In my Etsy pottery shop, some of the funniest feedback I get is from people who are amazed at how well the pottery makes it through the mailing system. I've seen comments about the outside box being crushed, torn, dented, and pierced yet the pieces inside are pristine without a nick on them.

My secret? I pack my pottery assuming that one of the carriers along the way is going to drop the box on the ground or put a really heavy box on top of my fragile shipment.

If I'm shipping a lidded piece of pottery or more than one piece, I pack everything separately or place some foam securely between the pieces that nestle inside each other and then wrap the set tightly in bubble wrap or foam. I use sturdy boxes that are at least an inch wider and deeper than the wrapped pot that I am sending and I fill all the air pockets with packing peanuts.

Really, really fill all the spaces. I shake the box; I bulge out the sides a bit so that I can have as many packing peanuts stuffed inside as possible so that no shifting will occur during transit.

I sometimes feel bad that the packing peanuts may explode out of the box when it is opened -- but I think the customer will be more disappointed if they instead find a piece of broken pottery inside a more loosely packed box.

In the spirit of recycling and being good to our environment, I generally use boxes and bubblewrap and packing peanuts that various shops in my town save for me --- Thank you Alpine Floral, Steamboat Floral, NWData Services, and Interiors with Altitude! I especially love the foam sheets that flowers come wrapped in to protect them from cold. It makes a nice wrapping for pottery without all the bulk of bubblewrap.

And my final secret to successful shipping is to send pottery the fastest way possible for the amount of shipping money collected so it is in the system for the shortest time. 90% of the time, this means FedEx Home Delivery. The tracking number is automatically sent to the customer and both they and I are notified when the package has been delivered.

It is rare that something arrives broken -- and when that happens, I immediately offer to replace the piece or refund the money to the customer. All pottery is insured -- and dealing with FedEx is a joy as they make it easy to file claims. Dealing with USPS is a nightmare on the rare occasions when I have to use them (P.O. Box addresses or overseas shipments); I just eat any losses.

In any given year, I ship approximately 500 boxes of pottery out to various locations around the globe. I estimate that less than 1% ever arrive damaged.