Estella Banks
Chief Creative Officer & Founder
Independent Stampin' Up! Demonstrator
To e-mail me, click here
(714) 264-0026

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Day Creativity, Science and Food Science Converged

My daughter had a science project due today.  Her assignment was to create a model of an animal or plant cell.  When she  told me that she wanted to make a cake like the ones she has seen on Cake Boss, my first reaction was "No way! That's just too much..." And then I stopped myself in mid-sentence.  I was going to say, "That's too much work," and then I reminded myself that my core value is to nurture creativity and how in the world could I live with myself if I didn't do that with my own daughter!? So the process of creating a cell model in an edible form began.

Saturday evening, we hit Michael's to pick up some pre-made fondant. We had already attempted to make fondant and quickly learned that we have a ways to go to perfect the fondant-making.  We also picked up some gel colorant for the icing and fondant. My daughter wanted to use candy to represent the various parts of the cell, so we headed over to Sweet Factory on Sunday.  This assignment really tapped into various parts of her brain!  She had to decide which candy best represented the nucleus, mitochondria, lysosomes, etc.  I had the privilege of learning right alongside her.

The next challenge was finding the right cake recipe. The cake needed to be dense enough to withstand the carving that she planned to do since the likelihood of finding a 3D cell-shaped cake pan 5 days before her project due date was not realistic.  I searched online and found an awesome recipe on Cake Central. She and I mixed up the first batch on Sunday night. The cake itself is delicious and I can just imagine the combinations and permutations that one can cook up by changing the cake mix and pudding! I made the next batch on Monday night so that she could move on to the next step: dirty icing.

Then we had to find a recipe for the buttercream frosting that is used to "dirty ice" the cake.  Dirty Icing is basically the process of covering the cake to contain the crumbs so that the fondant can be applied to the cake. Since this whole project was inspired by Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss, of course I had to look for his recipe.  The recipe I found on ABC's Good Morning America site was easy and tasty!

On Tuesday evening, we discovered the "joys" of dirty icing... boy, was that process an eye opener!  There must be some trade secrets that the Cake Boss team has not revealed on camera because the dirty icing was a beautifully fun mess!  My daughter, however, was determined and made it happen!

The near final step was to prepare and apply the fondant.  My daughter wanted the fondant to be kelly green since she had decided to model a plant cell.  She had to knead that fondant for quite some time and I relieved her once so she could regain her strength.  She added the gel icing color and kneaded some more.  Finally she was ready to roll out the fondant and finalize the model.  She managed to roll out the fondant into a slab large enough to fit her cake, which had been baked in a 13" x 9" pan.  Despite her best effort, she had to create patches to cover the areas that were "naked."  As I watched her work, I just felt proud of her and all that she had learned and was learning through this project.

Viola! The finished product.
The finishing touch was to place the candy representations of the cell parts onto the cake. She consulted various resources, including her textbook and other images that had inspired her along the way.  As you can see from the image, the end result was pretty amazing.  As we drove to school this morning, she reflected on the experience and came to the conclusion that she probably wouldn't take up cake making as a career.  We both had a lot of fun and learned a bit about cake making, cell science and most importantly, about each other. 

My lessons in this project were the importance of walking the talk and supporting my daughter's learning in a way that inspires her.  I have no doubt that this will be one of her fond and long-lasting memories.

Estella Banks

Chief Creative Officer
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Learn about Washi Tape

Attention Washi-Loving Los Angelenos:

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the wonderful embellishment we all know and love?

Well here is an opportunity to learn from some of the masters.

Experience the living heritage of Japanese craftsmanship through washi, the verdant nation’s supple and durable paper now used in art and art restoration worldwide.  Young master artisans take up this rich tradition of papermaking, as brothers Hironao and Osamu Hamada demonstrate their treasured techniques and the infinite possibilities of washi."

The class will be held this Thursday, September 19, 2013, at 7:00 PM. The best part is that this class is free! Get the registration details on the Japan Foundation's website:

To order Washi Tape, please visit my Stampin' Up! Demonstrator site: 

Click on the Shop Now button and enter Washi in the search box or select Embellishments from the list. 

Make it a creative day!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Making a Chevron Border from Paper Strips

I've always really liked the chevron pattern. When I was searching for a tutorial, I discovered that there are many ways to get this look. So I decided to try it out. I made these cards a while ago, but recently stumbled upon them when I was going through my card stash. As you can see from the photo, I was able to use the strips for more than just a chevron border.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

World Creativity and Innovation Week

Yesterday marked the first day of World Creativity and Innovation Week beginning on April 15 (which also "happens" to be Leonardo da Vinci's birthday) and ending April 21.  It originated in 2001 with four Canadians in a conversation instigated by creativity expert Marci Segal, with Canadian creativity practitioners/facilitators John Sedgwick and Paul Rousseau of Ontario and Jacynthe Bedard of Quebec, and has expanded over the years to span the globe with over 50 countries reporting their observances.

