Product Type: ELC Art / Craft
Newest Review: ... compared with this mat lasting over a year and still going strong. I really can't recommend the ELC Robot Messy Mat enough, not only f... more
ELC Robot Messy Mat
Member Name: sandemp
ELC Robot Messy Mat
Advantages: Very tough, versatile
Disadvantages: Costs more than some less effective mats
If you have a young child who loves art and messy play then the chances are you'll need some way of protecting your floor from splats and splashes. As the mother of an extremely enthusiastic mini artist I know that I don't fancy the idea of my carpet being covered in paint. Although there are a variety of different brands of splash mat available, one thing I have discovered in the last twenty years is that you definitely get what you pay for. There are cheap splash mats available, some costing a pound (or less) but from my experiences these are extremely thin and liable to tear as soon as looked at. The splash mats used in this house cost a little more, but are not only from a trusted brand, but are also tough enough to withstand chair legs being dragged across them. These mats are, of course, the ELC Robot Messy Mats, of which I own not one, but two.
With a standard retail price of £4 this bright blue mat decorated with robots (there is also a pink, flowery version available) is approximately 85cm by 105cm (0.9 square metres) and the perfect size to hold my artist's table and chair (Mothercare Pine 3 in 1), with space to spare for spills and splashes. When the mat is first removed from the very basic packaging it does emit a rather strong "plastic" aroma and have some very defined creases but after a short amount of time this smell dissipates and the creases fall out with extended use. I wouldn't say that the mat ever becomes particularly supple though, the plastic is extremely thick and and resistant to creasing, it certainly cannot be screwed up in a ball.
With a year of very regular (several times a week) usage our original mat is still in almost perfect condition. The printed design has faded in a few places, but the mat itself has not ripped or torn even with chair and table legs being dragged across it. Any paint splats are easily cleaned with a damp cloth and when using dry art materials such as glitter the mat can be folded over any spillages, and then funnelled and tipped into the bin. We love our mat so much that we bought a second during a recent half price event, and while I think it was brilliant at the original price, I can't help but feel it's twice as good at half the price.
As well as using the mat for artwork we have found it incredibly useful in a few other circumstances. My little man has a developmental delay and hasn't quite mastered the art of spoon feeding, which leads to amazingly messy meal times. To protect my carpet from spilt milk, baked beans and other wet foods, we put this mat under his table and chair, making cleaning up after mealtimes that much easier. We also slip this mat in the changing bag on trips out to give us somewhere dry to sit in the park or at festivals. Picnic blankets are all well and good, but if the grass is damp then the blanket will also get damp, and personally I find it very unpleasant to get a wet bum. So we put the splash mat between the grass and the blanket to keep our bottoms dry.
In my own, very personal opinion, this mat may cost a little more than it's competitors, but the superior quality more than makes up for this. It is a great deal stronger than cheaper versions and far more able to withstand the treatment that toddlers will subject it to. Just as a comparison, I bought a cheaper mat from Wilkinsons (£1-£2) and it lasted for exactly one art session, compared with this mat lasting over a year and still going strong. I really can't recommend the ELC Robot Messy Mat enough, not only for little artists over the age of 2, but also for younger toddlers who are taking part in art or learning to feed themselves. It is even brilliant to go under the high chair of any self feeding little one.
Summary: A brilliant mat for protecting your carpets from paint, glitter or food, or bum from wet grass
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