Do you want a sneak peek in my new studio? I will be open for Christmas in Aurora on December 9th from 12-5pm!
Come tour the studio, see the equipment and experience printing ornaments and cards on an antique press. A popup shop will be set up in the studio featuring hand-made books and cards. The official opening won’t be until Spring! 2211 Moonshine Road (corner of Rt. 90 and Moonshine), Aurora, New York. I hope to see you there!
Robert LoMascolo was in first grade, his teacher asked what he wanted to
do when he grew up. Some of his classmates chose careers as
firefighters or police officers, while others wanted to follow in their
parents' footsteps. But LoMascolo had a different idea: He wanted to own
his own museum.
Now, nearly 25 years later, that dream has come true.
native of Union Springs, LoMascolo said his journey began in 2005, when
he came across a bookbinding course in his first semester at Wells
College. At first he was interested in fine art, but after learning how
to create sculptural books, he decided to pursue book arts as a minor.
Then, as with bookbinding, another class changed the course of his career: letterpress printing.
complete the minor, I had to take letterpress printing and I didn't
really want to," LoMascolo said. "I didn't think I'd like it because I
figured, 'Well, you can do all of this stuff so much easier on a
computer. What's the point of using metal type?'"
it turned out, though, LoMascolo loved the centuries-old method, which
uses heavy machinery to print from a raised surface — machinery that
LoMascolo would soon start collecting.
earning his master's in book arts from the University of Alabama,
LoMascolo moved back home and began searching for his first press. He
found it in Oklahoma City: a 7,000-pound Heidelberg from 1968.
Heidelberg is a very late machine for letterpress printing . . . which
was pretty much dead by 1970," he said. "The first press is the hardest
to get, but I like to tell people it's like gravity; once you get that
first heavy piece of machinery, it starts to draw others to it."
the Heidelberg, LoMascolo came across half a dozen other cast iron
machines, including an 1899 press and a Vandercook Universal 4, one of
only four Vandercooks Universal 4 presses that have survived to this day. Over the next few
years, LoMascolo worked to restore the equipment in his parent's
"I was with my parents
in a little one-car garage (in Union Springs) and I figured, 'If Walt
Disney started in a garage, so could I,'" he said, smiling.
LoMascolo said he cleaned and
restored all of the machinery himself, often adding his own modern twist
to make the presses more efficient. He used things like modern speed
controls, computer monitors and polymer plates to merge the old and new
technology, and he opened his own business: The Press of Robert
In addition to
letterpress printing, LoMascolo said he does bookbinding and graphic
digital design for his clients. He has also begun teaching a bookbinding
course at Wells College.
really have to wear a bunch of hats to make this work and it's not
easy," he said, noting that he has clients all over the country,
including The Frick Collection in New York City and the John Carter
Brown Library at Brown University in Rhode Island.
But one thing has made it a whole lot easier, LoMascolo said: opening his own studio in Aurora.
in a wooded area on the corner of Route 90 and Moonshine Road, the
studio is considered by LoMascolo to be a "living museum," as people can
make appointments to see some of the old presses in action. His father
helped him clear the land and build the structure, which now houses over
18,000 pounds of equipment.
was a big step forward," LoMascolo said. "My mom likes to remind me (of
my dream) in first grade. . . . I guess that raised a few eyebrows at the
time, but that's pretty much what this is. My own museum."
Despite the digital age and his own simple start in a garage in Union Springs, LoMascolo said business has been booming.
want to see a little bit of bite into the paper ... texture that you
can feel," he said. "Some people compare it to orange juice; at one
time, the best orange juice had no pulp, but now everyone wants orange
juice with lots of pulp so they know it really came from an orange.
think the letterpress has really had a resurgence in the last decade
where people are getting interested in it again," LoMascolo added. "(It
is) definitely seeing it as something worth continuing."