24 Mar

Keeping your kids safe online, respectfully and without fear.

Kids! Internet! These two words together can strike fear into the hearts of many an adult. This post will summarise my three decades of accumulated knowledge and signpost you to resources that will help you further your knowledge.

I’ve been using the internet since it was non-commercial and text-based. I’ve studied Computing to MSc level and my first degree was about how I.T. affects society. I have worked in youth services and have taught I.T. to young people and adults. I home educate my son and technology plays a central role in both our learning and entertainment. I follow technology trends and run an online business, promoting it using social media. I am a victim of online stalking and abuse. I am talking as a parent of a nine year old.

And yet, I “allow” my son unlimited screen time, and don’t use parental or age-related filters on our devices. I can tell that some of you reading this might feel those cold fingers of horror creeping up your spine as you read that. “But what if?”, and “how do you stop him seeing…?”, so, let me explain.

Gaming

“But they would play on it all day if I let them!”, is no doubt a common response. Not true. If you ban something, or restrict it in some way, it makes it more attractive. So, when the young person is allowed access, then sure, they will binge on it and protest if you take it away. Of course they would! You are imposing arbitrary rules, based on your own fears. Would you restrict their book reading hours? If they loved drawing, would you restrict their paper time to one hour a day? Why is it admirable to be a bookworm but atrocious to be a gamer?

We have grown up in a completely different world. It’s natural to have fear of new things. When books first came out, they were seen as frivolous and contributing to the degeneration of young people. TV too. But games are different. They are a mentally stimulating, visually rich environment that offer steadily more challenging levels of intellectual challenges. If your kid was into carpentry, you’d probably buy them some tools, because you can see the future real world application of such skills. So why would you not similarly encourage your computer-mad kid to develop their passions? If you cannot see the real-life application of gaming skills, let me help you. Game development is incredibly well-paid. Game playing is a sport. Look up “e-sports”. It’s massive and growing. Then there’s web development, 3d modelling and animation, and these are just the directly game-related future career opportunities.

Still can’t see it? Then I come onto my number one child safety tip: play WITH them. Sure, it might not be your cup of tea. But you don’t know unless you try. Join them in their worlds. Ask them, let them take the lead and show you how to play. Don’t be embarrassed to fail. Gamers fail a hundred times before each epic win. If you are getting mad and feel like giving up, try a little mindfulness meditation. Games will create new neural pathways in your brain and keep you from mental decline. Don’t take my word for it, go have a little look for yourself.

Dr Jane McGonigal’s website, public talks and books come highly recommended for solid, well researched and easy to read facts about the potential of games and gamers for a positive personal and social change in the world. Start at her website.

https://janemcgonigal.com/

The difference between having a healthy gamer and an addict is YOUR attitude towards it. If your young person sees their passion as wrong, time wasting and harmful, they will more likely go down the route of addiction. If you take time to play with them, research the benefits of gaming and understand these amazing digital worlds, if you join them and talk to them about it, if you take genuine interest in the worlds they love, it will strengthen your bond and improve your mind and emotional resilience.

“But they are so violent”. Yes, some of them are. But so is Tom and Jerry. There is no evidence that violent video games make more violent people. So what do I do? Number one: talk. So your kid sees a game, they want to play it and you’re just not sure. Our first stop is:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/

I am not saying break the law by letting your kid buy any old game. Common sense media gives you and your child a sensible overview of the game (or film) and ratings are given by kids and adults too. The official rating scores might not tally with your ideas about what is appropriate. For example the age rating might be high because of language, whereas you know that your child would be upset by people being mean to each other or seeing blood. Youtubers show gameplay, so you could watch some of these together and decide whether your child feels that the game is appropriate for their level of maturity.

Again, the key thing here is talk. Be open about why you may not like the idea of a particular game or movie. Let your child give their opinion. Decide together. Some things that I thought my son might like he has not, and he feels free enough to talk to me and tell me if something is too real for him and makes him feel uncomfortable. For example, he is fine with dinosaurs killing each other (they are extinct) but does not like to see humans hurting other humans.

