Three and a half years ago we gifted each other with a wonderful daughter.
One of the things we awaited her with, was a reasonably large stash of diapers – like most parents do. It wasn’t a hard decision what kind to procure: organic cotton inner and organic cotton outer ones. The cotton was grown in India, the diapers were manufactured in Germany, so by the time they arrived by train to our farmstead in the Hungarian Plains, their footprint was not negligible at all, but…
Yes, we drew the image in our heads of the mound of disposable diapers an average infant would amass in those diaper wearing many months, and figured that the pile could easily fill our entire kitchen floor to ceiling. Diapers that would likely be manufactured overseas, too, not to mention the engineering, energy and synthetic materials going into them. Needless to say, the drawn image was sufficiently gruesome to our sensitive souls already finding solace in the ecological kind of simplicity, we later dubbed eco-minimalism.
The balance was definitely weighing in favor of the washable imports. We knew that their environmental impact would be neutralized in our appreciative and careful hands. And by now, in my judgement it definitely was.
Although Csermely, our daughter stepped out of diapers exactly a year ago, for about two and a half years we washed a good dozen sets of them daily (you do the math, please, if interested approximately how many days and diapers those are). Washed by hand using an ecologically benign liquid soap, rinsed them by hand in clean water, every time and again adding vinegar to the rinse water and depending on the season and weather we dried them either outdoors in the sun, wind and frost, or next to one of our wood stoves already fired up for cooking or heating.
We took turns in doing this both humbling and uplifting kind of meditative job with Cheryl, my wife. It was a great opportunity to witness our child’s continuous development from an unusual angle and I’m sure it only strengthened our already very strong bond to her. We almost got to know the diapers individually along the process: this one with an unusually dark stain, that one from miraculously having escaped all stains, some from getting a little rough, others for staying extra soft, or the ones that started to fray along the edge seams, in need of a little mending with unmercerized organic cotton sewing thread.
But the relief of the last such laundry day eventually arrived. With renewed energy we washed them all really well, rinsed them in vinegary water and let them be bleached by the early summer sun, like one would do with heirloom stuff. At that point it wasn’t certain whether they would be passed down to an eventual future sibling or be used for other purposes, but as the fruit bearing season arrived and we had the chance to sun dry, multiple outer diapers turned into covers for the drying berries, while others served as filters for plant-dyeing or making paint juices from various fruits and vegetables.
The rest of the diapers occupied their humble space on the shelf, and wrapped in plans, mostly just waited – until recently.
Then, by the push of a spontaneous decision to follow up with my former dream of crafting a dressy coat, pieced together by the fractals of Csermely’s diapers, and using their individual, unaltered patina to provide the charm, I helped the dormant diapers up a spiritual cycling of materials, a piece by piece reincarnation. I think it all worked to my best advantage, but judge for yourself.
What I do know is this: when I saw the unassuming lady in front of me put her Pampers bag on the cash register’s conveyor belt, I felt extremely proud and pampered in the truest sense of the word wearing my diaper coat.
This is what I used to own prior to my creation: a dime-a-dozen leather coat from one of the name brand American chain stores with no spirit, just some looks and a lot of nasties attached. Vogue pasée!
Here they come: overlapped and cross-stitched, the diapers slowly gain a new meaning.
Forming the soft cotton plane to wrap my body.
Simple complexity in the making one hand stitch at a time.
“Flaxing” an elbow – planes turn into three dimensional, custom-fit and snug surround wrap, by the way, full of an unusual and unique to me character.
Buttons and buttonholes just where I needed them, and a pocket where it fit, under my arm.
All this over a suede-like soft and fine texture – heavenly!
And the result…
My interpretation of biomimicry: the color is the one of the mature hay.
Fits like a butterfly on the tree.
Matches the landscape…
…it suits the meadow…
…or the garden.
It suits us, and what is equally important:
the diaper coat suits me!
For such a spiritually rich piece of garment, this was a very little price to pay.