November 27, 2021

The face of ingenuity

Making one’s own face mask a growing trend amid virus

Travis Dunn/staff reporter

Julie Maddren of Cortland, wearing a home-made face masks, makes her weekly shopping trip Tuesday to Tops Market in Cortlandville. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say masks, even home-made ones, can reduce the transmission of COVID-19

First, we were told that masks didn’t matter, that regular folks didn’t need them.

Now the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking all Americans to use them when going out in public, and providing instructions on how to make them for those who don’t have them already.

The CDC tells Americans not to use surgical masks or N-95 respirators, because those are designated “as critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.”

Homemade masks are not as effective in preventing spread of the novel coronavirus, but they can reduce the chances of transmission, according to the CDC.

For those who aren’t handy with a sewing machine or a needle and thread, the most basic option is a bandana or a scarf over the nose and mouth.

But these options, like others, require some testing in private before taking them out in public.

Especially if you wear glasses, because fogging can quickly become a problem.

But not for Julie Maddren, who was out for her weekly shopping trip Tuesday afternoon at Tops Market in Cortlandville.

“This is my first time out of the house in a week,” she said. While her husband, Bill, waited in the car, Julie went inside wearing a mask she made from part of a T-shirt, a pipe cleaner and some elastic.

The pipe cleaner is the key, she said, for preventing fogging, because it serves as a nose piece and creates a tighter seal. She was wearing shades with her homemade mask, but the lenses weren’t fogging.

This was her first day wearing the mask in public, and she said it was working fine.

There are plenty of web sites and online tutorials on how to make a mask, but the CDC site offers instructions for three types: one that requires some sewing; one that doesn’t, but requires cutting a T-shirt; and a third that uses a bandana, a coffee filter and two elastic hair ties.

The last option, using the bandana, is the easiest to make but presents some problems, said Stacey Goldyn-Moller, owner of Magpie Custom Creations in Cortland.

“What I’ve been told by folks is that it’s bulky, and it doesn’t really stay on the ears,” said Goldyn-Moller, who makes masks on request and delivers them to people’s houses, and has delivered them to nursing homes. “If it’s going to fall off your face, it kind of negates the whole purpose.”

However, for those who do use the bandana option, she recommends looping together two hairbands for one earpiece if the one on that side keeps slipping off your ear. The longer elastic band seems to help the mask stay in place better, she said. But fogging of glasses can be a problem with many masks, including her own.

“The way to get around it is to uncover your nose, but they don’t recommend that,” she said, because having your nose out defeats the purpose, especially if you breathe through it.

Echoing the CDC advice, Goldyn-Moller said wearing something over your mouth and nose is important in public.

“Just wear something over your face when you go out,” she said. “Whether you have a tight seal or not, you’re keeping other people safe by wearing a mask.”