Interview Series | iron leaf press

Today we are talking with Danielle Ameling, of iron leaf press. Dive in and read how you can help make her business dreams come true and how she came up with the name!
KHENRI: GIve us a little background/bio/description of yourself. Where did you grow up, what do you do, etc?
DA: I grew up in a small town called Ossian in Northeast Iowa. I moved to Des Moines to attend Grand View College and then worked for a sign shop in Urbandale after graduation. About a year into the sign shop job, I got a job in Cedar Rapids and have lived just outside of Cedar Rapids, in Mount Vernon since then.
I work in a marketing department as a graphic designer during the day and also do freelance design and run Iron Leaf Press in my spare time. I’m also a member of the Ladies of Letterpress and the Amalgamated Printer’s Association (#868), which is a group of printers that exchange letterpress prints every month.
KHENRI:You are involved in a contest right now. What’s it for and how can we help you win!
DA: I’m competing in the Dream Big. Grow Here. contest. Its an Iowa-based contest through The state is divided up into regions and the top-five vote-getters from each region go on to present their business plan. The winner receives $5,000 and goes on to compete with the other regional winners for an additional $10,000 for their business.
For this stage of the contest, I’m seeking votes. You can vote once each day until November 9th, so vote now and vote often (you must have a Facebook account to vote—it doesn’t add any app or spam you—just a one button click). Go to or to vote. I even made a stop-motion video to accompany my entry.
KHENRI: How did you get started doing letterpress? What inspires/motivates you?
DA: I got started doing letterpress after taking a printmaking class at Grand View. Grand View had a small Showcard press and I did mostly linoleum cuts back then. Professor Mary Jones borrowed some woodtype from the now defunct Crown Craft Printing during that semester and that was my first experience printing with woodtype.
Shortly after that printmaking class, I visited Printer’s Hall in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa during their Annual Midwest Great Northern Printer’s Fair (held every year in mid-September). I met a lot of great printers there and eventually bought my first press from the owner of Ackley Publishing. Since then, I’ve exhibited my prints at the Des Moines Arts Festival, the Valley Junction Art Market, and Frackleberry’s. I added another press and a foil stamper over the summer and hope to be busy this winter printing.
KHENRI: And what do you most enjoy about doing it? 
DA: One of my favorite parts of letterpress is pulling the first print. Letterpress involves a lot of set-up, so there is a lot of satisfaction getting the first glimpse of the project coming off the press. I also really enjoy being able to see a project from the initial concepting stage to final product. Being able to control all parts of the process is a fun, but also challenging if things aren’t going quite right.
KHENRI: You are also a Grand View alum! Holla! What was one of your best memories?
DA: Picking one is pretty difficult……….many of them would be during the first few years of school in the old art department building. In drawing class, two friends and I made it a goal to have this little bronze goose in all of our drawings. He was a prop for still life drawings, but I think he was represented many times over the course of the semester, regardless of the assignment.
I also remember one of my design professors telling me and another good design friend, that if the graphic design thing didn’t work out, we could start a theater company in a barn in rural Iowa. We’ve always joked to this day that our theater company is our backup plan. I’m pretty sure one of us even made a logo for it at some point.
KHENRI: When you go to the grocery store, what are your go-to items?
DA: I would say orzo, eggs and cheese. I love pasta and orzo happens to be one of my favorites. I like that it has a bit of a nutty flavor and pairs well with another favorite—cheese. I’ve even went so far to make my own mozzarella, which was surprisingly easy. And with eggs, I’m a big fan of hardboiled and deviled eggs, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.
KHENRI: How’d you come up with the title Iron Leaf Press?
DA: The moniker came about near the time I moved to Cedar Rapids. My uncle was a blacksmith and made these leaf-shaped key chains. He was a very talented and intelligent man, and followed his passions. He passed away unexpectedly and I always wanted to remind myself that I can follow my passions through letterpress and design.
KHENRI: What services do you offer clients? And If someone were interested in using your services, how can they get ahold of you?
DA: Iron Leaf Press does both letterpress and design. Design services include branding, logos, invitations, stationary, business cards, magazine and brochure layout, signage, really anything that can be designed. Letterpress services include business cards, invitations (including wedding/baby/birthday/etc.), social stationary, coasters, posters, and ephemera. The best way to get ahold of me would be to email
KHENRI: What do you do in your spare time?
DA: I keep fairly busy in my spare time. I help my boyfriend run his business, Sweet Dee’s Beignets, which debuted at the Cedar Rapids Famer’s Market this year (and I did all the branding). We also like to bike together and this was my first year doing RAGBRAI. I’ve also been on a sand volleyball team the past two years (we’re terrible, but its a fun time). Outside of that, I like to travel (crossed four states off the list this year) and enjoy cooking and dining on new foods.
Make sure to vote for iron leaf press!
Read past interviews here:
Jerri Valentine – makeup artist/photographer – Des Moines, Iowa
My Vicarious Life – fashion blogger, editor, Katrice – Atlanta, Georgia
Body By Svec – artist, Emily Svec – Des Moines, Iowa
808 Shirts – screenprinters, Tampa Bay, Florida
Sara Fakhraie – artist, South Dakota
Wesley Cook (donate to his kickstarter project) – musician, Atlanta, Georgia
Brolester Records, Jeremiah Tuhn, record label – Des Moines, Iowa
Atom St. George – artist, Riverside, California
John Eric Booth – vocalist, West Virginia
Brent Houzenga – artist, New Orleans
Adrienne Gross of justADG – photographer, Des Moines, Iowa
Harley May – writer and comic, The South

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