Alright, I’m back for part 2. If you didn’t read part 1, you won’t have a problem following along with part 2, but you’ll have missed a large part of my pen show haul. Grab a snack, because this is a long one, too.
As I mentioned before, you’ll notice a dearth of photos of the show itself. My focus on enjoying myself resulted in me not taking a single photo while in the show room. But, you can get your fill of BWIPS imagery on Instagram by looking up #bwips2022 or #baltimorepenshow2022, visiting the BWIPS website, or watching Mike Matteson’s — AKA Inkdependence — video on YouTube.
Saturday morning, I was very much aware of how sedentary my life has been during COVID. My lower limbs were achy from the standing and walking the previous day. But, after breakfast, I went right down to the show.
The weather Saturday surprised both Jim and I. Android’s weather app had said it would only rain. However, it kept alternating between snow and rain, with lots of a combo of the two. Almost certainly, the weather affected attendance, because it was much quieter than a typical Saturday.
We were only about 30 minutes “early” on Saturday, and it was immediately obvious that more vendors had arrived overnight. I had some leisurely morning chit-chats, eventually ending up with Jim at one of the three “rest stop” tables in the show room. Those were excellent additions, offering an easy place to rest if you got tired, or a central place to meet and share purchases.
We lost track of time as we talked to friends and had to hurry to get set up for our workshop. We put together a class on the true value of indie pens. Jim and I have both heard people belittle indie pens — for example, “I can get an [insert mainstream brand here] for that price.” We wanted to shed some light on everything that goes into indie pen making, and why they’re so valuable. If you’re interested in our presentation, you can view it on Google Drive.
We’d originally planned to project from Jim’s laptop. Unfortunately, once I started setting up, I realized we didn’t have the right cable. On top of that, the hotel didn’t have free Wi-Fi unless you’re a member, so it was a double fail.
We did, however, have the cable to connect to a phone, so I was able to do that. But then my Samsung phone defaulted to Dex and I couldn’t get it to just show my phone screen. I won’t waste your time sharing the full comedy of errors. Suffice to say, after unplugging and plugging it back in enough times — and a liberal application of playing with settings — I was able to make everything work.
Jim and I were pleasantly surprised to actually have some makers join the class, including Ryan Krusac and Jim Hinze of Hinze Pens. They were a great help, able to toss in their two cents on some of the topics discussed. The audience was highly engaged, and there were several animated conversations. Overall, an excellent workshop; one we’re likely to repeat at future shows.
Once I got everything cleaned up and back in our room after the class, it was basically time for my volunteer shift. I ended up just grabbing my eye-searingly neon staff shirt and starting early.
Originally, I’d signed up for workshop duty, to try something different. But as luck would have it, there were only two workshops during my shift, so I ended up mostly on the show floor. I think that was what really did me in. The four hours on my feet with minimal breaks was rough. I did get a break near the beginning for the lunch that Bert was kind enough to provide to the volunteers. Thank you, Bert!
Unlike in 2020, the vendors didn’t need much help. I’m guessing this was because the weather had curtailed attendance, and there was less need for an extra set of eyes. Also, very few vendors had more than one table, which makes it easier for them to keep an eye on things. Anyway, I ended up continually doing slow rounds of the show floor and checking in on the front desk staff to make sure they were doing OK.
I was asked to table-sit for about a half-hour at 3:30, so I dutifully made my way over at the appointed time. While I’d been doing pretty well budget-wise until then — I was actually under budget!!! — I knew I was in trouble when I looked at the table next to me. There were all sorts of sold out special editions. The Hello Kitty 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Sailor Pro Gear really did me in, though.
I know, I know. I said that my Sailor bubble has burst, so what changed? Nothing. This one caught my eye because it’s not the standard Pro Gear. It’s got the stacked colors with metal rings between them. On top of that, I was a massive Sanrio fan growing up. I was a kid in the era of Sanrio stores in every mall. I had a vinyl Keroppi wallet, Pochacco pens, Hello Kitty stickers, Little Twin Stars paper, all of it. So, yeah, I got hit hard in the head with the nostalgia mallet, and I couldn’t not buy it. I mean, if it had been a Keroppi pen, I wouldn’t have even thought twice.
