Re-purposing Your Gifts: from Costume Designer to Mask Maker - theHumm April 2020

Re-purposing Your Gifts: from Costume Designer to Mask Maker - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

In an article entitled “Covid-19 Cannot Harm Your Gifts!”, Bruce Anderson of the Core Gift Institute writes: “…what is undeniable is that you have come into this world with gifts, and you will leave this world with those gifts, having given them along the way. Gifts form an essential part of our passion and purpose, and give us a lifetime of opportunity for finding our true identify and offering who we are to the world.“But, in times of crisis like we are in right now, we tend to hunker down and do what seems most important in the moment. We act from a place of instinct and urgency to solve the current problem in front of us, not thinking of much else. We may be thinking, ‘I’ll get back to those wonderful gifts of mine when things settle down a bit.’ However, if we slowed down for a moment and considered it, we would realize that our gifts are what is most needed in the world right now.“Here’s the part that can throw us off track: Many of us will be asked, by ourselves or others, to give our gifts in new ways. We’re used to giving our gifts at work, but many of us are no longer employed. We’re used to giving our gifts in our community, but many of us are being asked to stay in our houses. While this is discouraging news for us, it is very exciting news for our gifts, which want to be challenged, adapted and given. Our gifts want to grow. It’s only our uncertainty or fears of the unfamiliar that cause us to hold back. In these moments, each of us is being asked a fundamental question: ‘What is being asked of my gifts right now?’”

Over the next several weeks, theHumm will be reaching out to members of our Ottawa Valley community to ask how they are finding ways to reinvent their gifts in these challenging times. Today’s victim (I mean willing volunteer) is Ingrid Hamster, an award-winning international costume designer (among other talents) who created costumes for no fewer than six theatrical productions in Almonte, Ottawa and New York City last year alone. For the past several days she has been sewing up a storm — turning her considerable talents to producing high-quality non-surgical face masks. We emailed her to find out more about her latest undertaking.

theHumm: What was it that caused you to decide to sew masks, and how did you settle on a design for them?

Ingrid Hamster: It was at my departure from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on March 15 that I felt uneasy not having facial protection. I had travelled on an eerily quiet train that morning, and once at the airport, there were hundreds of stranded travellers hopeful to get to the destination of their choice.

Reluctantly, I approached a KLM official near this huge crowd, to be told that there was up to a seven-hour wait to change one’s ticket. “Notification by phone only”, and since I did not carry this device on me, I was told that they could not assist me. On the departure screen I had noticed that there was one flight to Toronto, a 747 leaving within the hour.

Walking around I found a KLM assistant and explained my situation. My hope increased when she found a seat left on this flight, but the luggage gate was already closed. I only had carry-on, and so pulled out my credit card once again to get home. Boarding had started and now the finance department had to approve my card, “with 20 people waiting before you.” I cleared security and ran the few miles to the departure gate, for by now the moving walkways were already out of commission. I was the last person to board this (very last we were told) 747 cross-Atlantic flight.

Squeezed between two pleasant travellers, we shared stories. We had no masks, no latex gloves, only hand sanitizer that I also rubbed around my nostrils from time to time.

A very surreal experience; I was relieved, happy and grateful to be home. During self-isolation and listening to the radio, I realized that making masks was something I could do. Before the enormity of the demand for masks set in, I had figured out a pattern after talking to a designer friend who also started making these. We wanted a design that was easy to work with for most home sewers. Also, the discussion on materials took quite some time. With the help of a physician friend we did test several prototypes. This pattern with instructions that evolved is only an email away and available to anyone who wants it.

Humm: Tell me about the numbers. Roughly how many can you make in a day? How many have you already created and how many have sold?

Ingrid: My home studio has boxes of fabrics, and I found bits and pieces of 100% cotton. Friends are helpful with dropping off materials as well, some very pretty.

First the fabrics are washed. I use only one pattern in 3 sizes: Small (child size), Small/Medium, and Large.

Once organized, it takes one hour to make four masks. To date (April 5) I am approaching the 300 mark (and have used 150m of elastic…). Five hours a day is plenty, which only creates twenty masks. I am well over the 5 hours a day… Each mask takes 0.5m of elastic (25cm for each ear), so donations of elastic are needed!!

Humm: How are you selling them while maintaining safe physical distancing?

