31 July 2020

Where to source reusable fabric face masks on the Far South Coast

| Elka Wood
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Staff at Moruya Pharmacy standing in store wearing fabric face masks.

Staff at Moruya Pharmacy sporting fabric face masks from Hippie Sticks in Bodalla. Photo: Supplied.

Although community transmission of COVID-19 on the Far South Coast appears under control for now, NSW Health recommends that anyone entering a health facility should wear a face mask to protect themselves and others from the virus.

If you’re on the lookout for a washable fabric face mask in a fun print, you’re not alone. Demand is outstripping supply in many regions on the Coast and anyone with sewing prowess has been called to action.

This is the case for Karen Schofield, a former costume designer who now owns Hippie Sticks in Bodalla.

“I’m a bit of a sewer from way back,” she laughs. “I’ve got two costumes displayed at the Powerhouse Museum. I’m used to working under pressure for big productions.”

But making 500 face masks in a matter of weeks is still a stretch for Karen, who has employed a few friends to help organise, pack and deliver orders.

Lacking tourism trade after a recent COVID-19 outbreak in Batemans Bay, Karen has closed her shop for now and is focusing on mask making.

“I may be overwhelmed, but I’m not complaining,” she says. “At least I’m gainfully employed and busy.”

In Bermagui, artists cooperative Markets on Lamont, which sells the work of 38 local craftspeople and artists, is also selling fabric face masks.

Fabric face masks with sushi design from Japanese Creations.

Reiko Healy is behind Bega business Japanese Creations, which makes cool fabric face masks in all sizes. Photo: Supplied.

“Our local quilting lady, Margie, has started making them and they sold out straight away,” says owner Stacey Kellett. “She’s going as fast as she can!”

To get your mask in the Bermagui area, get in touch with Stacey via Facebook to place an order.

Reiko Healy of Japenese Creations in Bega is also taking orders for cotton masks and says there’s a three-to-five-day waiting time.

“I’m making two-or-three-layered masks, with or without a pocket, and with nose wire for a more comfortable fit, especially for those who wear glasses,” she says.

Bega disability support organisation Tulgeen has also gone into mask production mode, with four supported workers making up to 50 masks a day at its Stitches and Prints workshop.

Workshop manager Annie Chandler says the team is making two-layered cotton masks with a pocket so a third layer can be added.

“We are making fabric masks according to NSW guidelines,” she says. “Masks are definitely the go at the moment and we can churn them out if need be.”

If you’re in Bega, you can pop into Riverside Nursery to choose a mask, or call Tulgeen with your order.

Other local suppliers include Rudi Patootie children’s clothing store in Merimbula, and the Bega Valley Market Place.

Where else have you seen fabric masks stocked on the Far South Coast?

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Good job re the face masks. Now for social distancing…

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