Monday, December 20, 2010

Third World Green Daddy Part 7: The Crib

From early on in my wife's pregnancy, we had been thinking about Samuel's crib. We didn't want to pay a lot for it, and I have neither the time nor the skill to make one myself. We didn't want the typical crib made of composite wood product (glued together with toxic glue), toxic paint, and a toxic foam mattress. Luckily, my wife works in an area with an important basketry tradition, so we settled on the idea of special-ordering a baby basket, called a "moisés" in Spanish after Moses's basket in the bullrushes.

We had heard of someone in the town of Somondoco in the Tenza Valley who makes baskets from corn husks. This would have been very appropriate, since our new son's middle name will be Mays, from the Latin term for corn. But we were never able to connect with this woman. My wife's coworkers might have a bouncy-chair made from corn husks in the future, but for now we decided we'd just have the crib made from normal wicker, which in our region is made from cane of Castilla, a wild grass.

In the end a basketmaker from Sutatenza named Doña Ilvania made us this delightful basket.

It measures about 2.5 feet by 1 foot, and comes complete with loops on top from which to hang the basket. Unfortunately, our apartment doesn't have any overhead beams to hang the basket from, so for now we'll just keep it on top of a special piece of furniture, which we recently ordered from a carpenter in Arcabuco.

Once we got the basket, our next task was to find a mattress. The unique shape of the moises meant that we'd need to get it tailor-made, which was fine, since I didn't want it made with the fume-releasing, dust mite-harboring agglomerated foam that most mattresses are made of here.

I asked around the mattress shops, which are all located in one particular sector of our town, but none had the makings of a cotton-stuffed mattress. One place referred me to a factory that they gets mattresses from. I drove out to said factory, which is in a sort of informal (read underground) industrial park on the outskirts of town.

Surrounding the mattress factory are a gas depot, lots of denuded countryside,

And some sort of steel beam processor.

The mattress factory isn't so much a factory as a mid-sized workshop. They make mattresses in both foam and cotton, that they wholesale to retail mattress stores in town.

The owner said he'd have no problem making a mattress to my specifications. He'd use a soft, striped cotton cloth outside, and stuff it with scrap cotton from a textile mill on the Venezuelan border. Some green parents want virgin organic cotton for stuffing, so as not to expose their kids to the pesticides sprayed on conventional cotton. We probably could have found virgin organic cotton for Samuel's mattress, but I was happy with what the mattress guy had. Indeed, the fact that the stuffing would be from already-processed cotton that had been ginned, spun, and probably washed already, meant that it would be free of most nasty chemicals.

Anyway, here's the final product:

It's firm but soft, and the cloth lining feels great. I had originally thought of putting a trash bag or some rubber lining around the mattress so Samuel doesn't soak it in piss. But then I figured that he'll only be using the mattress for a few months, so the occasional diaper leak won't ruin the mattress.

With the crib and the mattress already made, we just had to put on the finishing touches. Of course we put sheets on the mattress (hand-sewn by a friend of ours), and put a little skirt on the inside and the outside of the crib.

We also tied a string of Amazonian nuts on the basket's bonnet, to serve as a sort of rattle for Samuel.

Now we have the crib next to our bed, just waiting for Samuel to come.

Many people that have visited us and seen the crib have said that they'd love to crawl inside and sleep there. It's that cozy.

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