Made By Mrs M

Day in the Life - Debbie Carne - Alijoe Deigns

Day in the Lifemadebymrsm

Yes, it's the return of Day in the Life! We're kicking off the 2016 series with Debbie Carne, who I've met at a number of events where she's been selling her fantastic upcycled vintage plates. You can see more of them here. Now over to Debbie for a day in her life...

Waking up is never hard to do these days – the alarm is set for 7 but I’m invariably awake at 6.30 and raring to go.

I still have to pinch myself that THIS is my day job now – having quit the big career a year ago, I’m truly loving every minute of my second working life.

First things first – to make sense of the scribbles in the pad next to my bed where I have jotted down ideas that hit me in the middle of the night. This morning was a Fornasetti style plate pair with a knitting theme going on...

Shower, breakfast, newspaper, washing machine on and I am invariably in my ‘space’ by 8 - with a little ‘welcome’ from Ai WeiWei!

I have so many ideas flying around and different things on the go at any one time that I tend to flit between activities during the course of the day. I probably ‘should’ be more focussed and have a plan for each day but I rather like the spontaneity of it all, even if it means that the ‘boring’/admin tasks tend to pile up.

Thank goodness for post it notes to register those random thoughts and ‘must do’s’.

Typically, I will start with emails and Social Media – with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on the go and being horribly addictive, I have to be disciplined about time spent on all that.

If I have had an overnight order (the wonders of International reach with Etsy!), I will process that ready to post on my daily walk.

But if I have a new idea for plates (like this morning) I will want to start on it straight away – choosing the plates from my collection, sourcing the images, manipulating or combining with Photoshop, creating a Powerpoint slide and printing off a paper version to play around with. I have shelves of plates in my room that are roughly organised into colours, size and/or shape.

The paper layout is an important part of the process and enables me to play around with different sizes and combinations of imagery on the plates.

Once I am happy with the layout, I will print off an image sheet onto special transfer paper.

The actual process of applying the transfer is wonderfully therapeutic – I have the radio on (BBC Radio 4 or London), clear and clean the surface, cut the images and prepare the tools for application (water, cloth and knife).

My magnifying light then comes into its own to ensure there are no air bubbles in the transfer and that the application is as smooth as can be.

The plates are then left in a rack to ‘dry’ prior to heat sealing in the oven the next day.

Part of the fun of my work is sourcing the plates from charity and/or bric a brac shops from all around the country - once every couple of months, I will go off for a day or two on a recce, invariably with my husband, Steven, who loves the plate sourcing too. We will go somewhere that I’ve researched ahead for its volume of potential shop sources – most recently, to North Norfolk and Cheshire, with a trip to the North East planned soon.

But I will always check out our local charity shops for any hidden plate wonders – combining this with a walk, post office if I have plates to ship and perhaps meeting a friend for coffee.

Most days I will be home/locally bound but some days I will head off into town to just wander around a different area and/or to visit a gallery. Always open to inspiration, I will capture images of anything that is out of the ordinary or jot down thoughts as they come to me. This week I went to the Tate Modern for the PopArt exhibition, combining it with a wander on the Southbank and back streets of Southwark.

When it is a ‘home day’, I will spend an hour or so catching up on webinars that I subscribe to and may have missed. A key goal this year is to have my own website (not just Etsy) and to start blogging – one of the big catch ups at the moment are the sessions from the wonderful ‘No Bull Blog School’ that I am subscribed to. (It is run by a lovely lady called Sarah Awkiscombe – highly recommend it!)

Most days, I will also have finished plates to photograph and listings to write for Etsy – but at the moment, whilst I run my January sale, I am building a new collection ready to launch in February.

Whilst every plate I make is unique, insofar as the combination of the image and plate is a one off, there are clearly some designs that fly off the shelves – my new collection will comprise some old favourites (all be they in new plate contexts) with some completely new concepts. The Fornasetti inspired plates have proved my most popular and I have people waiting to see new listings around this theme. The Fornasetti knitting plate set is just one of them – now affectionately known as ‘Time to Unwind’. You saw it here first...

Weekday evenings may involve meeting up with a mate but mostly it will be dinner at home with Steven - and sometimes our elder son, Alex, who is living at home at the moment.

The day typically ends with some ironing and TV prior to going to bed – but a restless night often ensues as I wait for the next morning so that I can get on with new ideas...

You can find Alijoe Designs on Etsy - also follow Debbie on Twitter and Instagram.

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