Wednesday, June 17, 2015

the blob you’ve been waiting for, and mega-blob too


This is a project that I had been waiting for since I found the post in a blog I frequent back in March, when I was having a serious case of spring fever and the surprisingly mild temperatures made me wish I could just fast forward three months. Too bad it was cold for most of May and the first half of June so I had to wait a little bit longer than I originally thought. But when summer finally came this year, it came in style, thanks to this little number I like to call the blob, and its much older sibling mega-blob.
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I have to start with my sources on this one because I in no way take credit for the conception or planning of this amazing project. My only goal in writing this is to express how incredibly easy it was to execute and how much fun my family and friends had playing with it. Pretty much everything I did here came from Leisha over at her Homemade Toast blog.

If you follow the directions on Homemade Toast, you will see that it’s really pretty straightforward. You can find a lot of different tutorials online for how to do this, but most of them involve sealing the edgeswith duct tape, which I’ve heard results in almost immediate leakage. I would also think it would be more expensive, since you’d be using so much tape. What Leisha has come up with, with the iron and parchment, is nothing short of pure genius. I want to emphasize here that melting the plastic edges together is really the only way to ensure a true, leak-proof seal. You can get a few small holes here and there and be fine, but if the seams go, the whole thing is going to lose its structure. I’d hate for that to happen when the kids are running and jumping on it.
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The only thing that I think was confusing was what to do with the parchment paper, so I’ll try to clarify that. The parchment is meant to create a buffer zone between your iron and the actual plastic sheet. That's why you draw the line down the middle. Once you fit the two layers of plastic inside the parchment, with the edges pushed up against the parchment's inside seam, the line will provide a guide that shows you how far in to iron, about 2" from the edges/seam. There will still be a couple of inches of paper between the line and the plastic, so you don't even have to be exact; just follow the line as best you can, like I'm doing here:

And here's a video just in case it still isn't clear.
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Like most projects, I did a semi-trial run first. Turns out the painter’s plastic comes in various weights that correlate directly with the price of the product. So I purchased a smaller 10’ x 9’ sheet in .2 mil weight for about $4 the first time around. The only other thing I had to pay for was the water itself, so this is definitely an economical project to say the least. The only caveat I can offer with the .2 mil is that it was much weaker at the seams and over time small leaks began to develop where the material was stretched, and it was so thin on top that the girl’s toenails eventually began to poke little scratches and tears in it. This was okay at first, as it kept a perpetual skin of water over the top, but eventually it led to more leakage than we really wanted. So definitely go for the .4 mil if you want an end-product that you’re going to be able to use more than once or twice, or even fill and refill multiple times. I would also note that I do not recommend the .2 mil test version for use by any children over 30 pounds, as the thicker plastic is really necessary to support any more weight than that I would think. Here's a video of the original blog:
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I also added a final step of spraying down the top and drizzling on  little eco-friendly dish soap so that the kids would have an easier time sliding around on it.
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The addition of the slide was a huge hit, at least until they started getting all soapy and falling on the ladder to climb up. In the future I would put a baby pool of water at the base of the later so that they would have to rinse the soap off before climbing up.
Once I was ready to go all in on with mega-blob I went back to the instructions from Homemade Toast, and this time I followed her instructions exactly, rather than using the thinner and smaller plastic like I did for my prototype. The only thing I did differently is that I did not cut down the .4 mil plastic like Leisha recommends; instead, I used the whole roll! It was huge!!!


I am not kidding you, this thing took over an hour to fill up with water!
But the added bonus of mega-blob is that it is adult-friendly.
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And here is a picture of the larger and thicker .4 mil version of the painter’s plastic that I purchased off Amazon for mega-blob. HomemadeToast’s instructions have a link to the product and I looked around and did some research and this is really the best thing. At $12 I still think that it’s a pretty economical project overall.

I have to say, this is one of those rare internet finds that reverses the typically inverse relationship that you find between how exciting and fun a project turns out to be and how difficult it is to pull off. Usually I find myself putting the most work into the projects that are least successful, but in this case it was much easier than I thought and the kids had a much better time playing with it than I ever could have anticipated. But I don’t know why I didn’t think it would be a total hit—it is, after all, a giant outdoor water bed covered in soapy, slippery water. It also looks cool once it’s filled up because the plastic is clear. If I ever make another one I might put some rubber sea creature toys inside or something so the girls can pretend its an inside-out-aquarium. But for now blob versions 1.0 and 2.0 have been quite enough. After it was finished we played with it for about three weeks before I found the time to come inside and write this post.

Happy blobbing, everyone.

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