World Creativity and Innovation Week (#WCIW) is "a celebration that acknowledges, informs, inspires and encourages people to use their creativity – to generate new ideas, to make new decisions and to take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too."

Our mission at Planet Creative Studios is to inspire, nurture and share creativity and this week is a perfect opportunity to do just that by introducing the first installment in a week-long series devoted to understanding creativity and learning about ways to nurture your own creativity.

So let's get started...

I discovered a while ago that creativity is one of my true-blue core values.  It resonates with me in a way that no other core value has.  It’s because through the creative process I experience a sense of freedom, joy, and accomplishment unlike any other.   I can remember that even as a little girl I loved being creative.  I learned to sew and crochet and even knit; as an adult I've explored drawing, watercolor painting, cake decorating, jewelry-making, soap-making, candle-making and I've really developed my sewing, paper crafting/rubber stamping, digital designing and scrapbooking muscles.  Now, even though, these are more visual hands-on types of creativity, I have come to realize that as I acknowledged and started nurturing my own creativity, I have become more creative and I have started to notice where creativity shows up in other areas of my life.  I couldn't imagine my life without creativity. But this isn't about me...

How many of you have ever wanted to be more creative, yet under your breath or in bold statements of (misguided) “truth” say to yourselves or to others, “I’m not creative?” Can you relate? Have you ever wanted to "be more creative?"

Created for a PurposeSay this with me:

"I was created for a purpose."

Think about this for a moment: you are a one in a billion...out of all the billions of seeds that were seeking to fertilize the egg, you are the result of just one.  You are the answer to someone’s prayer; you potentially hold the key to unlocking someone else’s dream.

I believe that the first "step" to becoming more creative is to acknowledge that you were created for a purpose.  You're probably wondering why this is important to your creativity, right?  Here's the thing, the prevailing belief about creativity has us thinking that we have to be artsy-fartsy to be considered creative. {Please do not be offended by the artsy-fartsy comment -- it is all in love and I count myself in that group.}  My response to that prevailing belief is that there's much more to creativity than just creating visually appealing works of art or hand-crafted masterpieces.

Creativity's scope is much broader than that and I believe it begins with a very foundational understanding of who you are and what you bring to the world by your very existence: you were created for a very specific purpose and your unique and creative contributions will flourish in your specific domain.

Some will ask, "how can I discover my purpose?"  According to Dr. Myles Munroe, your purpose can be found by evaluating and answering the following two questions:
  1. What do you dream of doing when you're doing what you have to do; what would you do for the rest of your life, whether you got paid for it or not?
  2. What angers you to the point that you want to make a change to the situation and make it better for yourself and others?
There are many books devoted to the topic of discovering one's purpose.  If you've never thought about it before, take some time to delve deeply and discover your true passion in life.

You are creative and that your creative genius lies in your living out your purpose.

Share below what you believe your purpose is.

Monday, March 4, 2013

I'm So Excited!

Let's see, where do I begin...

Why am I so excited, you may be asking?

Well..there ARE several wonderful things going on in my life right now that have me smiling, but we're here to talk about Planet Creative Studios, right?

Planet Creative Studios (TM) has been in the incubator of my mind and heart for many years. It almost feels like far too long, but every idea has its time and I believe 2013 is the year!

The first exciting development is the completion of the Planet Creative Studios logo!  This image has been floating in my head for almost as long as Planet Creative Studios has been a thought-seed!  I attempted, at least two or three times, to get this image out of my head and "onto paper." 

Recently, a very dear friend introduced me to a talented graphic designer who was able to help me do just that! 

The logo features some fun and creative elements that reflect my style and vision. The first thing you will notice is the color of the planet.  Purple!  It's a mysterious, royal, and creative color and my absolute favorite color.

Take a look a the leather-like texture, the retracting panels at the top of the planet and the very subtle gear at the center of the panels.  These details pay homage to my quirky interest in a turn-of-the-century industrial vintage style called Steampunk.

The planet represents the world of creativity that awaits you when you walk through the doors at Planet Creative Studios and the wonderful escape from the norm that one experiences as he or she embarks on a creative adventure. 

The pièce de résistance is the group of artsy tools emerging from the top of the planet! I get excited thinking about all the wonderful masterpieces that will be created using these and many other tools! These tools represent the many ways that Creative Explorers, like you, can engage and express your creativity with Planet Creative Studios, especially once the full vision of Planet Creative comes to fruition.

