‘Mask of Integrity’ Design Innovation Inspired by Viking Women

Repurposing, rethinking and being creative have been crucial strengths for businesses adapting to the challenges of the Covid19 public health crisis. One of the knock on problems has been the waste generated by used PPE products.

Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle has teamed up with the Edinburgh based Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) to develop a natural fibre reusable face mask.

Prickly Thistle Scotland is the only tartan weaving mill in the Highlands of Scotland. Its Mask of Integrity is the first face mask subscription service for 100% natural fibre fabric, tailored to fit, reusable masks, that are filtration tested.

Clare Campbell, Founder and Director of Prickly Thistle, said:

“On day one of lockdown in Scotland, I got to work on contacting everyone I knew in the textiles industry, celebrities and politicians who were in a position to influence the immediate action of ensuring every single person in Scotland could have a mask. Despite our best efforts, this hasn’t been fully acknowledged by the Government yet.

“This has not stopped us, we have continued to strive for a multi-faceted solution. The pandemic has taken our passion and commitment to a whole other level to help others. I truly believe businesses have a responsibility to be positive activists in what we do.”

“Over the last six months, Prickly Thistle has been bombarded with requests for a natural fibre mask, and I could not morally produce these without the confidence in their effectiveness.

“We did donate 1000 masks during that time, made from kilt lining cotton cloth, with nose pinch wires, an added filter insert pocket and adjustable straps. These were sent to the far north of Scotland, a little island off Orkney to NHS staff commuting in London”.

“Now that we have a fully tested sustainable facemask, we can start to mobilise the supply chain and wider Scottish textile industry to meet the pre-order demand.

“From the yarn suppliers and weavers to the finishers and seamstresses, this is a collaborative endeavour. We have evidenced that the production of the Mask of Integrity has the power to stimulate the green economic recovery of our industry”.

And this innovative design has been inspired by the past.

The durability of the 100% natural fibre cloth for the Mask of Integrity is based on key learnings from the woven sail craftsmanship of the Viking age. Clare was inspired after reading The Golden Thread written by Kassia St Clair and connected with Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands institute for Northern Studies to further explore this.

Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands institute for Northern Studies said:

“The Vikings were the finest sailors since the Phoenicians and their ships were models of efficient and resilient construction. We can only marvel at the quality and durability of their sails, created by the women usually over the winter.

“Research based on the  reconstruction  of the five scuttled Viking ships found in  Roskilde Fjord in Denmark by the Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde show that the Viking woollen cloth sails have far greater longevity than the later linen ones, such as those found on the late medieval ship Vasa, and adapt and cope with weather conditions much more effectively.”

The Mask of Integrity will be available for pre-order by mid-October for delivery to the community in November. It offers customers the guarantee of:

  • the first UK filtration tested wool face mask that is designed for community use
  • tailored to fit face profile
  • mask cloth made from 100% natural fibres
  • washable at a high temperature, 60+ degrees
  • reusable and renewable subscription service
  • all recovered masks will be recycled, fighting the plastic pandemic at the same time

Ross Clark, Head of Occupational Hygiene at the Institute of Occupational Medicine, said:

“This project has been an exciting collaboration. To optimise the product fit Prickly Thistle Scotland made modifications on-site at the IOM lab working closely with our team of Face Fit Testers. The IOM team were able to demonstrate the filtration abilities of the material, and how the natural materials shaped to wearers’ faces well.”

The user customised subscription service will equip each customer with two reusable masks and the regular replacement schedule of these will be dependent on their usage habits. Prickly Thistle is working with Zero Waste Scotland to ensure that all the masks returned as part of this subscription service will be recovered and repurposed.

Colin Kennedy, Manufacturing Sector Manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“At a time when we are trying to protect our health, we can also protect the environment. Having a face covering that can be used time and again uses fewer materials and is less likely to be discarded as easily as single-use alternatives. This saves on the potential for litter and carbon emissions associated with producing new products.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clare and her team at Prickly Thistle have been progressing research and developingthe Mask of Integrity as a solution for the unregulated mask market.

To pre-register your interest in ordering the Mask of Integrity. More info here:https://pricklythistlescotland.com/mask-of-integrity/moi-pre-order

For businesses and organisations interested in joining the supply chain for the mask of integrity, Prickly Thistle are looking to build their network of yarn producers, weavers, finishers and seamstresses. More info here:https://pricklythistlescotland.com/mask-of-integrity/moi-supply-chain

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1 reply »

  1. Can I take this opportunity to ask folk to please be careful about how they dispose of their masks.
    Preferably don’t dispose of them at all – re-use! But, if or when they need to be disposed of ……please take heed of this……


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