Rice hulls may be the coolest secret to packing ceramics safely for transport or shipping. Our potter friend, Gary Carstens of 20 Dirty Hands in Iowa, showed us how to use them. Rice hulls are fairly dust free, dirt cheap, and versatile. We’ll look at packing ceramics for transport in loose hulls. Or you can bag the hulls and nest pots on the soft bags. We’ve gathered a few great tips for packing ceramics. Let us know if you have more ideas.
Packing Ceramics in Rice Hulls for Transport
Rice hulls are an agricultural waste product. They are pretty easy to get, even locally in most areas. Try a local Google search. You can also find rice hulls online.
A.M. Leonard sells rice hulls online in bales — two compressed cubic feet that expands to 7 cubic feet. That might be a lifetime supply.
Walmart and other dealers have them by the pound — a pound is a fair amount.
We like to fill small, inexpensive plastic bags almost full of hulls, leave a little air, and tape seal those bags to use in the bottom or sides of a carton. If you bag the hulls, they are less likely to shift in transport. Make the bag of hulls the same sizes as the spaces you want to fill.
Or use hulls unbagged. Fill your spaces thoroughly, minimizing the chance of shifting. Fill any pot you’re packing with hulls and surround handles or spouts carefully. I recommend packing ceramics for transport in your own vehicle with this loose fill method. It may not be the safest for a commercial shipper or postal service unless combined with other materials.
Packing Ceramics for Transport — More Super Tips
- When packing ceramics, use a box that fits the shipment. One of the most common causes of
breakage is too large a carton.
- Choose a sturdy box. Corrugated cardboards is better than the flimsy single layer stuff.
- If you use soft material like rice hulls, wrap the pots in paper — craft paper, newspaper, tissue, etc — so if anything shifts, pots don’t clang together.
- Try using solid material, like rigid foam or upholstery foam cut to size, as walls between each wrapped pot. Put rice hulls or other loose material inside the walled off sections.
- Bubble wrap products can get costly, but they are effective. Make sure you wrap at three times around the pot and tape the wrap.
- It’s essential to put packing material in the bottom and in the top air space of the packing box. Always leave at least three inches of space above your pots, and fill that space with packing material.
- Recycled boxes, those you have used before or received items in, are useful. Be sure the box is sturdy enough to withstand shipping bumps and bangs.
- Tape boxes securely shut, even if you are only transporting in your own vehicle. Use good packing tape. Duct tape, masking tape, gift-wrap tape just aren’t durable.
One of our favorite secrets to shipping a single, fragile pot, is to wrap the pot in cushioned wrap and put it in a box. We choose a box just big enough to hold the pot along with some soft material like rice hulls. We tape that securely shut. Next, we find a corrugated box large enough to hold the first one with at least six or seven inches of air space on all sides, including top and bottom. We put in six inches of dense cushion — loose material or bagged. Add the small sealed box. We surround the little box with more packing material so it’s suspended in the larger box. We tape that securely closed. We’ve never had breakage.
Note: It’s never a good idea to fill a box so full that the sides or top and bottom bow out. That’s just asking for breakage when the carton is stacked on or next to others, and it will be stacked! Before you tape the box shut, pick it up and shake it side-to-side and up-and-down. If the pots rattle or bump together, adjust your packing materials by adding more.
We offer no guaranties on these ideas for packing ceramics safely, since everyone’s degree of care differs. But we encourage you to try some of these packing ceramics tips and let us know how it goes. Post any of your own ideas in the comments, please!
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