I had a part mommy project, part awesome collaboration with IS Projects last week and thought I should share:
First of all, cloth diapers are not what they use to be, and not at all what I imagined. I have actually grown pretty fond of what I thought was going to be a messy, disgusting, but necessary sacrifice for the sake of the environment. I will share my experience and some common misconceptions about cloth diapering at the end of this article if you are interested, but first- the fun stuff!
After seeing all of the cute patterns and styles, (yes, even though diapers go under clothes) my mommy friends and I decided it would be really fun to personalize them with some artwork; enter IS Projects. The owner is artist, Ingrid Schindall, who also happens to be a fellow MICA alum. She set us up with ink, tools, and press time to rent by the hour in her communal printmaking and book arts studio down in Fort Lauderdale. Needless to say, we had a blast. There is an impressive amount of equipment and machines, that are all clean and very well-organized. I highly recommend checking it out, either for one of her upcoming workshops, ArtWalks, or reserving your own time in the studio for whatever you have in mind.
Our plan was to use the press to print on the diapers, but the linoleum plates that I carved ahead of time were not the right kind of material for the press. I'm use to using student grade materials as an art teacher, and this was a thicker piece meant for hand stamping. We didn't want to risk the plates exploding on our diapers in the press before they were ever used for the intended type of explosion, so Ingrid gave us a large cushion to stretch out and pin the diapers to. Then we mixed our colors and started stamping… with our baby aprons.
*Below: Jenna Mejeur, wearing the beautiful Sienna June in her grey Ergo Baby Carrier/ printmaking apron.
I used my turtle hatchling block because he kind of looks like he is wearing his own diaper, a mustache that I had carved to make thank you cards for a friend, and then a new seahorse made specifically for this event. We used mostly Bum Genius, All in One diapers, but we also experimented with Lalabyes, Apple Cheeks, and Bottom Bumpers (yes there are that many brands and more to choose from).
I also had Ingrid make me some beautiful onesies for Cody with my three favorite carvings of hers- the Moonfish, the Sunfish, and the Jacks. I can't wait until he can fit into these beauties. These were also done on the press, so they have a nice, crisp edge, and a cool gradation from having one side of the press tighter than the other. Ingrid and her interns are so professional, hospitable, and knowledgable, I hope you get the chance to work with them one day too.
Too bad the babes slept through the whole experience, but the moms had a great time!
Gotta love the mom van. After a busy day of printing, we returned home with all these diapers for ourselves, our friends, and other cloth diapering mommas to enjoy. There are actually whole Facebook groups for cloth diaper buying, selling and swapping and we are planning to make some of these available there, or if you want one you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now for the Nitty Gritty of cloth diapers (If you are curious):
I had some questions before I began, and I'm sure they are similar to yours...
Am I going to have to clean out poop all the time and wash laundry every day?
No! Breastfed baby poo washes right out in the washing machine, so the first 6 months are really easy. Now that Cody is almost 6 months we are going to start working toward solids, which will create stools that have to be scooped out and flushed down the toilet, but it is still not as bad as I thought it was going to be. They also make sprayers that hook up to the side of the toilet so you can just hose them off!
As far as laundry- in Florida you probably don't want diapers to sit in this humidity for more than 3-4 days anyway so I do laundry about twice a week with a cold prewash and then a hot/cold wash with a detergent made specially for cloth diapers. They don't smell at all, and come out fresh every time to use again and again.
Am I going to have to stay home everyday, or use disposables on the go?
That was my big question, I have to take Cody to run errands, go to the studio, pick up supplies, do art shows, and if I had to use disposables there would be no point in cloth for me. However, it turns out that they make these nifty bags with a dry and wet compartment, so all my fresh diapers go in the dry side and the soiled stuff goes in the wet side. I also keep my clean cloth wipes and a spray bottle with easy homemade wipe solution in the dry side, so now I don't need to find a garbage to throw anything away, the wipes get thrown in the wash with the diapers and I haven't had to buy anything in months! Your family, friends and caregivers might be reluctant at first, but after seeing how easy it is, most of ours just followed along. It's the same concept after all. Take it off, wipe, throw both in wet side, put fresh diaper from dry side on, done.
Aren't they really expensive to buy, and you have to have so many, right?
They aren't as cheap as disposables but you get to reuse them for the entire time that your child is in diapers, including potty training, (you take the inserts out to feel the wetness without leakage). The One size diapers have snaps or velcro that keep adjusting to fit your growing baby- best feature ever! There are so many different brands and prices with different benefits, but it really depends on you and your baby. Cody poops in the morning mostly and then pees all day, so Best Bottoms work best for us. I own 5 shells with 15 inserts that get replaced every time he pees, while the shell gets wiped out and restocked with a new insert. If he poops, I throw the shell and insert in the wet bag to wash, but because his poop is pretty regular, I can anticipate it and give him an All-in-one diaper like bum genius during the night and when he wakes up. If he runs through them faster by pooping more, no big deal, I just do laundry sooner that time.
Including detergent, diapers, inserts, 2 on the go wet/dry bags, 1 big wet bag for the nursery, cloth wipes, and bottles for solution, I've spent about $300 to be well stocked (now I'm buying more to play with like the ones above). Even if you had coupons and hit every sale at Target, that amount of money would not last you 2 years of your child's disposable diaper experience, and possibly into the next child in diapers! I'd throw away the ones that looked raggedy, but would definitely keep the good ones for my next son or daughter. It's amazing how much less waste you are making as well. When we went to Panama for 10 days, we bought disposables because we wouldn't have access to a laundry facility and I used a pack of 62 diapers, in a week! I just can't imagine doing that weekly when I look at my 9 total diapers and 15 inserts next to the changing table.
I hope that answered some of your questions. The most helpful thing for me was to find a group of supportive women who were also doing it so that all my random questions were answered. I love Vanessa at Green Path Baby in Palm Beach Gardens because she helped me choose the right diapers for us and even ran through the day by day with me to envision my life with cloth diapers!
In conclusion, even though cloth diapering is a random topic for an art blog, I think it's important to share because people think it's so hard when it's not. Imagine the kind of difference we could make in daily waste if more people embraced it. What an amazing impact it would have on the environment…
Carly Mejeur is a floridian artist, inspired by her ocean hobbies and travels. This Blog is for news, events, and just for fun. Click here for the artist's Bio.