The masks 🎭 I’m wearing

I’m the sort of person who gets nervous when in proximity of people without masks (unless they are folks I know, and we’ve already established our safety rules). I’m also the sort of person who will walk down through my neighborhood, hike, and/or drive without a mask, but put one on when approaching people. Because really, it’s about how we are when we’re close to others.

I’m wearing a yellow mask w a skull on it

I had this awesome yellow sequined skull bandana that I asked my friend Kate to make into a mask for me. She was able to get three masks out of it. I get compliments on this one a lot.

She also made the ear saver I’m wearing. It’s a headband with big buttons sewn into it and I loop the ear straps around that. It works really well.

I’m wearing a pretty purple mask

My friend Liz Walsh is making really pretty ones and selling them at The Drawing Board, her shop in downtown Montpelier. She has many styles and sizes. This is one of the ribbon tie-backs She also makes these mask holders—ribbon with small clips on the end (mine is green in the picture), which is so handy. I can easily wear and remove my mask without worrying about losing it.

Of course, Mom has been making and sending me masks too! Here Dan and I go all matchy with the two styles she makes in blue and me in a green one of hers. I look like a Muppet when I have my glasses on! 😜

Lalitha and I wearing our masks

My friend Lalitha and I all masked up while waiting for our lunch. She and I have different pods and so while we’re both safe, when we meet, it’s kinda like we’re bringing all our pod germs along, too! 🦠😬

It’s so frustrating and exhausting to have to be so careful all the time. And to have to extend trust, when folks say they’ve been safe, I have to believe them. Then I have to consider whether I feel safe around them. And asking consent to be mask-free in mixed company is a thing! Hopefully this mass exercise will result in all of us having better boundaries.

Masked up at camp
The Group Camp one. That mask clip really came in handy during this trip.

What I’m still getting used to is washing them and having clean ones handy. I don’t have a dedicated spot for my masks yet. It seems that until a vaccine comes through, I should figure this out. Do I put them with my keys? I already have a couple in my car, for when I’m out.

My brother w his mask

My brother shows off one of the masks my friend Anne made for us. I had bought a dozen or so to give away to folks who needed them. Khonsy is an “essential worker” in the food industry and so needed masks for his commute. And his family needed masks for other times when they had to be out. They have been distributing Anne’s and Mom’s masks to friends as well.

Pandemic in Springtime

News on the poetry front: a recent poem of mine was included in “Through the Window, Across the Road”, a publication of writing and art made created between March and July of this year. I’ve posted it below.

Pandemic in Springtime

March

I awoke on top of a mountain of sadness
With no place to go but down
the vista was splendid and it cut,
like roads winding through a valley of naked limbs
Farmland smeared together through my prism of tears
This is all one long run on sentence
Driving down from the mountain along the edge of a jagged scream
I stay within the lines and I don’t dare veer
Not even for the deer
Not even to stop as I pass by a pen of spring lambs
Pulling with their tongues the last of last summer’s hay

April

What business is grass, to stain this already strained world
To live so close to the earth, the warmth of the worms’ work gives you life
How is Spring never closed for business? Why am I angry at air?
Feel punished for breathing, for singing?
All I crave between days of snow and silence
Is to inhale the tang of manure
as it lofts downwind from the fields.

May

Robins fatten up, red bellies bursting with grub
The trading post of my life
Fills and empties with homemade bread, seeds, masks
The economies of connection
banked with coins of despair and dubloons of hope,
A taming of the wildness within,
And a need to be seen
New tulips sway in the breeze
Holding a scent I cannot yet consume.
Sheep in the field

Thanks to the editors for including my work in this edition. You can purchase the folio here.

https://www.blurb.com/b/10231096-through-the-window-across-the-road

DIY printed face masks

For this year’s Group Camp hostess gifts, I decided to make custom cloth face masks. I got this idea when I was at Walmart and saw a package of cloth masks for sale, which shouldn’t have been such a shock to me to see at the store. But during this entire pandemic (so far), everyone I knew was either making or buying handmade masks, and so it hadn’t occurred to me that you could simply go to the store and buy one. 🙄

The revelation—and the price—were the inspiration. I wouldn’t have thought to do this otherwise because I didn’t have enough spare homemade masks on hand. After searching the internet, I landed on this technique because it was easy and utilized things I had at home.

Materials

  • Organza
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Mod Podge
  • Sharpie
  • Small foam brush
  • Cardboard
  • Double stick tape
  • Fabric paint
  • Blank masks
  • Graphic template

Make the screen

First, create your design. You want to make sure it’s sized to fit on the mask itself and also inside the hoop.

Don’t use printer paper like I did, because the marker bled into it as I worked and it made it harder to be precise. 🤷🏻‍♀️ You can see the marker bleed in the original template in the picture below.

The design included the words “Group Camp 2020” and the shape of Grand Isle, where we were camping.

Next, insert the organza into the hoop, pull right and trim down. Make sure to leave enough material outside the hoop in case you have to adjust or retighten the material.

Center the hoop over the graphic, raw edge up, and trace the design with a Sharpie. I used an ultra fine tip to get the detail of the island. The picture above shows the design traced into the organza.

Use the foam brush to apply Mod Podge to the organza. In this case, I wanted the words and image to be painted on the mask, so I applied the Mod Podge around it.

Screen drying between layers of clumpy Mod Podge. I applied it straight to the edge to avoid any accidents.

I had a very old container of Mod Podge, which had separated, and so was watery and clumpy at the same time. It took me several coats to get a layer that I felt the paint wouldn’t penetrate. Luckily for me it was a hot day, and the hoop quickly dried outside in the sun between layers.

Close up of finished screen. It held up through 20 printings.

Prep the canvas

It took me a while to figure out how to set up the masks in order to get a production line. I needed the masks to be stretched flat without wrinkles, and on a stiff surface.

I settled on affixing the masks to cardboard with double sided tape. These masks were a t-shirt material and so stretched easily. I attached all blanks to cardboard backing before printing.

I tried clothespins first before settling on double sided tape.
These Amazon boxes are finally coming in handy! Got all the masks in place before moving on to the next step.

Print All The Masks!

I didn’t have enough hands to take a picture or video of this step. Basically squeeze a small bit of paint onto the screen and use a square of cardboard like a squeegee to drag the paint across the stencil. Make sure the paint is evenly applied.

Of all the paints I had on hand, there was only one that was not water soluble, so I chose that one thinking it would last after a few washings.

Printed masks drying in the sun

I had forgotten that this brand of masks have adjustable metal for the nose bridge, so there definitely is a “top” edge. Make sure to align your graphic accordingly. I messed up and printed five of them upside down. 😬

At camp, wearing my mask
I’m wearing one of the less pretty ones, where some of the black paint seeped through the screen. You can see some of the gray splotches.

Not bad, for my first time! It was a fun, simple, low-cost project. I enjoyed seeing everyone wearing their masks during the trip.

Cost

The only things I had to buy were masks and foam brushes, as I had everything else at home.

  • Hanes brand cloth masks $7.99 for 5
  • Foam brushes $5 for pack of 4

The hoop and organza had been previously acquired at the ReSource shop for 50¢ and $5 (lot of 50 bags) respectively. The paint was a gift from a friend and the Mod Podge is so old at this point, I should just toss it 😜.

Added up, that totals $45.54 for 25 masks, or $1.89 per mask.