To sleeve or not to sleeve?

I received an interesting email recently that I’d like to share with you. I was asked if when selling my books on consignment, do I enclose them in protective sleeves.

Clear cellophane bags

In an ideal world, I’d love for my work to always stay pristine with no chance of damage. Of course, when it comes to consignment, this is something that is out of my control.

In general, I send my books off without sleeves and hope for the best. I think it’s important for people to be able to touch my books, turn the pages, and feel the texture of the materials. If a book is intended to be used, then I should be okay with people handling my work.

Plastic sleeves are a potential barrier – they send the message that something shouldn’t be touched. How many packages have you opened so that you could examine the contents? I don’t do that very often.

I believe that people are pretty conscientious when it comes to touching handmade things. In all the years I’ve done craft shows, I’ve never experienced any major losses and I’d like to think that this translates into the consignment environment.

I would like to add that I have total respect for galleries that prefer for work to be packaged in protective sleeves. They have a lot of work to take care of and there’s no way that they can keep their eyes on everything. I know that they do their best to keep work safe.

What do you think? To sleeve or not to sleeve? I’d love to hear what you have to say about it!

7 Responses to “To sleeve or not to sleeve?”

By Kris Stewart - 15 December 2014 Reply

I don’t sleeve my work. I’m with you — it’s a barrier and I want people to touch and feel (with clean hands, of course!).

By Rhonda - 15 December 2014 Reply

I’ve never used them and I don’t like them. People who write and sketch want to see and feel the paper in a book before they buy it. And in all my craft markets and all my consignment sales, there have never been any problems. (One book was returned from a consignment shop because it got some dirt on it — I was able to clean it, and it was fine.)

By Donna - 17 December 2014 Reply

I use sleeves for greeting cards I make and I have enclosed notebooks, journals, and books in sleeves. But I always have samples of the same items without sleeves for those who would like to examine and caress them. I found that they like to check the items out but at the same time would rather purchase the identical “new” item that is in a protective sleeve.

By Elissa - 17 December 2014 Reply

Donna –

It sounds like you have a good system. I do use bags for my cards – they seem more likely to get damaged from handling.


By Elissa - 17 December 2014 Reply

Thanks everyone for your feedback!

Here’s another issue with bags – someone commented on Facebook that she didn’t like that bags ended up in the landfill. What role do environmental concerns play in your decision to use protective bags?


By kmwatsonvt - 18 December 2014 Reply

good topic! I do what Donna does, leave samples of each item for folks to touch, the rest go in bags (begrudgingly b/c of the environmental issue. and it takes extra time to buy and process this way).
In an ideal world everyone would have clean hands or think to wash before they touch hand-made work, but they don’t. And talk about awkward, asking someone who’s eating or has otherwise obviously dirty hands to “not touch your stuff”, I couldn’t do it.

If you use plastic, vinyl, or leather covers this might not be too bad, but paper can really get grungy. I’ll post pics of my samples after a few months of wear and tear!

I know I’d rather buy new and untouched by hundreds of hands, but I do hope that a more eco-friendly bag will come out. I’ll be the first one in line.

By Elissa - 23 December 2014 Reply

Kristen – has a line of biodegradable bags that are made from plants. Unfortunately, they’re not archival. Maybe for short term use they wouldn’t be a bad option.


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