Last updated on March 14, 2023
Last weekend was Baltimore Washington International Pen Show (BWIPS) weekend. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, or if you know me, then you know BWIPS is my favorite pen show. This year, however, was significantly different than previous years for me and Jim.
We attended this year’s BWIPS without any responsibilities. We didn’t volunteer, and we didn’t commit to teach any classes. It was nice, from that perspective, to attend a show like “normal” people. We didn’t have to worry about schedules or anything.
But, because of Athena’s daily shots and pills, we had to drive home in the evening and back in the morning. Parking was a pain in the butt (more on that later). We didn’t have a hotel room to relax, rest, or decompress in. And we were on the go from waking up to falling asleep. Talk about exhausting. We definitely won’t be doing that again if we can help it.
We were so done in by midday Saturday that we decided to skip Sunday. Granted, work-related and Athena-related stress probably played a large part in our tiredness.
Friday was VERY slow, both from an attendance and a vendor perspective. Bert — of Bertram’s Inkwell, the show organizer — had previously mentioned that the tables were sold out. However, there were quite a few empty tables. Most of them were full on Saturday, but not all.
Sadly, some familiar faces were missing, including Ryan Krusac, Ken with Yafa brands, and the usual representatives for Coles.
Saturday attendance was significantly higher. We arrived about a half hour before the show opened to the public, and already there wasn’t a single parking spot. I was able to snag one of the last street spots across from the hotel.
Thankfully, the show itself didn’t feel overly crowded — at least not while I was in the main room — but we did spend a lot of time in the lobby to rest our feet, backs, and knees.
I planned to do my main shopping on Friday, with potential supplementary shopping on Saturday and Sunday — which is mostly what happened. My shopping list included ink, Pilot converters, and the dragon pen from Ryan Krusac that I didn’t buy at DC last year. I also had rules for other purchases. I didn’t want to buy anything similar to pens I already own, any blue or purple pens, or any pens just for the material, unless it’s something super unique I hadn’t seen before.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t much ink at the show. At least not from the brands I wanted. I only picked up one of the five inks on my list. I did, however, pick up a few extras, mostly courtesy of Luxury Brand’s ink testing table.
I completely forgot about the converters on Friday, but I did pick them up on Saturday.
And, with Ryan not in attendance, I didn’t get that pen.
What I did buy were 5 new inks:
- J. Herbin Rouge Grenat (The one ink I could get from my list)
- Colorverse Hwang Cho
- Colorverse Milky Lavender
- Colorverse Space Needle
- Wearingeul White Rabbit
I bought three Pilot Con-40 converters. Unpopular opinion here, I know, but I prefer them to the Con-70, which I despise.
I also finally picked up the Tudor Armor Retro 51. I’ve been eyeing it since it came out — I have a thing for Tudor England — and when I saw that the pattern alternates the Tudor rose with the fleur-de-lys, I couldn’t resist any longer. I haven’t decided yet if it counts in my pen purchases this year. Technically, yes, it’s a pen. But when I think about what I overbuy, and what I need to limit, it’s fountain pens.
My last pen-related purchase for myself was a blue Esterbrook 2GO Cup. I like that there’s a soft divider to keep the pens from touching each other. But it’s also removable so that you have more space.
Indirectly related to pens, I picked up:
- Ink bottle clear stamps from DAYartSTORE
- Stickers from Sugar Turtle Studio
- Adorable cat page markers from Pen Realm
- An “I write in cursive” t-shirt from The Write Stuff
And, completely unrelated to pens, I stopped by the Pure Chocolate By Jinji table a couple of times, picking up several boxes of corn milk caramels, a jar of their hazelnut spread, a piece of fudge, and a box of seasonal truffles.
That wasn’t the extent of my shopping, though. I also picked up an “Ink Matters” shirt from The Write Stuff for a friend, and I bought Jim a belated Valentine’s Day and early birthday / anniversary present for Jim.
My Complicated Feelings
Something felt different this year at BWIPS. However, so much is going on in my life right now — Athena, work insanity, additional ADHD treatments (more on that soon), increased pain, and general tiredness — on top of the differences on how we attended, that I suppose it’s to be expected that I would feel differently about the show.
This was an odd show for me, and I don’t quite know how to express my feelings. I’m not even sure I understand my feelings.
On one hand, I appreciate the opportunity to see and spend time with friends. I really enjoyed seeing people I infrequently, or rarely, get to see in person. I had some lovely conversations, and feel like I connected more with people at this show, even though I spent less actual time at the show.
On the other, something was missing. I felt less excited about the show itself. I wouldn’t quite call it apathy, but the usual experience of nearly racing from table to table to see the wares and make sure I could buy what I wanted wasn’t there.
I was much more practical about things, easily able to stick to my shopping list and purchasing requirements. Is this what neurotypical people feel? While I can appreciate the ability to stick to my plan, I miss the excitement, the extra joy. Hopefully by the DC show, things will have settled in day-to-day life, and I’ll have a more normal show experience. Normal for me, anyway.
Thanks for reading to the end, I hope you enjoyed my post. Did you go to BWIPS? If so, how was it? If not, do you plan to go to any other show? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.