“But sitting still is not good for you”. I agree. I have an indoor rebounder trampoline and trapeze rings indoors, and a basketball net and trampoline in the garden for when the weather improves. My son knows to take eye and body breaks. He wriggles and jiggles and jumps here there and everywhere. He knows that I am not going to switch his screen off if he leaves it alone for a while. I also know that arbitrary switch-offs are not kind, because if hes invested time and skill into a level, then he has to reach a certain point before it saves. You wouldn’t just snatch a book out of someone’s hand and say “that’s enough now”.

Online gaming

Let’s talk Roblox, Fortnite and gaming with others. This is where things get more risky. As in the real world, there are mean people, bullies and sadly even people who want to take your child and do unspeakable things to them. One incredible resource that I would direct all adults to is Ineque.

https://www.ineqe.com

The next stage of this guide is written in conjunction with my nine year old. His main advice to you is to play with your young people. Get involved in the online games. Teach your kid how to block and report people. Let them know, in an age-appropriate way, that not everybody is kind and some people want to hurt kids online and that not everybody is who they say they are. My child’s response to people being mean is to switch servers, or play a different game. Sometimes people will evoke strong feelings of anger and as a parent this is difficult to see. His advice in such situations is to keep a distance and be there for him in a non-judgemental way when he needs me. Every child is different. Talk to the child ahead of such events and learn to respond as your child would like you to. Make sure you both know how to block, mute and report people. Ineque has plenty of digestible sensible advice about online gaming.

Never use your real name or real life image. Never share your location, hobbies, place of work (or school) or any clubs you might go to. Learn how to report and block people, and what might warrant such measures. My son has had more aggravation from face to face kids than online ones. So tempting though it might be to ban a young person from a certain game, it is healthier to be there to help them resolve the difficulty in a healthy sand safe manner.

Social media

You probably use Facebook at the very least, but do you know how to stay safe? When was the last time you reviewed your privacy settings? Model healthy online behaviour and teach yourself how to modify your settings to maximise your privacy. Ask for your child’s permission before taking and sharing pictures of them online.

A great summary of necessary safety measures can be found here: https://www.getsafeonline.org/social-networking/social-networking-sites/

Ineque also has videos about how to manipulate the settings of popular social media apps and websites here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Ineqe/videos.

Inappropriate content

This might vary from parent to parent in terms of tolerance. The only rule we have is to be kind, but other parents might object to curse words, for example. My kid – like others his age – watch more YouTube than TV. It drives me nuts! I yearn some days for a nice bit of CBeebies, or even something with a decent storyline. But, it’s what he likes, so I try to watch it with him and engage in conversation about it. This is my personal choice but I let him watch on the big TV, not on a smaller device, and there’s a reason for this. Yes, part of me thinks – in an old-fashioned authoritarian way – that I paid for the TV so I should have control of what is viewed on it. But, I breathe, smile, and think about how much I will miss him when he’s off doing his own thing in a few years time. Now, I am happy to let him hog the big screen.

However, it has two massive benefits. One, that it tests my calmness and tolerance levels and helps me to be mindful in the face of videos that I cannot always enjoy. Two, I get to see what he sees, unavoidably, in glorious technicolour. This opens up conversations about his favourite YouTubers but also about people who exhibit online behaviour that deserves analysis. We have discussed, sexism, racism, homophobia, environmental destruction, Donald Trump and the wall, bullying and trolling on the back of some of his video choices. This list will no doubt expand as he gets older.

Like other online channels, we both know that personal preference is not a reason to block and report but that if we see something that is harmful, then we know what to do. His advice to parents is to watch videos with your kids (groan!) and that if your young people are very small, to use the YouTube Kids app. I suggest that you preemptively let your young people know that sometimes there are things online that are scary, and if they see something3 like that to come to you straight away.

