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.

Five Summer Dinners (mostly salad)

I’m thankful that we have the backyard to retreat to as the pandemic stretches on. We have been taking our dinners there most nights. Sometimes friends drop by. Sometimes we have a fire. Sometimes both.

Birthday Gazpacho

  • Watermelon
  • Rhubarb
  • Jalapeño
  • Shallot
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Lime

Combine ingredients and purée together to your taste. Serve w chopped basil and drizzle of olive oil. 

Served it with “chicken” Caesar salad

I didn’t do this, but you could strain it to get a smoother texture. If doing that, purée watermelon and rhubarb then strain and add other ingredients finely chopped or purée again. 

I made this as a treat to myself for my birthday. Of course every time I think of gazpacho, I am reminded of the gazpacho scene in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. It was the first time I learned about gazpacho. Dan loves fruit soup. This is the closest I get.

This took me an hour start to finish because my blender sucks and I ended up using a food processor. So much cleaning! 😬

Cold Noodle Broth Bowl (Panera copycat)

  • Red onion
  • Red cabbage
  • Edamame
  • Okra
  • Sweet corn kernels
  • Daikon radish

Roughly chop veggies then grill them on the George Foreman, yes grill even the beans and corn. Mix together and cool. I added chopped roasted yellow pepper to the mix but did not grill it.

For broth, combine following to taste in warmed water (to dilute the pastes)

Plate cooled ingredients in a bowl in this order:

  • Cooked soba noodles
  • Grilled veggies (pile it high!)
  • Up to a cup of broth, just to moisten and enough to sip but not slurp
  • Top with black sesame seeds and protein of choice
White wine also helps when working through dinner.

Honestly wouldn’t have had to make this if Panera hadn’t taken it off the menu 😜. Dan had to work through dinner but afterwards came down from the office with profuse compliments to the chef. 

This took about an hour start to finish because I was committed to only using one pot, and I had to cool the cooked veggies in the freezer. With pre-prepped ingredients this probably takes a few minutes. I used vegetarian “chicken” cutlets for the protein. 

Summer Pesto Garden and Pantry Salad

  • Farfalle (or similar pasta), cooked
  • Fennel
  • Garlic scapes
  • Daikon radish
  • Freezer pesto (last year’s crop), defrosted

Chop and grill veggies on the George Foreman. Combine and season to taste. Serve alongside a protein of choice and blistered shishito peppers. I had leftover steak, Dan had leftover salmon. 

Take life with a grain of salt, man 🤙🏼

Friends have been dropping off their excess garden bounty, hence the fennel and garlic scapes. I have found the grilling transforms the intensely flavored and crisp textures of the raw veggies to muted and slightly sweet pieces that still retain texture minus the crunch.

This took me about 20 minutes to make. Because I’m slow and I stop to think a lot. Dan put up the pesto last year from his herb garden. We’re still eating through it.

Potato Fennel Salad

  • Russet potatoes, cooked and cut up
  • Fennel fronds, chopped
  • Capers
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper

Combine ingredients. Serve with veggie cutlets and fire-roasted corn and a backyard fire.

This turned out better than I thought it would.

I would normally make this with dill instead of fennel, but no one had dropped any dill off on my porch. Actually, I would not normally make this but Dan came home from the store one day with a five pound sack of potatoes and I felt all Marilla Cuthbert 🙄.

This takes pretty much however long potatoes cook and cool. Dan liked the capers. 

Corn and Black Bean Salad

  • Can of sweet corn (unsalted), drained
  • Can of black beans, drained
  • Chopped jalapeños
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced red onions
  • Lime juice
  • Salt and pepper

Combine and let the flavors meld in fridge for 1 hour or more. The jalapeño will become more pronounced over time. Serve with burgers. And more fire 🔥.

Didn’t mean to also serve it with corn and bean burger, so I added kimchi to the burger to make up for it.

This is one of my go-to camping meals and ends up making about two pint jars full, which is great when you don’t want to share. 😬

This takes a quite a bit of taste testing to get right. It takes more salt and lime juice than you might expect to brighten the salad. I suppose I should write down the measurements sometime. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Corn and bean salad out in the wild! It’s great to snack on when trying to remember how your tent works.