Face masks are in the news. They may seem strange to us in the West, but when Vivian lived in Japan as a child it was not uncommon to see people wearing them. In fact, they've been part of Asian culture for over a hundred years, after being designed by legendary Malaysian-Chinese doctor Wu Lien-teh during an epidemic in Northeastern China in 1910. They became popular and worn as a social consideration if the user had a cold, if the smog was bad, or to help keep allergies at bay.
Vivian remembers wearing one that had a little pink rabbit print that matched her pink raincoat and boots. This was one of her early fashion statements. Currently in Japan wearing masks has morphed beyond being a health precaution into a fashion accessory, or a way to seem more mysterious. In addition to keeping your germs in and smog out, masks can express individuality. You can find them in prints and colors, designer logos, or even studded leather.
Inspired by this cultural perspective of the face mask in Japan, and in light of recent events, we wanted to make these for sale and donate the proceeds to Food Lifeline. Our mask is made from vintage silk kimono textiles we have leftover from our garments.
We also wanted to be involved in our community and help the healthcare workers who are facing a shortage of personal protection gear. Crafters Against Covid-19 Seattle is a group we joined that is providing pattern/materials for face masks and doing pick-ups and drops offs.
Stay safe and healthy - and consider a new look for yourself!
For more information on the cultural aspects of wearing face masks in Japan and Asia, here are some links.