I’ve moved 5 times in the past 6 years. It’s not my favorite thing to do by far, though the worst part (after the back pain) is the amount of damage my in-progress paintings receive between each move.
I’ve tried so many options to make this a seamless process. If you have a similar issue, here’s how I’ve solved it.
Cork (excellent especially for larger work): One approach that my painting mentor taught me was to use a wine cork, cut it up into 4 pieces, and put a piece on each corner of the front of the painting, then put another painting on top of it so the paintings face each other but are separated at the corners. If the paintings are a hardboard or stretched properly on canvas this works great. You then need to tie the corners and overall wrap the entire two pieces in plastic wrap of another wrapping of choice, both so that they don’t move as well as to protect the edges.
This works excellently for large paintings, but for smaller works, like 9×12 or around there, the width of the cork touches too much of the painting itself and can change the top glaze of it. I also have so many little paintings this would take too long for me, so I tried to find a shortcut.
WaxPaper (not always a success) I place wax paper and painting palette sheets in-between paintings so that I could stack them and more easily transport. This basically ruined the glaze on most of my glossy paintings, and I had to gently scrub off the parts of the paper that stuck on, re-paint sections, and re-glaze. The type of feeling I experienced upon realizing this is hard to find words for.
I did not wish to experience a repeat of this.
My matte paintings or anything without a sticky varnish did not suffer this same fate
Frames (so obvious now) This time, I decided to frame all the smaller paintings in order to transport them. I’d decided to put them on the wall in the new home until they sell, rather than in my painting studio, and they look much more put together in frames. Going on HobbyLobby and Michales, I purchased lots of small frames, mostly shadow boxes, and mildly modified or painted them when necessary to match the painting. Not a necessary step, of course. In this way, the pieces are protected on all sides, including those easy-to-destroy corners. In the worst case, the frames get scratched but the painting is still safe.
For packing into an actual box, I don’t lie them flat, but standing instead. This doesn’t matter that much, but I worry about glass breaking for the frames that have glass, and stacking them vertically will help prevent any damage if the glass does somehow break in transit. It is important that all the paintings in the box are tight and there isn’t a lot of space for motion: to do so, add some paper or another soft element to take up any free space in the box before sealing it up.
It seems so obvious now, but it really took a while to figure out. Now I transport my oil paintings, finished works, and purchased pieces quickly and without damage.