Clear Communication a Passion for Crafty Mom

by Kimberley McGee
Littles can be seen and heard with specially designed masks

The recent restrictions brought on by the pandemic inspired a Seattle mom to create a window of communication for people big and small. (She’s offering 10% off to Vegas Kids Zone subscribers through Sunday! Sign up to receive 3+ new deals each week.)

Gypsy Lovett, a longtime sewer turned clever mask maker and owner of Not My Circus Co., created a transparent window mask for kids of all ages. The lightweight, fog-free facemasks have a clear vinyl window over the mouth that makes it easy to see someone is talking, or smiling, at you. From kids on the spectrum to professionals in the hospitality industry, the clear-window masks have helped people connect during a difficult time.

“It’s amazing how much you miss in communication when you can only see someone’s eyes,” Lovett said. “Seeing someone’s facial expressions, their smiles or (look of) confusion, it restores some of that humanity.”

The little masks have made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives.

Clear masks help children communicate when out and about.

Inspiration Behind the Masks

Lovett’s thriving Etsy shop is a culmination of her passions and desire to help the community.

“I’ve been sewing my whole life,” Lovett said. “I make my kid’s clothes, so I had a bunch of fabric and everyone needs masks. I decided to get out my fabric and start sewing.”

 The small endeavor was rewarding. Lovett’s two young sons would park themselves at the window to wave at members of their community who came to pick up their made-to-order masks.

“It’s been really sweet,” she said. “Both kids are proud that mom is helping the community. That means a lot to me. I hope I am raising kids that engage and support our community in a meaningful way.”

Lovett first created the see-through masks when a neighbor, who is hard of hearing and works with the deaf community, asked if she could use her sewing skills to sew up a mask that allowed clients to see other people’s mouths as they spoke. 

“She was really struggling to communicate,” Lovett, who is also hard of hearing, said. 

She was excited at the challenge and tried out a few of the designs available online. 

“The fit was really not good,” she said. “It looked weird and chunky, and there were gaping pockets at the sides, top and bottom. My brother is an ER doctor and I just couldn’t, in good conscience, make someone a mask that doesn’t serve its purpose.” 

She played with design before finding the right gauge of vinyl and sewing technique to make a good-fitting and secure mask.

 

Finding the Right Fit

Within a week of that first prototype in April, she felt she had a safe and comfortable mask. With treatments that are typically used to keep glasses fog-free, durable vinyl and roomy design, the mask passed all of her tests when worn around the house.

“It felt lighter on my face and fog-free,” Lovett said.

She took it out for an unforgettable errand run.

“The first time I wore one when I was testing them out, someone stopped me and asked me where I got it,” Lovett said. “A guy at the gas station asked to buy it from me.”

Window of Opportunity

The masks are ideal for children on the spectrum who may have sensory issues or struggle against the feel of the weight of cloth masks on their faces. Being able to see parents’ mouths as they talk when they are out in public helps with communication and social cues for kids.

“When your whole face is covered, you miss a lot of the social cues,” Lovett said. “When lacking that info, particularly for kids on the spectrum, it can be hard. Your kids need to see your face, it’s comforting. It can be scary for kids.”

Her sons wear their masks and tout them as better than most. The clear panel isn’t as cloying and the fit of the mask leaves space around the mouth and nose.

“We can’t touch anyone and can’t get close and, for kids, that’s really hard,” she said “So if you can restore some parts of that full facial expression, it gets us to feeling a little more normal. There’s a limit to what you can convey with just your eyes.”

The masks have also been well received by those in the hospitality industry. A recent trip to pick up food from a local eatery brought a barrage of excitement. Lovett was peppered with questions by the staff. Trying to communicate through masks to take or give food orders left the hardworking staff exhausted by the end of the day.

“They were screaming over the cooking noise to be understood by each other,” she said. “Seeing the lips made a difference in communication in such a noisy environment.”

Littles can be seen and heard with specially designed masks

Caring for the Masks

Each mask comes with care instructions for washing. They are reusable and designed to be used over and over again with good care. They are durable and easy to stash in a bag or backpack.

“Kids are going to be kids so it can’t be overly delicate,” Lovett said of the design.

She recommends a light application of dish soap, shaving cream, baby shampoo or castile soap to the interior. Leave it on for a few minutes to cure and buff dry.

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