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Diary of a Quarantined Fencer

#2 – A Facelift for My Leon Paul

The transformation of a fencing mask.

This weekend I painted my mask, a task I originally thought would be a piece of cake. Boy, was I wrong. First, I had to research a little and see what type of paint I could use or how to even paint it in the first place. It turns out I can use any standard spray paint, so I bought white Krylon from Amazon. Since I’ve never used spray paint, I took out an old mask and ran a quick test on the left half.  Simply turning the nozzle on and spraying wasn’t good enough. Some parts of the mask had too much paint to the point where holes were completely filled up, whereas some parts barely had specks of white. It looked like what would be the paintjob of a car sold on craigslist, thousands of dollars below the market price by a sketchy one-star seller. I consulted a few Youtube video tutorials and took another shot at spray painting the other half.  It looked slightly better. However, it soon dawned on me that if I kept on practicing, I would run out of paint for the actual mask. Sure enough I felt the spray paint can getting lighter and had to reorder a new one. 

After waiting another week, I debated whether I should risk having sloppy white blobs on my flawless Leon Paul mask that had been with me for quite a while. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get it right.  I would look like a fool if I went to a tournament with a mask that looked like it was fingerpainted by a toddler. I was about to call it quits when my dad told me “Don’t worry what other people will think; even if it turned out bad, only you would be the one noticing the flawed paintjob because other fencers would be either focusing on their bouts, or too nervous to notice white specks on your mask.” I realized that I was worrying about nothing.  I popped open the new can of spray paint, and confidently let out the stream of white paint.  To my surprise, the newly painted mask looked as if it was professionally done.  To tell the truth, however, I was so nervous that my back was soaked in sweat.  In retrospect, preparing the mask to be painted took much longer than painting it.  I had to make sure the parts that should not be painted were covered with precision.  I meticulously applied painter’s tape around the round edge of the mask, cutting out excess tape strips with a knife. Although the entire process of making a decision to paint the mask, preparing and completing the work was nerve-racking and tedious, the end result made it all worth the time and effort.

Regardless the end result, however, I am glad I tried something new.  It was my way of preparing for the 2021 season, and my mask symbolically represents a fresh start, leaving behind all the ups and downs in 2020.  My newly painted mask is unique; it is ready to march forward with me.  New mask, new year, new fencer.

Gus is a Senior at Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles and a C-rated fencer at BHFC. He has been fencing since 2nd grade. On his downtime, he likes to play drums and improve his e-commerce website which he created over the summer.

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