Last week I went to Chicago to attend the first h+h americas trade show and, while I had a blast, I seem to have returned home with a cold. So while I’m under the weather, I thought I would give you a first look at my new pen that arrived while I was away.
I’m still regretting that I didn’t purchase the Platinum 3776 Kumpoo, the 2018 limited edition. So when I saw the 2022 Shape of a Heart pen I didn’t hesitate to preorder ($312, Pen Chalet). And I’m not disappointed.
Shape of a Heart is black pen with pink-gold trim and a pink gold plated 14K gold nib. The “Shape of a Heart” refers to the heart-shaped piece that gets cut out of each Platinum nib. The finial is filled with crystals, and that gold “heart” from the nib. I saw my gold heart once, but it’s hard to find mixed in there with all the sparkling crystals. I ordered a fine nib, and I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
In another few weeks, once I’ve gotten to know my new pen, I’ll come back and give you a review, but until then I’ll leave you with a few photos. I guess this would qualify for entrance to the Black Pen Society?
Technically, not the entire staff of The Well-Appointed Desk went to the St. Louis Pen Show this weekend but Jesi, Jaclyn and I all descended on St. Louis while Laura attended a conference in Chicago so a couple things happened — or more specifically didn’t happen.
First, nobody prepared posts for the days we were gone and I blame myself for not being more organized. Hopefully, you all were either in St. Louis or spelunking in the great outdoors this weekend so you didn’t even notice, did you? Cool.
Second, none of us took a group photo of the three of us in the same place at the same time. Though we did take pictures of our many similar pens.
What was interesting about this pen show for us was that all three of us were there in different capacities. Jesi helped out at the Dromgoole’s table as their ink maven, I had my own table for The Well-Appointed Desk/Skylab Letterpress and Jaclyn attended an actual attendee, even going to a nib tuning class hosted by Ralph Reyes of Regalia Writing Labs.
Jesi and I arrived on Thursday and spent an inordinate amount of time just goofing off and playing with ink. Partially, this was done to help calm me down since I forgot an entire crate of merchandise and odds and ends and was in a tizzy. The biggest issue was that I forgot the credit card reader in the absent crate so Bob ended up having to ship it to me overnight. $$$$$
Friday, with crate in hand, I was able to set up my table and actually sell some product. I feel a little out of practice setting up tables for shows and feel like I should have done a test set up at home so I could zhoosh the whole thing. I think the set up was okay for the first time I’ve done a show in over two years.
The show featured over 90 vendors in one large ballroom making shopping and browsing easy. Lots of pen show vendor regulars were present like Paul Erano, Dromgoole’s, Kanilea, Hinze, Federalist Pens and many, many more. There were also a ton of classes offered as well.
I suppose the biggest news, at least on The Well-Appointed Desk table was that the much discussed XXL Col-o-ring product did make an appearance. We have named it the Col-o-ring FOLIO. The name is based on the full sheet size originally used for the Gutenberg Bible. The original folio size was 12×17.5″ but we took some liberties with the size to best utilize every inch of our full sheet size so our FOLIO is 12×16″ and is filled with 40 sheets of original Col-o-ring paper, glue bound into a pad and covered with a kraft paper cover to protect your project. The cover uses a lighter weight paper to allow it to easily be folded back and not be too cumbersome. The back of the pad has a chipboard backer to provide support and protection.
The Col-o-ring FOLIO will be available for purchase this weekend. We just need to get the listing in order on Big Cartel and Etsy and make sure we have mailing boxes and shipping rates established. The price for a FOLIO is $40 plus shipping and due to the size and weight, the FOLIO shipping costs will be around $8 – $12 in the US (final shipping costs TBD).
Above is the very quick-and-dirty video I made showing the FOLIO compared to a Col-o-dex and a Dipper. More photos and information will be available this weekend.
Friday, we had dinner with the crew from Hinze Pens at a nearby pub. A good time was had by all!
Later, we popped into the auction to do our best to lighten the mood.
Saturday was a whirlwind. There was the normal hustle of a Saturday although not as much hustle as we all had hoped. Jesi and I however, taught a class for attendees called All The Inks where we firehosed the crowd with our knowledge and banter about ink. Then we let the group try out several ink sampling techniques.
After Hours activities were minimal as Jesi and I were 100% exhausted. I did spend some time swapping pens to try with a lovely group of people before I was pretty much asleep on my feet.
Sunday was a bit busier than expected but it did not make up for a slower than expected Saturday. For attendees, the slower Saturday and Sunday made shopping and chatting easy and fun but for vendors, there was a good deal of fretting about making enough sales to cover expenses for the weekend.
Before I knew it though, the show was over and it was time to pack up and this was genuinely the first time I had a moment to take photos of the show but it’s like taking pictures of the morning after the circus was in town. It’s mostly empty box tumbleweeds and empty water bottles.
The St. Louis Pen Show was only two years old when the pandemic hit and then it had to hibernate for two years due to the pandemic so it really had to start over, IMHO. I hope that the St. Louis community can genuinely support a show of this size but as it is right now, for vendors it’s challenging. For attendees though, it’s a great show.
