I Was Just Thinking…Self-Made Face Masks Growing Rapidly

By Norma Adams-Wade

Countless Grammas and Grampas were way-makers, prophets, and trailblazers – particularly in African-Americans families — setting examples we did not realize we one day would follow.

Back in the day, when funds and materials were limited, Gramma or Grampa always found a way to create what was needed.

I remember a friend describing to me a truck his Grampa fashioned by hacking off the top back half of a car and top of its trunk to produce a truck that would carry what he needed.

Today, with increased calls for face masks, and a limited supply of them, during the coronavirus pandemic, average citizens are creating ways to create their own. Any quick trip to a grocery store or pharmacy and you will see all sorts of home-made masks as protective gear. Tips and demonstrations for making your own masks are all over the news as well.

I was just thinking how some enterprising souls are taking the need to another level. They are helping family, friends and others by turning the growing necessity into a small at-home enterprise or teaching tool.

Educator Profession Clarence Glover Jr., also known as “Professor Freedom,” is using the demand for masks as a teaching tool. He has made a mask-making video showing his charter school after-school students how his parents and grandparents taught him to use scrap cloth to make quilts. Using his mother’s well-worn scissors and tape measure, he demonstrated how to make his own mask from pieces of a black t-shirt.

“I also wanted to show my scholars and anyone watching how to make something without a sewing machine, because everybody doesn’t have one,” Glover said. “All of this brings up the old saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’”

Charlotte-Marie Smith-Jones Callins [Spelling and hyphens are correct] is another of those enterprising souls. Callins grew up in Dallas and now lives in Newport News, Virginia. But her entrepreneurial spirit is reaching back to Dallas and out to various cities where scattered family and friends are lining up to receive her help.

Callins has been producing a variety of patterned or solid-color masks to fit various styles and tastes. She said repeated news broadcasts telling the public that we should do without masks and leave them for the professionals did not set well with her.

“I’m thinking, do we need a mask or not?” Callins said. “If they (professionals) need one, I must need one!”

As a trial run in early March, she set out to make a mask for her husband, David Callins, a retired Air Force career veteran. She said her husband thought her do-it-yourself mask was pretty good, even equipped with a pocket to insert a filter. Nearby relatives and friends saw it and began to ask for their own. Relatives on the West Coast and back in Dallas got word and she made some for them. She made one for her adult son, a TV news producer, and word got around at his workplace. Soon a reporter interviewed her. Now she is developing a website and seeing where all this will lead. 

The former student at Charles Rice Elementary, Madison and Bryan Adams High Schools in Dallas and the University of Texas at Arlington is no stranger to adapting to change. She and her husband and children have lived on every continent except Antarctica, following her husband’s military and State Department assignments. She admits that the coronavirus is an unwelcomed challenge but one she is determined to help others fight.

“When I first decided, ‘I don’t have to try to find one, I can make one,’ I knew I could do it for others too,” she said.

Purchase Callins’ masks for $20 plus $5 shipping and handling. To learn more, contact her at wemakethemasks@yahoo.com or call 757-650-6974. Contact Glover at clarencegloverjr@aol.com or call 214-546-3480.