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The Era of Mask-Making


This isn't what I had planned on producing from my Studio this Spring. Never in my life would I have thought I would sew protective masks for my friends, neighbors and loved ones to keep them safe from an invisible enemy during a global pandemic. But here we are. COVID19 has made it's impact on every corner of the earth. So I learned to make masks.

I was devastated to envision my entire spring/summer show season come to a screeching halt, and perhaps the balance of the year and beyond. First it was the prestigious American Craft Council show in Atlanta in March, a huge hit to my pocketbook in projected sales not to mention hotel and travel expense. This was a real blow. I made my decision not to go, even before the show was cancelled. Who would even be comfortable going to a large indoor craft event in light of this critical news? As the time came to set up, the city of Atlanta made the right call to cancel large gatherings, even as artists were in the process of setting up their booths. Friends of mine texted in frustration that they had gone through this process only to have to begin tearing down and moving out before the show even started. I credit the ACC for doing right by the artists and refunding our expenses. Even the hotel refunded my non-refundable stay. Thank You!

Nervously adjusting to State Stay-At-Home instructions, and securing enough food and supplies (Toilet Paper? Wine?) to be homebound for two weeks at a time, I continued to work in the studio weaving and creating some new dyed warps inspired by the first spring flowers. This familiar rhythm kept me sane through the onslaught of frightening news stories as I watched healthcare facilities in communities far from mine struggle with the deadly virus and lack of Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE. This is when I came across an online tutorial for making simple cloth masks and I knew this was some small thing I could do: I had a stockpile of good odds and ends of cotton fabric in my stash and even some elastic on hand, so I dove in and started sewing. I took masks to my 92 year old mother's long term care facility which had been locked-down; I took masks to the local vet; I took masks to my realtor who asked for some for her family; I took masks to my bank; I took masks to my family physician; I took masks to my friends. This really became therapeutic for me to be "in production" doing something and I took it on as a service, not charging even though people offered. If you want to buy my weaving, please do, but the few masks I make are my contribution. I hope a bit of myself is out there adding an ounce of prevention to my community as the virus makes it's way to our mountains.

As shows continue to cancel, I decided to apply myself more to my online presence (thus this blog post!) and also upgrade my website with the addition of an online store. One door closes and another opens, even if we have to stick our foot in it and pry it! Life is teaching us to slow down, do for others, and appreciate our backyards more, not to mention every breath we take. God bless all those healthcare workers and essential workers slogging through the onslaught of sickness and death. It is more than most can bear, truly the ravage of a war. I appreciate you all and would make a mask for everyone if I could. Here is to looking forward to better days where we can re-connect at shows, catch up on all those missed graduations, weddings, and other special events that were normal life not very long ago. Wash your hands and stay safe.


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© 2016 Deborah Bryant Handwoven