Build your own courier box

The number of members sending paintings to the annual Splash exhibition increases each year. The number of courier boxes rises accordingly. Paintings arrive from across New Zealand and we are delighted to receive them. ‘We” is the team of Wellington members who organise, mount, run and pack up the exhibition. The heaviest, most time-consuming job is the unpacking and repacking of courier boxes. If you are one of those who sends their work by courier, you can help ease the workload by having the right box for the job. The ideal box is strong to protect the frames and glass, light to move around the gallery, easy to open, unpack and repack. A wooden box is heavy, often incurring a greater courier charge; a cardboard box does not always provide adequate protection and is less durable; multiple layers of bubble wrap and loose cardboard are a tumbling fumble!

One member has designed and built a courier box that is light, strong, easy in/easy out and has proved to be durable. It is also inexpensive and reasonably simple to construct. Here is her recipe.

First decide on the size of frames you wish to put in the box. Do you normally paint a quarter sheet, half or full sheet? Allow for mat and frame. The Splash entry normally allows for three works per member. Any gaps inside the box can be filled with bubble wrap which the unpackers easily slide into the empty box. Once
you know the overall dimensions you wish to accommodate, add the thickness of the walls of the box (see below) to calculate the finished outside dimensions. The member’s box accommodates two large frames inserted in the box face-to-face and one smaller frame sits between them, separated by a sheet of cardboard or bubble wrap. The outside dimensions of her box are 1150 mm X 1000 mm X 220 mm.


  • Rigid polystyrene sheet 50 – 60 mm thick e.g. EXPOLUnderFloor insulation. This is available in several sheet sizes. Discuss your project and requirements with the vendor. Vendors include Expol, Bunnings, Mitre 10.
  • Adhesive – Expol produces a suitable adhesive for gluing polystyrene to polystyrene. Ask the vendor’s advice.
  • Heavy duty cardboard sheet
  • Duct tape
  • A sharp knife
Cut the polystyrene sheet to size, glue together to build the box. The lid is constructed of two layers glued together – one layer inserts into the box as a placeholder and the other sits across the
box top. (See photo).

To prevent the polystyrene from becoming dented, glue a layer of heavy duty cardboard to the outside. Strengthen the corners and edges with duct tape. Label the box clearly with the sender’s name.

The artist has been using her box for several years. When the surface becomes scarred or fully covered with courier stickers, she replaces the cardboard with a new layer. She uses the box to transport paintings to local galleries as well as for national courier journeys. She finds courier companies are happy to transport it. The Splash crew are also very happy handling her entries!

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