So...without further ado, allow me to introduce the new Planet Creative Studios logo.

The second, equally exciting, development is a creative event called the Planet Creative Studios Experience.  What's so exciting is that this event is designed to offer you a sampling of the fun environment and a variety of creative experiences that will be available to you when Planet Creative Studios opens its doors in the near future.  The Planet Creative Studios Experience, originally scheduled for March 23, has been rescheduled for May 18. Stay tuned for additional details!

We look forward to seeing you at the first of many Planet Creative Studios Experiences!
Estella Banks

Chief Creative Officer
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

Monday, January 7, 2013

MDS2 Thank You Month Facebook Cover

This image was created using MDS2 (a.k.a. My Digital Studio 2), a digital designing software from Stampin' Up! (See my demonstrator website for details on the 30-day free trial -->

The background image is digital Designer Series Paper from the Fan Fair Collection DVD (item #     127212).  The "Thanks" and "Thank You" are stamp brushes from the Thank You Kindly Stamp brush set (item #118826). The remaining wording was done using various fonts that are installed on my computer (Windows 7).

Up next... a thank you card inspired by this image!

Estella Banks
Creativity Coach
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thank You Notes Memory Jogger

So, you've accepted the January National Thank You Month "Thank-You-Note-A-Day Challenge..." and now you're feeling a little stuck. You've thanked everyone who gave you a Christmas gift and you're sitting here thinking, "Who shall I thank next?"

Here is a handy list of people to consider:
  1. Mom
  2. Dad
  3. Grandma
  4. Grandpa
  5. Aunt Sally
  6. Uncle Joe
  7. Brother Bob
  8. Sister Sheila
  9. Cousin Larry/Lucy
  10. Best Friend
  11. Long lost friend
  12. Your Pastor and/or his wife
  13. Your boss
  14. A co-worker/colleague
  15. Your hair stylist/barber
  16. The mail carrier or your favorite postal clerk at the post office (Hi VC!)
  17. The UPS guy - "Mr. Brown"
  18. A school teacher - yours or one of your child's/children's teachers
  19. A "Sunday school" teacher
  20. The mail room guy/gal at work
  21. The receptionist
  22. Your secretary, the office assistant or office manager
  23. The custodian
  24. Your husband/wife (sorry this is so far down on the list...can you tell I'm single!?)
  25. Your chauffeur (Okay, so not everyone has a chauffeur, but someone has given you a ride and you REALLY appreciated it!)
  26. Your doctor or a nurse/medical assistant at the doctor's office
  27. Your dentist or dental hygienist
  28. Someone who inspires you
  29. A coach
  30. Your favorite server or barista
  31. Your customers!!
Who would you add to the list? Share your ideas in the comments!

Up next...some MDS2 inspiration.
Estella Banks

Creativity Coach
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

Thursday, January 3, 2013

January is National Thank You Month

No matter how you say it: "Danke," "Domo Arigato," "Grazie," "Obrigado," "Merci," "Gracias" or "Thank You," January is the perfect time to express your gratitude all month long. And, to make things a little fun, I have a little challenge for us.

During November, I typically post on Facebook every day expressing my gratitude about one thing since we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States. Then I discovered that January is National Thank You Month. Although I will continue my annual November daily posts, in my opinion, National Thank You Month is a perfect opportunity to share our appreciation with someone specific every day this month.

There are many ways to show and/or express your appreciation: give a gift, pay it forward to your favorite charity, host a special appreciation dinner to honor those whom you wish to thank or my  personal favorite... a hand-crafted expression of gratitude in the form of a thank you card.

A beautiful hand-crafted thank you card is my personal favorite because those mere 42 square inches of paper (give or take a few inches) represent more than a simple thank you. The time that you take to make or select a handmade AND hand-written thank you note also sends the message that the recipient is important to you; you're acknowledging a person's efforts and how they have impacted you; you are appreciating the recipient's thoughtfulness; recognizing another person's positive intent; and offering feedback on the impact of the recipient's actions on your life. You are taking the time to connect with another person and acknowledging him/her as a person - a very meaningful type of validation. As a result, your card will most likely be cherished as keepsake for many years to come.

The Challenge:

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to write and send (via snail mail) or hand deliver one hand-written (preferably hand-crafted) thank you note EVERYDAY during the month of January.  Take a deep breath -- let's take this one day at a time!

If you haven't done this yet, start by making a list of every gift you received this past Christmas and begin by saying thank you for your gifts.

If you're up for the additional challenge of making your own thank you cards, this kit will make it easy! Or, schedule a workshop with your friends -- just call me to get the details.

Up next, thank you list memory joggers...

Estella Banks

Creativity Coach
Inspiring, Nurturing, Sharing Creativity

Something to think about...