DC Pen Show 2019 Recap

DC Pen Show 2019 Recap

My wallet is empty, but my heart is full. Another DC Pen Show has come and gone, and while I’m sure it sounds like a broken record, this was my favorite DC pen show so far. While there was some drama around the early planning stages of the show, I didn’t hear of any real issues other than lack of connectivity at the show, and that meant there was lots of time for shopping and hanging out. In lieu of the usual long form posts that I tend to do about these shows, which tend to feel a little same-y after a while, I thought I’d do some bullet points of highlights instead.

Saturday in the main ballroom, looking back toward the entrance

•  I bought a Nakaya: I can’t believe I bought a Nakaya, a Decapod in Kuro-tamenuri with a soft-medium nib. It’s exactly as amazing as I always thought it’d be, and I’m incredibly happy with my purchase.

•  The food: This was the best fed I’ve ever been at a pen show. A group of us all teamed up and took over certain meals for the weekend, and my God, we ate so well. Curry pasties, bahn mi, ramen, poke, and a fantastic group Indian dinner were all on the menu and everything was incredible.

•  Product launches and prototypes: It feels like every show has “the pen” that everyone bought. At Baltimore, everyone compared their Carolina Pen Co pens. At DC, it was the Schon DSGN fountain pen. Ian has knocked it out of the park, as expected, and I keep finding myself just turning the pen over in my hand. Plus, Musubi brought some prototypes of their notebooks/works of art. You know I had to get in on that cat action.

I bought that speckled one in the front

•  Bar time: Awesome, as always. It felt like the Falls Church Marriott has finally realized that they can kind of leave us to do our own thing, and that was really nice. Pens were exchanged, inks were shared, and good times were had by all. Favorite moment? Watching Dan ink up Charlotte’s new Musubi so that she didn’t have that “new notebook anxiety”. Brilliant on a number of levels.

Dan at work

•  Not working: I didn’t work this show, which was the first time in a really long time. Not that working the Story Supply Co table is ever difficult, but it was a really nice change of pace to just be able to wander.

I did spend a little time behind the Musubi table, just so Daryl could have a break now and then!

•  All the new inks: Vanness Pens brought the good stuff, as always. After what felt like years, they’ve restocked a bunch of their PenBBS inks, as well as brought in some new stuff from Vinta inks, so those flew off the shelves. Plus, Straits Pens brought their lineup of hilariously named inks, so I picked up a bottle of Poorman’s Sapphire.

•  Nib work: I feel like this is the most nib workers I've ever seen at a show. Nibs on Point, JJ Lax, Straits Pens, The Nibsmith, Mike Masuyama, and the newcomer, Custom Nib Studio were all there grinding away. I got multiple pens worked on by Gena from Custom Nib Studio, and holy moly. Not only was she BLISTERINGLY fast at grinding them, but they were great as soon as she handed them across the table. Great stuff.

All in, it was a great show. Interestingly, though, there was a lot of talk of “what does the future hold for DC?” The fly-by-night style of organization that DC feels like it has doesn’t seem like it’ll serve the community well for the future, especially when you start comparing DC up against shows like Tokyo or San Francisco. Online registration, clear communication for vendors and attendees, and varied and interesting classes are all things that people are clamoring for, and while things are getting a bit better, I think they’re still far off for a show like DC. I’m ready to start seeing changes, and I think everyone else is too. But in the meantime, DC is still a great show, and I can’t wait until the next one.

Obligatory haul photo!