Youtube is a fantastic resource for entertainment and education, from Peekaboo kids to Ted-ed talks and Khan Academy. Here’s a cool list of channels for young people by the sensible Commonsense Media folks: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/12-best-youtube-channels-for-kids-and-teens#Minute

This is where I’m at from the 9 years experience that I have of parenting GamerKid. Be aware that this is what has worked for us. You and your child are individuals, with unique needs and tolerances. Technology changes all the time and new hacks and hoaxes appear. Stay safe online, don’t share personal details, always make sure you have the latest updates on your devices. Use an antivirus and scan with malwarebytes. Check https://www.snopes.com/ before panicking about any new virus or rumour.

Have I missed anything? I shall update it if I think of anything else.

Here are a few more websites about child safety online. Be informed, keep communication channels open, and enjoy the amazing, vast digital world that we are all a part of.

https://www.parentsprotect.co.uk/

https://www.internetmatters.org

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/reporting-fraud-and-cyber-crime

https://paladinservice.co.uk

If you have any questions, please comment below or use the contact form/email here: http://www.wildbunnyarts.uk/order-now/

kindness is my thing. screen printed t-shirt.



11 Mar

Simple beauty

One of my most frequently heard reactions about my appearance is that I definitely do not look my age. “Which is?” I hear you wonder. But a woman never reveals her true age, don’t you know. Hint: I’m a Chinese Ox, so, you have a few years to choose from there. I was definitely not born in 2009, as my son was. There’s a clue for you. I’m lucky with my genes. We always asked our Grandmother how she kept such a youthful skin and which products that she used to chase the wrinkles away. She told us that all she used was soap and water. Soap and water! But Grandma, all these expensive beauty products must surely be better than the bare basics – or so I wastefully and arrogantly assumed in my younger and richer days on this earth.

Nine years of parenthood and austerity later and my budget absolutely cannot stretch to the big name skin products that I used to buy. However, I’m definitely not looking my age still. Shall I share my secrets with you?

  1. Eat clean. It’s cheaper than processed food and better for you.
  2. Exercise daily. You don’t have to hit the gym every day. There are loads of yoga and HIIT apps out there now, or, get or borrow a dog to walk (but don’t forget to protect yourself from the sun).
  3. Steam your face. I’ve been very tempted by the skin care UK Panasonic facial steamer that I came across today, and my skin was never better than when I used to hit the steam rooms at the gym a couple of times a week.
  4. African black soap. This is very cheap and a lot more effective than any expensive cleanser. It does leave your skin dry, so:
  5. Moisturise with Shea butter as soon as possible after you wash. I discovered Clean and Natural’s products at a Vegan fair. The owner definitely had the loveliest, clearest and most radiant skin I’d seen on a grown-up, so that influenced my decision to buy. Plus, I discovered that it was the absolute best primer for going under:
  6. Mineral foundation. After years of annoying rosacea, I found that my liquid foundation was making my skin more irritable. Mineral make-up is positively soothing for me.
  7. At night, wash and sleep with Eumovate cream on your face. I wash my hands with this stuff too, and use as a body moisturiser for my awkward super-dry body and hand skin.

Have you got any beauty secrets that you’d like to share? Am I missing a hidden gem? Let me know if my suggestions have made a difference to you.

This post contains a sponsored link.

11 Feb

Into the spiderverse inspired my custom nikes

Have you seen the animated masterpiece that is Into the Spiderverse? I loved it so much that I came out of the cinema just dying to emulate those Nikes that Miles Morales was wearing.

My son was the one who saw a YouTube ad for the film and told me about it. He’s a mad superhero fan and his enthusiasm has rubbed off on me over the years. Let’s just say that I’m a late starter to the genre but am hastily making up for lost time. Being a parent gives you some whopping responsibilities but it also allows you the chance for a second childhood.

I can’t drop any spoilers here for the movie but I was captivated by it’s visual style. Miles Morales, his friends and family appealed massively to me and made the storyline as joyous as the way that the animation looked. Those kicks of his got some real adventure time.

When I got home and googled Nike Air Jordan 1’s , I discovered that I wasn’t the first person to imagine some Into the Spiderverse themed creps. Nike had got there first, but, they weren’t exactly what I had in my head. They are also largely sold out in the UK, or available for 2.5-3 hundred quid.

