What is the best way of transporting a charcoal drawing over on a long ride?

The drawing is fixed with a workable fixative but im still concerned about smudging. I was thinking about rolling the piece with a protecting layer of paper on top but I'm not sure if the charcoal could 'break' off in the process of rolling.Or would it be better to transport it flat (but how exactly?).


2 Answers 2



Put on a pair of clean white cotton gloves.

Mount the drawing on an acid-free sheet of museum board with archival mounting tape. Prepare a beveled matt with an interior size 1-2 cm smaller than your paper. Attach the matt to the museum board with one strip of archival tape along the top edge. Place a piece of 5 mm thick plexiglas on the matt and tape to the museum board along the sides. Place the entire object in a thick plastic bag, fold down the opening several times while pressing out the air and tape shut with plastic packaging tape.

Then place the packaged drawing into a wooden shipping box with custom cut styrofoam spacers so that it cannot move. Put a sachet of silica gel under the museum board in a small space you have carved out of the foam. Put a foam sheet on top of the matt and close the box with screws. Using indelible marker (or hand-cut stencil for the authenticity) write FRAGILE GLASSWARE. HANDLE WITH CARE. on every side of the box. Label with the contents, attach shipping label and place in the loading bay for the (insured) delivery company to pick up.


In an emergency I would use waxed paper like the kind used for baking to cover the sheet of paper. Fold it over the top, tape with removable masking tape to the back of the drawing. Use multiple rows that overlap and then sandwich the drawing between two sheets of cardboard that are 1.5 times bigger than the drawing. Put the whole thing in a garbage bag that you then wrap airtight and tape closed.

  • Do you also have experience with rolling charcoal drawings? Is damage likely to occur?
    – Vincent.W.
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 14:27
  • @Vincent.W. If by damage you mean transfer of the charcoal dust from the drawing side to the back of the paper, yes. We usually solve this by putting a piece of parchment paper (also known as tracing paper) on top before rolling, being very careful not to move the parchment across the surface of the drawing. A very light mist of fixative (or in a pinch hairspray) will help - but with charcoal as with pastel you are going to have issues of the dust transfer to other surfaces. Commented Jan 7, 2018 at 14:32

Here are my suggestions for transport:

  1. Carry your charcoal painting flat. Cut a piece of matte board or cardboard the right size. Wrap the rigid backing and your painting together with plastic wrap, then protect the package with a plastic bag.

  2. If the piece is too big to carry flat, experiment with rolling some test pieces sprayed with workable fixative and protected by a cover sheet. See how that works. If it doesn't smudge up, you're golden. I would use a shipping tube if I could find one, just to protect the edges from any damage, and put the whole thing in a plastic garbage bag in case of spills. Once you arrive, repair any damages; they should be non-existent to minor.

Unless you expect to do further work on your piece when you arrive, I suggest you spray it with final fixative before packing it.

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