School of Art & Design participates in cross-campus collaboration in the fight against COVID-19

A face mask in production. Photo courtesy of Cat Evans.
Friday 1 May 2020

School of Art & Design staff, students and alumni have been part of a cross campus collaboration coordinated by ANU MakerSpace to provide additional, personal protective equipment, including face masks and shields, to our local health care workers.


School of Art & Design Technical Officers, Simon Ramsey and Sean Booth have been working with the ANU MakerSpace on a project to provide face shields to safeguard local health care workers against COVID-19 infection.


The MakerSpace team, comprised of staff across Physics, Art & Design and Engineering, have combined talents to develop a variation on the open-source face shield designed in part by a makerspace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Sourcing local materials and deploying fabrication facilities across campus, the team rapidly prototyped, sought feedback from colleagues at Canberra Hospital, and tooled-up for mass production. ANU MakerSpace are preparing to produce 17,000 face shields to be distributed when conventional supply lines become strained. The shields will be circulated by ACT Health and by Queanbeyan District Hospital for the NSW region.


Drawing on his experience of product development and limited run production processing from his time working at Fink and Co, Sean Booth provided advice on streamlining production, sourcing appropriate materials, and designing for efficiency. Simon Ramsey has been on the ground offering his expertise with the set-up, maintenance and repairs of equipment, as well as machining materials for fabrication.


“It’s been an exciting project to be a part of with a great group of motivated people” Ramsey said of collaborating with colleagues across campus.


Meanwhile, Lucy Irvine (Lecturer, Textiles and Sculpture & Spatial Practice) along with students and alumni of the Textiles Workshop have been part of a team quickly prototyping fabric face masks. Using the open source patterns circulating online, the team developed prototypes that were sent to health care workers to test and trial. The aim was to find a mask pattern that would be most comfortable to wear, whilst being quick and easy to make.


Second year Bachelor of Visual Arts student, Lil Dorman and recent graduate, Cat Evans (Bachelor of Visual Arts Honours, 2019) were central to the prototyping process.


“We have the skills to draft patterns and sew, so why not utilise our skills and experience to help” said Lil.


“A small act, such as a few days of sewing, has the ability to have a significant impact and help keep our community safe” Cat agrees, “I was really inspired by the history of craft and textile artists helping their communities in times of crisis. If you look at crafting during war time, there is a historical precedent for this.”


With the prototyping complete, the first goal is to prepare 1,000 facemasks as splash protection for pathology staff involved in testing for COVID-19. To share the sewing work between volunteers, the ANU MakerSpace team is assembling individual packs for the fabrication of 12 masks apiece. The packs include laser cut fabric ready to assemble and all the other materials and instructions volunteers will need; not including a sewing machine. Once assembled, the masks will be returned to MakerSpace to be sterilized in an autoclave before being distributed to health care workers in the ACT region.


To learn more about the ANU MakerSpace, please visit their website;


Hear Dr John Debs from the ANU Research School of Physics and founder of ANU MakerSpace speak further about the project, together with Rachel Hanrick, Lead Maker at MakerSpace here: 

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Updated:  1 May 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications