Silicone Colouring Mats Comparison – #ohmymats vs DrawnBy:

#ohmymats vs. DrawnBy: Jessica

About

DrawnBy: Jessica and #ohmymats by Audrey of thelittleonesinmylife sell reusable silicone drawing and colouring mats. Reusable silicone mats have been around for quite a while but these two brands are local brands with their own designs.

DrawnBy: Jessica was started by Jessica who turned her doodles into colouring mats. DrawnBy: Jessica mats are customised from a China supplier.

#ohmymats is described as Audrey’s personal give back project with a focus on struggling artists and persons with special needs. Two of the artists in the team are children with autism. According to Audrey, #ohmymats took four years from conceptualisation to launch, as she sought out reputable suppliers, designed and created the mats from scratch and ensured that the necessary safety tests were conducted and legal documentation were in order. #ohmymats are made in Korea and the mat has unique features exclusive to them.

DrawnBy: Jessica has an imperfect sale where $5 from the sale of mats with slight defects are donated to charity. 

Purchase Experience

A few months ago, I ordered a DrawnBy: Jessica mat but as it was a gift, I didn’t have the opportunity to use it. I also ordered #ohmymats during the preorder sale and did a review. Afterwards, I received a DM from Jessica asking if I was aware of DrawnBy: Jessica mats. 

For the purpose of this review, I ordered two mats with a set of markers from each brand, one large and one small from #ohmymats and two standard mats from DrawnBy: Jessica.

The total amount after including $7 Qxpress shipping for DrawnBy: Jessica ($49.80) was comparable to #ohmymats ($51.45). Shipping for #ohmymats is free but for $5, you can opt to have your #ohmymats order sent in a carton box as fragile courier and in a carton box via express courier for $10. 

Both sites use Shopify to process orders and payments. 

 

Shipping was efficient. I received my orders via Qxpress for DrawnBy: Jessica and Ninjavan for #ohmymats. It’s a bit unrelated, but I have to compliment the Ninjavan courier. I wasn’t home and the courier helped to hide it “in a secure location” and took a photo for me. It was indeed well hidden out of sight. Qxpress couriers don’t inform before they arrive, but my regular delivery woman will call if she finds that nobody is home.

Packaging

Both DrawnBy: Jessica and #ohmymats pack their standard orders in poly mailers. #ohmymats has other packaging options for an extra fee. 

DrawnBy: Jessica mats come in plastic PVC drawstring bags which can be used to bring the mats and markers around. The markers were packaged simply in disposable plastic.

#ohmymats are packaged in plastic see through boxes with product information clearly listed at the back. Included in the box is a printout with usage instructions and the sticker in front shows the design of the mat. 

#ohmymats come in two sizes – small and large and each design comes in either small or large.

Size comparison of the mats.

Logo

DrawnBy: Jessica has an embossed logo on the bottom left of each mat, whereas the placement of #ohmymats’s logo with the artist’s unique signature forms part of the printed design.  

Product

Printing

DrawnBy: Jessica has a imperfect sale where products which have failed QC are sold at a discount and $5 from each mat donated to charity. Imperfect sales are only held at her pop-up stores for buyers to inspect the quality first hand.

