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Horton has a Head

elephant headHalloween is upon us, and that means it’s time to get the kids’ costumes ready. Maybe some of you are struggling with how to create the perfect costume that can’t be bought in stores. Maybe you need to make a full-headed mask or a large prop. Perhaps I can help. What you need is papier mache–but not the drippy, tedious kind you did in school. What you need is DIY papier mache clay.

Let’s back up a couple months to when a friend volunteered me to make a giant Horton the elephant head for a Dr. Seuss show our daughters’ dance studio was performing. The head had to be really big–large enough that it would look appropriate on a two-person elephant. One of the instructors suggested that I use papier mache and chicken wire, but the thought of cutting and sculpting chicken wire really didn’t appeal to me. I saw no way to get around the papier mache, though.

papier ballSo I went to Five Below and bought a few different inflatable balls. I blew them up and decided that a small exercise ball was the way to go. But then I started the papier mache process. If you ever did this in school, you probably remember tearing up strips of newspaper, dipping them in a mixture of flour and water (or something like that) and layering it on. That works fine for something small, but I quickly realized it was going to take FOREVER to make a head as large and as sturdy as I needed, especially since you’re supposed to let the layers dry completely before adding more.

In desperation, I turned to the internet for help. That’s when I discovered the site Ultimate Paper Mache and a recipe for do-it-yourself papier mache clay. (This woman makes adorable papier mache animals—I might need to take that up as a new hobby.)

It’s really simple to make. You just need a roll of toilet paper, 1/2 cup of flour, 3/4 cup of all-purpose glue, and 1 cup of joint compound. (The recipe also calls for linseed or mineral oil, but the site says it’s optional so I didn’t use it.) You take the toilet paper off the roll and soak it in warm water, then squeeze it out. You should end up with 1 1/4 cups of toilet paper pulp. If you have more, just discard it. I used a Costco roll that gave me about double that, so I doubled the other ingredients, too, and made a jumbo batch. Tear the pulp up into 1-inch-ish pieces, add the other ingredients, and mix (I used a hand mixer). When you’re done, you’ll have a mixture the consistency of cookie dough or very thick canned frosting.

big headIt spreads like frosting, too. I used my hands to glump some onto my existing layer of newspapers on the exercise ball, then used a frosting spreader to spread it out. Here’s the beautiful thing about the clay: Because it’s so light and airy, you can spread it up to 1/4″ thick. Do you know how long it would take to properly apply an equal amount of newspapers??? FOREVER.

The nature of the clay also makes it really easy to attach other parts. Just make sure those are made of light-weight things, too. I used a cut-up-and-repositioned heart-shaped styrofoam wreath to form the tops of Horton’s ears, and some taped up newspaper to make the IMG_0380trunk. To attach them, I set them in place over my existing (dried) clay, then just used more clay to hold the base of each appendage in place. I let the base dry before I finished covering the rest of the ears and trunk, just so they wouldn’t get too heavy and fall off before everything was dry.

I wound up needing several batches of clay to finish the elephant head. That included two layers plus the clay I needed to join other parts. You can keep the unused clay in the fridge, so that was handy for times when I needed a break or had to wait for things to dry. (Leave at least 24 hours for drying between layers.)

naked elephantThis stuff dries HARD, too. I needed to cut around the opening a little, so it wasn’t so rough, and also needed to cut a mouth opening so the person inside could see out. My husband had to use a jig saw, and it was a bit terrifying, but luckily he knew what he was doing. 

I added some fabric, a little yarn, lots of paint, and a pink poofy thing, and then my elephant head was done. For as big and solid as it is, it was remarkably light. I tried the head on several times and wore it around the house a bit (because I thought it was funny) and didn’t get uncomfortable despite the size.

horton on stageThe clay would be fantastic for making lots of different Halloween masks or costume accessories. Heck, why not make some pumpkins to decorate your house, or a cauldron for candy? It’s not Halloween-rleated, but one of the commenters on that site’s blog was making toadstools for preschoolers to sit on. How cute would that be?

If you want your items to last, you’ll want to shellack them. Even though they dry rock-solid, they’re still mainly paper and flour. Those can break down over time, and bugs sometimes eat stuff like that. Yuck. It’s also important to note that the clay is supposed to go over a form, just like regular papier mache. It’s not intended to be used like modeling clay, although I suppose if you model in 1/4″ layers, it could work.

