Category Archives: How To’s

How to Make Custom Cardboard Boxes to Post Framed Artwork for Couriers (I do this for Saatchi Art Sales)

Here is a short video I filmed that shows how I keep your paintings safe when I post them to you. The main reason I decided to film this was for the benefit of other artists, so that you can see how to create custom cardboard boxes to safely ship framed artwork and avoid damage. Have you ever wondered where you can get cardboard boxes that fit your paintings? Well, you don’t need to buy any – I show you here how to make your own custom cardboard boxes to post artwork. It should cost you nearly nothing – it’s practically free once you have a few supplies in place, although you will need foam boards for the inner protection for each painting you are shipping.

Some of the supplies you will need:

  • Cardboard box opened up (preferably two or three ply)
  • Extra cardboard box to pack glass
  • Foam board
  • No residue masking tape to protect the glass (I like this one)
  • Acid free tissue paper
  • Shredded paper, card, newspaper, tissue paper, spare bubble wrap, pellets, polystyrene – anything that isn’t dyed for packing out the boxes
  • Bubble wrap
  • Parcel tape
  • Duck tape
  • A ruler
  • Stanley knife and cutting mat
  • Pen
  • Red sharpie
  • Super sticky labels

I have been selling online for a few years and have used this method for Artfinder and Saatchi Art. For unframed papers, I use tube rolls as this is significantly cheaper to ship and gives the art buyer a good discount on postage and delivery costs. One of the perks of buying unframed and unmounted! Otherwise, all mounted art is delivered flat using these custom cardboard boxes. I add extra protection for framed works or canvases (for which I use the box within a box method). So here’s how to make custom cardboard boxes to post artwork. Enjoy!

If you can’t watch this here, click here to open in Youtube.

Strathmore Artist Workshops

I’ve discovered this little gem online: Strathmore Artist Workshops

It’s a series of short, basic interactive online workshops. It’s presented in video format, with written instructions alongside, and templates as well for those who don’t want to practise sketching (just painting). My personal preference is always to draw from scratch, so I had a go at the exercises.

If you sign up (it’s free), you can post in the forums and gallery, allowing you to interact with the instructor and classmates. As far as I’m aware, because there aren’t deadlines, it’s open for quite a few months to give you time to post your exercise attempts whenever you want.

While I was using up the last few sheets of my Cotman watercolour sketchpad, I found some watercolours I painted last year. I spent most of 2017 experimenting with watercolours – it’s a medium I’ve wanted to get better with for a long time, after favouring acrylics for so long. I love the thick textures and how expressive acrylics are (it really is the medium for me), but I also really appreciate the delicacy of watercolours. These were fun to do at the time – lovebirds and crane birds! What do you do with your small pieces, do you display them, sell them, or throw them out? Mine just stay in the pad!


How to paint on black, stretchy fabric for costumes


I’ve decided to write up our journey creating the costumes for the Aerial Silks performances this year – during my research for the paints and fabrics, it isn’t quite as straight forward as you might assume. If you’re looking to create similar costumes for your event, read on!

To give you some background, before I go into the technicalities…

As a participant in Kelly Horne’s Aerial Silk performance this year, we decided to create custom costumes to stand out. A lot of the costumes found online just weren’t quite right, and so another student and I teamed up to create these costumes.

With the “Good” versus “Evil” theme in mind, and having just watched the Hunger Games, we went for a flame-inspired design for the “Evil” costume, and a galaxy/nature design for the “Good”. To connect the costumes, the Good design is an invertion of the Evil flames. The costumes we were using as a base were black, stretchy cotton-mix bodysuits.

So, now you know what we were doing, let’s get on to the fun stuff: painting! Originally, the plan was to use UV paint, however the lights we were using and the space we were in, along with the samples we tried (paintingsthatglow), just weren’t compatible and weren’t effective. After a lot of research, it seems that black fabric just doesn’t really work with UV paint, especially not “invisible” UV paint. Invisible UV paint just isn’t very effective on black fabric – certainly not for performing up to 10m away from the UV spot light. We did swatch the paint on white fabric, and I have to say, the invisible colours (that show only under UV light) purple, pink and blue were very disappointing and faint, even with several coats.

Abandoning the idea of UV paint, we moved on to the best fabric paint to source for stretchy, black fabric. We wanted vibrant colours. As the fabric was so stretchy, it became obvious quickly that we needed to paint the design directly onto the performer, whilst the costume was worn. Fabric that wasn’t pre-stretched while painted became “gappy” and cracked badly.

Because of this, we needed paint that didn’t require heat setting. Typically, fabric paints require ironing to set it into the material permanently. The best paints we found that fit this requirement, were the Deco SoSoft paints. They came in a wide range of colours – again, for us, a requirement.

When they arrived, although the coverage was adequate, the vibrancy was poor and the effect was disappointing. We didn’t have that “wow” factor we were looking for. During the pre-design stages, I had on a whim, used artist’s acrylic paint on spare fabric to see what would happen. It was bright. It was bold. It was beautiful!

We picked up 500ml pots very affordably at The Range, in the student-quality acrylic paints. Using artist’s quality brushes (Recommended! Those who pitched in using cheap brushes struggled to paint evenly and quickly as the bristles were so poor) we applied the paint to 11 costumes, taking approximately 20 hours in total from design, to test costume, to patiently coating each performer. And that’s how we did it! With regular acrylic paints. To add some sparkle, we used clear glitter nail polishes on top, which helped reduce cracking in areas.

As you’d expect, after 3 intense shows, the costumes did get wear and tear. Due to the amount of stretch, the paint did begin to crack. We did also notice that some paint transferred to the silks after some dramatic drops – I guess the heat generated by the friction is very hard to avoid.

I hope this helps you on your journey – black fabric isn’t the easiest to work with!