Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Emilie Douglas Ball and I am the owner and designer behind Gildem. I am originally from Rhode Island, but moved to California with my husband seven years ago after taking a job as a designer on a TV show for the DIY Network. After a few years of living in Los Angeles, I switched jobs and we settled in a small beach community tucked along the Ventura coast.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I split my time between Gildem and freelance furniture design. The correlation of these two projects gives me great balance. Away from design, I love trying out new vegan and raw recipes, working out, taking day trips to the local hot springs, shopping at farmers’ markets and hunting for housewares at thrift stores. Oh, and spending way too much time reading blogs on my phone.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Please Stop Reading This and Go Make Something.
- Where does your inspiration come from?
- I draw inspiration from my living environment and from the materials I choose for my designs. I am motivated to create items that have a soulful purpose in the home. Additionally, I love celebrating materials by using them in their highest capacity possible.
What does handmade mean to you?
I think of anything not of our natural world as handmade. I have a deep respect for all craftsmen (from artisans to factory workers). There are humans behind everything we use and having a conscious idea of where something comes from makes me appreciate the objects and people that surround us.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My family has been my biggest support. My husband has given me the time and space to create and slowly build Gildem. Also, my family far and wide; their positive reassurance is felt daily through emails, phone calls and Skype chats.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I’ve always been a visual learner and believe that thriving in grade school art class gave me the confidence I had trouble finding in other academics. I knew I was an artist when I started branching out and making things on my own. I am not positive when it started (maybe when I was 6?) but I distinctly remember making furniture out of sticks in the woods.
How would you describe your creative process?
It’s all in my head. I continually brainstorm before developing a new product. My process of making something starts with the design, the reason, the shape, but then moves into the physical. All these aspects have limitations, but I try to problem solve before I begin. I always have a game plan; I never just experiment with a material.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Tage Frid, for sure. His teaching and dedication to American furniture design was so monumental to the curriculum at the Rhode Island School of Design furniture program I graduated from in 2001. Studying his techniques through his book made me feel as if I knew him. The pictures and explanations were a key building block to my education and I truly appreciate his dedication in making it his life’s work.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My husband and I were given a painting on our wedding day by the Hawaiian artist Sunao Hironaka. Growing up, my home was dotted with paintings that had a strong tie to my family’s history. This painting is the start of my history. It was originally purchased by my late grandmother in the 1960s while she and my mother were vacationing in Hawaii. It depicts two Hawaiians surfing under Diamond Head on Oahu; the scene will always remind me of my mother’s childhood, my grandparents and my honeymoon to Maui.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Creatively, I never have problems thinking of ideas. My ruts can be described as “lulls” in the building process. Sometimes, when I get hung up on a detail, I just lose steam and I need to tuck it away for a while. A project that has had time to rest can then be seen in a fresh new perspective. I never want to force anything I do creatively.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
In a home by the beach, that has a large studio so I can build furniture, a few bountiful fruit tress out back and all my loved ones within.