An interview with Christine Smith aka CRaFTi PoTeNTiAl


It was an absolute pleasure to catch up with the fabulously talented and super lovely Christine, who is the brains (and hands!) behind the phenomenally popular CRaFTi PoTeNTiAl YouTube channel. Read on to find out more!

 Have you always been creative?

I have always been a creative person, if there’s ever a reason to make something, rather than buy it, I’m there. As well as my papercrafting hobbies, I also love making jewellery and baking too. My friends and family have had to endure many years homemade cards and cupcakes!

What kind of creative things did you like to do when you were younger?

Art lessons were always my favourite at school, and design technology too. At junior school I went to our Art Club and contributed to artwork displayed around the school. 

Are your family also quite creative?

Both sides of my family are a mixture of creative and scientific people, so I had a very hard decision trying to pick between the two! My Mum is a knitter at heart, but I may have gotten her addicted to card making now too, and she also does watercolour paintings as well (she got that from her Dad), my sister has her own stop motion animation company (she made my YouTube titles), my Nan loves her needle work, but was also a radiographer too (so she’s a mix of the two like me!) and my Dad was a physicist (now retired). And I’m a crafting chemist (however I’m certainly not cut out to be a scientist, hence why I’m just a crafter now :D) 

You are well known in the crafting world now for your amazing videos. So – when did you step into cardmaking?

Other than the usual childhood making cards at nursery and school, I started card making when I was 8! I began with terrible designs (well I thought they were good at the time, but now I think they’re terrible!) and very basic cards using Hama beads and peel offs (I’m sure peel offs are the way every card maker starts off!)


Christine’s amazing  workspace


When did you set up your YouTube channel – how did this evolve?

I had had a blog for a while, I kept it private for quite some time, and kept changing it’s name as I couldn’t decide on a good name. But then one day while I was revising for an inorganic chemistry exam, I was looking at the periodic table and thought, what can I spell using elements? It took a little trial and error in thinking up different spellings for words etc. but as soon as had it, it was one of those ‘eureka’ moments: CRaFTi PoTeNTiAl (Carbon, Radon, Fluorine, Titanium, Polonium, Tellurium, Nitrogen, Titanium, Aluminium). So that was when my name was born! My sister initially started me off making videos; she wanted to make some videos, but didn’t know what she wanted to film, and had been on at me for a while for me to let her film me making cards. So she set up her recording equipment in her lounge, and I took over piling in all my craft supplies, and I filmed a couple of videos. As I already had the name of my channel, I said could she make me some titles (as she is an animator) so I prepared all the pieces, and said I want it to have a cork board background, and I want the bee (my signature bee!) to fly in a certain way etc. and she did that for me too! This was towards the beginning of my final year of university, and she then edited the footage for me, so the first two videos on my channel were all her work. The first one went up in Feb 2015.

Life then got too hectic with writing my dissertation and doing my final exams etc. so there was a long gap! I graduated in June 2015 and had a nice summer of card making (I had recently discovered Lawn Fawn at this point, and got a bunch of stamps and some new colours of ProMarkers as my graduation presents from my Mum, Dad and Nan). Then I decided to do an EngD (an engineering doctorate). I had quite enjoyed my final year of uni, and liked the idea of being Dr Smith, and they seemed to want me to apply, so I did. After a few months, I had a bit of a meltdown and spiralled into depression, so I left and moved back home. After a while of trying to get better and get back into a routine, I started getting lots of crafting magazines (a mix of the four I now design for) and to begin with I didn’t have the energy to get creating – I was still living in my head at this point – but gradually I sorted out my craft room and began playing around with the magazine freebies. Then I thought I need something to motivate me to actually make something and for it to have more of a purpose (that seems to be the way my brain works!) so I decided to resurrect my ‘Crafti’ channel.

I decided if I was going to give this a real go, it would have to be a permanent fixture so that it was always just there ready, so after a month or so of thinking, I finally decided on a monitor arm, which I got Dad to screw into my windowsill, and then I could attach my camera to it. So everything was there ready, and I began filming videos mostly of cards I had made using magazine freebies. I actually sent most of these cards off to the magazines to see if I could get them in the readers gallery. I would always check out the readers gallery and had noticed that a few of the cards I had sent in over the summer were appearing in there so I thought I might as well send some more in while I had the time and was enjoying playing with the freebies so much! I think I had managed to film about 30 videos before I edited my first one, and the first one I edited and uploaded myself was called Springtime Steampunk! I think I then left it about 2 weeks till I uploaded the next one, but I carried on filming more so I had the footage ready. I then started seeing some of my cards appearing in the readers gallery again and was so pleased! This spurred me on to get on with editing some more of my videos – I think I was maybe doing two a week for a while – or just doing them randomly. And then there was a turning point – e-mail from Natalie (Practical Publishing Editor)! She said that she’d loved the cards I’d been sending in and did I have a blog or anything? So I sent her a link to my blog, but didn’t hear anything for quite some time. However, knowing that editors from my favourite magazines liked my work encouraged me to film even more videos and send in even more cards using the mag freebies 😀

