On Saturday, I’m going to the Baltimore Pen Show. This definitely isn’t my first show, but I thought I’d offer some tips for first-time visitors or anyone thinking of going in the future. First, what to bring:
Dip pen and notebook for ink testing
There’s usually an ink testing table with dozens of bottles and nibs, but I prefer to bring my own accoutrements. My glass dip pen is really light and easy to clean. The notebook is essential, I use it to compile all the inks I test and what inks are currently in my pens. Both make ink testing a lot easier.
Some of your favorite pens in a pen roll
You never know when you might want to show pens to other people! I still remember when a guy showed me his flex nib pen and let me write with it when I was talking to a vendor about wanting one. It was so nice of him! You could be that person for someone else. Also, pen shows are a chance to see unusual or expensive pens in person, instead of online. As long as you’re careful, bring that Pelikan with you!
I like bringing a small tote bag to carry all of my purchases. If you end up buying a lot of heavy inks, as I do, then you’ll be grateful for a sturdy bag. However, they are usually offered for free as you enter the convention.
It gets hot walking around a giant room. Remember to stay hydrated!
- People often gather at the hotel bar after the pen show is over. You can meet some nice people that way!
- Making plans in advance is also fun! For the DC Pen Show last summer, I went to dinner with the local DC Metro Pen Crew. It was a blast and I enjoyed seeing friends from previous meetups.
- Go to the panels! They are usually free or have a minimal cost.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to vendors! Everyone is really nice. Some of them remember me from previous years (Hi Lisa Vanness and Frank from Federalist Pens!). Also Brad from the Pen Addict is awesome and I love visiting him at Nock Co. 🙂
Those are my tips! I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll have the chance to go to a pen show one day if you haven’t already. I’ve been to anime and comic conventions before but the fountain pen community is truly the kindest group I’ve been part of. I love that I share this niche hobby with so many other passionate people. I’ll write a follow up about how my day at the show went soon!