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When I received my very first shipment of #drawnbymats, we QC-ed every single mat by hand. There were a few with little marks and tarnishes that I thought would not be good enough to sell to my customers. Swipe to see some of the issues. . The thing is, it would be such a waste to dump them – the mats are already paid for, and a good portion of them are still quite usable, just that they may not be perfect. It's only the printing and 80% of the mat is still ok for colouring; quality and durability of the mats ARE NOT compromised. . They’re not great, but they are definitely still good! <3 . That said, I will be putting these out there at a special price of $16.90/SET in the old Cylinders. Sales for the Imperfect Mats will be at the below Pop-ups so that you can see the imperfect mats in person 🙂 . $5 from the sale of EACH MAT will be donated to the Children’s Aid Society. The society aims to protect and care for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and youth between the 6 to 18 years old. I can’t imagine anything better than being able to help kids who could really use a helping hand in life. You can read more here – http://childrensaidsociety.org.sg/cas . There is only a small quantity of Imperfect mats at this price so if you’ve been waiting for a sale, THIS would be the time to get your hands on the DrawnBy:Mats at a never-before-seen price, and help kids from Children’s Aid Society and Melrose Home too 🙂 . If there are any left after Kidzania, I will open orders online 🙂 If by Christmas there are still imperfect mats, I will bless them on the Sincere Blessings Channel to families with 3 or more kids to bring happiness and cheer over these holidays <3 If there are a lot of left over Imperfect mats, I will pick a couple of other charities or hospitals for the mats to go to too. . See you at the Pop-ups and spread the love guys 🙂 . 1) Distrii Event Hall, Level 2, Republic Plaza, 29&30 Nov, 11am – 3pm 2) Kidzania, 8-14 Dec (excl 11 Dec), 10am-5.30pm (open only to patrons of Kidzania) . #drawnby #drawnbyfaithhopelove #drawnbysale #drawnbypopup #imperfectbutperfect #notgreatbutgood #charity #giveback #bless

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The mats in this review were purchased online. The edge of my Space Adventures mat was not neatly rounded off, but that’s a small matter to me. 

There were two other obvious blemishes on my mat. One was a blurred outline and the other, a faded spot on the outline. My expectations are not high but paying full price for an imperfect mat doesn’t feel good. The mat is no longer eligible for a refund as I noticed the blemishes after colouring on it. DrawnBy: Jessica’s refund policy states that “For DrawnBy: Washable Silicone Drawing and Colouring Mats to be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. It must also be in the original packaging.” To be safe, please check your mats in their original packaging on the day you receive them.

UPDATE 24/11/2018 
Jessica contacted me to do a partial refund of $8 to make this an imperfect mat sale, which I accepted. 

This is neither a marker stain or dirt, but a faded ink spot.

The corners on #ohmymats are cut out smoothly. This review was focused on the two designs I ordered. There are some misalignments on certain #ohmymats designs and these can be seen from the stock photos. If you notice other defects with your mats, please email #ohmymats for after sales service.

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{Clarifications} Dear Customers, the following has been highlighted to our team. We take all feedback seriously. 1. Some misalignments in the lines on Dino Land 2. Cut off of the design at the rounded corners & a missing downward stroke (dotted line) for "Q" for Trace & Colour We would like to apologise that we didn't spot this during our sample checks for all 14 designs as we were too excited in running the production to ensure that stocks will reach Singapore as soon as possible. We have no intentions to hide these from customers and as per our actual product photos on our website, these prints can be seen clearly on our product photos. We have also placed a disclaimer in our product description. This does not affect the colouring experience. At current moment, these 2 designs are bring reprinted in the exact same way (with the cut off and misalignment). We will look into retiring these 2 designs after the current reprint. We will also take extra care in checking future new designs before production. Should you have any questions regarding this, please email in to hello@ohmymats.com.sg with your order number/receipt and we will be happy to assist you.

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Thickness

#ohmymats appears to be thicker after folding and is more opaque than DrawnBy: Jessica, which makes it more suitable as a blank sheet for doodling or colouring when flipped. I don’t have calipers so I am unable to measure the exact thickness due to #ohmymats’s raised border. DrawnBy: Jessica is on the left and #ohmymats, on the right. 

The mat can be folded or rolled up and stored in a pouch. This shows the mats folded into eighths. 

L: #ohmymats R: DrawnBy: Jessica
Top: #ohmymats Bottom: DrawnBy: Jessica

#ohmymats has a raised edge along the mat to aid children in colouring within the mat.

Experience

When colouring on the DrawnBy: Jessica using their markers, I noticed a pungent smell that was not noticeable with #ohmymats. All mats were used after removal from their respective packaging. I realised the smell came from the markers (see below) and unwashed mat. I tried again on a washed mat and the smell was slightly reduced. 

There are a lot of details on DrawnBy: Jessica’s mats and this may take a younger child more time to finish colouring the entire mat. Case in point: We brought it out for dinner. Elise started off colouring seriously with different colours but gave up halfway and scribbled the remaining characters and background brown. 

#ohmymats are drawn by various artists and every artist has their own artistic style and interpretation of the theme. Overall, the details of the characters are kept simpler with more white space in between them. 

After colouring, I left out both mats for about three days before wiping the colours off with wet wipes. Both wiped off cleanly with wet wipes. However, do note that DrawnBy: Jessica advises customers not to leave colours in overnight as the colours may stick to the silicone. If this happens, you may need isopropyl alcohol to deep clean the mat.

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I found out somethng AMAZING today! I found out that you can use Isopropyl Alcohol (from your nearest pharmacy) to clean out stubborn DrawnBy: Marker stains! It will not compromise the integrity of the silicone . Our DrawnBy: Washable Silicone Drawing and Colouring mats are clean to the naked eye but sometimes you may see a hint of some colour residue, especially if you have left ink on overnight. Don't do it folks! . Just a little bit of Rubbing Alcohol on a cotton pad and a quick swipe will do the trick! . PS – you can also use this trick on ink stains on clothes! Who woulda thunk! . Hope this helps you guys who are wondering about how best to clean your DrawnBy: Wasahable Silicone Drawing and Colouring mats! For more info visit the FAQ on www.drawnbysg.com . #drawnby #drawnbyfaithhopelove #drawnbymats #drawnbymarkers #deepclean #rubbingalcohol #cleaninghacks #getclean #bestpractice #alwaysimproving #givemybest #faq #questionandanswer

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#ohmymats has previously left their mat coloured with different brands for over a week. 

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Common Question.. What markers can I use on #ohmymats? Whiteboard markers! While we have sourced for a trusted Korean-made brand of whiteboard markers, we understand some customers prefer to find their own markers. We've searched around and tried out various brands we could find locally that had enough colour options to ensure a fun colouring experience. And they all work well. Of course as you can see, some brands seem a little faint, but they still work fine. We're leaving them on for as long as we can before we wipe off to check for stains. And the good news is… All do not stain the mats even after leaving them coloured for a week. So the option is yours! Select our sets for better pricing compared to purchasing markers separately, or buy your own whiteboard markers. (I know some of you have free flow of markers from your office!) Reuseable!!! So easy to wipe off with wet wipe! You can also wash it with soap and water. Once it is dry, Colour again! 10% off already discounted price now on!!!! Till 31 Oct 2018 only! Don't miss it! Shipment arriving mid Nov. We will ship out once stock arrives! Order here: www.ohmymats.com.sg/discount/PREORDER #ohmymats #colouringmats #reuseablecolouringmats #reusablecoloringmats #siliconemats #siliconmats #diningplacemat #diningmat

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Markers

DrawnBy: Jessica markers are OEM markers that are assembled in China while #ohmymats’s bundled Java markers are made in Korea. Java markers are also available on RedMart, brought in by Toppingskids.

DrawnBy: Jessica #ohmymats
Safety OEM markers
Lab test on plastic grains for marker body
Lab test on marker ink only (red, blue, green, black) done in 2013
Java markers are produced by JAVAPEN.
Products are required to be safe before being retailed. JAVAPEN has passed Korea product safety tests.
Antimicrobial PP body, marker caps are EN-71 certified to prevent choking
Tip Standard nib Fine tip, more suitable for older children or adults
Origin Marker ink from Korea, marker body assembled in China Marker ink and marker made in Korea. 

DrawnBy: Jessica markers are more watery, making it easy to colour and the colours come out stronger, but the smell of solvent makes me wary to let Elise handle it. It was the strongest smelling compared to Daiso and Java markers. Following this review, I’ve had feedback from other parents that their DrawnBy: markers don’t smell, so please don’t take my word for it. Mine could be a bad batch.

For #ohmymats, the fine tipped Java markers glided on smoothly, but fine tip markers are more suitable for older children or adults as younger children who cannot control their strength may break the nibs. #ohmymats stocks Unicorn markers with thicker nibs for younger children.