Then when I heard back from Natalie she said she loved my video of the flamingo shaker card, and could she share it on the Facebook page? Then she asked if I’d make some videos for the papercraft magazines Facebook page and of course I said yes! And I felt so privileged to get sent some upcoming magazine freebies, it was so exciting to be one of the first people to work with them. Then a bit later she asked if I’d like to be in the magazines – and I was over the moon and of course I jumped at the chance! So at this point I realised doing my videos must be worthwhile because my favourite magazines are interested, so I think this was the point that I then attempted posting a new video everyday! My initial plan was to go for a month solid, then I raised it to 100 days running, and in the end I managed 216 days running, and now I do at least 5 every week! I’ve still doing at least one video for every magazine freebie, as well as having a Spellbinders video every Monday and a Tonic video every Tuesday too,

How did you settle on your sped-up style?

The main reason I went for a sped up style is that I originally thought only my friends would be interested in my videos, and they’re not crafters, so they would only want to watch a quick video that kind of shows them the process of how I made their card. But now I know other people want to watch them, I’ve still kept that sped up style because I learn from watching, and I like being able to see someone doing a technique a few times for it to sink in, so I thought a sped up video watched a few times is better than a slow video you’d only watch half way through because you’d get bored!

We love your opening logo. Where did this come from – what inspired it?

My sister created my titles for me. She has her own stop motion animation company (Animatortor) and as it was her idea for me to start making videos. That means she had to make me some titles to make my videos look professional!

As for CRaFTi PoTeNTiAl (Carbon, Radon, Fluorine, Titanium, Polonium, Tellurium, Nitrogen, Titanium, Aluminium) – I knew I wanted this to be the name of my channel as well as my blog, and that’s why my titles also say ‘The science of Crafting’ because it’s made of elements from the periodic table. So I prepared all the pieces, and said I want it to have a cork board background, and I want the bee to fly in a certain way etc. and so she set to work scrunching up and cutting up all my hard work to make my titles!

Tell me about the products you use. What are your essential craft items you can’t live without?

My absolute favourite crafty item I cannot craft without (it feels weird making a card without it) is my A3 Tonic glass cutting mat! I think I’ve had mine 2 and a half years now and it cleans up so easily that it still looks new! My second item is Cosmic Shimmer Dries Clear Glue, this is simply the best glue ever! It grabs so quickly and even if you add to much and it squidges out the sides, it dries completely clear and matt. Another essentials is a good pair of scissors! I love fussy cutting images for my cards, and my go-to brand for scissors is certainly Tonic! I would also not be without my Platinum 6 Die-Cutting Machine (I have the Platinum too, however when filming videos is much easier to pull in my smaller machine). It is such a powerful machine and cuts perfectly every time (no more turning my dies 20 times to get an intricate design to cut all the way through). Also a good quality guillotine is also a must have!

What’s your latest trend – what technique are you really enjoying at the moment?

I think shaker cards are still one of my favourite trends, they seem to come in and out of fashion, but even though I made my first one back in 2012 I still love making them! Other than that I think I tend to jump around a lot between lots of different techniques, however I do love using my Pebeo Mixed Media Fantasy Paints in my card making too, they’re really meant for home décor or creating big works of art, but they just look like magic! I can’t resist using them on my cards.

Tell me a little about some of the collaborations you’re working on at the moment

I’ve only done one collaboration on my YouTube channel so far, and that was last Christmas with Christina Griffiths, aka Card Making Magic! And we might have some more in the pipeline too, so watch this space 😀

Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you look to other designers, use magazines, other tutorials, inspiration from elsewhere?

Lots of people ask me this, I always find it difficult to answer, because practically every idea just comes from my head! Sometimes an idea is sparked by a colour way (like from a pair of stripy socks) or from a single image from a stamp set, or even from a pun (I love my punny sentiments!) but a lot of the time I’m just watching telly, or walking the dog, or trying to fall asleep and an idea just pops into my head. Occasionally I get inspiration from a product too; I like to think of different ways to use products and that can often spark another idea that is totally un-related! I tend to have far too many ideas! I’m constantly surrounded by notebooks which are all bursting with ideas I’m yet to try 😀

What’s next for you, Christine?

I’m not really sure what’s next, I’m really happy with everything I’m doing now, I’m so proud to be on the design team for my four favourite magazines, and for CraftStash too! I’m also currently a Spellblogger, on the 2017 Design Team for Creative Expressions and I’m part of Tonic Studios Blog Tonic too. I still have to pinch myself to believe that I have literally created my dream job – crafting all-day-long! And I could not be happier. In terms of new products though, I am so super excited about Christina Griffiths’ new range, Card Making Magic! I’ve watched Christina on television or YouTube for years now, and am so blessed to have been friends with her for over a year now too – and am so utterly thrilled that she’s finally got her own range of products!

 

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