Guest Post: Pen Show Magic: The SF Pen Show 2022

Guest Post by Julia van der Wyk

The San Francisco International Pen Show arrived like an oasis in a dream. I am ready for my vacation, I am ready to see my friends and meet new people, and I am ready for that special Pen Show Magic!

From Friday morning to Sunday morning, my pen show fashion was on point

The show began for me with a delightful breakfast outdoors with Pierre from Desiderata Pens and my friend Emy. It grew into a crescendo of joy and community, that special combination of meaningful items and meaningful people. This year it felt to me as though the crowd had been uncorked from a bottle, bringing along their enthusiasm and joy.

Helping out on the pen show floor

This was the second year that I helped out at the table of Rick Propas, the PENguin. His array was in the main ballroom, in one of many aisles filled with pen, paper, and stationery offerings. It was populous and active. It’s a challenge for my senses to be sure, but I did better this time in regulating my own need for quiet breaks.

I enjoyed helping out and interacting with the crowd, talking to Rick and the other helpers, and learning just a smidge more each time about the pens.

these are the beauties I picked out from Rick’s table: Pelikan 400NN tortoise set, Pelikan M300, Parker 41 coral set

Classic pen show experiences and MAGIC!

When I wasn’t a Helper, I was an Attendee, having the Classic Pen Show experiences of reuniting with friends, meeting new people, and seeing in person shops and items one would never have the opportunity otherwise.

One such vendor is Bungbox, which readers may know is a brick and mortar shop in Japan. I was one of the lucky shoppers to buy a TWSBI Eco with real maki-e finish! I chose the goldfish design, which is ever my maki-e motif heart’s desire, and grabbed the “morning glory” inks and cute store brand notepads as well.

Two things happened relating to this:

The first thing is that my good pal Franz offered me his appointment with Gena Salorino of Custom Nib Studio, who put a “Reverse Architect” grind on it.

This is Pen Show Magic at work: I mentioned “if a nibmeister has an opening…” and Franz said “would you like this one?”.

The reverse architect has fine or extra fine line when you write as usual, but if you flip the pen upside down, the nib will write with this amazing architect grind. A ridiculously fantastic nib grind for a ridiculously fantastic pen!

Some of the detail on the pen with an example of the exquisite grind.

The second thing is one I could never have expected.

At the vendor breakfast, Kaoru and Bruce from Bungbox joined me at the table. At the tail end of a delightful group conversation (including such luminaries as Jesi from The Well-Appointed Desk, the Rickshaw crew, and Elizabeth (Emy) from Peyton Street Pens who was also my hotel roommate), Kaoru casually asked for thoughts about a special pen for next years show. To my surprise and delight, I found us brainstorming pen design possibilities together. Grabbing a notepad from my bag, which turned out to be the one I had bought from her the preceding day, I made notes and sketches. Will these sketches become a real pen? No one knows.

This is Pen Show Magic at work: connecting with people you never thought you’d meet, and being enthusiastic about the stationery we love together.

I cannot contain my joy.

Inkwash Painting Class Love

I taught my Inkwash Painting class again this year!

“Welcome to my favorite part of the show” I greeted the students, and we proceeded with two hours of brush and ink technique practice with two kinds of papers, quiet time, and the Joy of Art.

I didn’t take pictures, I was engrossed in discussing depth and line. I hope my students will enjoy this practice with all their inks for years to come!

This seems like a good place to show the inks I brought home from the show with their Col-o-ring swatches. Jesi helped me pick out the Colorverse and Sailor Manyo colors, and the Malibu Blue was a gift from a friend. Thank you, Philip!

From L to R in the swatches: Bungbox Morning Glory blue-purple and red-purple, Colorverse Under the shade, Sailor Manyo Nadeshiko, Monteverde Malibu Blue

Do you want more Pen Show Magic?

I participated in a self-made frenzy at the Rickshaw Bags table, because I was excited to get one of the new Sinclair cases, which is a collaboration with NockCo. The NockCo version I have is one of my favorite cases.

I picked out a pretty Sinclair which also happened to be a prototype, without the brand tags, and some pen sleeves to go with. I had paid for these items when Emy, enjoying the frenzy with me, opened a prize fortune cookie and won a free Coozy case. Gasp. I forgot about the fortune cookies with prizes inside. I opened one. I won a free Sinclair!

I promptly turned inside out and grabbed the Sinclair in eye-searing fluorescent green. YESSSS! This one will match my rickshaw tote bag, which is houndstooth with Flo-green piping. I can’t even.

All my pretties!

The notebooks

Of course there are notebooks. Lots of wonderful book and paper vendors to visit! My three choices here come from Curnow Bookbinders, Odyssey, and Musubi, all A5.

The Curnow book is their show special, which I used as a place to keep paper receipts and notes during the show. I will enjoy this for note taking and project plans, most likely.

Odyssey was one I had in my mind to find on the show floor after reading some reviews. They were in the atrium, and materialized before my very eyes! I had a great conversation with the creative mind behind the brand, and chose the 200-page Black Hole design with blank paper, which felt conceptually correct to me.

The Musubi pink kitty-cat book was the first notebook that caught my eye Friday morning. On Sunday morning I checked in with Daryl, who noted he had only 4 notebooks left to sell! “How is there a pink kitty-cat one still here?” I boggled, and his response was to say that while very surprised as well, he was sure it would go home with someone that day. And it did. I am that someone.

All my secrets go in here.

Fun Stuff galore

There were so many different styles of stationery vendors here. I got to meet and purchase from Angela He of Inky Converters. The Ink bottle pin color shifts from dark to light as it gets warmer!

I was admiring the wax seals from Day Art Store, and had a delightful conversation about how hard it is to find the woodpecker that you can plainly hear in the trees.

Next door was the table for Stickersters. I found a sheet with a sticker that spoke to me. It was “thinking of you” in the bottom left (photo below).

And how could I forget the Pochitto stamps, brought to us in SF at the Enigma table? But I did forget and so my helpful and kind friend Emy got me a set.

You do see some Travelers Notebook inserts in there too. Because yes.

Special shout-out in the fun-stuff category to Maido. I am looking forward to hanging out with this bear and quail and riding cable cars together.

We can use the musical and artistic clips along with our special edition Uni-ball One pen set at a cafe when we’re done.


Quiet times for Art and Breathing

Perhaps my favorite bit of pen show magic is in the quiet times. My brand of after-dark in the bar is all about drawing and journal enjoyment. This year I opened up my Traveler’s Notebook and tried out pens, pencils, and chalk pastels in the Kraft inserts I had bought last year. I feel quiet and happy just looking at these.

Summary and Conclusion

As you can see, Pen Show Magic was alive and well. I am so happy.

Julia van der WykJulia is an artist, classical musician, knitter, and lover of the outdoors. She resides in Santa Cruz, California, where she can draw Pelicans with Pelikans, and brag about the weather. Follow her adventures on Instagram @juliavdw or Twitter @juliavdw.

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I was wondering who got the pink cat journal! I was eyeing it all weekend too and was surprised it lasted as long as it did. But my wallet is very glad you got it!

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