It’s always a good idea to pack a hollow object when you’re shipping it. Shipping hollow objects like vases, ceramics, and other items with irregular shapes means that you should fill out their hollows with extra padding when you can.
Floating and Packing
The best step to take when packing is floating a fragile object. This means making sure packing is on all sides, as well as top and bottom, so that it never touches the box or crate its in. Any jolt, such as in a pothole while driving, will see its force dissipate through the wall of the box and into the packing, rather than into the object itself. This buffer is invaluable in keeping breakable objects whole.
When that object is hollow, or has a fragile overhang or loop, packing loosely can help reinforce it. What you’re essentially doing is providing extra material that can help absorb extra force or reverberation.
The Drum Example
Think about it this way. When you hit a drum, it makes a sound because of its reverberation. Yet if you pack that drum with cotton, you won’t hear the same sound. Sound is made by the skin of the drum vibrating and creating sound waves. In fact, a tighter skin will produce a higher pitch because it will have less slack to dissipate the force of the drumstick’s impact.
If you pack that drum with cotton, the sound will be muffled. The cotton is absorbing much of the force that’s applied to the drum by the drumstick. The skin of the drum won’t vibrate as much because the force is being transferred to the cotton inside. The sound is different: it’s not as loud, it’s lower, and it doesn’t last as long. The impact force is transferred from the drum into the cotton. This means the drum is taking less stress.
What Packing Material to Use
This example shows us that when you pack a hollow object, any jolt or vibration transferred to the object itself can be absorbed by loose packing inside the object.
Now, you’re probably not going to fill vases up with cotton balls. When you’re shipping hollow objects, shipping paper or loosely bunched bubble wrap is a good option here. Newspaper works as well, but for rare, meaningful, or expensive pieces, be aware that newspaper print is slightly acidic and can leech and stain sometimes.
Do not overpack. If you do, you risk putting more in the hollow object than it can hold, which will stress it from the inside. Packing a hollow object loosely can also help protect it when the person receiving it handles it.