Staying safe

Creator of Jawnaments offering free cotton face masks to the community.

Masks for all: Susan Murphy is making masks and hanging them on her fence for any residents who may need one. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN MURPHY


Usually, Susan Murphy is making hundreds of Fishtown- and Philly-centric tree ornaments, from Philadelphia Parking Authority violations to Fishtown’s self-proclaimed neighborhood beverage, Arctic Splash.

But now, the River Wards resident behind Jawnaments is shifting her focus to a different type of craft: making face masks.

Initially, Murphy collected supplies to share with friends to make masks for hospitals, which resulted in nearly 200 being created.

But, as the guidelines for handling the COVID-19 situation changed, with all individuals being advised to wear masks when in public, Murphy changed course, too.

“I decided to give my masks to neighbors and friends,” she said. “While online a few nights ago, I saw that someone posted free masks on their fence for neighbors, and I decided to do the same.”

Dubbed the Fishtown Free Mask Project, Murphy cuts and sews the masks in her in-home sewing studio, packages them with care and cleaning instructions, and clothespins them along the front of the fence surrounding her home at 2031 Amber St. every other day, or more often as time permits.

By day, Murphy is a college professor and plans to make 10 to 20 masks per day in her downtime.

The initiative commenced on Tuesday, April 7, and Murphy made more than 50 within the first couple of days, and has supplies to make hundreds more.

The masks are constructed with two-layered, tight-weave cotton, elastic and a pipe cleaner for the nose wire.

Each mask has a slot for a filter, and Murphy includes one, which she orders online.

The masks are offered with no strings attached. Murphy just requests people take only one.

“The goal is to help Fishtown-area folks stay safe — for free. With so many folks out of work, I know it’s important to give back,” she said. “Come by and grab one and get protected! Please, limit one per person. It’s an honor system.”

Murphy also asked that people dispose of the bag properly to avoid littering the neighborhood.

And, while Jawnaments production has ceased for now –Murphy still has a lot of inventory — she has a couple of ideas up her sleeve related to the current pandemic to help beyond face masks.

“I do have a couple ideas for COVID-19 ornaments, but it is a sensitive subject for many, so I’m going to wait and see what the general feeling is as we get closer to the holiday season,” she said. “I don’t want Jawnaments to be accused of being insensitive to the crisis and the loss and impact felt by many. If I decide to offer some, I will ensure that a large chunk of the proceeds go to donations/funds for folks impacted.”

Murphy is not taking special requests for colors because she is making masks from whatever fabric is available.

And, if there are no masks out, Murphy encouraged individuals to stop by at another time.

“I put them out in the morning and around dinner. I’ll do my best to keep up with demand,” she said. “Stay safe, Fishtown!”

For more details on the Fishtown Free Mask Project, visit

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