Tiny Desk {Entre}View: Cory Bordonaro of Four Hats Press

It is with great pleasure that I introduce
one of my favorite people in Birmingham,
Cory Bordonaro.


Cory is the owner of Four Hats Press,
creating paper goodies and letterpressness.
She’s a talented printer, handletterer and designer.

And the girl can write.

She started out in magazine journalism
before pursuing a love for letterpress,
and even the way that she speaks is beautiful.

I met Cory years ago when I first moved to Birmingham.
I think we first had coffee with one Miss Carla Jean Whitley
(thanks, Carla Jean!)
and I’m happy that our creative paths have continued to cross since then.
She has printed several things for me, and the finished product is always stunning!

I enjoy our chats over coffee as we talk through business,
the creative world and deep thoughts, too.

You’re going to love her.

{C O R Y .  B O R D O N A R O}



Tell us about your desk (or workspace).
(any history behind it, where you bought it, etc.)


The desk itself is nothing special. It’s actually just an unfinished piece from Ikea. My work space has been in-progress for quite some time. I think I’m finally actually arriving at a place that I’m happy with. I started with a huge drafting table, but found that with more room, I worked a lot messier. With a smaller surface, I am able to edit carefully what I have out any time, and it actually makes for a better creative environment for me.


What’s on your desk (or around it) most of the time?

My mint green filing cabinet is my dear friend, helping me to stay organized. Atop of that is my other sidekick, my printer/scanner/copier. Close by is my light table, used for illuminating my paper for calligraphy work. I keep a bookshelf with paper samples and extra envelopes within arms reach, too.



What type of work happens at your desk most of the time?

Of course, I sit at my desk to hammer out all of the administrative (read: boring) tasks involved with running a small business. Outside of that, I use my desk for my computer and communicating with clients, but it’s also the place where I illustrate and hand-letter when designing. I’ll address envelopes for wedding jobs here, too, setting up a movie on the back corner of the desk to entertain me during those long hours. Audrey Hepburn, dear, I thank you for your kindnesses.


What do you see from your desk view?

I’m actually up against a blank wall (there are no windows in this part of my garage studio). I’ve pinned up a calendar, quotes, photos, and an ever-rotating set of prints to keep me inspired.



Tell us about the creative process that takes place in your space.

In some cases, I start from scratch designing invitations and wedding suites for my clients. So, when that’s happening, the process usually begins with doodling. I’ll write the bride and groom’s names dozens of times (until there are papers covering the carpet around my feet), until I’m happy with the look and feel. I then scan, digitize, and move elements around in Illustrator and Photoshop, often balancing out the hand-drawn text with other fonts. I’ll usually draft up two or three designs to send to a client for a first look, and then work from there to revise and arrive at something to match their vision.


How does your desk stay most of the time? (neat, organized, messy, or any other adjectives that you would use to describe it on a daily basis)

Because I spend a great deal of my time cranking my printing press, I’m often away from my desk for hours at a time. I love the up and down of my work, the opportunity to get a change of pace. So, that said, it stays pretty neat. I’m a little obsessive about things being in their right places.


Favorite item on your desk (if this applies to you).

I have a corner of my desk where I prop up favorite hand-written letters that I receive. I have some really thoughtful people in my life who create beautiful and visually stunning pieces of mail. I never throw them away. Maintaining correspondence is one of the very reasons that I got into printing to begin with.
What inspires you around your space?

I mentioned my print wall above, and that is truly my inspiration. I’ve learned from so many fellow printers, and am constantly being fueled by the creativity of others. I also love to keep truths —about myself and about my own Creator—in front my eyes. An author of one of my favorite books says that we should keep things in front of our eyes to remind our hearts. I try and do that as much as possible.


Do you listen to tunes while working? If so, what is your favorite type of music to listen to while working?

Oh, you better believe it! It runs the gamut. When I’m not listening to podcasts (like This American Life and Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me) and sermons (Matt Chandler and John Piper, being my favorite), I pick music based on my mood that day. My ultimate favorite is Patty Griffin, but when I have a lot of energy, it might be Stevie Wonder or Van Morrison.


Items that have to be there in order for you to work.

My press, my calligraphy nibs, my computer.


Favorite working drink to keep on your desk.



Anything else you would like to add?

I have an interesting relationship with desks. I’ve had some fine moments at some, but there have been other times in my life and short career that I’ve felt stuck behind the various desks at which I’ve been stationed. Studying for finals, writing college essays, working on a magazine deadline, or researching for pitch meetings. I think the thing that’s been so different about the office and desk that I’ve set up for myself in this season of my life is the flexibility I have with it. If it’s not working for me to be sitting there, I get up and move to the window upstairs to watch the (freak! Alabama) snowstorm. I’m a productive person. I always get my work done, but I thrive having the option of when, where, and how to do it. I may not always have that luxury, but for now, I’m treasuring it.



What a fantastic space.
I love the look of your desk and the way in which you work
is constantly inspiring to me!

Thanks for sharing, Cory! 

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  1. Carla jean whitley 03/28/2014 / 10:27 am

    First, I was thoroughly amused this morning when Jonathan walked over and told me I had been name-checked on your blog, which he had been reading. Second, I love everything about this post except the fact that I haven’t seen either of you in a while. Third, I no longer have a permanent desk (SB, that could make for an interesting, if less visually appealing, blog post), which means I no longer have my Four hats prints and Cory-penned Skirt essay hanging at my side. :(

    • sbpcobb
      04/02/2014 / 5:21 pm

      This is hilarious. Jonathan always has to let me know when he sees you at Urban. And I’m glad that it worked out that he could make you aware of the shout-out. I agree-I need to see more of you AND Cory! Let’s make it happen soon, please! Thanks for reading. :)

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