Monday, April 27, 2009

Las tapa bocas estan muy de moda

“Las tapa bocas siguen agotadas,” said the woman at the pharmacy in response to my request for facemasks. Newsreels were filled with pictures of the National Guard handing out the appropriate headgear, but this was only in crowded public places. Better to stay at home without a mask than to frequent the metro or the Zócalo looking for one. But one cannot stay inside all day, especially when trying to figure out what the fuck is going on around here. So I made my own.

On Sunday, after finishing my second sewing project, I decided I needed more supplies. So I headed down to the fabric store. As it turned out, the couple next to me was buying the same fabric as I was planning on using for the dress bodice, to make masks.

That night, as news kept pouring in and as I fielded worried messages from friends and family, I decided I needed a mask. I had already examined the basic design from the people I passed on the bus. It was fairly simple: a fabric square with elastic passing through at both ends, serving both to secure the mask to the head with two straps and to scrunch the ends securely around the mask and nose. But, because the mask is not meant as a particularly fashionable piece, I worried more about the function than the appearance: the design would be easy enough to replicate, but not necessarily the filtrative qualities.

A search online revealed mostly how to make beauty facemasks, the kind made from mud or avocado. While my skin is less than perfect, this was not the sort of treatment I currently needed. Using the words “respiratory” or “health” in my search yielded few fruitful results, so I decided to trust in my materials and give it a shot.

The result is pictured below:

On the streets, locals had thought of some other creative responses to the mask shortage. Bandanas over the mouth were the most popular alternative, and today Thore left with several around his head. To avoid touching contaminated surfaces a number of furry winter gloves appeared, although some had managed to get their hands on some sweaty surgical gloves. While the doctors’ mask is the most common version of facemask, others have dawned carpenter’s protective headwear, the kind you might use to seal a building or remove asbestos. I am still waiting to see gas masks.

We joked as I left the house that I had made myself a designer mask. Thore suggested I stitch G&B into the hem. Others have decorated theirs with fangs or slogans. Either way, Thore said, masks are very in style right now.

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