On Monday I wrote about our recent sale of a major sculpture piece, Flight Time, by Gary Lee Price. Many of you asked about the logistics of shipping a sculpture like this, so I thought it would be fun to document the process.
Due to the size of the sculpture and past experience, I’ve decided to ship this piece via North American Van Lines’ blanket wrap service. While potentially a little bit more expensive than normal freight, the blanket wrap service eliminates the need to have huge crates made and it makes the unloading process easier for the client. With the blanket wrap, the client doesn’t have to figure out where to put crates when the delivery arrives, doesn’t have to unload them, and doesn’t have to figure out how to dispose of the crates when they’re finished.
North American shows up at the gallery, carefully loads the sculpture onto their truck, blanket wraps it and straps it down. When they arrive at the client’s home they help them place the sculpture on the installation location.
I called North American to get a quote earlier in the week. I fully expected the shipment to run a couple of thousand dollars, so I was pleasantly surprised when the agent called back and told me that it would only cost $1173.78 to get the sculpture from Scottsdale to our client in Maryland. This was great news since I agreed to cover shipping costs as part of the negotiation.
The pick up is scheduled for tomorrow, so today we worked on cleaning the sculptures and prepping them for shipment.
The sculptures have been on display just outside our window for several years now, and though we clean them regularly, they definitely needed some extra TLC before heading out to their new home. Because it is still ridiculously hot here (101 projected today) we got an early start.
The first part of the process was to get a template of the base of the sculpture. I provide this template to the client so that they can more easily anchor the sculptures. The sculptures have 3/4″ brass nuts welded into the base. When creating a permanent installation, you can put long bolts into the nuts, and then sink the bolts in quick-set cement.
I create the template by tilting the sculptures back and then scraping a pencil into the nuts, building up some graphite in the threads.
We then lower the sculpture onto craft paper and gently tap the base with a mallet.
This causes the graphite to fall out of the nuts and onto the paper, letting us know exactly where the nuts are. Before lifting the sculpture back up, we trace the base (being careful not to mark up the bronze).
Here is what the graphite circles look like:
Finishing up the template:
Now we’re ready to clean. Cleaning the bronzes isn’t complicated, it just takes some work. First we spray them down to get rid of the dust and dirt.
Then we soap and scrub with a mild detergent and a brush.
After scrubbing and towel drying, we apply a coat of Johnson’s Paste Wax to bring up the luster of the patina and to add a layer of protection.
The wax is brushed on with a disposable brush, allowed to dry and then buffed out.
And now the sculptures are clean, polished and ready to ship.
Tomorrow I’ll share photos of the packing and loading process.