This weekend was the Atlanta Pen Show, the first pen show I’ve attended in over two years. The last two years have been challenging for so many people that the thought of going to a pen show felt like a mixed blessing. There have still been concerns about the pandemic but the desire to see friends was really starting to outweigh common sense.
Once again, I helped at the Vanness Pens Shop table Kelli from Mountain of Ink.
Of course, the biggest moment of the weekend was getting to see Jesi again in person.
Jesi worked for Dromgoole’s for the weekend sharing her knowledge and passion for ink.
Some of our other favorite pen celebs were spotted throughout the show like Mike from Inkdependence, Audrey and Mandy from Franklin-Christoph, and Brad from Pen Addict. There were nib grinders, pen makers and many of our favorite pen shops in attendance too.
Like so many others, I spent some time getting custom nibs grinds done from some of the of the many nib grinders present at the show. Its so exciting to see that there are so many nib grinders to choose from these days. I got a nib ground by both Mike Bacas and Matthew Chen. I look forward to sharing more of the nib work in a future post.
We were also excited to see that Anderillium Inks was at the show and had new inks and formulations to show us. We will have reviews of the inks in a couple weeks.
The best parts of pen shows are the evenings when we get to sit around and talk and drink a bit too much which we did every evening. Oh, and of course, at least one trip to Waffle House next door.
In Atlanta, there was minimal mask wearing but if you feel more comfortable wearing a mask, no one would give you any guff about wearing it. As a vendor, I ended up without a mask more often than with one. Partly, this was because many people were having trouble hearing me over the general din of the show (we read lips a lot more than you would think) and also because it was ridiculously hot in the ballroom. On Friday morning, my mask was soaked with sweat by 10:30 making it beyond uncomfortable or useful to wear. I had the advantage of returning to KC and working from home for a couple days so I am not putting any co-workers at risk for my maskless weekend. But it was also refreshingly pre-pandemic to not only be at a pandemic but also not to have to wear a mask.
There were more online and brick-and-mortar pen shops present in Atlanta and considerably fewer vintage vendors this year. There were tons of indie pen makers as well as several of the “big guns” like Pilot, Yafa and Kenro.
So what can I tell you about the future of pen shows? The people have spoken and we want pen shows back. While the event was not attended to the same volume as it was in 2019, there were still plenty of people in attendance and many new pen collectors attended seeking their first pen so I think the hobby is continuing to grow.
All this is to say, that I will be attending more pen shows this year. Expect to see me next at the St. Louis show in June. Are you planning to attend any shows this year? If you were to attend, what would convince you to go (a specific product, classes, people)?
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I had fun there, too! So nice to see everyone after a long hiatus.
By the way, I don’t have an Instagram account, so the pictures in your post were blanks for me.
So sorry about the blank images. I wish Instagram allowed image embeds like they used to.
Unfortunately I’m a solo caregiver for my Mom, so I cannot attend any Pen Shows. Well, except vicariously through posts like yours. Thank you for sharing all the photos, as well as the written recap.
Aww, that looked like so much fun! I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to attend any crowded events… 🙁 But I enjoy seeing your photos and hearing about your adventures!
I’ll be at the Dallas show this year. Would love to make it back to DC, but can’t swing it.
I’ve only ever attended two pen shows! (Met you and Jesi and Laura and Lisa at my first one in Chicago! Super grateful for you guys making me feel so welcome and chatting about pens!) And I feel eager to attend another! I can’t attend Chicago this year due to a scheduling conflict, but I’m hoping to attend St. Louis! So maybe I’ll see you there! 🙂 🙂
Thank you for posting the photos and comments! I hope to attend my first pen show later this year, and your post makes me look forward to going to DC even more.
This was my first ever pen show! Of course it helps that it was held fifteen minutes from my house :). I couldn’t stay very long, but I supported the pen community economy and am enjoying the inks I got from you!