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Make Solar Shade Masks In Bulk

Make solar shade masks in bulk by drilling holes in a stack of paper plates for eyes and for cut endpoints. I use an ink stamp as a mask design in an adaptation of the the NASA activity Safe and Stylish Solar Eclipse Glasses. The stamp, which depicts a split-face that you can interpret and decorate as the sun, the moon, or both, is an artifact from the Moon Mask activity (1999) at Paper Plate Education.

Practicing with stamp. Learned: four corners of block touch edge of plate when centered.

To mass produce the plates I experimented with two sizes of hole saw bits for the eyes. The pupillary distance for children is around 45-55 mm, which aligns with the closer parts of the two solar shades. The eye holes don't need to be as large as the black solar filter, for the targeted sun is only one half degree across and the observer using solar shades does not need any peripheral vision.

Mask with large eye hole partially drilled through stack of plates.
Drill hole at inner edges of solar shades outline.

Note how the four small holes drilled through the stack establish the ends of the two temple slits, which have to be cut individually by an adult.

Adults use sharp blade to cut temple slits between pre-drilled holes.

Decorate your plate.

After participants decorate their plates, insert the solar shade temples through the two slits.

Staple the ends of a stretched rubber band to make an elastic head strap. If it separates, the user will likely need to hold the solar shade temples against the sides of their head. You may choose to staple the bridge of the solar shades to the plate, too, to limit any gaps.

Worn like the original Moon Mask, the adapted version of NASA's safe and stylish solar shades (i.e., the sun-moon mask with head strap) is tangent to the face.

With the NASA mask, the lower cutout allows the mask to ride on the bridge of the nose, with the whole rig secured over the ears by the temple tips (curved earpiece).

Person wearing sun-decorated mask with solar shades.
Image: NASA

For a planned activity, an option is to make Safe and Stylish solar shades with a plain white paper plate. However, still stamp and decorate a separate sun-moon design on a paper plate, which you can then stack on top of the solar shades plate to protect the eyewear from scratches.  

Make them quicker in bulk by drilling eye holes, cutting temple slits, and stapling rubber bands as head straps.


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