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2021 DC Pen Show, Part 1

Posted in Pen Shows

You all know how much I’ve been missing pen shows. I can’t say how great it was to go to the Washington DC Fountain Pen Supershow (AKA DC Pen Show). I intend to write a few posts related to the DC Pen Show, this one covers my general experience at the show. Still to come are my review of the show, and some reviews of what I bought. It was so lovely to see pen friends and chat with everyone throughout the show.

Friday – Show

This was the first time I’ve attended the DC Pen Show on a Friday, so I can’t say how different it was to normal, non-COVID years. However, in comparison to what I’m used to from the DC Pen Show, this year felt rather empty. There were additional vendors arriving throughout the day, though.

I was at the show from about 9:30am to about 1:15pm; leaving early after accomplishing my main missions. I needed to pick up Jim to go back for the unofficial Pen Show After Dark hangout, and I didn’t want to be stuck in traffic. And anyway, there were still two more days.

My first stop upon arrival was the registration table. I’d heard a rumor amongst the DC Pen Crew that a Weekend Trader Pass allowed you to bring a spouse. Turned out it was true!! So I picked up my badge and a badge for Jim (we were very thankful for that later). Then, because it was still so early (only about 9:38), I sat in the lobby for a bit. But by 9:52, I couldn’t contain my excitement anymore and snuck into the smaller room.

Much to my delight, Brian at Iron Feather Creative still had the Art Deco Nib pen I wanted. I’d been coveting it since he posted videos on Instagram. It was so good to see him and his wife again. They put together a short video of the goodies on their table. You can see some footage of the pen I bought starting at 0:42 and the pen I almost bought starting at 1:20.

Iron Feather Creative Art Deco Nib engraved pen
Brian’s craftsmanship is simply stunning!

Fellow DC Pen Crew’er, Susan, happened to be in the immediate vicinity (Carolina Pen Co.‘s table), and I bought a Gravitas Pens Rose Gold Aluminum Black Skull Edition from her. I can check that off my wish list, now. *Grin* And, side note, Ben Walsh (Gravitas Pens maker) commented on my Friday haul post that he only ever made 4 of them!

Gravitas Rose Gold Skull pen with Skull nib installed
That Skull nib is a PERFECT addition to this pen.

I spent some time eyeing the other tables in the small room before hustling over to Les of StyloSuite for the nib I’d been wanting since BWIPS ’20. At that show, I got a chance to test his Spencerian nib, but had already spent my pen show budget. The plan was to buy it at DC ’20, but then, COVID. Given the chance to finally get a nib from him, I earmarked money for it. And I am 1000% percent satisfied. Les is a genius with flexible nibs, and I haven’t ever been happier with a nib. It’s everything I’ve wanted in a flex nib since I found out they exist.

Writing sample from Spencerian nib
Look at that delicious line variation. *chef’s kiss!*

Of course, I had to get some some chocolate from Brandon of Modern Chocolatier. It was a bit odd not having him next to Ryan Krusac, but it was still excellent to see him, especially since Jinji Chocolate wasn’t there this year.

Delicious chocolates from Modern Chocolatier
Friday’s and Saturday’s purchases. Besides the two obviously missing, there were four more. You can’t honestly expect us not to eat the delicious chocolates, can you?

I wandered the show a bit after that, saying hello to pen friends amongst the vendors and attendees — is it really a pen show if you don’t stop to say hello to Cary at Kenro? It didn’t take long before I made my first unplanned purchase, a Divine Island Design Seashore pen. It’s so cool, with real Bahamas pink sand, a starfish, and a sand dollar! I chose the version with the Mermaid on the finials and clip. I love unique pens, especially from Indie makers.

Divine Island Design Seashore pen
I’ve never seen a kitless fountain pen with sand and sea creatures before.

My last purchase of the day kind of fell outside the realms of planned and unplanned. I’ve wanted a Namiki Yukari Rock Garden since I held one at the Triangle Pen Show. I told myself that I’d get one either if I got the job I applied for OR once I finished paying the savings account back for a couple of pens. BUT, I gave myself the escape clause of getting it if someone at DC had a great deal. Well, $450 off retail is a great deal. So, thank you, Chatterley Luxuries. This beauty is mine. And it writes divinely. I’m not 100% certain the nib actually touches the paper. I think it magically transfers ink. It’s that smooth.

Namiki Yukari Rock Garden
The 3D rocks are what really got me.

Friday – Evening

Jim and I headed back to the hotel after dinner to hang out with pen friends. We found a cozy table just outside the bar and relaxed. I worked on this post. Jim, being more extroverted, had great fun socializing and selling nibs. I, being more introverted, had a great time writing, reading, and chatting with friends that passed by.

Ultimately, we headed back home fairly early for a pen show, looking forward to a good night’s sleep to prepare us for the weekend.

Saturday – Show

Saturday certainly had more people. Jim and I got to the hotel around 9:45 and found a line that wound down the hallways from the lobby to the door that leads to the parking garage. The line seemed to be moving pretty quickly, but more on that in my next post. Because we had our badges, we didn’t have to wait, thank goodness for small favors.

My main plan for the day was to pick up some ink, and take photos, since I’d forgotten to do so on Friday. I was successful in both. But I started out by showing Jim the ARTUS pen I’d fallen in love with the day before and the Urushi Pen table. I was slightly amazed, but delighted, when Jim gave me permission to get the ARTUS pen with “family” money. This beauty — the Water model from the Four Elements series — is getting a post of its own so I can share some pen porn of its craftsmanship.