My vision came true and here are my very own Mike Morales Spiderman shoes. I liked them so much, I made them into a (very short) movie.

14 Jan

Happy New Year 2019

happy new year 2019

Happy New Year everyone and here’s to a healthy, happy 2019 to you all.

2018 has been an amazing year for WildBunnyArts. I recovered from the events of 2017 and used this year to gain new skills and continue my professional development. From zero to hero in screen printing and design software, I’ve gone from being frustrated about getting one-off t-shirt prints done, to building my own printing press and learning the art of the hand screen printing, as well as he graphic design skills required to design and print unique t-shirts.

kindness is my thing.  screen printed t-shirt.

Custom Converse and hand-painted Vans have remained a core element to the business. I made the sideways step into leather painting, and had some amazing commissions for customised Dr Marten shoes and custom Nikes.

henna design hand painted doc martens

One thing I love about painting shoes- as well as providing an amazing personalised gift – is when my customers ask for fan art. These shoes were lengthy to complete but I had great fun with them, and of course I had to watch The Big Lewbowsky so that I could get a feel of the character for the artwork.

It’s an exciting journey and I enter 2019 buzzing with new ideas and projects. One of my focuses at the moment is to get writing here more regularly so that I can communicate with you all here, as well as on my social media channels. What would you like to see?

21 Nov

#shoutoutrevolution – Lizzie Skinner

Who are you and what do you do? 
I’m Lizzie, I paint watercolour pop culture portraits, bold mixed media posters and I hand sew dolls and figures, usually in felt. Also pretty good at existential crisis.

When did you begin making your incredible art?
I’ve always been a creator, I was actually more prolific as a child (although I can’t speak to the quality of that work) and my family really encouraged my creative streak so I was lucky enough to try lots of difference mediums early on. I settled into watercolours during college, I really enjoy the flexibility of their use for different colour payoff and effect, and the easy way they glide into paper. I’ve also been sewing since I was a teenager, I used to put pockets in all my dresses and became quite proficient at taking clothes in due to a long fascination of vintage aged antique clothes. I started making small felt mice in Victorian dresses a few years ago, and then making the dolls and creatures just sort of followed from there…

What inspired you to create your form of art? 
I like things that are tactile but also give quick results- I’ve got a really busy mind and get bored or distracted easily so I’ve learnt through the years that I’m more likely to finish things if I can see progress on it. That’s what I love about the little figures and the embroidered dolls, and I suppose it’s what I fell in love with about watercolours and ink. I take inspiration for the subjects from all over the place, at the moment I’m enjoying doing tiny pop culture portraits inspired by religious iconography, but it really depends on what I’m doing and what I’m into at the time! I do better when I’ve got a commission from someone as it gives me a focus so I’m more likely to run with it to try and make something that’s going to be loved. I don’t think I’ve settled into an art form or a style that’s fully ‘me’ yet, but I’ve always been an experimenter so maybe I never will!

What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without (for your art)?  
Probably the internet! It’s so so vital for references, especially taking on the icon dolls I make. I’m making a Syd Barrett doll at the moment for someone who adores him so being able to find lots of pictures and information is critical to my process.

Where can I find you on the web?
I’m on instagram @fannyspangles
My Etsy shop is FURYmoonriver

What do you like to do when you are not creating?
I’m a great lover of film so I love to get stuck into a picture or a series, I also love video games and reading and get very drawn in (read: obsessed) luckily my SO is the same and our dog is patient and independent so neither of them mind!

Have you got any pets?
Currently one gorgeous dog Maya, I’ve only had her a month but I can’t imagine her not being here! She’s a rescue and she has some anxiety (like me) and trust issues from previous trauma that we’re working on together, she’s also going through her moody teenage phase so she can be a right little madam (also like me) but she’s so sweet and hilarious and genuinely brings me so much joy, I’m hoping that as we build our relationship we’ll both be much happier, more confident individuals.

