(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)
The Chicago Pen Show is my annual family reunion, and every year the family grows a little more. This year there were more people and more new vendors than I've ever seen there before and it was an absolute delight. The first thing I did when I arrived was race around the rooms saying hello to everyone and sticking my camera in people's faces like the Pen Show Paparazzi. I didn't have to ask anyone to smile, though. Everyone was already smiling!
I went with my best pen friend, Moriah, as usual. She's always excellent company and we now have our pen show system down to an art. We arrived on Saturday just after nine. After we said our hellos, we did a browsing lap, a buying lap... another buying lap. She took Azizah's lettering class, which by all accounts was amazing. I took a nap--also amazing. We then grabbed a quick dinner and headed to the Pen Show After Dark in the bar. It was quieter there than last year, and didn't have the mixer event, but it was still lovely to gather and chat and show-and-tell our purchases. We got to try fun nib grinds and new inks and papers. I thought I was done shopping Saturday, but after trying a few things at the bar that night, I added some to my list to pick up on Sunday.
I wish I could recount every moment in detail, but I'll list (in no particular order) a few highlights and let the pictures do the talking.
- Reuniting with my Kanilea Ohana! It's always wonderful to see Hugh and Karol.
- Browsing wonders of the pen world at Sarj's table.
- Jessterbrook's hugs.
- Getting to meet Azizah for the first time and getting to squish her NutriGrain bar.
- Chatting with Pierre of Desiderata about porridge (hope you got some porridge, Pierre).
- Seeing Patrick from Papier Plume again, and buying the ink I wanted to buy in New Orleans but couldn't because I only had carry-on luggage. At last, Bayou Nightfall is in my collection.
- Watching Nik Pang work.
- Trying Ralph's Sequel nib again (one of these days I'll get one).
- Having my name written by the gentleman who has learned to write in Abraham Lincoln's handwriting. I missed his name, so we'll call him Abraham Lincoln II. