WARNING: This is a long post. Make yourself a cup of tea/coffee before you sit down to tackle this blog!
Terror, that's what I felt when I learned that my
complete show of quilts, packed in 8 boxes had been delivered to house
several blocks away, and were sitting outside all day. It was time to
change how I ship and return-ship my quilts. When you are preparing to
ship a quilt, think of the awful things that could happen to it, in
transit, and after it arrives at the destination. How can you wrap it to
protect it as best as you can? I thought I had taken care of
|Have a written appraisal for proof of quilt value|
1. Have your important quilts, (the ones that travel
to shows, contests and exhibits) APPRAISED. Fortunately I began having
them appraised about 5 years ago. Find a qualified appraiser
to create a written
(not verbal) appraisal of your work. If
a quilt is lost you must be able to prove what your quilt is worth.
Just because you think your quilt is worth $10,000 your insurance
company might think it is only worth $500.
|Insure your quilts. Talk to your agent to determine the correct coverage for you.|
2. Insure your quilts. Once they leave
your home and are entered into a quilt show your home owners policy no
longer covers them. Check this with your insurance carrier to be sure.
I have an "inland marine" policy that covers items that travel. If you
regularly ship your quilts, you must carry your own insurance! Years
ago I gave up trying to insure each shipment when I went to the
shipping counter. That is when I began insuring my work privately.
Shippers will usually state somewhere that they will not insure
one-of-a-kind or works of art.
|This is a page
from my Quilt Inventory notebook. I keep track of every quilt I've
made, size, year, description, price, and eventually its new owner.|
3. How much to your insure your quilts
for? In the beginning I sent my agent an inventory of what I owned, to
use as a starting point. Tell them how much your work travels, how much
is out on the road at any one time, and keep them updated every year or
so with what the total value is. Let's say you have $100,000 of quilts
in your closet, your agent will figure out how often the stuff moves,
how much to insure on your premises, how much is in transit, and how
much is at another location on display. The insurance company will
figure out what dollar amount will cover the possible risks. This may
take a few days to be determined. Make sure your agent thoroughly
understands what you are doing with your quilts.
|The quilt is
rolled around a tube, wrapped in a plastic sheet, ends tied securely.
Place an address label on the outside of the "tootsie roll"|
Pack your quilts carefully avoiding wrinkles and creases. Always
enclose the folded or rolled quilt in a heavy plastic bag, or in a large
sheet of plastic. When rolling my quilts I slice open a heavy garbage
bag so it becomes a long flat piece, snugly roll up the quilt, and
tootsie roll the ends. Think of what might happen
to the box with a quilt in it. It could get dumped out of the box into a
puddle, the box could fall off the truck and get run over and the list
goes on....... A heavy plastic bag when
securely wrapped around the quilt can protect it when it is dropped on
the ground, in a puddle or left to sit in the snow. These
things happen. A container from a traveling show once opened up at a
shipping warehouse, the quilts dumped out on the dirty floor, 2 of the
8-10 quilts in the container had to go to a textile conservator to be
cleaned, the shipper paid for it.
|These telescoping boxes made the round trip from Wisconsin to LaConner WA and back|
5. Use a strong cardboard box, they may be reused,
but after two round trips I recycle the boxes. I have found using
telescoping boxes by U-Line #4872 easy to use, but not inexpensive. You
change the length of the box to fit the quilt. If the box is beat-up
before it leaves your home, it will really be in bad shape when it
arrives at its destination.
6. Choose a shipper that services your area
I will continue to use UPS, I think they provide a great service, and I
will continue to entrust my quilts to their drivers and trucks. Take
advantage of the tracking that your shipper offers. You can check on
the progress of your boxes at the end of each work day. With UPS there
is no charge for this service. If you like another shipper, and you
trust them, get to know their counter people, and set up an account with
them. If you get to know the employees they will be extremely helpful
when you run into problems.
7. Write down the phone
numbers of your shipper in your personal phone book. If a shipment is
missing and you are upset, you may not be able to find the right phone
numbers on their website! So go look for them now.
Put your labels on everything. Print up a good sized fabric label and
sew it firmly to the wrong side of your quilt. Stick an address label
on the plastic that covers your quilt. If the box opens and the
contents fall out, there should be a name and contact information right
on the plastic covered quilt. Attach one to the inside of the box too.
9. Never let a quilt out of your control if you don't have GOOD photos of it.
And this is what I should have done:
Always send with "quilt signature required" option. UPS charges about
$4.50 per package for this service. I chose not to do this because of
the extra cost. I figured I would stay home the day the quilts were due
and there wouldn't be a problem! And of course there was. I never
dreamed the driver would deliver all 8 boxes to the wrong address! The
place where they were dropped off, no one was home. With signature
required, the driver wouldn't have left them sitting outside. At least
they would be more secure riding in the delivery van. Hopefully someone
would have rechecked the address, and brought them to the correct
11. When shipping more than one box, ship them on different days. This way all the boxes won't be riding together. Early
in my quilting career, a semi loaded with quilts going to a show,
caught fire and burned up. What if your quilts were on that truck? Can
we plan for everything catastrophe? We need to try.
years ago, I was dropping off some packages at the shipper. It was a
warm day and the sun was shining. A semi trailer full of damaged
packages had been dropped off, unloaded, and several workers were going
through the packages. A large truck had evidently been in an accident
and the boxes looked like they had gotten wet and were twisted and beat
up. The workers were deciding, what could be sent on to the recipient,
and what would have to be destroyed. All the recipients would have to be
notified about their damaged packages. What a mess. The whole scene
made me sick. There must have been some special treasures included in
some of those packages, what if your quilt was in that mess?
Robbi Eklow has a different solution. She rents a mailbox at a
service. When a quilt is delivered to her suite and box number, the
carton is safely held behind the counter until she comes to pick it up.
I must point out, that this is not an option at the United States Post
Office! This is a private service offered by UPS or Pack-n-Ship type
businesses. This is a good option, for small
shipments. My 8 long boxes would have taken me 2 or 3 trips in the car
to get them to my studio, but they would have been safe!
I am aware that nobody died and no person was injured, so I have to
keep this mess in perspective. Yet I realized that our quilts are great
treasures. If one is lost, a part of the maker disappears with it. A
little part of us is stitched into each one we make. Yes, it would help
to have an insurance settlement, but nothing can truly replace the thing
that we spent so many hours creating.
Keep those quilts safe! Please feel free to add your ideas here.