So go grab yourself some toilet paper and joint compound, and whip up something cool! 

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Britax Boulevard ClightTight Convertible Review: Sometimes Things Just Click

Britax Blvd CT - greenCar seats have come a long way in the past decade or so, with new seats frequently hitting the market. Usually the new seats include nicer features, or a lower price point, or something that makes them appealing, if not groundbreaking. But every now and then, comes something that is truly groundbreaking—something that fundamentally changes the stakes. The Britax ClickTight convertibles have been touted as that “game changer,” and for months now, people have been anticipating their release and wondering if they will live up to the hype. Is ClickTight just some gimmick, or is it a game-changer in the car-seat world? We’re happy to give you our opinion in this review of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight convertible car seat.

Before we get started, here’s a quick overview of the differences between the three new ClickTight convertibles, the Marathon CT, Boulevard CT, and Advocate CT. All Britax CT convertibles have the ClickTight Installation System, an impact-absorbing base with 7 recline positions, rip-stitch energy-absorbing tether, HUGS harness pads, a steel reinforced frame, EPP foam and other side-impact protection features. 

  • Britax Marathon ClickTight - This model has a no-rethread harness and standard rubber HUGS pads. The top harness slot height and the overall height are about 2 inches shorter than the Blvd CT and Advocate CT models.  MSRP $329.99
  • Britax Boulevard ClickTight - All the features of the Marathon CT plus SafeCell HUGS pads; deeper headwings; “Click & Safe” snug harness indicator, top harness slots and overall height 2″ taller than Marathon CT. MSRP $369.99

Britax MA CT - SIP Britax SIP Blvd CT - stock Britax SIP Advocate CT - stock

Each Boulevard ClickTight model comes with an easy-to-remove cover, EZ-Buckle System (keeps buckles and straps out of your way when placing your child in the seat), optional infant body insert for newborns, optional harness strap covers, energy-absorbing HUGS pads, and a tether connector strap for tethering the seat “Swedish style” in the rear-facing position.

Britax vehicle seat protector mat, waterproof seat saver liner and protective travel bags are also available. An anti-rebound bar will be available as an accessory (for purchase separately) sometime in early 2015.

Britax vehicle seat protector - stock britax seat saver waterproof liner britax travel bag

The pattern shown in this review is called “Circa”.  There are several other fashions currently available for the Boulevard CT.

britax-blvdCT-metrobritax-blvdCT-splashbritax-blvdCT-circa fashionbritax-blvdCT-kaleidoscopebritax-blvdCT-blakeney-BRUexclusive

MSRP for the Boulevard is $369.99 but you may be able to find lower prices online.

Boulevard CT Specs:

  • Rear-facing 5-40 lbs.
  • Outgrowing this seat in the rear-facing position by height won’t be an issue because it’s so tall that all kids (even the really tall, really skinny kids) will fit height-wise if they are still under 40 lbs. Children can rear-face until their heads are one inch below the adjuster on the headrest, which can be fully extended.
  • Forward-facing 20-65 lbs., 49″ or less, at least 1 year old*
  • LATCH limits: 35 lbs rear-facing, 40 lbs forward-facing (child weight only)
  • FAA approved for use on aircraft
  • 10 yr lifespan before seat expires
  • Made in the USA!

*Britax recommends that children ride rear-facing to the highest weight or height specified

Boulevard CT Features:

  • ClickTight installation system (also acts as a built-in lockoff device)
  • Complete Side Impact Protection PLUS  - deep protective shell and energy-absorbing headrest
  • 14 position headrest with no-rethread harness
  • 2 crotch strap/buckle positions
  • EZ-Buckle System keeps buckles and straps out of your way when loading and unloading child
  • Steel reinforced frame
  • Impact-absorbing base – these cells compress in a crash, which lowers the center of gravity of the child and reduces forward head excursion
  • Energy-absorbing, rip-stitch Versa-Tether®
  • Energy-absorbing EPP foam that lines the entire back and sides of the plastic shell
  • 7 recline positions to help achieve a proper recline angle in any vehicle
  • Smooth bottom base with grippy edges that won’t damage vehicle upholstery

      naked bvct1 naked bvct 2 bvct bottom 

Boulevard CT Measurements:

Diono Rainier Review: Diono Adds Depth to Its Convertible Lineup

Rainier HoundstoothAround eight years ago, a folding carseat with steel metal structure hit the market and made quite an impact on the way children started riding in cars. The Radian was a tall, skinny seat with a low profile that made it ideal for narrow seating positions and tight 3-across scenarios. Then in 2009, a headrest was added for more side impact protection. A branding change in 2011 allowed Diono to update the Radian line to include belt guides so the carseats could further their usefulness as belt-positioning booster seats. Now, in 2014, Diono has introduced the Rainier, Pacifica, and Olympia line of carseats. Diono has beefed up the upper torso and head area to provide even more side impact protection. This review will cover the Rainier model.

Rear-Facing Weight Limits Forward-Facing Weight Limits Booster Weight Limits Features

Olympia

Olympia Graphite

5-45 lbs. 20-70 lbs. 50-110 lbs.
  • shoulder belt guide for booster use is attached to fabric cover

Pacifica

Pacifica Sunburst

5-50 lbs. 20-90 lbs. 50-120 lbs.
  • added structural support for weight limits
  • infant support pillows
  • memory foam under bum
  • shoulder belt guide for booster use is attached to fabric cover

Rainier

Rainier Orchid

5-50 lbs. 20-90 lbs.  50-120 lbs.
  • added structural support for weight limits
  • infant support pillows
  • memory foam under bum
  • adjustable headrest
  • shoulder belt guide for booster use is attached to headrest
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Rainier Basics

  • 5-50 lbs. rear-facing with at least 1.5” of carseat above the child’s head or total height of 44”
  • 20-90 lbs. forward-facing with a child less than 57” tall
  • 50-120 lbs. as a booster with a child less than 57” tall and child’s shoulders must be at or above the 4th set of harness slots

Overview

  • Full steel frame and aluminum reinforced sides
  • SuperLATCH™ connectors with Secureweave™ webbing
  • Aluminum reinforced 12 position adjustable headrest
  • Folds flat for travel or storage
  • Can be tethered rear-facing
  • Energy absorbing EPS foam in headrest and torso area
  • Infant body support cushions and memory foam for added comfort

Rainier without cover head low Rainier without cover head high Rainier without cover head offset Rainier without cover side

Measurements

Britax Boulevard ClickTight Unboxing and Giveaway!

Our comprehensive review of the Britax Boulevard ClickTight is now posted here: http://carseatblog.com/30080/britax-boulevard-clighttight-convertible-review-sometimes-things-just-click/

 

Britax Blvd CT

Order Britax ClickTight convertibles at Amazon.com

Order Britax ClickTight convertibles at Albee Baby

 

For more detailed info on the new ClightTight convertibles see our previous posts on the subject:

Rear-Facing Space Comparison: Britax G4 Convertibles vs. New Britax ClickTight Convertibles

Comparison between current Britax Convertibles and new ClickTight Convertibles

This promotion is now closed. Thank you for participating – a winner will be announced soon!

Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest open to all residents of the USA, including those residing in Alaska and Hawaii. :) 

Now for the fine print (these may be in addition to the rules listed in the Rafflecopter terms)

Winner must have a USA shipping address to claim the prize. Only one prize will be awarded, choice of colors will be limited to those in stock at Britax USA at the time the contest closes.

You are not eligible if you have previously won a carseat or any sponsored giveaway at CarseatBlog.com during 2013 or 2014 (our own giveaways of goody bags and such don’t count if no sponsor was mentioned). Blog writers and editors are also not eligible. Only one entry per household/family, please. If you leave more than one comment, only the first one will count.

We reserve the right to deem any entry as ineligible for any reason, though this would normally only be done in the case of a violation of the spirit of the rules above. We also reserve the right to edit/update the rules for any reason.

The contest will close on October 12, 2014, and one random winner will be chosen shortly thereafter. If a winner is deemed ineligible based on shipping restrictions or other issues or does not respond to accept the prize within 7 days, a new winner will be selected.

Good luck!

Please note: If this is your first comment at CarseatBlog, or if you are using a different computer/device or a new email address, your comment may not appear immediately. It will not be lost; it may just take a few hours for it to be approved. Thank you for your understanding and patience as this is the only way we have to reduce comment spam.