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.
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)?