As University of Colorado Boulder professor Dan Ligon watched the news of hospitals running low on face masks and health workers beginning to improvise, he took to his makeshift basement studio and began to sew.
Days later, Ligon has made dozens of masks and even brought in his own creative flair through patterns. For him, it’s a way to cope with continued self-isolation as Colorado and the world continue to battle the spread of COVID-19.
“(The masks are) no good for the virus itself, they’re not medical grade,” Ligon said. “But … for people who are behind face shields, or need to reuse stuff or dealing with noncritical patients, they’re better than nothing and some of them (are) dealing with nothing.”
Ligon, a visiting professor of practice in CU Boulder’s Advertising, Public Relations and Media Design program, has pioneered several successful campaigns with business giants including American Express, The North Face, Intel and Sprint. He has received national acclaim and a myriad of awards including Cannes Grand Prix, Radio Mercury Awards, Sundance Film Premiers and One Show Pencils.
Now he’s in his home, stuck inside under Gov. Jared Polis’ sweeping stay-at-home order. For Ligon, it’s the perfect time to throw himself into work.
“I know I’m not the only one making (masks) because before the lockdown I stopped by Joann’s fabric store and they were all out of the quarter-inch elastic which is what you use to make the ear straps,” Ligon said. “So the fact that there was a run on that particular size of elastic told me that I wasn’t alone.”
While he knows the masks he and others are making may not be medical grade, he hopes they can find some use outside his home. At the very least, it’s a way to keep productive in a time of uncertainty.
“All of these things are homemade, they’re being made by people probably without a lot of skills, like me,” Ligon said. “But … this is gonna get worse than I think anyone can imagine … if I can donate them to the hospitals or health workers or whoever may need them and it helps out then it just feels like I’m doing something.”
Ligon plans to start by handing out his masks to grocery store employees.
“Anything we can do to be there for each other I think is sort of the important thing,” he said.
Ligon said he’s also looking forward to seeing his advertising students again once online classes resume next week, adding it’s important to “see all the familiar faces and at least have that little bit of continuity.”
This time of year Ligon’s students would be touring agencies and production facilities in New York City. The trip, like most events, has been canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.
It was during one of those trips that Ligon said he got his inspiration for how to set up his own basement studio, which now serves as his personal production facility for his patterned face masks.
Ultimately, Ligon hopes he and others pursuing the textile project can use it as a way to build a sense of community in such trying times.
“Maybe we can get other people putting these together,” Ligon said.
Those wanting to make their own masks at home can follow these instructions provided by Ligon here.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Mairead Brogan at email@example.com.