The Chicago Pen Show is only the second pen show I have attended, and I upped the ante for my second show by working in the Vanness Pen Shop booth for the weekend. This left me with very little time to shop and wander the show, but I got to meet and talk to so many wonderful people at the booth and in the evenings at the bar. Apparently, spending most of my time in the booth meant I took very few photos, so I apologize in advance.
Ana and I drove up to Chicago on Wednesday night, to prepare for Thursday’s booth setup. On Thursday morning we had some time to kill so we had a leisurely breakfast, extended knitting and inking time, and then Ana took me to Portillo’s (home of the Italian Beef) to treat me to “a piece of chocolate cake bigger than [my] head,” as she had been promising me for weeks. Then it was back to the hotel to spend the rest of the evening setting up the booth.
I should interject here that I celebrated my 40th birthday on Saturday, May 5 while at the show.
Technically, the first pen I got at the show was an amazing gift from Ana, a Parker Vacumatic that came to her through the late Susan Wirth. I was really taken with Vacs at the LA show and spent a little time learning about them there, but my concern was how to purchase a vintage pen in good condition. I was so touched at the significance of receiving a pen that had been touched by Susan, even though I never had the opportunity to meet her. Later on in the show I went and saw Ron Zorn (Main Street Pens) and he got the pen in working order for me.
Friday morning dawned bright and early and we were in the booth and ready to go. I later learned that the morning was only open to traders and weekend pass holders, and the public didn’t get to purchase admission until the afternoon. So the morning was a bit slow, but we got to meet and chat with lots of people. I made one big purchase on Friday, my first Jonathan Brooks (Carolina Pen Company) pen. I couldn’t resist the glitter!
This photo really doesn’t do the pen justice. It is a cross between grey, periwinkle and lavender body with lovely sparkle and glitter. My ink whisperer suggested I pick up a bottle of Akkerman #7 Queen’s Night Blue and that it would match perfectly. I couldn’t find it at the show, but it’s on its way to me now!
Saturday was a crazy busy day. I didn’t even have time to consider that it was my birthday, or to really even take a break, but it was a wonderful day. I met so many people I know from online, and many that I didn’t, but all were lovely. Sales were brisk and I managed to keep super busy all day. By the evening it was time for the Pen Mixer. Vanness Pen Shop hosted a Pen Mixer after dark, a way for people to get to know each other and meeting with some big names in the industry to talk pens, nibs, ink, calligraphy, photography and paper. It was a super fun evening (if you go to a pen show with a pen mixer don’t miss it!) and the only slightly disturbing thing was the presence of an 8-foot, 26.9lb gummy snake. Don’t ask because I don’t even know what to tell you.
Sunday we worked the booth until about noon, and then packed it up. Sunday afternoon and evening were spent finishing out the show, and chilling in the bar with people just enjoying the last bits of the weekend. I got to sit and chat with Ralph (Regalia Writing Labs) and watch the BYOB podcast do an interview with Ana and also Paul Erano (check out their feed for those episodes to air soon).
And then, too soon, it was over. We came home and I spent a few days with what I call pen show hangover. I’m ready to do it again!
The haul for the weekend is below. In addition to the pens, I was able to get my hands on a Musubi notebook from Atelier Musubi, Coloverse Ink in Photon and Gluon, and the special show ink from Papier Plume, Bootleggers Sacrament. Not pictured – some amazing work on pens/nibs I already owned from Dan Smith, The Nibsmith.