The perfect masks for chocoholics
So, it has been a crazy year. 2020 has certainly thrown a kink into my plans. Instead of living with cacao trees for three months in Hawaii, then learning more about chocolate and cacao in Peru, I am wearing masks and making masks. Earlier this year I quit my job. I had planned to be out of the country for four months, learning, listening, tasting all things chocolate. That was not meant to happen this year. Luckily, I am safe and happy at home, and back at my job after some time where we were not allowed to work.
Masks have been a part of my life for the last ten years. As a dental assistant, you know – the person who helps the dentist when you get fillings, root canals, and extractions done – I wear a mask often. Usually a disposable face mask, and the reality is I go through a lot of masks some days, but safety first. (A big part of our low waste home has to do with the high amount of single use items I discard at work on a daily basis.) Things have obviously changed since Covid-19 has arrived. Luckily we are back at work, helping people with sore teeth or mouths in need of help. It looks a lot different. I have a MASK. I had to be fitted properly (it took 3 tries) to find a mask that worked on my face and didn’t let particles though. It’s not pretty, it wasn’t cheap, it’s uncomfortable to wear for hours each day, but it does the job in helping to keep me safe. I wear this mask everytime I work, discarding a filter at the end of the day and washing the plastic portions of the mask, so it is ready for the next day’s work. Besides this mask, I wear a disposable mask over top of it, then a face shield, glasses, a gown and a hair net. It is a new way of dressing at work. PPE all the way, because, as a dental assistant, as all dental professionals, we are high risk. We work with droplets.
I am 100% behind everyone wearing masks when they are outside of their bubbles. I want to decrease the numbers of covid cases and get back to normal. I love seeing people wear their masks. It makes me so happy. People wearing masks to protect others. Doing what we can is easy. Wearing a mask when you are out and about is easy. I encourage you to wear a mask and stay safe. Sanitizer is your friend too. Wash those hands, often.
So when I was ready to venture further from my home, I started looking for masks. Fun ones. Handmade ones, since I always support handmade first. I love local artisans. I didn’t find anything chocolatey. Then I realized that I could make masks. At first I chatted with a friend about having her sew the masks, since she had already been doing that for awhile. She sewed me a few and then I brought them home and experimented with the silk screens I already had. They fit perfectly. So clearly, you know what happened next. I went out, bought some things: fabric, a sewing machine, some new ink for printing with, and a few other miscelanous things I’d be needing. Then I refreshed my sewing skills, and worked on how best to print the designs. It took some trial and error to figure out when it was the best time to screen print the fabric during the process.
Now here I am, making masks and offering them to you. Currently I have four different fabric offerings, and can print one of four chocolate images on the mask in one of three ink colours. This means you get to choose. Choose the fabric, the print, and the colour of ink to customize the mask the way you want it.
I do hope this encourages you to wear a mask and show your love of chocolate.
Here are some photos of the process….
First I check my shop to confirm your order, choosing the fabic, print and ink you want for each mask I make. This does mean it will take up to five days before the product ships, read through to find out why.
Cutting the fabric. Seriously, choosing the fabric was the hardest part. It’s cotton, and has been pre-washed so your mask won’t shrink at all. Masks can be hand washed or machine washed and dried.
Sewing, sewing, and more sewing. Learning as I go. Luckily, I have a bonus super power, I operate my jewellery equipment using a foot pedal, plus the hand pieces at the dental office are controlled by foot pedal, so it was an easy transition. Plus, not to toot my own horn, but hand/eye coordination is kinda my thing.
Then ironing. We did find we got the best print on the fabric if we ironed it first. Ugh, not my favourite part. Would it be wrong if I asked my partner to do the ironing?
Next up is the printing. I don’t have an actual photo of the process because it takes my hands and hubby’s hands to make the magic happen on these masks. Lots of trial and error went into positioning these properly, and making this fabulous grid with tape on my craft table. (Yes, I have a desk, a craft table, a work bench, a polishing bench, and a soldering bench in my home, how many work spaces are too many? Oh, and I took over the dining room table for cutting, and the guest room desk for sewing. Grateful for having space to be creative in).
Next the printed pieces dry. For close to 24 hours. The paint likes that best. This is where we wait.
Then, I iron it again. Right? Still not my favourite thing, but this sets the ink so that it doesn’t wash out, so it’s a very important step.
Following that I sew the sides of the mask so that the string can go through it.
Then I thread the t-shirt string through the tunnels I have just made. I made the t-shirt string myself. I like this style of strap for the masks because it goes behind your head instead of around your ears. As someone who wears a lot of masks I know how sore the ears can get with frequent wear. This option lets you tie your string once, and then just pull it so it is longer on the bottom when you put it over your head, then pull to tighten and slip over your head so it stays in place.
Next up, I package it in a zip lock bag and put it in an envelope and ship it off to you. Excited for you to wear your mask, protecting others and yourself while showing your love of chocolate to those around you. Use #chocoholicmasks if you post photos wearing one! Seeing them would bring a smile to my face, and yes, you can smile from beneath a mask.
Let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to answer them. If you are looking for my shop you can find my masks here, there are more photos there. Don’t hesitate to ask me about wholesale or larger orders with a custom design if that calls to you, I am always open to discussing ideas.