Phoenix Arising from the Ashes



Anyone still out there? It’s been (an embarrassing) 4 1/2 years since my last post! Many things have changed for me on the artistic front, all good, all part of my evolution as an artist.

It began several years ago when I took a master workshop from Keith Carter, a wonderful photographer and educator who instilled in me a newfound enthusiasm for learning the history of photography and focusing on long term projects.

That led to an interest in 19th century photographic printing processes. Being a professional master printer, albeit in the digital realm, I quickly got hooked on this new/old way of making prints and I was blown away by the quality of the palladium prints I was making. I was also playing with image transfers, another “handmade” process that creates unique prints.

My next foray was into the world of handset letterpress. There’s a wonderful local letterpress organization, North Bay Letterpress Arts, that offers workshops on how to practice this venerable art form. Soon I was combining letterpress text with my palladium and image transfer prints.

Next up was moving away from simple framed prints on the wall into the exciting world of handmade books. I found this the perfect vehicle for my handmade 19th century process prints and handset letterpress. I’ve taken some workshops at another wonderful local resource, the SF Center for the Book, and have found a couple of nice binding structures that work well with my prints.

I found myself needing a new workspace to house all of this new activity and its attendant equipment so last year was able to build a new 400 sq ft art studio on our property.


If you look closely you can see my darkroom (yes, people still use them!), my UV exposure unit, my etching press converted to do letterpress, PVA glue, flatfiles, etc, etc, etc. Lots of handmade furniture in the studio as well.

By now you might have guessed that a big theme in my work these days is “handmade”. I’m really enjoying practicing the craft of artmaking, making each completed piece a direct expression of my own thoughts and my own hands. The image at the top is the title page of one of my books celebrating the architecture of the objects of letterpress. The title “By Hand” is at the heart not only of that project but of all my work these days.

This blog will continue as a means for me to share with you this adventure. I’ll share my thoughts about artmaking with this new perspective as well as share what I’ve learned on a technical level in the areas of 19th century printing processes, handset letterpress and bookmaking.

I look forward to hearing from you and am always happy to share what I discover along the way.

6 responses to “Phoenix Arising from the Ashes

  1. Great to hear from you again Bob! Sounds very nourishing and fulfilling what you are doing. I am also doing stuff by hand – programming that is! 🙂 And very much enjoy it although I don’t think it’s quite as contemplative and tactile. Would love to come see your studio some time.

    • Hey, David

      You’re too young to remember programming by hand – I’m talking about punch cards!

      Good to hear from you, would love to have you guys visit our “campus” sometime.

  2. Hello, Mr Cornelis, I just discovered your blog and I am glad to read what you are up to. I am looking forward to read more about your craft and I will really enjoy some DIY tips 🙂

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