Gov. Gary Herbert has urged making face masks “part of everyone’s fashion statement” to stem the spread of COVID-19, and Utah artists are making that easier to do with custom face coverings.
For Mary Amanda Fairchild, a professional musician and historian based in Salt Lake City, making masks has been fun because each one is tailored to the customer who orders it.
“I feel like I personally am shielding that person … my mask is going to hopefully protect them,” Fairchild said.
She started making masks during a visit to Hong Kong in January at the beginning of the pandemic, when it became impossible to find face masks in stores. When she returned to the United States, Fairchild began selling her masks to Utahns and customers around the world.
Fairchild strives to make the masks personal, and makes up to 20 masks per order for each client. She has customers pick two patterns of fabric they want — one for each side — and has the masks ready within a day or two. Her masks cost $9 each.
Fairchild often makes masks with fabric that customers provide — like a daughter’s ballet dress or a grandmother’s apron. If you want her to make a mask using your material, you just have to send her the washed fabric in a plastic bag.
The masks have wire in the nose area to make them fitted and elastic that goes over your ears. They are washable, and Fairchild sanitizes them before mailing them to customers. To see her work, you can visit her Facebook page, Mary Amanda’s.
The Finishing School
Ellis and Libbie Dall, owners of The Finishing School in Holladay — which offers sewing and cooking classes for kids — started making masks after their business closed at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It was partly out of a necessity to find some business when we couldn’t do our classes,” Ellis Dall said, “and also just to try and help out with the relief effort.”
The Dalls’ masks are $8 each and there is no limit to the size of orders they can take. The masks are made out of 100% cotton and are washable. Customers can request specific colors or patterns for mask fabrics; email Dall at email@example.com.
Joel Berg and Cameron Carter
Joel Berg and Cameron Carter, a couple based in Murray, started making masks when Salt Lake County’s stay-at-home order was in place early on in the pandemic.
Berg, a Salt Lake County health department employee, wore many masks while working in isolation and quarantine facilities and struggled to find one that wasn’t annoying.
“So I made one that was really comfortable,” he said. “That’s kind of our selling point; they’re cool, they look good, and they’re comfortable.”
Carter’s and Berg’s masks are made of 100% cotton, are machine washable, and customers can replace the adjustable strap or nose wire. They have 37 fabrics available at kactussewing.com and can also use custom fabrics if a customer contacts them directly, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The masks cost $13.85 for more complex designs and $10.95 for simple ones.
Jen Lopez, one of the founders of Clever Octopus — a reclaimed arts and craft supplies store in South Salt Lake — said she started making masks when requests came in for homemade face coverings and for materials, from health care workers and shoppers.
Once businesses started closing down in March, Lopez partnered with Make Salt Lake, a nonprofit workspace that promotes local innovation, and Clever Octopus donated close to $1,000 in materials to make face masks.
Lopez’s masks cost $14 each and they’re made of three layers of reclaimed cotton. The material hasn’t been used, she said; it’s simply fabric left over from other projects.
She also makes custom fabric masks, which start at $20. Face mask kits and templates also are available at Clever Octopus so Utahns can make their own masks. She said 30% of mask sales benefit Clever Octopus, which teaches discounted art programs to children and adults.
It’s important to wear face masks, Lopez said, because “the more of us that are wearing masks, the more likely that we’ll get [coronavirus] stamped out sooner. Salt Lake County is now starting to see a downturn, and that’s specifically since the mask mandate.”
Pioneer Theatre Company
Utahns also can buy face masks from Pioneer Theatre Company. The theater company is making face coverings primarily out of costume fabric, and spokeswoman Kirsten Park said it plans to launch a line of special masks made from specific productions.
“This is a way that we can give back to the community, but then the community can also support our local arts,” Park said. “We desperately need to be here one day when we get out of this.”
She said selling masks helps the theater company support salaries for cast members whose full-time profession is performing.
“We worked very hard to find activities that are profitable, or at least profitable enough, to support these positions, to keep these people, so the day that we can return to the theater we don’t lose these incredible craftsmen and women,” she said.
The company is charging $15 for one mask and customers get a discount with each additional mask they purchase — for example, two masks cost $25. Order at pioneertheatre.org.
Park said the company immediately became overwhelmed with orders after advertising its masks. As a result, there has been some backlog, and it may take a few weeks for masks to be delivered.
To find more Utah artists selling custom face masks, you can see a list compiled by Now Playing Utah at nowplayingutah.com/utah-artists-selling-masks.