But, moving on before I dive back down that rabbit hole. I’m planning to sell my Pro Gear Slim Magnolia — a Bungubox exclusive — to keep my Sailor collection from growing. I’m only looking to recoup my cost of buying it, so message me on Instagram if you’re interested.
After my table-sitting was over, I didn’t have much time left until the show closed for the day. I went up to the hotel room to check on Jim as he wasn’t feeling well — probably something he had at breakfast. I ended up going down to dinner alone.
For ease, I just went to the hotel restaurant. I happened to come across a fellow DC Pen Crew member, Alison, as I was being seated, and she was kind enough to invite me to join her. We had a lovely conversation with dinner, and I headed back up to my room after.
Once Jim was feeling better, we headed back down for after-hours fun — AKA Pen Show After Dark. To be honest, I feel like it was poorly planned this year. We were all smooshed into a small area behind the bar, with not enough space and far too few seats.
There was a really nice set of giveaways — unfortunately, we didn’t win anything — but immediately afterwards everyone started migrating. Not one of the areas available could fit everyone. And, unfortunately, the various seating areas had quite a bit of space between them. So the entire group ended up spread out enough that minimal mingling occurred. Everyone seemed to just choose a spot and stay there.
Regardless, I had a fun time at the table we chose. I had a tasty drink and we stayed up until about 12:30 — roughly 2 ½ hours past my bedtime. Coupled with the start of Daylight Saving Time, it made for a short sleep.
Sunday morning was even harder than Saturday morning. My lower limbs were sorer, and I was exhausted. But, I got myself up, we accomplished preliminary packing, and we actually left the hotel, heading to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.
Back at the hotel, we finished packing up and checked out, then went to the show. I got to see my good friend TeAntae and chat with her for a while before meandering around the room, looking through ink at several tables, curious to see if there were any bottles I’d want.
I also stopped by Mr. R George Adams’ table to take a look at his vintage Esterbrook nibs. Since I put my Esterbrook J back in rotation, I’m curious to try other nibs for some variation. I ended up with the 9314F — Relief Fine Stub — and 9128 — Flexible Extra Fine. I’ll be inking up my J out of rotation to see how I like these. Ultimately, though, I was just killing time until my nib appointment at 11:25.
On Friday evening, it had occurred to me that I may be able to get one more nib grind. I messaged JC Ament, AKA Nib Tailor, and while his Saturday was full, he was able to fit me in Sunday morning.
JC was working on Jane’s — Mrs. Iron Feather Creative — nib when I arrived, and the three of us had a nice conversation while I waited. For my turn, I requested a rounded oblique, and JC definitely delivered. Now I’ve got a sharp oblique from Damien, a rounded oblique from JC, and an inexpertly executed oblique I made myself. I’m not sure which is my favorite yet, but definitely not mine.
With the grind complete, I found Jim and we made our way around the room saying bye to everyone. We also stocked up on Jinji truffles while we were at their table. After that, there was nothing left but to head home and return to the “real world.”
Time to Wrap it Up
When one considers that we’re only just seeing signs of emerging from COVID times, the snow on Saturday likely kept people away, and a new person was in charge of organizing the show, BWIPS was fantastic. I would have liked to see a greater variety of vendors and products, but what was there was great. As it was, I had no problem burning through my budget.
I got lots of time to chat with pen friends, a full week’s rotation of pens without screwing up my budget too bad, and to have a great time. It was like a mini-vacation, and I can’t wait until next year, or until the DC Pen Show, for that matter.
Phew, that was another long one! I’m glad I broke this up into two parts. Anyway, did you go to BWIPS? If so, what did you think of it, and what did you get? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!