Local artists combine form and function with beautiful masks

'Making masks definitely fuels my artistry. I love to create.'

BRENDA SCARPATI and her husband, Mike, live on Tybee Island and own an artisan hand-poured soy candle business called Scent From Savannah.

Brenda says that she saw articles, with patterns and instructions, explaining that there was a need for people to make masks.  “I thought, ‘I can do that’.”   

To date, Brenda has made over 1,100 masks, and when he is not cutting fabric, Mike can be found making local deliveries of masks, and going to the post office to mail their creations across the United States—all at the couple’s own expense. 

click to enlarge Local artists combine form and function with beautiful masks
Brenda Scarpati and her dog Winston at work.

Brenda says making masks “helped me feel not so helpless. I had no idea the need would be so great. We’ve gotten requests from all over the country.”

Some customers say “how perfect the print was and how it made them smile. They have no idea how much that means to us.”

Some of the stories Brenda and Mike hear are heartbreaking, such as a woman from  New York, who can see bodies loaded onto a mobile morgue from her window.

click to enlarge Local artists combine form and function with beautiful masks
Maya, 3, wears a mask created by her mother Candace Hardnett

You can find Candace Hardnett’s wood art pens and bottle stoppers on Etsy under Hardnett Creations. But she turned to making masks when a man in her congregation mentioned that he, and his fellow EMTs, were experiencing a shortage. 

Other members of her congregation also became interested in her masks.

“I started making masks first for them, and quickly realized that people all over the country wanted them. I had supplies left over from my bow-ties, so I used them to make masks,” says Hardnett. 

“Making masks definitely fuels my artistry.  I love to create. That’s why wood-turning is so satisfying.  This allows me to be creative while helping during this time.”

Maya, Candice’s three year-old daughter, insists that the whole family wear masks when they go outside of their home.

Since Hardnett hasn’t sold a pen or bottle stop in over a month, making masks has helped to augment the family’s income during this difficult time. 

click to enlarge Local artists combine form and function with beautiful masks
Lane Huerta with her daughter Clementine.

Lane Huerta, owner of Lovelane Designs, normally designs superhero capes and dragon wings. But when everything seemed in chaos, Huerta used mask making to keep her hands busy. 

Huerta and her eight year-old daughter, Clementine, started thinking that kids would need masks too, so together they developed a line of kids masks that they hope will bring color and joy to children.

“The little ones might not understand what’s really happening around us, and we hope these silly masks can feel more like dress up and not so imposing,” says Huerta.

When the line was launched on their website, 200 sold out in two minutes, and an additional 1,000 pre-orders will keep her staff employed for at least a month.

“Our staff are my family. They have worked with me for four years,” explains Huerta. “We all have bills to pay and I feel responsible for making sure that my printer and seamstresses have an income.”

There have been some adjustments at the rainbow house where Lovelane Designs staff produce whimsical creations.  Seamstresses are working at home, while Huerta and her full-time screen-printer, Andrew, alternate days in the shop as to be careful to maintain social distancing.  

click to enlarge Local artists combine form and function with beautiful masks
Danietté Thomas' designs.

Danietté Thomas recently added a line of fashionable masks, including sequined designs, to her already prestigious DANIETTÉ line of custom couture fashion wedding and prom designs. 

With prom events canceled and weddings rescheduled, her business model changed a bit. 

“I thought the mask would be an excellent marketing tactic.”  

Thomas designed a line of masks and had a photo shoot. “I thought the photo shoot would help bring attention to my brand, but I had no idea that so many people would be interested in actually purchasing them.”

Thomas uses nontraditional fabrics for her masks, but to make sure that they are not only fashionable, but also effective, she consulted her twin sister and mother, who are both in the medical field.  

You can usually find Julie Sukman on stage with Collective Face Theater Ensemble, but recently she, and her 88 year-old mother, Hilda Sukman, have been making masks for people who request them.  

“We don’t really charge people for them, I feel like if people need them they should be able to get one for free,” explains Julie.  But many people have been making donations toward fabric and other supplies.

 “I asked my mom if she would help me cut the fabric, and we got into a groove.  I can make six or seven in an evening now. But what it’s really done for us, is give us a chance to do something together,” says Julie. “It’s a huge sense of purpose.”

 Julie adds, “I like to make sure that the masks are very soft so the person wearing them feels comforted by them. Since I’m an actor, I care very much about the tactile aspect of it, how it feels to have it on. It’s a strange sensory experience to be in public with a mask on one’s face.”  


Kristy Edenfield

Freelance Correspondent
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