DIY time with Philip: Breathe Easy

With H1N1 (a.k.a. swine flu) running rampant on a global scale, people are beginning to take more precautions when it comes to their health. Whether it is a 15-time-a-day hand washing routine, cracking open the Emergen-C at the first sign of a sniffle or sporting a big white, “look-at-me-for-all-the-wrong-reasons” medical mask.

To address the lack of fashionable medical masks, we will be transforming them into something a bit more engaging that will give the naysayers a reason to take a second glance. Halloween is swiftly approaching, and at the very least this will add to any costume. So, first, the things we’ll need (photo 1 in the slideshow below):

-embroidery thread
-sewing thread
-sewing/embroidery needle
-sturdy sculpt-able wire
-awl or punch of some sort
-anything else you wish to embellish with: fancy yarns, embroidery ribbon, non-toxic paint, leather string, rhinestones, jewels, wiggly eyes, non-toxic glue, etc.

(WARNING: Perforating the medical mask for the sake of style may decrease the effectiveness of the mask.)

My first foray in to this project (photo 2) combined these wonderfully rich autumn hued feathers and a pair of tiger eyes I found at the craft store. I sewed the two types of feathers in concentric rings from the outside in. Then marked places for the stuffed animal eyes, punched the markings, cut the holes a bit wider for the eye posts. He reminded me of the lamp from the Brave Little Toaster when I put him on this mirror.

Who can resist a kitschy bit of cross-stitched embroidery? Cross-stitching is very basic, and WikiHow has a great how-to of this most basic form of embroidery. Any catchy phrase will do, just make sure to check your lines often, and I find it easiest to work from the center of the design to the outside, it helps control spacing and ensures there is enough room for the whole message. DeeryLou, my piggy bank, questions the epidemic from behind her rainbow bright mask (photo 3).

Infectious disease can bring a swift end to a romantic evening. So be wary of the H1N1 kiss. With mistletoe season upon us, we’ll throwback to Pretty Woman and make a rule: not on the mouth. What better way to contract some monster virus than to directly introduce your respiratory system to that of the infected? That said, send a clear message straight out of the gate with this mask emblazoned with sequin lips (photo 4), forbidding all advances. WikiHow also has a great technique for sewing sequins.

Finally, the classiest mask of the bunch. A few punches through the outside edges of the mask, a vinyl covered wire hanger from ACE hardware, and a green canvas rosette, create a sculpted head ornament (photo 4) fit for evenings when infection is likely, but glamour cannot be sacrificed.

Written by: Philip Washington

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