I took a couple days to draft my recap of Saturday and Sunday at the 2015 Washington D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow. Exhausted after being on my feet for three days straight, all I wanted to do when I got home was sleep. But once refreshed (or overly caffeinated, or both), I've had a chance to collect my thoughts and post some pics of what was easily my best pen show experience yet.
The D.C. Show is the largest show in the country, and normally attracts the biggest crowds. I've heard that L.A. has gained popularity in recent years, especially on Sunday, so I'm not exactly sure how the two compare. All I know is that on Saturday morning, after an early coffee and bagel run with Thomas Hall and Leigh Reyes, by 8:45am the line for general admission (i.e., those who did not buy the $45 weekend pass) wound back through the lobby several times. The line cleared fairly quickly, and by 10:00am the show floor was packed.
My main goal for Saturday was to take pictures, talk to people, and capture the spirit of the event for the blog. The hotel left the mezzanine overlooking the main ballroom open, so I was able to get some overhead pictures of what was happening on the floor. (Pardon the mediocre quality--the overhead lights were extremely bright throughout the weekend, so the conditions for photography were less than ideal. Great for examining pens, bad for taking pictures.)
So who was there on Saturday? In terms of bloggers/podcasters: Brad Dowdy of the Pen Addict, Thomas Hall of Penucopia, Leigh Reyes, Mary Collis, Paul Joynes, Brian from Office Supply Geek, Matt Armstrong of The Pen Habit, Gerald from My Coffee Pot, Dan Smith of The Nibsmith, Elizabeth from No Pen Intended, Tim Wasem of The Writing Arsenal/Erasable Podcast, AND Johnny Gamber of Pencil Revolution/The Erasable Podcast (who, disappointingly, was not picketing the show). Many pen makers were also present, including Jonathan Brooks of the Carolina Pen Company (showing off his "airbrush pens"--seriously, check these out--as well as many of his custom acrylics and alumilites), Shawn Newton, and Brian and Andrea Gray of Edison Pens. Brian and Rachel Goulet were also circulating among the crowds, though I didn't get a chance to talk to them (and make a Goulet periscope appearance!) until later that night. I'm sure I've left a ton of people out, but I met so many people this weekend . . . .
So what did I buy on Saturday? Well, still no pens. My pen acquisitions for the weekend were a big zero. But I did pick up a TWSBI ink bottle from the Andersons and a couple bottles of Sailor Kobe Ink from Vanness, which Sailor manufactures for the Kobe-Nagasawa department store in Kobe, Japan. I believe there are approximately 50 colors in the Kobe line, so if you're a Sailor ink fanatic, Vanness Pen Shop stocks them periodically. If Vanness is out of stock, there are several eBay sellers who also carry them, but again, these are specially manufactured by Sailor so availability can be spotty, especially if you are looking for specific colors. I was tempted to pick up some KZW inks and some more Bung Box Inks (directly from Bung Box, no less), but realized that I was pressing my luck with airport security enough as it is and cut myself off. Bung Box did have some stunning custom Pilot and Sailor pens, including a yellow Realo piston filler dubbed the "Soleil" that I'm still contemplating. There's always mail order!
The best aspect of pen shows is the after-hours activity. After dinner with the Erasable Crew and Joe Lebo (at a surprisingly decent Thai restaurant in the office park across the street from the hotel), we retired to the bar, where I actually lasted until 11:00pm or so. I returned to the show the next day, but Sunday was very quiet. Many vendors had packed up Saturday night and gone home, but I imagine those that remained did a brisk business during the afternoon. I grabbed some Rhodia pads marked at 20% off (nobody wants to carry paper home), took some pictures, and headed to the airport. I'm already making plans for next year.
In case you missed my write-up of Thursday and Friday, please check it out!