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Blog

Atlanta Pen Show Recap

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Franz Dimson, Jeff Abbott, and myself (photo courtesy of Franz Dimson) 

Franz Dimson, Jeff Abbott, and myself (photo courtesy of Franz Dimson) 

I was looking forward to the Atlanta Pen Show all year. It was a long Lent, and I was anticipating a good time with my pen friends as we geeked out about extra-fine nibs and primary manipulation, knowing those were not underground sexual references.

It was different this year. Many of the regulars from the two previous years didn't come down, choosing, rather, to wait for the Chicago Pen Show. It opened up the space for something new, which included cupcakes and a contingent from San Francisco. The nights were filled with conversation and alcohol and pens. It felt like war. Back in the day, before the gun and the lamp, battles ended at sun down and all sat at camp recovering, licking wounds, and consuming comforting liquids, talking about the scars acquired and comrades lost. Thankfully the only thing spilled was Diamine Oxblood. In those camps was a communal atmosphere of 'we survived together' and it brought those soldiers closer.  We didn't experience violence, but like comrades in battle there was something shared that those outside camp wouldn't understand.

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My first purchase was six-months in the making. I comissioned Shawn Newton to make me a holy water dispenser pen. (I'm going to spend another post on this and the full story behind it. ) It left Shawn's hands in February and travelled to the Vanness Pen Shop for a relief engraving, after which it was sent to Jonathon Brooks, of Carolina Pen Company, to do an abalone inlay on the cap. Jonathon delivered it to me on Thursday night as we all prepped for the show. I was ecstatic. I showed it to every person I could, and probably a few people multiple times. I was super excited about it. It's made it two years in a row that I've gotten a holy water pen at the Atlanta Show. 

This was my first year at a Friday of the show. It was evenly paced. It didn't seem overcrowded but was sufficiently attended. The only money I spent was on a brown luminescent Franklin-Christoph 45 to replace the one I purchased last year. The first disappeared (Sad face). I had Jim Rouse put the same grind on the nib, a stublique, as he calls it, or a SIG (stub italic grind) as F-C calls it. I have found the 45 to be my favorite of all the models Franklin-Christoph makes. I love the size and the grip. I promise I won't lose this one too.

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I brought a few more pens for repair. I'm not ready to jump into the next 'stage' of pen geekdom, repairing my own pens. I know it's possible, and with practice anything can be done. However, I am more into seeing what can come out of the pen then what is in it. Not to say I don't appreciate a pen design, but rather I'm interested in creating sentences not pens. Anyway, I had an Esterbrook desk pen that needed repair and resaccing and an old Sheaffer Jade pen that needed a new sac and nib. The Esterbrook could be done at the show. I left the Sheaffer with Sharrell Tyree to restore. I'm looking forward to getting that pen back and playing with it. 

In my aimless wandering through the show (I wasn't lost, I just found myself talking to people rather that looking at pens), I came across Brad and Myke, of the Pen Addict Podcast, talking with Detlef Bittner. He was showing them the new line of Wahl-Eversharp pens. They've managed to design a semi-flex and full flex nibs to put in their Decoband model. This pen is a monster of a pen and makes a Montblanc 149 look like a Kaweco sport. I was impressed with how well the semi and full flex worked. Aurora's semi-flex had trouble keeping up. Being that the Decoband runs just shy of a grand. I'd have to save up get one.

Friday night was off the chain (did I use that slang right?). I've never seen so many Sailors in one place and there not be a boat. I was introduced to the King Eagle nib. The lower the angle of the pen to the page the wider the line, and it can be flipped over for a nice fine line. It's technically extraordinary not terribly attractive.

