Old-style printing press a centerpiece for one downtown Mount Vernon business

By  | 

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KCRG) - One might be surprised with what they find in the downtown area of Mount Vernon, and Iron Leaf Press definitely qualifies.

Danielle Chargo operates the 100-year-old printing press in Iron Leaf Press in Mount Vernon, Iowa (Bruce Aune/KCRG)

It is a small print shop run by Danielle Chargo, located at 102 First Street W, who has her formal educational background in graphic design. While in school, one class got her particularly interested in the unique hands-on experience of operating an old printing press.

The large one she has now in her shop is 100-years-old. It is the centerpiece of Iron Leaf Press.

"We have a greeting card line, so we print all of our greeting cards on letterpress on our antique printing presses," Chargo said. "Beyond the greeting cards, we do some custom work. So we do a lot of stationary orders, wedding invitations, business cards, thank you notes, a lot of that type of correspondence. Commercial correspondence as well as personal."

This is all done in handset type that she compiles letter by letter the old-fashioned way. Once it's in place on the press, and the ink is flowing, Chargo prints each of these cards, one-by-one, giving her customers a special memento of Mount Vernon.

Her work extends far beyond Mount Vernon, even including a project for Joanna Gaines, one of the stars of HGTV. Her work appeared in Gaines' magazine Magnolia.

"I got the order back in August last year, and it came through," Chargo said. "I recognized her name, obviously when I was printing it. And it shipped to Waco. So, still feeling the effects of that. That's kind of a neat thing that I can be here and work with local people, but I can also expand to everywhere across the country."

The end result of Chargo's work is something people near and far really appreciate.

"It's correspondence with people," Chargo said. "You send a birthday card, you send a wedding invite, it's kind of that connection. And also when they open it, they see the handiwork in it. They feel the connection."

Iron Leaf Press is open Tuesday through Saturday. Find out more at the store's website.