Like a lot of people, when the COVID-19 pandemic began I wanted to help somehow. The shortage of PPE seemed like a problem I could do something about. As an artist my talent is making things, so I set out to design a reusable face shield.

I wanted mine to be a sturdy, reusable alternative to the flimsy DIY face shields (often made out of office supplies) that were starting to appear out there.

Of course it had to be functional and comfortable- and if it was going to be reusable that meant being able to disassemble it and sterilize all the parts! I figured the ability to raise and lower the visor would be useful, especially if it was going to be worn for extended periods. Lastly, it had to be something that could be made in volume, so that meant designing a means of manufacturing them, too. As always the devil was in the details, and it took months and a lot of trial-and-error to arrive at the current design, which is about as minimal as can be.

Aluminum template used to cut acetate visors

Now I make and donate as many face shields as possible to healthcare/ frontline workers and other causes in and around Charlottesville VA, where I live. So far I’ve donated them to ICU/ER doctors, hospice, care facilities, minority-owned businesses, immunocompromised individuals and others. 

Although this is not a for-profit venture, sales and donations help keep the project going. I invested my own time and money to design the shields, purchase tools and work out a means of producing them en masse. Six dollars apiece basically covers materials, expendables (knife blades, cutting mats, etc), packaging and other expenses. I make them all myself and am not adding labor to the cost, which I consider my contribution to the war effort!

I make no guarantee that these face shields will protect you from COVID-19, and there are advantages and disadvantages to my design vs. the disposable kind, so choose according to your needs, and use at your own risk. Face shields should awlays be worn in combination with masks! I only hope my face shields can be of use to people in the present crisis.

-Russell U. Richards
June 2020

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