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Saturday was the busy day. The rooms were packed for most of the day. It felt more frenetic. There were a lot of people who came up for the day which gave the show a high energy. Limited time, expendable money. I only picked up two things that day. I had been eyeing one the Karas Kustoms delrin models. It had a purple delrin body and a gold aluminum cap. They made it for LA as an homage to the Lakers, but in SEC territory purple and gold only has one team, the LSU Tigers. I couldn't not buy it. I prefer the Fountain K model to the bulkier Ink and in LSU colors it makes it a great daily carry pen. I also traded (my first trade) a Visconti Rembrant, I was trying to sell, for a seafoam green Sheaffer Snorkel. I love the color but the nib will need some repair. The Snorkel gives me more delight than the Rembrant. I was also able to sell two other pens that evening to fund a Sunday purchase.

Saturday evening was sushi and pens and pens and alcohol. Jim Rouse brought out some of his unique pens, like a demostrator Parker Vacummatic and a pen from the original run of Franklin-Christoph. Dave Rea also shared his brand new LB5, which about as large as the Decoband from the day before. Mr. Lambrou makes beautiful pens, but the more I handle the less I want one (and my pocketbook takes a big sigh).

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I found Sunday tobe uncharateristically quiet. A storm did blow into the city which prevented some of the tentstive locals. Most of those there were vendors qnd weekend passers. Having been there for two days, I appreciated the slower pace. I spent the morning in front of Mark Bacas, the Nib Grinder. A few years ago I purchased a Visconti Salvador Dali. It never wrote well for me (I've owned 5 Viscontis and only the Rembrant I sold the day before wrote well out of the box), but I liked the body too much ot sell it. I also wanted a funky nib grind in homage to the king of surreal. Mark ground the broad nib into an italic, and, if flipped over, it becomes a fine. It's a cool little nib and makes the pen much more enjoyable to write with. I also had him turn the new Fountain K into a needlepoint. 

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I ended the day with two purchases. All weekend I had been eyeing the special edition ebonite pens Johnathon Brooks brought. One in particular, with waves of light bluegreen at the bottom of the barrel, caught my eye. I must've picked up the pen 30 times over the weekend and Shea, Jonathon's wife, just egged me on each time. I liked it too much and had to have it. I had him put a 1.5 mm stub on it to just lay down ink. I left knowing I have a unique pen that is exquisite in a material I love. 

Over the course of the weekend, I documented every ink I possibly could. I had made it my goal to become a bit more familiar with various inks. I'd never laid down so many inks in so short a time. I enjoyed seeing the subtleties in different shades from the same brand. A few caught my eye, but I only purchaed one, the Franklin-Christoph Blue 72. It's a simple straightforward, bright blue. I enjoy its simplicity. While getting the ink, Jim sweetened up the feed and nib of the 1.5 stub in the Brooks pen. Sunday night I went to dinner with some friends in Atlanta. When I returned there was a small remnant, i.e. Ana Reinert and the Cali crew (who I'm pretty sure hadn't adjusted to Eastern time by the time they flew out.)

Usually a pen show does not satiate the thrist for pens. In my experience it drives it. I got to see great specimens of the OMAS arco celluloid I wished I could enjoy. I'm still in search for a Montblanc Heritage 1912 I could afford. Other than the new Decoband, I've added two more pens to the wish list, neither of which I could've bought on my limited budget this year. The first is the Maui Makai from the Kanilea Pen Company. They have multiple pens one can desire, but this particular material piqued my fancy because of the translucent blue in the middle of the pen, transporting me to memories of swimming in the Florida Keys. The second is the Earth pen in Carl Fisher's, of Fisher of Pens, four elements series. The green galaxy look of the pen captured my eyes and my imagination. 

 On a final note, I apologize to those who followed this blog on a regular basis. I've gone through a transition time in my life, and blogging became less of a priority to allow me to work on other things in my life. I can't promise you regular writing, as much as I would want to, but I hope snd intend to make this a regular part of my life again. For those of you who have emailed me or told me at the show that you miss the blog, I appreciated that more than you would know. Thank you. 

Calligraphy by Nikola Pang

Calligraphy by Nikola Pang