Alongside taking photographs of masks which I have been collating together on my Assemblage of Masks page, I have been collecting the masks too. I have taken several safety precautions when doing this. I have been wearing gloves when picking the masks up, which I later wash when I return home. I have been putting the masks in a bag and leaving them for at least 4 days to ensure any potential virus will have died. These photographs show the process I use to disinfect the masks – I first get them out of the bag after 4 days, and shake all of the dirt/leaves off from the road. I then use a spray bottle of strong disinfectant, and then soak them in some hot water with cleaning solution. I then rinsed each one in hot water under the tap, and let them air dry.
An important thing to note here is how easy it is to wash a mask and re-use -although the disposable masks are not really suited to being washed, it is very easy to either put your masks in the wash with your clothes, or just give it a quick soak and rinse in hot water to kill any germs.
I have been shocked during the past week at how many masks I have managed to photograph and acquire, on just a 20 minute walk every day. To think of this on a national scale, not just Aberystwyth, and even an international scale is absolutely devastating. I have been reflecting on the process of what I am doing as I go about town collecting the masks safely. I have noticed I have felt embarrassed about what I am doing, trying to quickly pick the masks up before anyone notices me. It makes me question why I feel like this; the only people who should be embarrassed are those throwing them onto the floor in the first place. I should feel proud to be making a simple difference by taking them away from damaging the environment/being a hazard to wildlife, and giving them a new cycle and purpose. I have also noticed that my project is relying on the thoughtlessness and selfish behaviours of the human nature. Although it makes an interesting project, I think I would prefer the alternative and have to find a new one.
Using the masks, I have decided to make pots out of them to grow herbs out of. This would make another use for the masks that would otherwise go into landfill. I found the whole process of making my first pot quite contemplative; I reflected on the pandemic and the losses we have suffered due to it, and I felt quite empowered by the thought of making some small good out of the disposable masks.
How I made the masks:
I started by unfolding the masks pleats to extend it to its full size. I then drew a circle in the mask, and cut the circle out. Using long cut of white thread, I hand sewed a running stitch around the edge of the circle. When I had gone around the circle once, before tying and cutting off, I took the length of thread and pulled it gently. This gathered up the fabric, making a small pouch in the middle. I then adjusted the pouch by making it plump round all of the sides, and tied off the thread.
I am really happy with the result of these masks, and the transformation/cycle I can see happening in the future once I fill them with soil and begin growing herbs.
This week we had the second of our workshops. We were asked to come prepared with ideas inspired by the previous workshop; The Forager and The Farmer. The brief we were given was that we had to create an idea that we could do as a group in Week Eight. It was an opportunity to reflect on everything we had experienced in the first workshop, and take our individual ideas further towards a collaborative project in any medium and discipline. I always find this exciting as there are similarities between what we are doing in these workshops and what I am doing at home; usually the working process of experimentation, ideas, research and execution, but this time I feel there are similarities in the context of the theme as well.
This photograph depicts the whole of my sheet of paper, which I used as a platform for a constant stream of concepts and plans for the collaborative process. Using a long sheet of paper was really beneficial I felt, as I experienced a journey of changing ideas and then tweaks, before ending up in my final plan. Although it was a lovely opportunity to sit and think/imagine, I do feel it is necessary to actually experiment with and act out the concept for the project before the proposal next week. This is important as it is a chance to make sure I completely know my plan inside and out, and I can easily answer any questions the group may have regarding the proposed project.
I started off with the concept of ‘Searching’; I found this was an element which resonated with me during the first workshop, as I could relate the search for acorns in the woods, to my search for ideas and meanings. I then thought about ‘Plant Blindness’ and the way this was similar to ‘Searching’, with a phrase underpinning the two in my head; “notice the unnoticeable”. I decided that a good way to explore these concepts during the collaborative workshop was through a game, perhaps of hide and seek, or a treasure hunt. Although these sound childlike, I think all of our best ideas come when we let go of our adult preconceptions. I then began to think of ideas for how to execute the game as a workshop, and for a while was finding it difficult to think of a way to make the project more profound, and particularly what to do after the game.
This photograph shows the step by step plan of my idea for the project; this is subject to change this week as I will be experimenting and practicing it first. I decided to link it to my own project as I feel it would be a great opportunity to raise some awareness of disposable masks and the crisis they are producing in our environment. There are also similarities between the ‘treasure hunt’ for masks which I will be preparing and what I have been doing in my project; finding masks on walks and collecting them. I look forward to pitching the proposal in next weeks workshop, and also hearing more about everyone else’s collaborative project ideas.