Editor’s note: Many people are making masks. Diane Stone seems to have really done her research and she has given away far more masks than she has sold. Stone has worked on mask construction and design with the Fab Lab at the Sarasota Science Center. 

Hard to believe that more than two months have passed by since our lives were changed, sadly some more drastically and tragically than others.

The simplest act of helping yourself and protecting others can start with wearing a mask and social distancing. Why wouldn’t you?

As more and more stores, restaurants and other places open, it will be more important than ever to wear a mask.

So far, I have made 800 masks at my dining room table.

Unlike the earlier patterns that were circulating, I designed a mask with side channels that could accommodate any material (elastic, shoelace or whatever similar material would be available). This proved to be a huge factor, especially when the world was running out of elastic (primarily manufactured in China). I also planned to provide custom ties in several different ways, to accommodate multiple preferences.

I started with material I had on hand, RipStop, which I had been using for my “Perfect Pouch” circular cosmetic bags. RipStop has an inherent water resistant coating and is dust proof, with an extremely tight weave that made it great for anyone with a respiratory issue.

My jewelry designing hobby left me with lots of wire to experiment with for the nose bridge portion of the mask.

When no one had any more elastic for sale, my husband Don took apart a stretch, woven belt and we found plenty of good quality, covered elastic. We then ordered more such belts on Amazon and the elastic problem was solved. It was the same for the masks with ties instead of elastic. He ordered para-cord for the ties and we took out the inner strings, which we are still using today.

This could only be done because I designed side hem channels in my masks and a pocket. Now you can add any filter, depending on who, where and why someone is using the mask. Some of the healthcare professionals are using these. I’m also making masks that are half RipStop and half Batik cotton, which also is a tightly woven fabric.

I’ve been a volunteer with the Sarasota Science Center in the Fab Lab on their R&D team, making prototype masks with the Halyard medical material and made a video along with directions regarding my SWAT (Stay Well Away Today) mask and found alternative materials for the sewing pool. They have a dedicated group of more than 270 volunteers working on face shields and face mask projects.

I’ve received many donations from the community, including donations toward materials, and even received a yummy pumpkin bread.

Don and I personally delivered hundreds of masks to local nursing homes, including Aston Gardens, Genesis, Harbor Chase and Sunset Lake, as well as to Tidewell Hospice and Venice Regional Bayfront Health. They started calling me “the mask lady.”

It’s been incredibly rewarding to feel useful during this pandemic, where so many lives have changed.

I also offer masks for sale at two for $15. They make thoughtful gifts and will as long as the pandemic continues.

While I was at my sewing machine, Don has been inventing all sorts of meal concoctions, including, breakfast pizza, pear turnovers and he's using his famous meatballs. He also is researching his Bucci family tree and now has documented it back to 1804 in Italy.

Curbside pick up was a genius way to safely pick up materials and groceries at those stores that offer the service. Thanks go to the employees who make that possible. Nearly all of them wear masks for their own safety and to protect themselves from those people who have yet to wear masks.

You may contact Diane Stone at goodideas4u@gmail.com.

The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Until a vaccine is found, the risks remain great. That may be several months in the offing although many scientists are working on it.

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