Within 24 hours, I will be on the road on my way to the St. Louis Pen Show. In this pandemic-ridden world, the idea of surrounding myself with more people, particularly after so many friends and colleagues have contracted COVID in the last month or so, is a little nerve-wracking. I know lots of people have contracted COVID and recovered in no time, but as an asthmatic, the idea of catching this illness scares the crap out of me. So, if you see me with a mask on this weekend, do not take offense. I do not want to catch an illness that could potentially result in a hospital stay and ventilator.
Beyond the health risks, hauling and setting up a table is nerve-wracking and stressful. Did I remember to pack this or that or the other thing? Will anyone buy what I bring?
And then Jesi and I are teaching a workshop on inks so that’s a whole additional level of stress. I am fine standing in front of people as long as I feel prepared but having not taught this type of workshop before means I am not entirely sure what people are expecting from the content.
If you see me or Jesi, please say hello. We are just as nervous and stressed at these events as you might be and we have added all these additional stressors as well so seeing friendly, happy faces is just what we need to settle nerves. If you smuggle us a gin & tonic too, we’ll be your friend for life.
As you read this post, I’m out of the office on my first business trip since the summer of 2019. My day job is working in marketing at an agency that caters to crafty entrepreneurs in the fiber and fabric space (think yarn stores, quilt stores, yarn dyers, needle manufacturers and more!)
The truth is I don’t travel much, but I do tend to go to an industry trade show about once per year. Or I did until 2020 happened. This week I’m in Chicago at the first big industry show since COVID. Not traveling often, and not having traveled for work for 3 years, I was struck with a bit of a panic about what to bring. I had time to order a few things, but I thought I’d cover my “carry” for this show.
One bag to rule them all – The Baron Fig Tote Bag
Those of you who were around for the Kickstarter days of this one may remember that it was the subject of a bit of controversy. However, I’ve recently rediscovered my Baron Fig Tote Bag and I have to say it’s checking my boxes lately. The straps are wide and comfortable and will be nice and utilitarian for carrying a bag through a conference floor. It will easily hold my marketing materials (biz cards and postcards), a notebook for keeping notes on my meetings, my wallet and phone. It doesn’t have a lot of pockets, but I like that one on the front for my keys and phone, and the rest will be contained in zippy pouches and the like.
When I’m not on the conference floor, I can slip my laptop in the bag (in a new sleeve, keep reading) and head for coffee to catch up on my notes. And there’s probably still room for a knitting project.
The Laptop Sleeve – Rickshaw Horizontal Laptop Sleeve
When I realized I wanted to throw my laptop in the Baron Fig Tote rather than carry a more padded bag (I’d rather carry less weight on the trade show floor), I decided I needed a sleeve to slip my laptop into to keep it safe and scratch free. Cue Rickshaw. I ordered myself a Horizontal Laptop Sleeve in the custom color of my choice, added priority shipping and I had it in just a few days.
The Notebook Cover – The Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter
A while ago Ana gave me her Roterfaden Tachenbegleiter on loan, and it is the perfect tool this week. It’s lightweight, made primarily of felt and cardboard, with lots of pockets for biz cards and other things. It’s got metal tabs where you can add notebooks, and a pen loop so you have a pen handy. I don’t see these amazing zippy colors (Ana says this was a special order), but you can find more details here at JetPens.
The Notebook – Midori A5 Color Paper Notebooks
I ordered a stack of the Midori A5 Color Paper Notebooks ($3.25, Jetpens) these a while ago, and I just need a lightweight notebook I can dedicate to this show – my notes on meetings, photos, leads to follow up on and more. I “customized” mine by adding a leftover holiday card envelope (using washi tape) to the inside front cover so I can store lots those biz cards I collect with all my notes.
The Pens – An assortment of favorites
As much as I love fountain pens, they’re just not always the most convenient at a working show. People are always asking to borrow your pen, cartridges somehow always explode all over me and I just need something quick and reliable. For this show I opted for the following three:
Zebra Zensations – I don’t like going disposable, but I’ve been very pleased with these. If it walks off at the show, I won’t be super upset, and I’ve still got lots of ink left, so hopefully it will get me through!
Spoke Roady – I just got this one last week and I’m eager to take it out for a drive. It’s a combination of fun and convenient. I’ve got a brand new refill in it and I’m ready to go!
Kaweco x Hello Kitty AL Sport – Ok I can’t resist so I’m taking one of my favorites with me. It’s filled with KWZ Raspberry Ink and it will be super fun to use!
All of these are stored in my Unicorn Snot (Spa Blue/Lime Green) NockCo Sinclair pen case which I use as a combo pen case and wallet when I travel. My id, a few cards, some cash and 3 pens and I’m good to go.
So that’s what I’ve got with me this week. What are your must haves when you travel?
