• Katlin Tara

Head's up!! Round two -- Mask up!

As we continue to try to keep ourselves safe during these times of Covid, designers around the world are continuing to be creative and supply us with the one thing that seems to be able to truly keep us safe, facial masks.


With Hawaii entering its second re-opening, KAPA Magazine, wanted to ask all of you to take major precaution and wear your mask.

We reached out to four local designers to discuss what they are doing to not only stay occupied

these days but also to share a message of hope within their work. As we continue to move

forward and make progress within our communities, it is the support of efforts such as these

that make all the difference!


Take a look at our first designer, Joelle –lover of Hawaiian prints with a heart for keeping her family safe. This local girl began making masks after seeing the high prices that they were being sold online for. She knew that she could create a pattern and make it herself. While staying home due to the pandemic, she believes that wearing face masks are our new normal, which led to making face masks not to be sold or offered to charity but solely for her family. She makes them by herself with no crew or anyone else sewing. As seen in the photo below, crown royal is one of the mask designs that she works with!

If you have been curious about the process of face mask design, Joelle gave us the inside scoop:

“I first place my pattern on the material, outline my pattern, and cut it out.  It takes four pieces to make one mask.  I sew the two pieces for the front; then I sew the two pieces for the inside, which is usually a solid color. From there I sew front and back together inside out, then turn it right side out and sew the sides to create an open cuff for the elastic to be fed through. I then feed a 7” piece of elastic and tie a knot to secure it! I make it this way so if the elastic gets worn out, you can just put in a new piece. The front and back should be sewn cross grained for best protection, and you can also add a filter! Some people create a pocket so you can slip in a filter, using a coffee filter or even a paper towel.”


Make sure to keep an eye out for this designer, as she also produces ribbon leis, eye lash yarn leis and flowers. With hopes of making mask design fashionable and fun, Joelle inspires us in her efforts of staying safe stylishly.


Next up, we spoke with Lunatic Printworks, small family business that started its roots in the

February of 2019. All Lunatic photos by Brittney Baker Photography @brittneybaker_photography

From the Lunatic Family:


“What a grand adventure this has turned out to be! We have dreams of big brand recognition

with roots growing deep through the community. Supporting our family, community, island and

humanity is our motive. We believe that everyone is born an artist, you just have to find what

art makes you feel the best, and do it more! We are showcasing collective community art on

high quality materials.


Because we are organic, we tend to stick with organic and sustainable products and ways of

doing business to keep things clean. We are just really gaining momentum, but I have a feeling

this is going to be a big wave! We genuinely appreciate your interest and support. Your support

translates to the support of everything surrounding you and in turn, everything surrounding

you returns the favor.”


What more can we say about this brand?! Not only is Lunatic Printworks community minded,

they also strive to stay clean with their products as well as displaying incredible talent and

artwork on their face masks. Finding the positives such as this helps to bring light to the

current state that we are living in and hope for a future in which we stand stronger together.


You can view more of their awe-inspiring face mask designs below!


Moving forward, we have Ginger Leong, another talented designer whose masks are individually handmade with love in Hawaii.

Leong designs her face masks with comfort in mind. There are plastic beads on the elastic ear

straps to enable the wearer to adjust for a perfect fit. A soft, bendable wire is also sewn into

the nose area to facilitate fitting the mask close to the face. Each mask is made from cotton or

cotton-polyester fabric, with a Hawaiian themed print. Not only is comfort level taken into

account, the mask is designed to house an activated carbon filter for safety factor.


Key Points about these face masks:

- Adult Washable

- Reusable Face Mask

- Handmade One of a Kind in Hawaii, USA.


*Each mask is cut and sewn by Ginger Leong, making no two alike, as the fabric placement will

be different on each mask. We always appreciate uniqueness in fashion, and this has just that!


Some of our favorite Ginger Leong Hawaiian printed face masks shown below:


And finally, why don’t we have a chat with Cyrus Howe?


This designer picked up a sewing machine in mid-February for a project that he had in mind but

then saw the need for face masks with the pandemic beginning to rise and put his original

project aside to focus on making face masks.

Noticing the mask shortage and the ill-fitting elastic around the ear style in the initial designs

that he didn’t personally like as a wearer, this led to his innovative designs. Cyrus Howe is also

passionate about creating washable reusable solutions, after seeing a glut of disposable masks

that become litter.


As the discussion went on, we were thrilled to hear about this designer’s inspirations for the

prints and designs used in his face masks! Cyrus let us in on how his masks came about:


“This is the fun (often expensive) part! Anyone who’s stepped foot in a fabric shop will know how thrilling the selection can be – it’s like piles of art you just buy and make into things – how has it taken me so long to get into this?!


