Nothing describes the face of Covid better than face masks, but the self-made and reusable masks from Hamiltonian Sandra Jensen are not only protecting against the virus, they are wearable pieces of art.
Bright neon coloured, with googly eyes, sequins, ruffles, or a zipper. Plus more-wearable ones with moustaches, cat faces, lobsters or made out of velvet fabric, are only some of the masks that Sandra has created in the past year.
The enterprise co-ordinator at Go Eco in Frankton has been sewing costumes in her free time and from there it was only a small jump over to masks.
"I started [sewing face masks] in the first lockdown. Then Oxfam was looking for money for their Trailwalker challenge, so I started making masks and asked for a donation in exchange because I didn't want to end up making a product as I am self-taught."
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Sandra doesn't see masks as only protection against Covid-19, but as a fashion statement. "If you have to wear something dull for work, you can zhuzh it up with a fancy mask. Maybe you could even make it a seasonal thing and wear a themed mask according to the time of year."
Sandra's mask creations find homes all over the place, from Auckland to Hamilton, and even Mayor Paula Southgate is a fan. The two women follow each other on Facebook, which is where the mayor saw Sandra's masks. She now has 10 masks and also got some for her daughters and family.
"I share Sandra's view. [Masks are] a chance to bring joy into this particular period of time. You can have fun in wearing a mask and express yourself in a creative way. [Wearing a fun mask] makes people smile. We live in tough times at the moment, so let's raise people's spirits, have a laugh. Wear whatever [mask] you want, but wear one."
For Sandra, making masks is also a way of using up fabric that she already has from her costumes and to find new, interesting fabrics. "I have made some masks out of fabric that had bicycles on it which has been extremely popular. I also get gifted a lot of fabric."
She says her masks are more environmentally friendly, being reusable and washable.
"People tend to get favourites. If people lose a disposable mask, like if it falls out of a car or something, they go like 'whatever', but if they lose their favourite mask, people get upset."
Sandra says she herself doesn't have a favourite mask. "It depends on my mood and what I am wearing."