I, like many of the fountain pen lovers in the Washington, DC area, attended the Baltimore Washington International Pen Show this weekend. I only went on Saturday because Friday I had to work and Sunday was my release party, but it was still fantastic. You may recall that I blogged about my experience at the Washington DC Fountain Pen Supershow (my first ever pen show) last August. I had so many positive responses, that I decided to blog about this experience as well.
Let me start by saying that the two shows are nothing alike. Well, ok, there are pens, and pen people, but the atmosphere is so different. DC is frenzied, Baltimore is calm. Baltimore is a significantly smaller show, but I think it benefits from that, because it’s a more intimate show. It really feels like everyone knows each other.
The shows were also different for me because I knew more people, and I knew more about pens. I recognize that this will color my impressions of the two shows. You might want to keep that in mind as you read about my BWIPS (I love that acronym! It’s so fun to say!!) experience.
I was a little worried about the day because it had a bit of a rocky start. My fabulous fiancé, Jim (aka PenSloth on Instagram) pre-purchased parking, and the garage was a pain to find. Then, to make matters worse, once we found it, it was closed, with no sign of an attendant, and no hours posted. We’ll see if we can get our money back for it.
However, after much grumbling on both of our parts, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because we found parking at the hotel. This is probably due to the fact that we were a little over eager and had arrived over an hour early.
Before the Show
But no matter, we happily went inside to see what there was to see. Those first few minutes are a bit of a blur. What I do remember is having a quick chat with Bert of Bertram’s Inkwell (he’s the organizer of the event, if you don’t know), my dear friend Te (also known as sistert) and Oscar Rodriguez of the Pay It Forward Project. After watching Inkdependence’s live stream of the event on Friday, I’d jokingly brought Oscar some Exalted Bloodlines stickers to add to his swag vest. In return, I got some PIF stickers. I just have to figure out where to put them. Anyone know how well stickers stay on the Girologio pen cases?
Anyway, Oscar let us know that since we’d signed up to volunteer at the Pay It Forward table, we were added to the staff/exhibitor list. Along with that happy bit of news, we were pointed in the direction of Chet Herbert of Herbert Pen Company. Now, I’ve had multiple conversations with Mr. Herbert via Instagram and email and I pictured him as an older, distinctly Southern gentleman (Sorry, Chet!!). I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when we were pointed in the direction of an attractive gentleman in his (I’m guessing here) mid-thirties.
Jim and I were both very happy to finally meet Chet in person. Of course, Jim had some important rollstopper business to discuss. I don’t know if their discussion is for public consumption, so I’ll say only that they both seemed satisfied with the outcome.
Around the time they were finishing up, Ralph came by, and Jim, of course, had to thank him for the fabulous Regalia Writing Labs flex nib. Needless to say, Jim was one happy pen sloth.
Oscar stopped by not too long after for a quick chat, and I was super happy to see he was wearing my stickers.
Show time was rapidly approaching, so everyone had to make their way inside. Unsure precisely what to do, Jim and I wandered a bit before finally finding our way into the show itself and settling in at the Pay It Forward table.
Pay It Forward Table
I’m going to be honest. I signed up to volunteer at the PIF table partially because Oscar asked, but partially because I’m planning to get a table at AwesomeCon next year and wanted to see being on the other side of the table is like. I figured it wouldn’t be all that bad, but I was wrong.
I had a blast! Even before the show officially started, I had fun chatting with the other vendors near the PIF table (Nock and Vanness were next to us), and we had some visitors from the other room.
It was so much fun talking to people about pens and PIF. There was an almost party atmosphere as people came by. I got to watch someone pick up her first fountain pen (she’d been brought to the show by her sister).
I had a nice chat with the lovely gentleman at the table next to us. He was selling some of his pen collection. Turns out, he’d bought up pens over the years that were pretty, and he just had too many. Unfortunately, most of them were rollerballs.
When Oscar finally had a moment to sit down, I asked him if he could take a look at my Hybrid Writer from SmithCrafters. The pen was way too dry. I sincerely hoped I could get it adjusted at the show, rather than have to send it back. I didn’t want to be without my pen, even for a short time.
Oscar was kind enough to give it a gander, and held it out to me to look at in the loop. “Here’s the problem,” he said. Well, beyond having trouble focusing through the loop with my glasses, I honestly wouldn’t have any idea what to look for. Yeah, I’m a bad pen momma. Apparently, there were some fibers stuck between the tines and the tines were way too tight.
With a little nudging, and a little smoothing, Oscar had my pen writing beautifully again. Have I mentioned yet that he’s fantastic?
As the hour wound down (far too quickly in my opinion), it was inescapably obvious to me that I very much enjoy being on the other side of the table. I’ll certainly be volunteering at tables in the future and I look forward to having my own at AwesomeCon. I invited Oscar to share tablespace with me when I do. I’m pretty sure con-goers would very much like the fountain pen world. Especially when they find out there are themed pens.
I realized my time was up when the next wave of volunteers showed up. I was a little bummed to be walking away from the table, but also excited to get to the show. So, I stashed my hoodie under the table and made my way to the large room.
I’m trying to keep these posts a bit shorter than the DC Pen Show ones, so I’ll stop here for today. Come back tomorrow to read about my fun in the large room.