ARTUS Four Elements Water
The layers of paint on this are awe-inspiring, especially when coupled with the mother-of-pearl.

I picked up two cursive italic nibs from Damien of All in the Nib that I’d “pre-ordered.” Vanness had the Taccia inks I was looking for, as well as Vinta Sirena. Federalist Pens and Paper had Herbin Vert de Gris. While perusing the small room — and trying to convince myself I didn’t want the Peacock Koi pen from Mythic Pens — I remembered to ask Jonathon Brooks if he was selling individual nibs. And I’m so glad I did, because he had this skull nib that’s perfect for my new Gravitas pen.

My three non-flex nibs from the show.
From left to right, M and F Jowos ground to cursive italic by All in the Nib and a F Jowo with a horned skull engraving from Carolina Pen Co.

I spent the rest of the day hanging out with friends — Drew from Goulet Pens and I got to chat about coins — buying ink, and walking around looking at pretty pens.

I also kept an eye out for the perfect plush sleeve for my ARTUS pen, but I wasn’t successful in that endeavor. There was also a second stop at Modern Chocolatier since the chocolate from the previous day was at home. Jim and I had lunch at the hotel restaurant — they have decent food — and checked in to our room to drop off purchases. Both of us took advantage of the place to relax to get off our feet for a bit.

A year and a half of COVID restrictions means neither of us have much stamina anymore. And my feet certainly aren’t used to me being up on them for that many hours. But it was so worth it. Even the masks were worth it.

Saturday – Evening

Saturday’s unofficial Pen Show After Dark was much like Friday’s. We found a table in the bar area this time. Again, I worked on this post, read, and chatted with anyone around. I also had some fun watching people getting to interact. There was so much joy it was almost tangible. It was clear how much people had missed seeing each other and hanging out. Because of that, we weren’t as careful as we could have been. There weren’t many masks on. But, I hope there aren’t any repercussions because of it.

Sunday – Show

After a not-so-great night’s sleep (the hotel pillows weren’t what we needed for comfort), a decent breakfast in the hotel restaurant, and a couple of trips out to the car to prepare for checkout, we braved the final day of the show. Both of us were sore, and moving a bit slower than normal. But, I got a chance to see and talk to more pen friends.

Between 10am and 11am when my class was scheduled — more on that situation in my next post — I made another stop at Stylo Suite. I picked out a slightly different nib — I think it’s his Extra Fine X Wing Harpoon nib. Les offered to install it in my ARTUS pen later that afternoon if he wasn’t too busy. I also got a gorgeous pen sleeve for my ARTUS from Helen’s Creations NJ. The colors are a great complement.

The ARTUS with the pink and blue silk sleeve I bought for it.
Look at how beautiful those colors are together!

After my class situation, Jim and I walked around for a bit — during which time I snagged a small bottle of Diamine Salamander from the DC Pen Crew Pay it Forward table — then had lunch at the hotel restaurant. They had churros for dessert that were sticks of heaven from my childhood. I haven’t had churros like they make at Southern California theme parks in well over a decade. Definitely an unexpected, yet truly welcome, surprise.

While Jim was teaching his class, I made a beeline to Les’ table and, luckily, was able to get the nib installed. It’s absolutely fabulous in its own right.

Writing sample for the X Wing Harpoon
Slightly less line variation than the Spencerian, but every bit as fun!

Then, I got myself into a bit of purchasing “trouble.” I picked up some Colorverse ink at Lucky Star Pens, a pair of earrings from a second stop at Helen’s Creations NJ, the Peacock Koi pen I’d been eyeing at Mythic Pens, and a necklace from Iron Feather Creative. What can I say, I’m weak for swirly materials.

Mythic Pens Peacock Koi
Look at that purple shimmer in the dark blue!

Once Jim was done with his class, we made our final rounds, and I somehow ended up with a gorgeous wax stamp with a resin bust of Aphrodite as the handle from the amazingly awesome people at Day Art Store.

Aphrodite wax stamp handle
She’s stunning!

With our good-byes done, it was time to head back to the car, back home, and back to normal life. Pen shows are massive spotlights of joy in my year. Thanks to everyone who helped make it awesome. And subscribe to my blog to make sure you don’t miss my other DC Pen Show related posts coming up.


  1. Harry

    I love Herbin Vert de Gris – it’s become my go to ink much of the time. When one of my stodgy colleagues says “what color is that” I say grey, and when I’m journaling I enjoy its greenness.

    August 11, 2021
    • I had one of the little 10ml bottles that’s running low, so I figured time to get a full sized bottle. It’s a great ink. 🙂

      August 11, 2021
  2. Susan

    I LOVE reading this, what a great weekend. Your new Artus pen is amazing, I cannot wait to see it in person.

    August 11, 2021
    • I’ll make sure I bring it with me for trips to Bert’s. Or we can plan a tea/coffee afternoon to play with pens. 🙂

      August 11, 2021
  3. David Deep
    David Deep

    I’m swooning a little over that Artus pen!

    Thanks for this great recap. As someone who missed the show, I enjoy reading accounts and seeing photos of what we didn’t get to see. Glad you had a good time, and congratulations on your impressive haul!

    August 11, 2021
    • Thanks! I’ll have my review of the show up later this week or early next week. It’s a more “technical” look at the show. 🙂

      August 11, 2021

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