Any brand of whiteboard markers can be used on both brands, but DrawnBy: Jessica recommends that customers use DrawnBy: markers for the best experience. #ohmymats has tried out a few brands of whiteboard markers with their mats and suggests only whiteboard markers be used.

IKEA and Daiso sell affordable whiteboard markers. Regardless of brand, keep all dry erase markers away from fabric, as it is close to impossible to wash out.

Summary

#ohmymats DrawnBy:
Material Platinum Premium Silicone, food grade
Food grade silicone
Price
Small: S$28.50, Large: S$31.50 (Mat & 12pc markers)
Small: S$19.95, Large: S$22.95 (Mat only)
S$24.90 (Mat & 12pc markers)
S$17.90 (Mat only)
Shipping Details
Above $20: Free courier
Below $20: Free normal mail
International orders above $200: Free courier 
Details
Above $120: Free courier
Between $20 and $120: $7 courier
Below $20: $2 normal mail

International orders: Shipping to be advised
Markers Java (Korea) and Unicorn (Malaysia) DrawnBy: (Korea: marker ink, China: assembly)
Size Small: 38cm x 24cm, Large: 48cm x 28cm One size: 40cm x 30cm
Artists Various local artists, including a 7 year old with autism Jessica
Designs 14 (as of Nov 2018) 6 (as of Nov 2018)
Country of Manufacture South Korea  China
Lab Tested Raw silicone: Tested in Korea (SGS, FDA)
Black printing ink: Tested in Korea (SGS)
Completed mat with printed design: Tested in Singapore**
*Markers: Refer to Markers
** Why test reports are not published
Raw silicone: Tested in China (SGS, REACH, FDA & others)
*Markers: Refer to Markers
Care Instructions Details
Wipe with wet wipes or wash with water and soap
Details
Wipe with wet wipes or wash with water and soap.
Do not leave colours in overnight or colours may stick to silicone.
U
se Isopropyl alcohol for stubborn stains.

Conclusion

Though silicone colouring mats can be easily customised and ordered from online suppliers in China, DrawnBy: Jessica took the extra step to brand their markers and use PVC drawstring bags to improve on the overall outlook. While it is reassuring to know that the raw materials have been lab tested in China to be safe, the completed printed mat has yet to be sent for lab testing. This is because the composition may change during the manufacturing process. The marker ink colours (red, blue, green and black inks) were tested in 2013. The marker ink smelled bad enough for me to stop Elise from using them. 

#ohmymats have passed lab tests in Korea for the raw silicone and printing ink and are confirmed to be food grade. The completed mat has been tested in Singapore to comply with European Toy standards. Silicone has many grades. The material of #ohmymats is platinum premium silicone which has more tensile strength, more expensive as a raw material and most importantly, the platinum curing process does not produce peroxide residues. JAVA markers are produced by an established Korean company and has passed strict safety tests.

Nevertheless, if you are not too concerned about toy safety (my kids play with cheap figurines from China), both mats function as they should as reusable colouring mats. 

* I paid for both DrawnBy: and #ohmymats and was not compensated by any party. This review is based on my own experience. You are welcome to make your own comparison between the two brands. If you are the owner of either brand and would like to make clarifications or updates, please contact me. 

Nuts & Bolts

About

Nuts & Bolts is a quaint little standalone shop in Balestier Road specialising in open ended toys sourced from all over the world.

Open ended toys are toys which can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the child’s creativity and imagination. For example, a curved wooden board can be a rocker or flipped over to become a tunnel. It can be propped up against a sofa and used as a slide. Open ended toys are kept simple and as natural looking as possible.

The owner of Nuts & Bolts is Wei Xuan, a lovely homeschooling mama of two. Her children are her main priority and the opening hours of the store actually revolves around their schedule. As such, the store is not open daily but about twice a week. To maintain a comfortable experience for visitors, the store runs on an appointment-only basis.

Her children came up with the name Nuts and Bolts, as they used this term instead of “pins and needles”. Both children helped to set up the store by painting signs, fixing shelves, cleaning up… the entire store is a product of love by their family.

