Atlanta Ballet costumers create masks for area hospitals

Anyone who’s ever witnessed a performance by Atlanta Ballet knows how talented the company’s costume designers are.  And while their season came to an early finish due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those designers are staying busy sewing some of the most important garments in the world today.

"We have to do things.  We're all makers in the shop. We have to be busy or we'll go crazy!"

That's Abigail Dupree Polston, pattern maker for Atlanta Ballet and one of five costume shop employees now making 600 to 700 masks per week, to be donated to local hospitals and medical centers.  The mask’s design was created by two critical care nurses at Grady Health System -- Lauren Skinner and Barbara McLean -- and is dubbed the "BaLa" mask, a cloth covering for the precious N95 respirator masks worn by medical professionals.  

"When I'm in the room for your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, you child, I'm protected with my N95, and the mask cover protects my N95" explains McLean.

After creating a Facebook group with the BaLa design, people around the world began sewing the masks, including the Atlanta Ballet costumers. They've since completed more than a thousand of them, donated to both large and smaller health care facilities; the first 50 masks went to a medical center in California, where the costume shop director’s cousin is a nurse.

"It definitely gave me a little tingle in my heart," says Skinner of receiving masks made by the professional costumers. "I was very excited. It's also an honor."

To see the Atlanta Ballet costumers at work, click the video player in this article. And to follow their work making BaLa masks, you can check out their Facebook page here and Instagram account here.