Ingrid: Distributing the masks started by me emailing local groups and personal contacts. There was an instant flood of replies. A local friend supplied a pharmacy with a dozen, another friend got masks for the Renfrew Interval House, while they made the connection with Winchester for two dozen.

For pick-up, the masks are put in plastic reusable bags on the front porch clothesline. I ask people to consider leaving $2 per mask in a donation container to help cover costs.

Humm: What are you personally most concerned or worried about during this pandemic?

Ingrid: There are numerous pandemic risks and consequences; follow the news, read the papers. We have to learn from this pandemic, there is no immunity.

Humm:Have you found that sewing masks helps you feel better about things in general?

Ingrid: Yes — and I especially want to thank all my local friends for their donations of fabric, notions and even food! I am also aware of all the talking of the pros and cons of wearing a mask. It gives me a little peace when I wear mine; besides, it stops me touching my face. The cotton is comfortable; however, I do wear glasses and these tend to fog up a little because of the mask.

Humm: What are you personally optimistic about in terms of what happens to our community during and after the pandemic?

Ingrid: We have to stay safe, obey the rules. I want this, like everyone else, to pass. I am worried about the youth and the wonderful small entrepreneurs we have in Almonte. There is going to be a huge economic damage caused by this pandemic, so supporting local businesses is crucial, today and in the near future.


Re-purposing Your Gifts: from Costume Designer to Mask Maker - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

In an article entitled “Covid-19 Cannot Harm Your Gifts!”, Bruce Anderson of the Core Gift Institute writes: “…what is undeniable is that you have come into this world with gifts, and you will leave this world with those gifts, having given them along the way. Gifts form an essential part of our passion and purpose, and give us a lifetime of opportunity for finding our true identify and offering who we are to the world.“But, in times o......


Humming On in Uncertain Times - theHumm April 2020

By Kris and Rob Riendeau

Welcome to the first-ever online-only issue of theHumm. Back in mid-March as we were starting to put this issue together, we began to get emails from event organizers. They were watching the developing situation worldwide and locally, and were letting us know that they might have to cancel or postpone their events. It’s hard to believe that that was only three weeks ago. As a publication whose mission is to connect people through promoting community events, we made the difficult decision to not publis......


Supporting Canadian Authors, Bookstores and Publishers in Precarious Times - theHumm April 2020

By John Pigeau

In her profoundly moving memoir “This Is Happy”, Camilla Gibb wrote: “We are the storytelling animal; our stories are what make us human.” Indeed. Books bring us solace and pleasure in difficult times. Some help us escape to exotic and faraway lands, while others generously introduce us to different cultures. Books rinse our minds of the mundane, offering us instead adventure and intrigue, beauty and laughter, and meaningful insights too.

Books remind us, even in the best of times, th......


Reflections on Public Library Closures During COVID-19 - theHumm April 2020

By Meriah Caswell

The Carleton Place Public Library closed its doors to the public at 5:30pm on Friday, March 13, without knowing when they would reopen.

The previous day I had been naively trying to convince my staff and colleagues that with increased sanitation measures and enforced social distancing, libraries could remain open to serve our communities.

When I received the news that the library would have to close, there was an immediate whirlwind of activity. Library staff franti......


In-Between Days - theHumm April 2020

By Angie Arendt

Not long ago I was curled up on the couch in the livingroom with a copy of “Discover Canada” in hand, asking and answering questions Jeopardy-style while studying for my upcoming citizenship test. Who is Sir John A. MacDonald? What is the Order of Canada? What is July 1, 1867? I’m an out-loud processor, much to the delight (and chagrin) of everyone in the house.

So Canada has been on my mind for a while now, the excitement building about replacing my permanent residence card with a passport one d......


Just a Bunch of Country Kids! - theHumm April 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Okay parents, here we are in April after an extended three-week March Break. We now understand that this was just a training camp for our new homeschooling reality, to keep our kids and communities safe. All I have to say is, let’s thank the heavens we’re in the Valley, so we can “go country”!

Now, what does that mean? Getting back to our farming roots with our kids of course! Our family has taken this a little far and are renovating our neighbours’ old bunny hutch into a fancy new chicken coop......


Call Your Neighbour: Building Communities in Difficult Times - theHumm April 2020

By Jeff Mills

Remember the ice storm? We all have our stories, don’t we? Neighbours helping neighbours in every way possible. I remember driving a neighbour to my parent’s house so she could shower. We in the country were without power, so no pump and no hot water. My parents were in town, and but for one short interruption of power, they really weren’t affected. Although this weather event was a time of great inconvenience for some, those days of neighbours getting closer and helping neighbours are now seen as a period of great community building. We all have our stories. It almost sounds romantic in ......


The Power of Tech Shabbats - theHumm April 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Back when COVID-19 was just a gleam on the social media horizon, Rob and I listened to an intriguing podcast while delivering the February issue of theHumm. Presented by The Long Now Foundation, it featured author and life-long techie Tiffany Shlain talking about her new book “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day A Week”


Stand and Listen - theHumm April 2020

By Glenda Jones

We call our oldest Sheltie “Miss Clockhead”. At precisely 6:35am she starts making little squeaky noises that indicate she is ready to start her day, and we should be as well. The other two are still sound asleep when Bonnie starts this morning ritual. If the squeaks don’t get our attention, she will chase her tail until she falls over. We were looking forward to the time change, thinking naively that we’d get an extra hour of sleep since it would still be relatively dark. ......


Local Residents Roll Up their Sleeves on Climate Action - theHumm April 2020

Back in early March, over 100 Lanark residents attended a day-long workshop to plan deep climate action for our community. This Climate Action Where We Live workshop was organized by the Climate Action Network.

“We originally booked a hall that would hold 60, but within days of opening up registration we were at 80 and so had to find another venue,” says Gord Harrison, one of the event organizers. “We finally capped the numbers at 115, with a waiting list… It’s very hearteni......


The Music Will Keep Playing - theHumm April 2020

By Tony Stuart

These are definitely interesting, challenging, and frightening times. I don’t think anyone expected to see society shut down the way it has. This shutdown is having profound implications for all of us, and I hope that all of you who are reading this are able to stay healthy and keep your spirits up.

Obviously, I have been particularly aware of how social distancing and self-isolation has affected musicians. We have seen all of our gigs completely dry up, with no end in immediate sig......


Updates from Area Museums - theHumm April 2020

By Jennifer Irwin and Michael RikleyLancaster

Most years, local museums begin fundraising in earnest with the return of spring. This year they are having to cancel or postpone events and close their doors, so they are reaching out to patrons and community members for support. Here are some updates that were sent in response to theHumm’s recent query.

The Carleton Place & Beckwith Historical Society and the Museum are thankful for the ongoing support of The Town of Carleton Place and of Beckwith Township; however, March and April are traditio......


greenshaus, inc. (aka the Thursday Lettuce Place) - theHumm April 2020

By David Hinks

“Not bad for a guy that knows nothing about growing.”

I am standing in the midst of hundreds of gorgeous heads of buttercrunch and romaine lettuce chatting with a very modest Rob Lyle. Rob is the owner of a modern looking high-tech greenhouse on the north side of March Road east of Almonte, just a stone’s throw from the border with Ottawa.

Rob is a relative newcomer to the world of horticulture, having worked in the banking system as an investment manager for 27 years. He lost interest in tha......


Mandatory Mindfulness! - theHumm April 2020

By Helen Antebi

To quell COVID-19 and do our part to support health care workers, not to mention our families, friends and our communities, there is one skill we must acquire if we have not already.

The skill or art (depending on your approach), of mindfulness has been “trending” now for some time. Maybe there was a reason. Virtually overnight we have had to become acutely aware of our environments, the contact — or rather the distance — we have from others, the way ......


Art… and Soul… and Social Distancing… and Advice on How to Cope from Valley Artist Valerie Fulford - theHumm April 2020

By Sally Hansen

Over twenty years ago theHumm appeared on the scene to promote the arts in the Ottawa Valley. April 2020 is our first non-appearance on your newsstands and at your local businesses and libraries since then. We, like the artists and arts-related businesses and events we publicize, are struggling to survive in the short term and to figure out how to revive and thrive in the future.

These are extremely challenging times. Humans dislike uncertainty and right now there are more than 7.7 billion pe......


Time for Takeout! - theHumm April 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Weetabix has long been of the view that food matters are well within the editorial mandate of theHumm (food combines art, entertainment and ideas!), but there is a key difference which is one of urgency. The famous aphorism of Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am” should perhaps be restated to “I eat therefore I am” since clearly if one does not eat, soon one is not. On the contrary side we have all experienced too many examples of those who do not think and yet clearly, they are. COVID-19 pres......