judy hurcomb – a mask is a small price to pay

FOBA 2021 Challenge Book

Technique and materials used:

This book is made from 2 cardboard “bolts” which are used in retail fabric displays. Cotton fabric was used for many types of masks during the pandemic and is cut to look like surgical masks wrapping from the outside to the inside cover of both covers of the book. 

Inside, there are many words relevant to the different periods of time that spanned the pandemic stitched free-motion. As the issues with the pandemic changed or became more relevant, the color of the thread changed. For example, early on was “Wuhan” where the pandemic began stitched in ivory. Later, due to the tragic overreaction of police, “George Floyd” is sewn in a medium pink. All the words were stitched from a piece of white lab coat that doctors wear. 

Across the inside, the masks are held together with elastic pieces. Elastic became as valuable as gold as it was in short supply (much like the surgical fabric used in the N-95 masks) due to demand. Some of the elastic is not sewn into the mask but hangs instead. This represents the arguing/misinformation/breakdown that took place across the country and the world.

I used the thickest waxed linen thread I have to stitch the bolts together in coptic stitch.

About the work:

How does this relate to home? Sewing is my first love, what I learned to do at home as a teenager.

I was unable to participate in my usual activities and also my volunteer work, and the opportunity to make masks presented itself to me. It was one way to absorb some of the overabundance of time that I, like so many of us, found I had. This book is part of a whole box of fabric-centric books I made during the time I would normally have spent out in the world.