What is your favourite art book? (or, what are you reading at the moment, your choice)
I subscribe to this incredible film magazine called Little White Lies, and every issue is beautifully illustrated so they’re very inspiring and just generally pleasing. I love reading but I’ve either got 3 books on the go or I’ve got a stack of 10 that I mean to read but don’t get around to, there’s no in between.

16 Nov

#shoutoutrevolution – Klaudia

Who are you and what do you do? I’m Klaudia and I’m student in Art High School in Poland.

Where is the world do you live? I’m from world ARTCREAT… I’m just kidding. I’m from Poland, the country in the Europe.

What are your dreams, when you have finished Art School? After high school I want to study fashion design on Art University and became good fashion designer who can help people around the world. I have also other dreams for example go to Paris Fashion Week and shoe my projects, go to South Korea and show that one of my fashion collection and some other dreams relevant South Korea. 😊

What is your favourite subject in school? My favourite subject in school is Artistic Tapestry where I create lots of different things relevant tapestry, batik, linocut and the like and also I really like painting lessons because I love colours and to paint .

What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without? I have a lot of this things but I almost always have pencil and hand held set for sewing( it’s often useful) with me.

Where can I find you on the web? I post some of mt art work on my Facebook account Klaudia Janikowska but I most often use Instagram to show my work( @world_of_beauty_poland) and soon I will create Twitter account and I will post name of it on my social media.

What do you like to do when you are not creating? I love to dance the most and I also like singing, listen to music and get to know interesting culture like Korean culture for example so if I wouldn’t became fashion design maybe I would became kpop idol or dancer. 😊 I also learn language like English, French, Korean, Japan, Chinese and watch Asian dramas and movies.

Have you got any pets? I have dog and I had fishes before.

What is your favourite art book? It’s hard question because I look for good art books and fashion books. I would say that it can be ‘ Sleight of hand ‘ Margita Šarnická it’s series of good books to learn how to make different kind of hand made things. I also read lots of fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle.

04 Nov

#shoutoutrevolution – Just Sew Helen

Who are you and what do you do? 
I’m Helen & by day I’m a midwife working with high risk pregnancies. I have a small textile art business ranging from dressmaking to embroidery and fabric ornaments.

When did you begin embroidering? 
I have been sewing all of my life, well as long as I can remember, as Mom taught me as a little girl.  She worked from home as a dress maker in the 1970’s and I made little dresses for my dolls and teddies whilst she took in orders.  Over the years, I have undertaken many different projects and returned to needlework & embroidery in 2015 when I started creating remembrance pictures.

What inspired you to create your beautiful pictures and keepsakes?
Sadly, after a very short illness in 2015, my mom died from Ovarian Cancer (OC) and I wanted to use the skills Mom taught me to raise money for an OC charity.  At the same time, two friends also lost their Moms to cancer and I created each of them a picture in memory of their Mom using applique and embroidery.  Over time I researched the handmade market and joined Etsy and finally created my own website and launched my small business in 2016.  My most popular items are Angel Baby Remembrance pictures and I’ve been privileged to create some very personal keepsakes.

What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without (for your art)?
As with any craft, many tools are required to complete a job – some vital and some just to help overall process.  However, I think my most essential tool would have to be my sewing machine as many of my items involve additional construction rather than just decorative hand embroidery.

Where can I find you on the web? 
I can be found in lots of places and would love you to come and say ‘hi’ –

justsewhelen.com
twitter.com/justsewhelen
instagram.com/justsewhelen
facebook.com/justsewhelen
justsewhelen.etsy.com
pinterest.com/JustSewHelen

What do you like to do when you are not creating? 
I procrastinate very well and can get lost on the laptop on Pinterest etc but I’m usually researching projects or techniques and so actually spend a lot of time creating in one way or another.

Our family is expanding, now with 5 grandchildren, elderly parents and our two boys at home are still at school, so spare time is precious.  We enjoy spending time as a family at our holiday home in Wales  – such a beautiful country and I can sit and embroider to my heart’s content.

Have you got any pets? 
We have two 15 year old ginger cats,  a boy Tigger and a girl Winnie.  Tigger is showing his age and is slowing down but is perfectly content to plonk himself on top of me and my laptop. His sister is a bit more particular often enjoying her own company.

