Former Bega local’s fun face-masks a crafty response to COVID-19

Elka Wood 3 April 2020 12
Bronwyn Napiorkowski

Former Bega local Bronwyn Napiorkowski models one of her handmade face masks. Photo: Supplied.

Last week, Bronwyn Napiorkowski went to her local doctor to get a script filled.

“I sat in the waiting room feeling really vulnerable,” she says. “I wasn’t showing signs of being sick but I knew people around were and I wished I had brought a face mask with me.”

When Bronwyn – a qualified art therapist who grew up in Bega and now resides in Melbourne – got home she sat down with her two young sons and made a pattern for a fabric face mask.

“The kids and I made it as a craft project and I posted a picture on Instagram. I never intended it as a business … then people started messaging me, saying they wanted two, or four, and the orders haven’t stopped since,” she laughs.

Although she has been creating art and craft all her life, Bronwyn says she’s never seen such a response to anything she’s made.

“People often say, ‘That’s so beautiful, you could sell it,’ but they don’t offer to buy it,” she says.

During the past weekend, Bronwyn’s husband helped her set up a PayPal account while she created a spreadsheet to keep track of orders, and sewed face masks – sold as Face Friends – as fast as she could.

“I’ve made about 50 over four days,” she says. “One night I stayed up until 3 am.”

If orders continue at this rate, Bronwyn will pay some friends, whose income has dried up due to COVID-19 shutdowns, to help sew the masks.

Since she began making fun, washable facemasks last Friday, Bronwyn Napiorkowski has been overwhelmed with orders

Since Bronwyn Napiorkowski began making fun, washable face masks, she has been overwhelmed with orders. Photo: Supplied.

The face masks are a fun way to protect yourself and others if you have to go out for essentials, but should not replace following government recommendations on hand-washing and social distancing, says Bronwyn.

“I read a few studies that said two layers of cotton are as effective as most commercial masks and mine are made with three layers of cotton. But please don’t think you can go out [socially] because you are wearing a mask. They are designed to wear when you have to go out,” she stresses.

Bronwyn has had requests for her pattern and says she’s willing to make it available – if only she had the time.

“I’m happy to share but right now the pattern is a cut-up taco box,” she laughs. “I will work on making a downloadable version soon.”

Being able to do something practical has been positive for Bronwyn and her family.

“It’s been quite good for my mental health to be so busy while we’re all at home,” she says. “I’m actually loving this time, having my husband working from home and sewing like a mad thing when I can.”

Face Friends masks are handmade in Melbourne from three layers of 100 per cent cotton. All masks come with adjustable elastic straps for a perfect fit. Children’s size, $18; adults, $22. You can email Bronwyn with orders or questions at

Face Friend masks do not replace surgical masks in case of active COVID-19 infection. You can read the Department of Health’s recommendations regarding masks here. If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, you must only wear a surgical mask supplied by your primary care provider when you enter an emergency department or general practice.

Original Article published by Elka Wood on About Regional.

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12 Responses to Former Bega local’s fun face-masks a crafty response to COVID-19
David Jackson David Jackson 11:52 am 29 Mar 20

Maybe riotact needs to do a little bit of fact checking as this kind of mask will not stop the virus spreading

    The RiotACT The RiotACT 1:19 pm 29 Mar 20

    Thanks for the feedback Dave. At the bottom of the article there is a disclaimer that points out that the Face Friend masks do not replace surgical masks in case of active COVID-19 infection. There are also links to the Department of Health recommendations regarding masks.

Linda Gillespie Linda Gillespie 9:30 pm 28 Mar 20

Think you will find that although they look cool they will do nothing to protect people from virus.

    Kathryn Pengilley Kathryn Pengilley 10:42 pm 28 Mar 20

    Linda Gillespie they would help a lot, as they stop you from being able to touch your mouth and nose. That’s all that any mask is doing to help.

    The RiotACT The RiotACT 1:16 pm 29 Mar 20

    Thanks for pointing that out Linda and you're right. They do look very cool but if you are active with the COVID-19 infection they don't replace surgical masks. There are links to the Department of Health recommendations regarding masks at the bottom of the article. Thanks for joining the conversation and stay safe.

    Saskia White Saskia White 4:15 pm 29 Mar 20

    Linda Gillespie they help stop you from spreading it if you have it tho.

    Mel Hendrie Mel Hendrie 5:45 pm 29 Mar 20

    Saskia White no. These masks don’t prevent droplets from spreading.

    Saskia White Saskia White 6:59 pm 29 Mar 20

    Linda Gillespie it’s more about keeping your bugs on you and not sharing them around, as opposed to stopping you inhaling other peoples. These kinds of masks have been shown to be effective to stop you spreading your droplets. Yes, of course you should be isolating if you’re positive, but it’s been shown in Iceland where they are testing the healthy as well as the sick it’s shown that 50% of cases aren’t symptomatic. A mask, even if it stops 50% of the droplets you spread, is better than no mask.

    Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 5:27 pm 01 Apr 20

    I'm wearing my mask and I'm not asking anyone's advice thanks!

    Anna Kay Anna Kay 6:13 pm 01 Apr 20

    Linda Gillespie I disagree. If you are sick and coughing, they will prevent droplets from passing on

    Anna Kay Anna Kay 6:14 pm 01 Apr 20

    And also some people who are sick are carers eg a mother caring for child.

Kathy Schneider Kathy Schneider 8:17 pm 28 Mar 20

Wow! Was thinking of making some from old clothes. But I’m sure craft guild members could make thousands as they did for our burned wildlife.

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