Adding Messages to Protective Face Masks
Thanks for your interest in adding a message to your face coverings during these wild times! With the CDC’s latest recommendation to wear cloth face coverings in places where social distancing is difficult to maintain many more of us are using these masks in public (social distancing, proper hygiene, and avoiding touching your face are still the first line of defense and vital in these times). Just as many people enjoy wearing campaign t-shirts or putting out yard signs, this is a chance to call out the need to prioritize people over polluters in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Below you’ll find everything you need to add a message to your own mask at home. Still have questions? Reach out to volunteer.us.greenpeace.org and we can help you out!
Context to the Crisis
The COVID-19 crisis represents a turning point for the future of our country. The choices we make in this disruptive moment will shape the path forward for millions of people for years to come. And while most of us are just trying to survive this crisis, oil and gas executives are using a pandemic as an opportunity to plunder whatever they can — from your tax dollars to the oil and gas locked, for now, in sacred spaces.
The federal government is poised to spend trillions of dollars on economic stimulus packages designed to jumpstart the economy and avoid a major recession. Faced with the choice between spending the next few years bailing out fossil fuel corporations or delivering a Green New Deal, we know what needs to happen next.
For years, people have been demanding that fossil fuel executives and climate-denying politicians face a reckoning for the damage they’ve done to people and the planet. Right now, we need to come together to ensure Washington takes this moment to invest in the future rather than bail out the past.
Creating your own mask
In this how-to guide we’ll show you how to add a message to your face mask but you’ll need to start with a completed mask. There are many great guides online from this CDC advisory to video tutorials like this one; one of our favorites comes from Ashland Solidarity.
For this tutorial we’re using a stencil process to create patches that can then be attached to your mask. The stencil process allows you to create a number of patches quickly so you can make a few for you and your family. Also the patch over top of the mask will be easier to read and can be removed for washing the mask. But don’t feel constrained by the process! If you want to take fabric markers to your patch or mask directly, embroider details into the patch, or any other embellishment feel free to get creative!
Here’s an example of the the finished product using the stencil process:
In addition you’ll need a mask to attach your patch to and 4 safety pins or a needle and thread to do the attaching.
1. Prep your stencil
- Choose a message from the options linked here or choose your own design. Print out the stencil image onto an 8.5×11 sheet (this size should work well for most masks). The white lines in the letters are called bridges. They will keep your center pieces in place.
- Tape the cardboard or place your cutting mat onto a flat surface (counter top, desk, table, etc); the cardboard will protect your countertop from damage while cutting out your stencil.
- Tape the printed image onto cardboard/mat and carefully cut out the black letters. If you accidentally cut the bridges, cut tiny strips of tape to repair the bridges on the front side and on the back side of your stencil.
2. Prepare to paint
- Once you’ve cut out all the black pieces of the letters and cut around on the dotted lines. Take the newly cut stencil, center the message on your fabric patch, and tape the stencil onto the fabric going all the way around the edges of the stencil. If you have the spray adhesive, follow instructions for a temporary bond and affix the stencil to the fabric.
- Now use the foam brush and gently dab the paint onto the stencil in small amounts. You can use the scissors to cut the tip off of the foam brush to create a rectangular stamp. Use a toothpick, chopstick, or pencil to hold the stencil place as you dab to avoid the stencil sticking to the paintbrush and pulling away from the fabric (You will only have 1 run with this stencil, if it gets damaged then restart at Step 3).
*Pro tip: once you have painted your letters. You can go over it again to cover the bridges to have a solid ✊🏽 look.
- Note: It’s important to choose a water-based, non-toxic paint and to allow it to dry completely before wearing to ensure that you don’t inhale fumes unintentionally!
4. Let it dry
- Once you have covered the paint remove the stencil from the mask gently and set it aside to dry. If you are careful with your stencil you can use it to create several patches all at once, just don’t use too much paint as it will saturate the paper.
- Allow your patch to dry to touch before moving on to step 8 (you can speed this along with a hairdryer if you get antsy).
5. Affix to your mask
- Take your fabric patch and align it with your mask. Being careful to only pin or sew to the outer layer of the mask, use safety pins or needle and thread to attach the four corners of the patch to the mask.
6. Show the world!
- Put on your beautiful new mask, take a picture, and post it with hastag #PeopleNotPolluters
Caring for your mask
Public health professionals recommend machine washing your mask at least once a day in hot water and drying on the hot cycle. If you used safety pins to attach your patch, just remove the patch and wash separately. If you used needle and thread to attach it more permanently, the fabric paint should hold up just fine, but in either case it is recommended to put your masks in a pillow case or laundry bag when washing.