We had the pleasure of visiting the store twice and it was such fun for the children! The store has large glass windows to let natural sunlight shine through. The store itself is not large by any account, but it is well-designed and doesn’t feel claustrophobic. There are various corners where children can play at indoors. Behind the store is a grassy slope where children can run up and down and outside the store are climbing frames, large hollow blocks and a sand corner. These activities will be changed from time to time.

The first time we went there, the kids got to paint on seashells and spray coloured water on a piece of paper using a spray bottle while they painted on a mirror the next visit. 

Most of the products which are on sale are available for children to test out. Although there is no obligation to purchase, it is close to impossible to leave empty handed. The products are decently priced, taking into consideration the overheads required to maintain such a place. Play objects which promote gross motor skills such as the Wobbel board, Confidence Triangle, Large Hollow Blocks and the Step-up-step-down Rocking Boat can be placed in the home in place of electronic toys. 

A multitude of smaller toys promoting sensory development and creativity line the walls of the store. There are treasure blocks, which are wooden hollow blocks with acrylic centres that can be filled with anything from beads to feathers and buttons. Baby percussion instruments, mirrors, light pads with colourful acrylic paddles and geometric shapes… there are simply too many to list. 

Mirrors are an integral part of the Reggio Emilia approach because it adds depth and structure to a child’s learning when he is able to see the object from all angles. The mirrors sold are child safe and do not contain glass.

Wei Xuan mentioned that she likes observing how each child uses the play objects and behaves. Some are confident, some are shy, some need help while others don’t.

The children couldn’t keep themselves away from the sand area. Didi loved it so much, he put it in his mouth. Pro-tip: bring a bottle of powder if you’re intending to let your children play with sand so you can dust the sand off easily. There are no washrooms in the store so it may be wise to bring some water for washing hands too. 

It is a unique concept where children are allowed and encouraged to do what they want with the toys. There is no stress unlike in some stores where you feel like the salesperson is trailing you and guilt-tripping you into buying the products.

Over at Nuts & Bolts, it feels more like a playdate at a friend’s house. That said, it is still a store so please don’t bring your children there to play for hours without at least making a purchase to show your support!


Like Nuts & Bolts on Facebook to be eligible for a 5% discount!

Only cash or PayLah accepted.

*** This is not a sponsored review and no compensation was received in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

Shaping Early Childhoods

Many children in Singapore are forced into highly competitive environments as early as 4 years of age. Their schedules are chock full of enrichment and preparation classes until they don’t even look forward to school holidays anymore because they have holiday camps and more classes.

These kids go to primary school and feel bored, causing the bar to be raised even higher for future batches of students. It’s a suffocating cycle. With two very young children at home, I wish to let them play and explore and ideally, pick up concepts and develop their own reasoning through play. 

Eventually, I will have to prepare them for primary school to ensure that they know enough to not fall behind their peers and suffer from low self-esteem. Before that, setting up an environment which stimulates learning will be beneficial for their holistic development.

My own childhood was less stressful and I remember having my own huge playhouse with working fan and lights, constructed by my father from a TV box. He crafted cardboard shelves from pizza boxes for my Barbie dolls and taught me to cycle. Okay, I completed Mixed-Up Mother Goose, watched my dad play Wolf 3D and Prince of Persia, so I wasn’t all Tarzan. I felt real academic stress when I started primary school.

Here’s why open-ended play is important. How do we start? Popular beliefs of open-ended play are that “Passive toys make active learners.” and “The best toys for babies do nothing”. Rather than buy an electronic toy drum set, hand them pots and pans. Start a collection of bread tags, bottle caps, toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, pebbles, leaves… things readily available in the household.

There are many ideas available online I’m only beginning to clear out my toys. In the meantime, I try to bring them out for playdates at least once a week to socialise and explore non-digital environments. On days that we don’t go out, we sometimes let them go to the playground to climb, run and expend all that energy. Letting kids sit on grass does wonders for their immune systems. Also, you know those electric shocks you get when you brush against another person? Standing barefooted on the ground, though icky, dispels static electricity from your body into the ground.

Children are like flowers; fragile yet with the right environment, they will flourish.