Shrink Wrapping

Common Questions
Shrink Wrapping Questions and Answers



  • What is shrink wrapping, and why would I want to use it?

    Shrink wrapping involves the use of a plastic film that shrinks when heated. This creates a tight protective seal, perfect for some kinds of artwork. To the retailer or gallery, shrink wrapping can protect a work of art, while allowing the customer to view it and handle it. To the consumer, a shrink wrapped piece may seem more professional.

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  • What kind of shrink wrap unit should I consider?

    There are shrink wrapping solutions that cost thousands of dollars, designed for industrial packaging. The shrink wrap solutions Dick Blick sells are for artists, crafters, and others who package at most a few hundred to a few thousand pieces a year. They want a unit that is compact, and that works safely on household current, and in a home environment.

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  • Can I use kitchen plastic wrap or plastic bags for shrink wrapping?

    Dick Blick does sell a shrink wrap unit that works with these materials, and they will probably find uses around the home and studio. But these materials contain plasticizers which react negatively with papers, pigments, and dyes over time. Ultimately, they will damage a work of art.

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  • Is any acid-free wrap archival?

    Dick Blick sells non-archival shrink wrap that is acid free. This is much better for artwork than kitchen plastics, but should only be considered for short term protection of a work, as in shipping. Instruct the buyer to remove the plastic wrapping at the earliest time possible.

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  • When should I use archival wrap?

    That's an artistic and economic decision the artist has to make. Archival shrink wrap materials contain no plasticizers or chemicals that will react with a piece of art, or its support. But they're also more expensive.

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  • Why does Dick Blick sell both archival and non-archival grades of shrink wrap?

    Even in the visual arts, a non-archival shrink wrap is fine for many purposes. For example, if the work is not for long-term use (say a set of greeting cards), then it is hard to justify the expense of archival quality polyolefin. Furthermore, artists create non-paper works, such as fabric and bead art, for which an archival grade of polyolefin would be superfluous.

    In addition, many of our customers sell merchandise other than art. For example, Dick Blick's customers include authors who self publish books. A shrink wrap unit may have many other uses in the household.

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  • Should shrink wrapping be used as an archival preservation technique?

    Not on purpose. There are better choices of materials for long term preservation and storage. However, we recommend an archival grade shrink wrap for artists and photographers who sell paper-based works of fine art.

    A finished piece of work may sit for months or years in a print rack at a gallery before it is finally sold. Once the work is sold, it is difficult to control how a customer stores and uses it. Some customers will store their purchase in shrink wrapping for years before they finally open it up and display it. That's why we recommend an archival wrap for the best long-term results.

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Dick Blick Art Materials · P.O. Box 1267 · Galesburg, IL 61402-1267 · Toll-free Phone (800) 828-4548 International Phone +1-309-343-6181 ext. 5402 · Fax (800) 621-8293

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