A fun activity, and wearable, for older adults - because who says you can't look great while protecting yourself and others?
Face masks are one of the most effective ways to protect yourself from catching and spreading coronavirus. But they don’t have to be plain — in fact, a well-crafted facemask can be a great statement piece and a fun activity for your residents. Face masks have become a part of most people’s wardrobe so let's have a little fun with it. Have your residents show their creativity by turning their face masks into an art project and expression of their identity.
• Before starting any face mask project, remember to use safe materials that can cover the mouth and nose without obstructing breathing. This includes avoiding the use of harsh chemicals that should not be breathed in.
• Remember to use materials that can be washed. Face masks should be washed regularly, so you want to make sure you can still do so after your design is complete.
• Avoid sewing anything through the material of a face mask. The whole point is to keep germs away from your airways. Even putting a tiny hole through a face mask can make it less effective.
When it comes to DIY (do-it-yourself) projects, fabric crayons are the easiest to use with the least amount of mess. Start with a white cloth face mask. The instructions for the fabric crayons usually say to draw your design on a piece of paper, and then use an iron to transfer it to the fabric. It’s easier to draw directly on the fabric. The colours will be faint when you're drawing, but that will change. Once you’re done, place a piece of white printer paper on top of the design and use an iron to set the drawing. As it sets, the colours will become more vibrant. (Don’t try this without that printer paper between the iron and fabric. Crayon will melt to the iron without the paper.) Before wearing your newly designed face mask, wash it separately according to the instructions on the fabric crayons.
Fabric markers are a great way for older adults to personalize a face mask. The result comes out more vibrant than fabric crayons, but it’s still just as easy. Start with a white or light coloured face mask and simply draw directly onto the cloth face masks, then follow the marker’s directions for setting the design. (This is usually a hot iron or 30 minutes in the dryer.) Fabric markers are washable, but the colours can bleed early on so make sure to wash your face mask alone, without other items, for the first several washes.
Tie-dye is popular this year. Tie-dye face masks are so much fun, and a white cotton face mask is the perfect material for this DIY. But be careful. Many traditional tie-dye kits are toxic and even after washing you don’t want to be breathing in the dye. Don’t worry, you can still create a tie-dye face mask with natural methods. If you want to keep things simple, natural tie-dye kits can be found online. However, a lot of items already in your kitchen can be used to create a fun, naturally tie-dyed face mask. Red cabbage creates a purple dye, beets create a pinkish/red dye, the spice turmeric creates a vivid yellow dye. To start, rubber band your face mask just like you would with a t-shirt. When you’ve finished, the masks are going to be wrinkled, but don’t worry. A quick steam or iron quickly removes any wrinkles.
There’s nothing wrong with adding a little bling to your face mask, but make sure the embellishments stay away from the mouth and nose so your breathing is not obstructed. Instead, embellish the sides of the mask that touch your cheeks. (The upper cheekbone or lower jaw near the ear are our preferred spots for small designs.) The best way to add these embellishments is with a non-chemical, non-toxic glue. Look for a fabric glue that works on cotton and is washable. Pay attention to the instructions for curing. Some fabric glues recommend waiting as long as 10 days before washing to ensure a permanent bond.
Heat transfers are another great way to personalize a face mask. But just like embellishments, keep any designs away from the mouth and nose and decorate the sides of the face mask instead. Look for heat transfers that can be washed frequently and don’t need a chemical spray to apply. To personalize a face mask, give heat transfer printer paper a try. All you need is an inkjet printer and an iron.
Disclaimer: DIY face masks are for personal use and non-medical purposes only. Welbi makes no warranties, express or implied, that face masks will prevent infection or the transmission of viruses or diseases. Social distancing guidelines should still be followed when wearing a face mask in public. Please refer to the CDC for guidelines on wearing face masks.
Wendy studies English Language and Literature at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.
Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.
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