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My aunt wants to pack up her antique china, really delicate pieces, some dating back more than 100 years. Needless to say I'm paranoid about even touching it. What's the best way to pack it for a move?

Besides the usual plates, cups, saucers, there are serving pieces. I don't know what those Victorians ate, but the platters are big enough to hold an entire pig.
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Hi Uhura,

Depending on the value of the pieces, you may want to just bite the bullet and hire a packing crew.

If you want to do it yourself, here are a few tips:

1) Find a source for moving boxes and get the boxes called Dishpacks, or Dishbarrels. These boxes are double thickness so they protect dishes better than a regular box. Also be sure and buy plenty of packing paper. That stuff comes in bundles of about 25 pounds apiece. Most places will take back unused supplies, so get at least 3 bundles of paper and 5 or 6 boxes. You can also get some smaller boxes (1.5 or 3.0 cu ft) for small items

2) Now - prepare a place to work. Clear off a dining room table or other large flat surface. Get a bundle of paper and spread it out so it's flat on the table. Get a dishpack and tape up the bottom. First run a piece across the botton, so that it cross the seam. Now take another piece and tape the seam up. Finally, take two more pieces and form an X shape on the bottom. That will insure that the bottom is bulletproof.

3) Turn the box back up, and take at least sheets of paper. Crumple these sheets up, and toss them in the bottom to form a cushion. Note that a crumpled piece of paper has 2 or 3 times the protection as a flat piece.

4) So now, you're ready to pack some stuff. You always start with the largest things on the bottom, so lets grab some of those plates. This is a little hard to explain without pictures, but I'll try. Place the first plate near one of the corners of the paper. Fold the corner of the paper (use 2 sheets) up over the plate, so it covers most of the plate. Now, take a second plate and place it on top of the first. Fold more of the paper up over this plate. Repeat this process for a third plate, and a fourth if you have enough paper to do it. Once you have this stack of plates formed, use another sheet of paper to wrap the whole bundle up. At this point these plates should be nice and secure. Try it a few times until you're confident. Now comes the interesting part. Take the stack, and place it VERTICALLY in the corner of the box. Repeat this process for each corner. Now, you should have plates on each side of the box, with a big hole in the middle.

5) Look at the other objects you are going to pack - You will probably have some sort of large bowl that will fit in that space, or maybe a set of bowls. Lets assume it's a set of nested bowls. Take the largest one and set it on the paper near the end. Fold some paper up into the bowl to cover the insides. Feel free to crinkle it up for better cushioning. Now, place the next bowl inside and use the paper to cushion it. Keep doing this until you have a nice stack, and again, use more paper to wrap the whole thing up. Now, place this in stack into the big hole in the box.

6) Now, you can start wadding up pieces of paper and filling in the gaps that may be left between the plates and bowls. If you have any little knick-knacks, feel free to wrap them and use these to fill in gaps. Just be sure that no two pieces touch each other without some paper between them.

7) After the voids are filled, you can do the next level. Start out using saucers or smaller plates stacked against the sides, with smaller stuff in the middle. Fill all of the voids again with little things, or with knick knacks.

8) The top level should be used for very light items. If there are tea cups, you can use a half sheet of paper to wrap each one, and put a bunch of those in the top level. One note about tea cups - the handle is the most fragile part. So - get a little paper and wrap it several times through the handle. That will help keep the handles from breaking.

9) If you have teapots, gravy boats or other similar vessels, take paper and wad it up inside them. Wrap the lids separately

10) For stemware, take a half sheet or quarter sheet of paper and twist it up to form a rope. Wrap the rope around the stem of the glass. The stem is the most fragile part of the glass. Also take paper and wad it up inside the glass. Now, place the glass on it's side on the paper, and roll it up.

Alternately, you can lay the glass on the paper, and as you roll the glass up, start cramming paper inside of the glass, and around the stem.

When you have a glass wrapped, place it vertically, with the opening facing down. Once you have a number of these in a box, use paper to fill in the spaces between them.

11) Remember that whatever type of box you are packing, use several sheets of paper on the bottom, and a few more on the top. Make sure that nothing inside can move before you close the box.

12) Regarding the platters, there are several possibilities.

a. if you just moving these across town, you may be able to get a quilt or other padded blanket, and wrap the platters carefully, and put them in your car.

b. You could get special boxes, called 'mirror sheets' from your supplier. Mirror sheets are flat pieces of cardboard that can be used to wraps pictures, mirrors or other large flattish objects. Get your supplier to show you how to put them together. They're adjustable and work really well. If you go this way, wrap the platters in paper, old sheets, or whatever you can thinks of. Then put some more paper in the box, slide in the platter, and finish up with more paper. Now tape the living daylights out of it all.

c. If these are very valuable, you could opt to 'crate' each platter. This involves creating a wooden frame and adding some 1/4 plywood to form a solid box around the object. You can do that yourself if you're good with woodworking, or hire a specialist to do it.

That's a lot to absorb, but it's a good start.

By all means, if you need extra information just email me and I'll do what I can to help...

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Also be sure and buy plenty of packing paper.

Make sure you get the clean unprinted paper from U-Haul or other moving supply companies. A lot of the old China isn't glazed the same as modern stuff and the newsprint can transfer onto it and not come off.
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Make sure you get the clean unprinted paper from U-Haul or other moving supply companies. A lot of the old China isn't glazed the same as modern stuff and the newsprint can transfer onto it and not come off.

Absolutely - never ever use newsprint for anything - The good stuff should cost about a buck a pound, but it's worth it.

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