2021 Triangle Pen Show

Jim brought up going to the Triangle Pen Show (TPS) a couple weeks ago but we dithered for a while, only deciding to go on the Thursday before. The drive wasn’t too bad, we were lucky to not hit traffic on the way down — we hit all the traffic on the way back up, though.

We made it to the show around 11:30 am. Finding out masks weren’t required surprised me. Being fully vaccinated, we decided to try going maskless and see how we felt. I’m not going to lie, it felt a bit naughty. I felt almost naked. But it was nice to breath freely. And since the room wasn’t packed, I was OK without a mask and enjoyed the taste of pre-COVID life.

The best part for me was just being at a pen show again. Getting to see Carey from Kenro, Damien of All in the Nib, Bert of Bertram’s Inkwell — although we see him often — and some pen friends was great. I’ve missed the pen camaraderie. It’s such a social battery recharge to see people, talk pens, and be able to see/handle things in person before buying them.

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A Warning to the Pen Curious

“Hi Mrs. Smith!”

“Oh, hello, Jen. How many times have I told you to just call me Barb?”

“I couldn’t do that, Mrs. Smith, you’re around my mom’s age, and that just doesn’t seem right.”

“Well, the invitation is there, Jen. You’re in your 30s, it’s OK to call me Barb if you want.”

“I’ll think about it Mrs. Smith. By the way, you know about fountain pens, don’t you?”

“I do, I grew up with them. Why do you ask?”

“A friend of mine uses them, and I’m kind of curious.”

Mrs. Smith sighs and gestures to the chair next to her, inviting Jen to sit. “So you’re interested in pens, are you? Be warned, that’s dangerous territory, dear, dangerous indeed.” Jen’s eyes pop wide, and Mrs. Smith waves away her obvious fear. “Oh, perhaps not necessarily dangerous to your life, but to your wallet, to your interests!

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A Surprising Joy

It’s not often I write a pen review — let’s be honest, it’s almost never — mostly because there are so many reviewers out there. However, in this particular case, I feel impelled to share my thoughts.

About a month ago, I realized that I no longer had an orange pen in my “Under $250” category. I can’t have a pen rainbow without orange. To try to fix that issue, I solicited some suggestions from my lovely local peeps in the DC Metro Pen Crew.

I received a lot of suggestions, and the Pilot Custom 74 is the one I ultimately decided on. By sheer coincidence, I had a birthday coupon for Pen Chalet, so that’s who I ordered from.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to love it. I thought it would be perfectly adequate, and fill a void. Perhaps a pen to rotate out at a later date once I found a truly spectacular orange pen.

Pilot Custom 74 in its box.
A fairly plain pen, but that cap hides a real delight.

However, once it arrived and I’d inked it — with Diamine Pansy — I was pleasantly surprised. And with each consecutive use, I like it better. I have it with a Fine nib, and it glides across paper in the most delightful way. It approaches TWSBI 580 nibs in wetness.

I even found myself reluctant to clean it out at the end of the week. I wanted to keep it inked, to keep using it, which almost never happens. I’m usually happy enough to use whatever pens I have for the next week that I don’t mind putting away my pens from the previous week. It’s a testament to how much I enjoy using the Custom 74.

If you like feedbacky nibs, the Custom 74 is not for you. But if you like buttery smooth nibs, I highly recommend it. And this is coming from someone who prioritizes pen appearance over function. While the Custom 74 isn’t the most beautiful pen in the world, its function makes it divine. I’m definitely happy I bought it. I wouldn’t even rule out the possibility of another in the future, maybe with an Extra Fine nib.

Día de Muertos, Pen Realized

I’m back with post three, so you know what that means. My pen arrived! If you have read my previous posts (1, 2), I suggest you do so to know how this pen came to be. Be forewarned, there is A LOT of pen porn in this post. And you can click/tap any image to view it larger. I take no responsibility for pen envy, pen lust, or pen purchases resulting from the content in this post.

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Sailor Fatigue

It took me quite a while to get into Sailor pens. I didn’t buy my first until October 2019 — 2 ¾ years after buying my first fountain pen. Not gonna lie, I’m still pretty pleased with that initial Sailor purchase — the Tequila Sunrise. It was, is, a worthy first Sailor purchase.

I’ve bought 13 more Sailor pens since then, all in the Pro Gear family, 10 of which I’ve kept. Not a bad ratio, and compared to my total pen purchases, not too terribly many. However, it does encompass the most fountain pens I’ve purchased of the same general model. It ties with TWSBI 580s, at 11, for most fountain pens I own of the same general model.

To be honest, I’d likely own more Sailor Pro Gears if they were less expensive and more easily purchased. But, fairly often, the ones I found interesting were from super small runs through stores that don’t sell online. And we all know what eBay sellers do to prices. But I digress…

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Missing Pen Shows

As I reviewed some old blog posts the other day, it hit me that: 1) I never wrote a post about the 2020 Baltimore Pen Show and 2) that it’s been over a year since my last pen show, and I really miss them!

I’m well aware that I’m incredibly privileged to live near two pen shows, BWIPS and DC. While BWIPS will always be my favorite, both are tons of fun, dangerous for the budget, and an opportunity to see pen peeps.

And that camaraderie, that sense of community, is part of what I miss so much. I can buy pens — for the most part — at any time, but I can’t see people. Video calls, while nice, are not the same. Especially in an analog hobby, so much gets lost in a digital “meeting.”

Pen meetups have been digitized for up to a year now, for most of us. And I don’t know about you, but I’m “zoomed out.” I was “zoomed out” about 7-8 months ago. So whereas I had only missed one in-person meetup in over a year before COVID, I haven’t attended a digital meetup since… probably June, maybe July. I need to make sure I join one of those soon, I keep forgetting. And I miss my local pen peeps.

But there’s hope. Vaccines are being administered, and regulations are evolving in response. I’m hopeful that we’ll have the DC pen show to attend in August. It’s officially scheduled; I hope it doesn’t need to get cancelled.

Somehow, even with the light clearly visible at the end of the tunnel, I miss in-person events more than ever.

Keep your fingers crossed, wish upon stars, and make sacrifices to the pen gods that things are normal enough soon to resume pen shows and meetups.

Indie Pen Makers Update

About 2.5 years ago, I wrote about Indie Pen makers (can you believe I only owned 20 pens? Incredible!). Since then, I’ve learned about many more pen makers, both that have started recently and that I simply didn’t know about at the time.

For the purposes of this list, I’m putting the following limitations on the term “Indie Maker”:

  • Only or regularly works with customers to make unique/custom pens
  • Fully handmade, uses CNC lathes with hand finishing, or 3D prints custom pen designs
  • Creates kitless pens
  • Not sold in stores (or only sold in local brick & mortar store)
  • Makes one-off or short runs
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Día de Muertos, Making of the Pen

I’m back with the second entry in the chronicle of my Día de Muertos pen. If you read my first entry then you know that this means I received permission to share the mock-up images for my custom pen.

Be forewarned, it will likely be a while before my next update. I’ll explain why I think so a bit later. For now, let’s pick up where I left off.

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