One of the ways we’ve been keeping ourselves and others safe during these days of COVID-19 is wearing masks. Masks have become a topic of controversy, debate and protest—but I want to talk about masks from a creative perspective. As a means of self-expression, creating wearable art/fashion accessory and having fun.
When it became evident that mask wearing was going to be a thing for a while, I figured it was time to purchase some reusable cloth ones. My first mask purchase was a gorgeous Van Gogh-inspired Toronto skyline designed by Alumnae Theatre friend, graphic artist/designer Suzanne Courtney, who you can find on Redbubble.
While I love supporting artists by purchasing their art, as a freelancer navigating financially uncertain times, I also had to watch my budget. So I found some inexpensive, plain solid colour cloth masks (in this case, at Old Navy) and decided to do some DIY wearable art.
Ideas became sketches; from there, it was a matter of opening up the mask and mounting it on a Styrofoam wig head, chalking the design onto the mask, then painting with fabric and/or craft paint. It was an inexpensive way to have some creative fun and exercise self-expression.
Since being out in the world with them, I’ve received a few compliments—and this sparked some pleasant, positive conversation about wearing masks, masks as the new fashion accessory, and how fun and easy it is to paint your own. When I was chatting with the sales clerk in the Wine Rack this week, I even suggested making a painting party out of it, with your kids or roommates/household members. You could even do a DIY crafting Zoom party with friends and family outside your household—a safe way to connect and have some collective good times.
Like health officials have been saying: this is a marathon and public health measures will be with us for a while—so let’s make the best of it and have a good time putting our own personal signature on an item that will keep our loved ones and community safe, and avoid stressing the health care system.
Here are the three masks I painted: a sunflower, the redesigned Pride flag, and a seagull flying across the sun.
For info on building your own non-medical, reusable cloth masks—including instructions on adding a third/filter layer—check out the Government of Canada masks page.