COVID19 crafting: Making a plague mask

Like many people trying to survive during the COVID19 pandemic, I have been doing everything I can to keep myself safe and healthy. And, like many people, that includes making masks.

Of course, unlike many others, I don’t need a mask to keep myself (and others) safe when I am at work or out shopping. That’s because I have been isolating at home for nearly a month, with no plans to venture into The Real World anytime soon.

So, why a mask? Well, part of my plans to stay safe and healthy include keeping myself busy to stave off the loneliness that can come when I am alone and idle. After nearly 11 years of widowhood, I have learned that the best way to keep myself on a positive keel is to be silly on (regular) occasions. (This is not strictly a post-widowhood way of life. No, my late husband and I regularly practised silliness and ridiculousness.)

Anyhow, because I don’t need a mask that will provide me with some level of germ barrier, I decided that mask-making would be one of this weekend’s silly things.

And that means a proper plague doctor mask was in order.

I wanted to use materials I already had on hand, so knew that I would most likely need to tweak any instructions I found online. My first task was to review my craft boxes so that I could remind myself of the various odds and ends I have to work with. After that, I reviewed several how-to pages (many of which were for steampunk cosplay) to determine the best way to tackle the project. That then led me to salvage a few items from the recycle bin to add to my pile of potential materials.

Once I had a feel for the process, I returned to two specific sets of instructions to use as my base guides. The primary templates came from a range of Google searches, all cobbled together. I then tweaked some of those pieces based on a set of instructions I found on Instructables (the instructions have since been taken down). The combined resources were then used for inspiration for the best way to put it all together.

I used some lightweight craft foam for my base and covered that with brown parcel paper that was crumpled to give it a (really poor quality) leathery look. I then stitched the edges using white cotton yarn. The yarn was a lightweight 6-ply that I pulled apart to create a 3-ply. For the goggles, I wrapped four circles of craft foam with heavy grey yarn, and sandwiched a piece of clear plastic from a yoghurt lid in between each set of two for the “glass”. And, of course, I added buttons as “rivets”. (I stitched the two on the temple as I thought that would add a bit of stability to the mask; the ones at the head strap are only glued on.)

Once I finished the mask, I went out to take a few photos around the estate. I chose to do them around a crumbling old building to give a post-apocalyptic feel.

In the end, the mask didn’t turn out as “plague doctor” as I had wanted. But I think it looks fairly decent and, importantly, I had a fun time with the silly project.

Oh! And I even made masks for my friends, Tiger, Randolph, and Hamish. I’ve got to keep the gang safe, you know.

As the social distancing and self-isolation practices continue, I am sure I will be doing a few more silly crafts to keep myself busy. So, stay tuned to see how I’m wasting my time.

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