I’m a huge fan of Rickshaw Bags. Ever since my first daily-carry Zero Messenger Bag (now 10 years old and still looking great), which has traveled with me to four continents, I’ve found reasons (and excuses) to buy more bags in other colors, sizes, fabrics and styles. I also have several stationery accessories. Handmade in San Francisco, the products are all well made, durable and – the most addictive part – color-customizable!
Rickshaw’s Plush Valet Tray ($34) is not an item that initially struck me as useful. Traditionally, a valet is used by men as a pocket dump. Since I don’t carry coins, keys, knives or anything else in my pockets, I don’t have this need. However, I do have a specific art table need, and when I spotted the cushy valet, I suddenly realized what its purpose is.
When I’m working on a drawing or other project at my desk, I’m constantly picking up and putting down various pencils, pens, scissors or other tools, and I don’t like the noisy clatter they make on my desktop surface or a hard tray. I’d tried paper towels and fabric to set tools down on, but round pencils kept rolling off.
The rectangular 4-by-8-inch valet is an ideal size for giving my currently used tools a soft, silent place to land – it’s plush-lined! Yes, my pencils now have a more comfy seat than I do. I don’t have any of Rickshaw’s gorgeous, plush-lined fountain pen cases or Coozies because I refuse to let my pens be better dressed than I am. OK, I do have one Clover Pen Sleeve (alas, no longer available), seen in this post, which also shows a couple of my many Rickshaw bags. But the Clover has a specific travel purpose beyond keeping my pens warm and stylishly dressed.
I chose Cordura fabric in Iris on the outside (in homage to my original, well-traveled Zero Messenger) and orange plush on the inside.
The valet has an interesting and functional design: In use, the four corners are snapped together into a simple tray. When unsnapped, the valet goes flat for storage or travel. It’s also available in three square sizes and a slightly less cushy version in waterproof EPX fabric.
This is one of those things that I did not know I needed until I saw it, and now I don’t know how I ever worked at my desk without it! Did I mention that it’s color-customizable? Don’t play with the customizing tool just before bedtime. I guarantee you will stay up too late trying out all the color combos.
I’ve been watching Spoke for a while now, and I finally broke down a week or two ago and ordered my very own Spoke Roady in Purple ($59.00). I opted to start with the ball point/gel since I’m getting ready to travel and I don’t always fine fountain pens the easiest to travel with (more on that next week).
The Spoke Roady is Spoke’s pocket pen and it manages to be fairly tiny, without being minuscule (I’m looking at you Liliput!) It is approximately 4.25″/10cm in length when capped, and ends up at 4.625″/11.5 cm when posted, which is how I found it most comfortable to write.
The Roady is Spoke’s standard metal body with a titanium grip section and silver hardware. It comes in at about 27g so it’s fairly lightweight as well.
The Roady comes with a Jetstream Uni SXR-600-07 refill in black and I just popped that in there for easy usage.
I found the Roady a pleasure to hold in my hand. Even though the grip is scored, it’s nice and smooth, so it’s comfortable to hold. The Jetstream Uni is also quite smooth, without the skipping I find in a lot of ball point pens. While the pen can be used without posting, I found that I liked the weight distribution better with the cap on.
And the cap is really fun – it’s magnetic and it just slides onto either end of the pen easily.
Overall, I’m liking my Roady so far and I’ll be testing it out more on my travels next week!
Dominant Industry is a new ink brand that has started showing up in many pen retail stores recently. They come in beautifully shaped glass bottles packaged in a dust bag and thin cardboard box.
I purchased my bottle from Yoseka Stationary where it is listed as $20 for 25mL because I couldn’t resist the color combination in Autumn Forest.
While the description of Autumn Forest calls the ink base “dark green”, I would describe the ink as a dark brown-grey.
The pearl sparkle in Autumn Forest is red and looks striking against the dark ink.
The writing sample below is on Midori MD light paper.
I started this writing sample immediately after I inked up the pen in order to best show the sparkle.
I then waited for a full week with the ink sitting in the pen. I began the second writing session with the words “I typically…” in the photo below. The pen did not have a problem starting, but the ink color was noticeably lighter and the sparkle took time to show up.
When the sparkle in Autumn Forest can be seen, it is dramatic!
There was no bleeding or feathering on the Midori MD light paper.
Comparing the color of Autumn Forest to other inks is difficult. Shifting the angle of the page brings out new colors every time. In one type of light, the base ink looks grey with strong blue undertones.
The color of the sparkle is close to the ink color in Diamine Frosted Orchid while the mixture of the ink and sparkle resembles Sailor 252.
The overall look of the ink is close to that of Krishna Pencil – at least, the first batch of Pencil.
But overall, Autumn Forest is a unique color combination. Below, the ink on Tomoe River paper looks grey and blue. There was no problem with feathering or bleed-through.
The pearl sparkle almost takes the role of sheen!
On Cosmo Air Light paper, the blue undertones of Autumn Forest almost disappear. Again, there was no feathering or bleed-through.
I am happy I’ve purchased an entire bottle of Autumn Forest and I look forward to seeing how the ink and sparkle act over a longer period of time.
DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were paid for by myself. Please see the About page for more details.