What is your favourite art book?
My go to craft book is The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden and although I research a lot online nothing beats being able to flick through pages for inspiration. I also have a nice collection of vintage sewing & embroidery books that I inherited from my mom and I love flicking through and reminiscing my childhood and memories of Mom using these books for her crafts.

28 Oct

Christmas is a time for giving….

 

But if you think this post is going to be all sell, sell, sell, you’re wrong.

You know where I am, you know what I do and I am ready to talk when you are.

Until then, let me tell you about a charity that has touched my heart.  I heard the founder of Bloody Good Period talk on Reni Eddo-Lodge’s amazing podcast “About Race” (a bloody good listen, and I strongly recommend her book as well (affiliate link to book).

The podcast episode featuring Bloody Good Period really struck a chord with me.  As someone who has had to rely on charity before, I loved that Bloody Good found it important to listen to what people actually wanted and needed rather than just handing out products that were cheap, uncomfortable or just not practical to use for many displaced women.

I’ve now bought a reusable cup which is great for me, but many women have neither the confidence nor the privacy to use these products.  I have lived with shared mixed gender bathrooms and communal eating and cooking facilities and this is not the kind of environment that reusables are suitable for.

Bloody Good Period ask women what they want and provide it.  This alone is revolutionary for providers of support services for vulnerable women. It made me feel very happy that there are good people out there who will listen and not judge.

So, this Christmas, for every sale, I hereby pledge to buy something from the Bloody Good Period’s Amazon wishlist.

Even if you don’t fancy buying anything I sell, you can get involved and make a difference by buying a one-off gift for people who can’t afford period supplies or even subscribing and donating something on a regular basis. Check their how to donate page.

So instead of buying cards that use trees and end up in the recycling bin two weeks later, why not use that cash to help ladies be a bit more comfortable this festive season?

Please?

 

08 Oct

Custom Dr Martens

As we stroll into the soft sun of Autumn and feast our eyes upon the rich russets and golden browns of the falling leaves, we may not want to be wearing our lovely customised Converse, or custom Toms any more.

Now is the time to get your Doc Martens out again and be able to happily skip through the mud and puddles (and snow?) without worrying about getting soggy socks.

Maybe you’re getting bored of your monotone black DM’s? Maybe you want your footwear to be as bright and as colourful as your soul? As beautiful as you are?

You know what to do.  I’m here if you need me.

Custom Dr Martens. Hand painted with Angelus. No, the paint won’t wash off.

22 Sep

#shoutoutrevolution – @ffinlaysonart

**WildBunny asks that you please view this blog post on a laptop/pc, and click on the images to make them bigger.  Because the animals look amazing on a phone screen, but when I viewed them on a bigger screen, I was blown away.  So beautiful.**

Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Fiona, I live in Scotland and I make needle felted animals.

When did you begin painting?
I have always painted since I can remember, all through school and graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. always liked creating more 3D work which has made needle felting such a great craft for me although I do still paint.

What inspired you to create needle felted animals?
Last year I saw an advert for a class to learn how to needle felt and then have never stopped!

Can you give me a small insight into the process of needle felting?
For full bobby animals you first build a very simple wire armature, wrap this in pipe cleaners then build up core wool , wrapping and stabbing with a felting needle.  When you have a basic shape you start to add colour and eyes.

What is your one essential tool that you cannot live without (for your art)?
Probably the wire as it allows such better results than without although I would be lost without a needle too!

Where can I find you on the web?
Instagram @ffinlaysonart
twitter @ffinlaysonart
Facebook Fiona Finlayson Art
and website http://ffinlayson.com

What do you like to do when you are not creating?
Gardening, tv, walking my dog and have a vintage crockery addiction!

Have you got any pets?
Yes, Dexter a yellow Labrador who is 2 who I adore

What reading at the moment?
The book I am reading at the moment is Island of Dreams by Dan Boothbyabout a man who lives in Gavin Maxwells old home – I love otters.