Packing Tips for Mosaic Retreats

27 Nov

Packing Tips for Artists

Will TSA confiscate my Leps? Can I buy wedi in Turkey? Does the 3 ounce rule apply to Lexel? Help!

Carol Shelkin is a mosaicist on the move, teaching workshops across the US, as well as Mexico, Canada, and Costa Rica, with several more continents on the list. So I’m thrilled that she agreed to guest-write this column on packing tips for mosaic artists. Let the planning begin!

Travellin’ Tips from Carol Shelkin:

To make your life easier, I don’t recommend any mosaic art supplies in your carry-on other than substrates or sheets of Tempered Glass (TG). Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules and guidelines are clear (and firm), and protecting your art supplies and getting them to your destination will make for a wonderful art retreat.

The rule is that a liquid or cream-like substance needs to be 3oz or less, and in one plastic quart-sized zipped bag for a carry-on item. No sharp objects or tools may be brought on-board. It’s not wise to bring any “white powdered” grout, colorants or thinset in carry-on luggage. These rules help shape how we must pack for traveling with art supplies.

1. If you are bringing a lot of mosaic art supplies, place them together in one piece of separate luggage to be checked. This way, TSA only has to “rummage” through one piece of luggage. Again, check this luggage — do not bring it on board. Be aware that weight limits are 40 – 50 pounds per bag, and do check your airline for specific weight restrictions. Test-Pack and weigh your luggage well before leaving for the airport. If it looks like you’ll be over the weight requirement, it might be less costly to pay for extra weight than to separate your supplies into two checked bags. Fees should be listed on each airline website. Beads, millefiori, some tiles and embellishments with NO sharp edges may be brought in a carry-on. If you’re unsure of a specific item, do NOT bring it on board; pack it with bags to be stowed in the cargo area!

Travel Packing Tips

2. Allow for expansion and contraction of filled tubes by pouring/or squeezing some adhesive out and leaving a bit of empty space in the container. Wrap all tools and supplies in bubble wrap (small bubble size) and secure with painters tape. Enclose all art supplies in clear, plastic zip-top bags and then place in a clear plastic shoebox-style bin, and then in a plastic trash bag (preferably clear) in your suitcase. This allows airport security to quickly view and approve your items, and spend less time handling your supplies. In some cases the pressure and temperature change in an airplane’s cargo area and can cause tubes of adhesive to leak or burst. Zip-lock plastic bags, plastic bins, and trash bags help keep messes contained.

3. Use painters’ tape to close the shoe box, and be sure to mark shoe boxes (SHARP GLASS – ART SUPPLIES) to allow items to be opened and closed easily by TSA.

4. If using one piece of luggage, pack shoe boxes on top of clothes for TSA’s easy access.

5. Smaller substrates can be packed in the bottom of your suitcase or carried on board. It is not recommended to pack a sheet of TG in luggage, but I’ve brought TG on board many times. Making certain the glass is within the height and width restrictions for carry-ons, simply wrap it in bubble wrap and place in a canvas bag or carry-on luggage.

6. If you work with Silicone, Weldbond, DAP or any adhesive that is not in a powdered form, keep these in the original containers, and again — place them in a zipper bag, clear shoebox bin and small trash bag in case of leakage.

Containers for Travel7. If you’re traveling with thinset, grout, colorants, or anything in powdered form, place these in a heavier weight zipped plastic bag, place the bag in a storage container (see photo), place that container in another zipper plastic bag, in a shoe box and lastly, place the shoebox in a trash bag. Mark the bags and plastic containers: ART SUPPLIES and list the contents (grout, thinset, etc.). Then, place these items in a shoe box (if it fits) also marked ART SUPPLIES. Secure the bag and containers with painters’ tape, since it’s easier for inspectors to open and close. The painters’ tape will adhere each time.

Packing Glass for Travel8. Stained Glass is easier to transport if cut in small 3″x3″ pieces (see photo). It’s suggested to wrap four – five pieces in bubble wrap (small bubble size) and then place them in a shoebox. Mark the shoebox “ART SUPPLIES — SHARP GLASS.” Wrap smalti in bubble wrap and place in shoebox, along with any desired embellishments.

9. Place your name and destination on the outside of each shoebox. Often, inspected items are taken out of luggage and mixed-up, dropped, etc. Let’s make sure they get to you.

10. Make a list of enclosed supplies for your records.

LUGGAGE SUMMARY

The best way to transport supplies is to place them in zip-locked plastic bags or waterproof bags, place these bags in shoe boxes or storage bins, wrap the bins in a  larger plastic bag, and place these in your checked luggage. Substrates packed in carry-on luggage must be able to fit easily in the overhead bins or in the space provided under the seat. Carry-on luggage must not exceed dimension and size limits; check with your airline. You may bring some tesserae on board, as long as there are no sharp edges. Tools may not be brought on board, ever. Keep checked luggage unlocked and at 40 – 50 pounds. Check with your airline for domestic or international flights weight and size limits.

SHIPPING

If you choose to ship items to your overseas destination, allow a month for travel time and be aware of tariffs and taxes. Place both your name and the retreat name / host’s name on the address label and don’t forget to inform the retreat location that you will be shipping supplies. Ask them to contact you when the package arrives. Some retreat locations charge a holding fee if they need to store your supplies for more than three days. This can get tricky and expensive.

You may also call your materials supplier to see if they ship direct. Check the prices, as it might be easier and less expensive to simply pay the “checked baggage” fees when traveling. FedEx or DHL will expedite the supplies, but this can be very costly and is not recommended. Get quotes in advance if you decide to go this route.

COMING HOME

Some airlines do not allow you to check “artwork”, so plan on bringing your work on board as a carry-on. Place a soft towel on top of the mosaic, then wrap in bubble wrap and place in a canvas bag or carry-on luggage.

There you have it: Tips from a Master! If you have additional suggestions or questions about traveling with art supplies, please use the comment section below. And thank you Carol Shelkin!

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5 Responses to “Packing Tips for Mosaic Retreats”

  1. Nancie Mills Pipgras November 28, 2012 at 12:51 AM #

    Wowza, Carol! You covered it all. Nicely done.

    • carol.shelkin@yahoo.com November 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM #

      – I have only learned from my mistakes, Nancie – and a touch of OCD!

      • Pamela Goode November 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM #

        Yay for mistakes — and most definitely YAY for OCD!

  2. sfmosaic December 2, 2012 at 3:47 PM #

    hi Carol…well done and much needed tips. A few years ago, I almost had a melt down when TSA at Long Beach was gonna confiscate my vintage nippers bequeathed to me by Denis O’Connor! Luckily I had not yet checked my luggage, and put them in the checked bag instead. It didn’t even occur to me that this little tool would be a “menace”. these days i’m OCD too, and even put “love notes” in my bags asking the TSA inspectors to go easy on the materials…

  3. Carolyn January 30, 2014 at 7:46 PM #

    Thanks for †he useful tips, Carol. Will file away, and hopefully have a need for them one day. I have had tools taken on the way to SAMA. Once.

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