1,000 Masks by May Day

Our goal was to make 1,000 masks for Charleston elderly living facilities and apartment complexes by May 1st. These included Brighton Place, Bridgeview Village, Palace Apartments, Rutledge Place, and North Central Apartments. Any left over masks will be given to local non-profits and service providers that need them. All masks were lovingly sewn by Lowcountry EP Mask Makers and have been washed, dried, and safely packaged in quart size Ziploc bags with care instructions.

So far, with a little help from our friends at Charleston Promise Neighborhood and the Charleston County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, masks have been distributed to Joseph Floyd Manor and some elders at Rutledge Place, and we have also supplied masks to elders in Brighton Place, Rosemount, and North Central Apartments… with more distributions on the way!

 

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROJECT

This project was managed by Trina Lyn, Artist in Residence at Enough Pie. We worked with a total of 14 EP Mask Makers, received 1,020 masks, paid $3,000 in artist stipends, used 41 yards of fabric, and used 440 yards of elastic. We are so grateful to St. Stephens Episcopal Church and Charleston Promise Neighborhood for contributing funds to this effort.

We followed this pattern, adapted from a pattern created by Deaconess Hospital. To keep things simple for us and for the residents who are to receive these masks, this pattern does not include any wires or ties. Artists committed to make a specific number of masks and were offered a stipend if they desired one according to the number of masks made. Rent Sons helped out with delivery and pickup of the masks for those not able to make it to our drop-off location downtown.

We want to extend shout-outs to businesses like Five Eighth Seams, who has been a key provider of over 500 yards of donated fabric, as well as $2,000 worth of elastic and bias tape to mask makers in the Charleston area — through customers purchasing gift cards, they have been able to provide supplies to mask makers on the front lines — and Brackish Bowties, who graciously produced masks for us as well.

MEET OUR EP MASK MAKERS

As we worked with EP Mask Makers, we learned that each maker had a story to tell — about families coming together to make hundreds of masks, moms juggling home school and the kiddos while sewing up a storm in their limited spare time, and individuals with their own health and mobility struggles who have worked around the clock to help others feel more protected.

We asked: “What inspired you to make masks for the community? What is your story? How many masks have you made so far? Are there any stories behind the fabric or your process that you would like to share?”

Meet Claire and her family — husband John, and their daughter, Kristy. As a family, they have sewn over 1,027 masks for “friends, family, neighbors, hospitals, birthing centers, nursing homes, truck and delivery drivers, nuns, and priests across South Carolina, and as far as Hawaii, New Jersey, and New York.” Check out this family’s inspiring story about how they came together to give back to our community.

 

Meet Maker Christine, a comic book creator, full-time mom, and part-time cosplayer. She used the excess fabric she had been saving for crafts for this project and has made over 70 masks for friends, family, and our neighbors. Check out Christine’s story to hear more about why she got involved.

 

Meet Marci and Brenda! This was Brenda’s first time on the sewing machine, and she made 50 masks. Marci isn’t new to sewing, but was excited to get involved in an opportunity to serve her community, and she made 50 masks. Check out their stories!

 

Meet Camilla, who has been generously contributing to EP’s mask-making efforts since the beginning! Camilla has been sewing all her life and was prepared to meet this undertaking head-on with an arsenal of supplies she had accumulated over the years.

Q: What is your story? What inspired you to make masks for the community?
A: I first started making masks when Bianca, Community Manager at EP, told me about what Enough Pie was doing — giving the masks for free to residents in Joseph Floyd Manor. I also wanted to make masks for family and friends. Over the years I’ve been gifted quite a lot of fabric, thread and notions, though my main interest has been in making quilts. I’ve made about 15 quilts, from baby bed to king size, mostly by hand. I figured I had plenty of fabric to spare and was up for the challenge!

Q: How many masks have you made so far?
A: About 200 masks overall, with about 150 masks going to Enough Pie. (The remainder have gone to friends, family, and neighbors.)

Q: Are there any stories behind the fabric or your process that you would like to share?
A: Yes! I had a huge piece of unbleached muslin from two quilts I finished last year for a family friend. She had passed away before she could finish them. I also had a large piece of pink fabric with the word “love” printed on it, which I used as a signature on quilts I make. There were three big pieces of batik printed in beautiful pastels, orange, and yellow. I had thought of making a quilt with them one day. Then there was the half-bolt of black cotton fabric that I got to make costumes for my son’s marching band performance many years ago. I also had many yards of unbleached cotton batting left over from various quilting projects, which I used as a middle layer in the mask with thinner fabrics. I had about 50 spools of thread from other donations I received over the years, so the only thing I had to buy was elastic for the ear pieces.

Q: Many artists have had to sacrifice special fabrics in order to make the masks. Our team has heard stories of people using old curtains from their child’s playroom of the past, pants and shirts from a lost loved one, abandoned quilting projects, etc. Was this the case for you?
A: I love fabric in all its forms and consider it almost sacred and infinitely reusable! Every time I get to hold of a piece of new fabric, I envision uses for it. In addition to the big pieces of fabric I described before, I had smaller bits and pieces that I used for masks that came from old curtains, a favorite dress, baby blankets that cuddled the aforementioned family friend’s children 50 years ago, luxurious bamboo sheeting material, and flannel pillow cases that my children used. These went into masks that might save people from a serious illness or even death, so it’s definitely worth the sacrifice!

Meet Terrific Trina, EP’s current Artist in Residence who has been managing this undertaking with us. Trina is an artist that typically works in mediums like painting and digital illustration, but rose to the challenge to sew and coordinate the creation of 1,000 masks for our vulnerable elderly neighbors in Charleston!

Q: What inspired you to make masks for the community? What is your story?
A: I am a giver at heart and I know my way around a sewing machine. I started making masks in March, a week or so after I entered quarantine. It made me feel less helpless and more productive — a vital survival strategy that I’ve since come to lean on.

At first, I was just making them for my friends and family, but once Enough Pie alerted me about the severe lacking of PPE in Charleston elderly living facilities, that soon ballooned into mass-producing hundreds of masks for the community.

Then, EP set a goal to source 1,000 masks by May 1st. I thought it’d be an impossible task, but Charleston came through — in a matter of DAYS. We literally went from 0 masks to 1,000 masks in about a week. Interacting with all of the other mask making artisans, hearing their stories, and learning a little bit about their (often extremely busy) lives, reminded me that there is still so much kindness and beauty left in the world. It made me think, as long as these angels were out there giving everything they’ve got day after day, there might be hope for us after all.

Q: How many masks have you made so far?
A: 300 masks, give or take. Out of every batch I cut, at least 5 masks mysteriously disappear before being finished. They probably have gone to whatever place socks go when they tire of this realm.

Q: Are there any stories behind the fabric or your process that you would like to share?
A: Well, many seamstresses will know the fear of having to use “The Good Fabric.” And boy, did I start getting into The Good Fabric. It forced me to confront the reality that some sewing projects I had slated will never come to fruition in the ways I originally imagined them. It may sound silly, but I have to admit I dropped a tear for some of those prints, some of which I have kept for years, for “that special project.” But then again, what could possibly be more special than potentially saving a life?

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