: April 22, 2011 04:15:09 AM »

I didn't know where on the forum to ask, so please let me know if it needs moving.   Embarrassed

I agreed to make a custom rat sculpture for someone who saw a previous work of mine.  I am about to start painting it, but realised that I had no idea on how to post it!

I'm partially talking about how to wrap and pack it, but also on what service to use.  I am in the UK and the mail service here (bless them) are not renown for treating things well and I've had two smaller pieces break this week in transit alone (my fault for posting in bubble mailers rather than boxes I guess!).

This is the item WIP:

Has anyone else successfully posted polymer clay items safely if they have been more delicate items? I commissioned a small piece 5-6 years ago which had a few delicate areas which arrived from Australia just fine, but it was a much smaller, lighter item and I cannot remember at all how it was packed!
Diane B.
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GlassAttic --polymer clay "encyclopedia"

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« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2011 11:57:31 AM »

You might want to check out some of the info on shipping (breakable) polymer clay items on this page of my site:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/business.htm (> "Shipping," near bottom of the list at top of page)

Also, since you're painting over your polymer clay, make sure it (and any finish you might use) are totally dry before shipping since they can be sticky with heat or just because they're not fully "cured" as well as dried.  (And I'm sure you know there are some paints and finishes that shouldn't be used on polymer clay anyway.)

(It looks like you could be using plain SuperSculpey here so in the future you might want to consider making your sculpts with a stronger clay like SuperSculpey-FIRM, or just with one of the other brands like Kato, FimoClassic or Premo, or to mix the SS with a less brittle line of polymer clay: 
http://glassattic.com/polymer/sculpture.htm > Polymer Clays
You can also use armatures inside the projecting or thin areas, even with those stronger clays, if you're not already for more strength (esp. during shipping!)...more info here if interested:
http://glassattic.com/polymer/heads_masks.htm )

Very nice sculpt btw!!

Diane B.

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(had to move them from YahooPhotos, so many now without captions)
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2011 03:09:48 PM »

Thank you so much for your help! I never thought of putting armature in the extremities such as the ears and toes (there is wire in the tail and feet).  The person who is having this sculpt goes to the same rat shows as a friend of mine so at least I can deliver to my friend and know it gets 50% of the way safely!

I've been looking into mixing 50/50 with Sculpey Firm as I've heard it's rather crumbly on it's own if you are just used to adding as you sculpt (as I do) rather than carve.

I shall endeavour to paint a week or so before I wrap (hard for me because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire!

I love your site by the way! I often find it's several hours later than when I logged on to it as there's so much information, thank you for your help!
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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2011 08:54:41 AM »

All of my items (all have been small) go in a box, then in a bubble mailer. He looks bigger, I would package him as though I was packaging a piece of fine glassware. A box obviously, wrap him in packing material so there are no empty spots and tape it around him, and fill in around him in the box as well. Once I think I'm done, I'll shake the box to make sue there is no shifting, you should be able to pack a box so that there is no shifting but that it also isn't tight on the object so there isn't added stress from overpacking.

LOVE you rat BTW!

« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2011 08:43:21 AM »

Aw i love rattys.  I used to live with one called Pi.  He had full run of the flat. I made him little runs and platforms so he could get onto the tables, windows, etc.   He had about 8 dens around my flat - under the bed, behind the cupboards, etc.    Total nightmare cleaning up after him but well worth it.  He used to come and wake me up by jumping on my pillow.   Rats are great Cheesy

I also used to work as a postie for royal mail and i can tell you that there is no difference between first/second class and recorded mail - they all go through the same system and those packets get banged about loads.  The 'special delivery' however does use a separate system and the specials are treated much better.  Still a risk though.  The Specials are also insured for quite a bit, but that's not much use for hand crafted items.

Don't know if you sent your ratty out yet but if you use royal mail, special delivery via parcel force would be your best bet.

Good luck.
And great Rat!
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2011 10:05:38 AM »

Thank you azreno and atomicjam for your much valued input. 
That's good to know re. special delivery, although is it pointless insuring craft items to the value of what the customer has paid?
Ratty hasn't even been finished painted yet  Embarrassed but I have a friend who I will see shortly who will be seeing the person it's going to soon after, so I'm going to do a rat train with that one and I'll just have to take into consideration posting when I make them in future (saying that I've just made an equally delicate one  Roll Eyes )

azreno: I was thinking of using lots of packaging peanuts to fill in the gaps after wrapping the sculpt in bubble wrap.  I'm just worried about extremities like feet and claws, I've had 3 claws fly off during painting alone already.

Wish me luck for the rat transport in less than a fortnight (I'm thinking of it as a test run) and thank you for the compliments.
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« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2011 06:55:56 PM »

Oh that is sad about his toenails! One thing I try to do when making anything is consider the end result and how durable it'll be. I think that contradicts with toenails though =( Best of luck to Ratty on his journey!

« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2011 01:17:21 PM »

One thing I try to do when making anything is consider the end result and how durable it'll be. I think that contradicts with toenails though

A valuable lesson I have learned! Thank you for the well wishes, I feel a bit more motivated to complete ratty so hoping it travels as well as the last one.  Can but hope! Thank you again everyone who has offered advice.
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2011 03:53:53 AM »

In case it comes in handy for anyone I thought I'd update this thread.  I posted the completed sculpt yesterday (finally! after all that time!) in a hollowed out bottle mailer (those polystyrene rectangle things) packed in with bubble wrap, carrier bags (classy I know, but she was going to a friend so it's allowed XD ) and some of those air pockets I'd kept from a previous web order. 

I posted special delivery ( Shocked @ the price) and it got there this morning, really early.  She'd lost a nail in transit and the tip of her tail had fallen off, but my friend isn't bothered about the nail and she's happy to glue the tail tip back on.

These are all factors to take into consideration next time I make sculptures (too late for the unpainted one on my shelf!) Otherwise I don't think those 'injuries' were too bad, considering I was expecting the thing to shatter across the body.  Cheesy
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