I love color – anything that pops – I don’t care if that sounds cliché. Aloha/floral prints, Japanese/local and oriental styles. I’m playing with solids as well.  Design-wise, I wouldn’t say there’s anything inherently innovative about my masks as they’re simply 6” high by 9” wide rectangles pleated on either side to accommodate straps.

Where I do try to innovate is the strapping as ‘round the ears styles seemed to risk drooping off the wearer’s nose if the elastic wasn’t just right. So, I started with sewn bias tape about ¼ inch wide and 50 inches long to make surgeon-style ties that are secure and comfortable – no more touching that mask to adjust it while out and about! Now I order ¼” nylon webbing from Strapworks.com, but recently ordered twill tape to try reducing plastic and also because I only recently learned about it (I know, I’m a noob)!


My wife and I wore very high-end carbon filter masks made in Britain whilst teaching in dusty Chonburi Thailand in 2011, so that experience also informed my whole-head design.”


The design process has included just about every design out there, including the popular axe

head cut. This was changed up when Cyrus found it a little harder to do and also a lot more wasteful. He describes his new process in an easy-to-understand fashion:


“A yard = 36 inches, which is divisible by both six and nine, so my wastage is practically zero. I fold my fabric in half and use a rotary cutter and one of those huge rulers on my cutting pad. Cutting is my least favorite part so I decided early on to make the process as painless on myself as possible. Sew ‘em outside in, then turn ‘em inside out using a bamboo chopstick to poke out my corners; iron, pleat, sew close, snip, strap, pau. I have my rectangles prepped so a mask takes me less than ten minutes to make now.”


While he makes the masks on his own for now, he would entertain the idea of hiring a crew to help expand! Moving forward from the design process, we take a more serious approach at the wearing of face masks to hear Cyrus’s thoughts on whether they are here to stay:


“If you look at many East Asian countries like Japan, China, and Korea, you’ll see that masks have been a part of life for quite some time whether worn for pollution or by those with colds out of consideration for others (think crowded trains). I expect most Americans to ditch masks as soon as possible like once a vaccine becomes widely available.


A risk is the culture of individualism/selfishness in the U.S. – we see resistant Americans already, which is a shame, given so many economies are trying to reopen despite rising cases. To this day you can find people refusing to wear seatbelts, motorcycle helmets, etc. so that says something about our culture and attitudes on safety and vanity. I’ll confess I don’t like wearing a mask myself, but it’s for the greater good and really not that bad. No shirt, no shoes, no mask = no service, simple.”


With the safety of others in mind, Cyrus donated masks early on to mask drives at the state

capital but now focuses on sending donations to social justice movements, including Black Lives

Matter. When PPE was scarce, he put efforts into donating masks to nursing homes and sold to

doctors’ offices at a discount. He also offers discounts to essential workers and anyone who

may be struggling financially.


Cyrus’s next move in mask making points to bettering the strap designs. He is currently working

on cord locks so users don’t have to do any tying! With the help of family members to try out

the new mask and strap styles, his dad is a huge fan so far, but Cyrus has found the biggest area

for improvement is for folks like women with long hair.

His wife wears her long hair in a tight

braid that avoids the tied strap from moving around, but this setup doesn’t seem to suit others including his mom. While he isn’t 100% against the elastic ‘round the ears style, fortunately his mask design can easily accommodate those as an alternative to ties.


Excited to work on new styles, Cyrus received a couple bundles in the mail that he intends to play with. He is also hopeful to be able to print on his own fabrics, but the closest he has come so far is tracing a picture using fabric markers, which he finds to be a lot of fun too!


While Cyrus has other projects in development, he is making sure to keep masks on the front

burner to aid in the goal of keeping the curve down. You can shop these masks at ByCyrus.com!


We finish with a final note from Cyrus on his design venture: “If I acquire prospective customers for my next enterprise great, but I really, really want all of us to stay healthy right now. That’s what’s most important.”


Continuing to discover and share local designer work, we strive to in turn establish a tight-knit

fashion community based on support for one another! A brighter future starts today. We look

forward to standing strong together, creating a message of hope by looking at the positives.


These three designers are just the beginning of what’s taking place in the fashion world today.

Our new favorite fashion accessory brings a fun take on style in its variety, and we anticipate

incorporating these in our everyday wardrobe!


How will you style your local designer face mask?


Story written by Katlin Tara

Blog - ahappyblur.com

Instagram - @ahappyblur 

Facebook - facebook.com/ahappyblur