Read all my lockdown journal posts.

It’s Lockdown Day 44 in South Africa. I bought a new mask.

Heather wearing the African jungle mask
Lockdown photo 44: Mask fashion.

I’m becoming less and less interested in just about everything these days. But I’ve become progressively more interested in face masks.

In the span of a few short weeks, these small pieces of cloth or paper that we wrap around half our faces have become the most important piece of clothing in our wardrobes. Like it or not, we’re all required to wear masks (unless you’re the President of the United States or a similar strongman leader, who despite the advice of your own government thinks masks are for sissies).

Masks could — depending on which school of thought you buy into — save your life or someone else’s. We’ll be wearing face masks for months or years to come, maybe forever.

I’ve started giving a lot of thought to the mask I wear — how it looks, how it feels, how it helps or hinders my ability to move through the world. I also give a lot of thought to the masks I see others wearing. It’s the first thing I notice about a person, and I ponder what character of a mask — cloth or paper, solid or print, loose or tight — might say about the person underneath.

[Side note: Small children wearing masks are adorable. I need to get a photo of one.]

While I love the first mask I bought the day before the lockdown started, I realized I needed an upgrade. First off, we need more than one mask as cloth masks have to be washed after each use. Also the fabric in my first mask is not very breathable. Lastly, I wanted to try a mask that ties around the back of my head rather than hooking around my ears.

Yesterday I saw just such a mask advertised on the Art Africa Facebook page. (I blogged about Art Africa in a recent post about local gift shops.) I went and bought one immediately.

Heather in new mask from Whimsical Collection
My new mask. I love it.

The mask is made by Whimsical Collection, a small business based in Cape Town. They normally make bags and pillows and coloring books and greeting cards — all with African animal themes — but like so many small businesses, Whimsical Collection has started making masks.

Mask self-portrait
I continue my love affair with face mask self-portraiture.

There were several designs to choose from but I went with the African jungle theme. I love it because: 1) There is so much to look at! It has zebras and aloes and proteas and hippos and snakes and a pangolin and a wild dog and lots of things I haven’t even discovered yet; 2) It’s made of sturdy, breathable cotton; 3) It ties in the back, which makes it a little harder to put on (I have to put my hair up) but so much more comfortable to wear.

I realize this post sounds like an advertisement for Whimsical Collection. In truth they do not even know I’m writing it.

Mask closeup
I love it so much, I almost want to just wear it around the house.

These masks cost R95 at Art Africa. The shop currently has limited opening hours so it’s best to give them a call before going there to buy a mask.

I’ve ordered another interesting mask online, which I’m eager to photograph myself wearing once it arrives. Stay tuned.

I also have some interesting cooking updates to share but I’ll save those for tomorrow’s post. After 47 straight days of blogging and no end in sight, I’ve realized I need to start rationing my content.

Today’s Worthy Cause

Today I’m featuring the Three2Six Project, an educational program for refugee children who don’t have access to regular South African schools. This project sounds incredible even in normal times, but now Three2Six is coming up with new and innovative methods to continue providing education to the children (most of whom don’t have internet access) during lockdown. Read about it in this Daily Maverick article.

Three2Six is in particular need of donations to procure masks for the children once they’re able to attend school again. You can donate online here, or if you’d prefer to send an EFT here are the details:

Sacred Heart College 
Three2Six refugee children’s project
First National Bank
Branch code: 257705
Account number: 62312243405
Swift code: FIRNZAJJ

Thanks so much to Erica Penfold for bringing this program to my attention.

Trixie and Heather with mask
Trixie photobombing my self-portraiture session.

Have a rocking Saturday night.

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