Finding a gift that speaks to students who spend their days in dialogue with the greatest thinkers of the last two millennia is a daunting task, often riddled with indecision and fear of inadequacy. Your run of the mill conversation-starter gifts simply don’t cut it for those with a taste for the finer things. Instead, mugs with “Hail Mary full of grace, punch the devil in the face” and wine bottle charms featuring saints are the ideal gift for any UDer , fromer and spromers alike.
Door Number 9, a company started by alumnus Elisa Low, sells just those sorts of refined items.
Low started her first company selling cloth diapers from her garage. After five years, she decided to sell that business in order to take a year off to go back to her art major roots and paint.
“We lived in a small house with four kids and didn’t have a lot of wall space, plus I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on large canvases, so I decided to paint all the doors in my house,said Low, describing her first project.
Low’s house had eight doors which were transformed into a Tardis, platform 9 and 3/4, Boo’s room from “Monsters Inc”, the Gates of Moria that glowed in the dark and more.
By the time she had finished the doors in her house, she knew what had to come next: Door Number 9.
Door Number 9 is described on Etsy as a junction of geeky and Catholic.
“Orson Scott Card once wrote about how Science Fiction is the genre most suited to exploring religious and metaphysical themes, and that’s a big part of why I love it so much,” Low elaborates on her Etsy page. “I realized one day that so many of the medieval and renaissance paintings were basically mash-up fan art.”
Low’s artistic process is one she learned as a student at UD. It consists of defining an objective, and then establishing constraints within which to achieve it.
“Dan [Hammett]’s class was all about fulfilling an objective within tightly defined limits: basically visual problem solving,” Low said. “Make this, but it must fit within these dimensions and you can only use these colors. Do that, but you are limited to these two materials.”
For example, her goal for the “Hail Mary” mugs was that they would make people both laugh and pray. Her UD art education emphasized precise consideration of the final piece and the way it will best suit the user. She expounded on how this consideration informed her design of her children’s Hamilton costume coats.
“I wanted to design something that kids could use to dress up like the Broadway character, but it needed to be durable enough for everyday make-believe, and simple enough that it would be affordable to produce.”
Low greatly enjoyed her time at UD. She participated in many clubs including Swing team and Ultimate Frisbee, but looking back, she wishes she had become more involved backstage in the theater department, especially the costume shop.
Low’s weeks are filled with the responsibilities of being a mother of four and a small business owner, which leaves her time for the artistic work that she loves. Her favorite part of her company is designing and refining each new item.
Low’s hope for Door Number 9 is that it will grow large enough that she can hire someone else to do the accounting, shipping and production.