Make your own face mask

In these turbulent times, it is inspiring to see the King Edward’s Schools of Birmingham support the communities and peoples to whom they are so central. Recently, William (Year 12) and Rose Bowen (Year 11) from King Edward VI Five Ways set up a fundraiser suitably named “Covid Face Cover Art”, which has been encouraging people to follow the government’s public recommendation of self-made face masks by asking participants to send photos of their own face mask designs. The picture is of one I made earlier (instructions on how to make one are easily traceable on the previous link).

As you can see, I specifically chose the colour grey to symbolise my wild and unpredictable nature. The smile drawn with a sharpie pen actually, very cleverly, serves two purposes: I can now smile, without actually smiling, and if I invert the face mask, I can frown, without actually frowning – it’s genius. A small disclaimer here, if you are planning to use a sharpie make sure you let the ink dry for a bit before you wear the mask, because the scent of wet sharpie, although pleasing to some, is rather potent and intoxicating and can, somewhat ironically, cause coughing fits – something that you would hope to avoid by wearing a face mask. I found this out the hard way. It’s also super-easy to make (took me about five minutes to achieve such artistry) and you’re helping the NHS – there aren’t a lot of reasons not to do it.

Having been inspired by Will’s and Rose’s idea, we have decided to start something similar in our school but with a competitive twist: we are calling for all pupils, parents, teachers and members of staff to design and make their own face masks. We want sleek, original, thought-provoking, exuberant and vibrant designs (everything my very own face mask encapsulates) to be photographed (preferably with a human wearing it) and sent to my email. I shall then send the 10 very best designs off to our very own, fantastic Mr Spencer, who shall judge a worthy winner. The reward for winning is, of course, helping a very good cause, getting honoured in the next school newsletter, and bragging rights until I think of a better prize.

I was also honoured to interview and have a thoroughly good chat (despite dodgy internet) with Will and Rose:

Me: How is your family coping?

Rose: Yeah, our family is doing pretty well. There’s just the two of us and our parents, but we have dogs as well! It hasn’t affected us too much as our dad can work from home and my mum has been furloughed. From time to time we go to our grandma’s house to give her food. We did a couple of [Zoom] quizzes at the start. We have family in various places in England and we have dinner Zoom calls, so we’re eating dinner whilst we’re trying to listen, which is kind of difficult!

Me: Can you tell us about the project you’re working on, and why you decided to do it?

Will: Well, the first thing that got us onto it was that face masks and PPE for the NHS were in short supply, but that face masks are good for protecting people, so instead of having to buy one, you could just easily make one with just a t-shirt, or any old clothes. Then we thought you could donate to the NHS as well, since they need help.

Rose: Also, as a family, we watch the news quite often, and there have been so many people creating causes to donate money to the NHS: we saw Tom [the retired captain who walked laps of his garden to raise money for the NHS] and wanted to raise some money, for which the face mask [project] seemed like a pretty good idea.

Me: What would you say to people to encourage them to participate in this project?

Will: The government has started to say that face coverings can be used to protect others from you, so the first thing is that it’s safe and you should probably be doing it anyway. Also, as they reduce lockdown measures and we go back to school, using public transport, people will be demanding more face masks. It only takes a t-shirt and it doesn’t take long, just five to 10 minutes.

Rose: It gives people something to do as well, because everyone’s bored.

Me: Have you got any plans for the future of this project?

Rose: It’s actually surprised us how many people have gotten involved. We would love to publicise it more and continue to get more people involved.

Will: We’ve got an Instagram page, our school [Five Ways] has given us a shout, and it’s in our newsletter as well, so we hoped that more parents or students would get involved. If you could do it at your school, that would be great!

A huge thank you to Will and Rose for this interview, and for the great work you are doing.

Again, join our fantastic face mask competition, and send your designs to me via email. Get your parents, friends, neighbours to join in too! Whilst you’re at it, don’t miss an opportunity to donate to the great cause here.

Author: Enoch Cheung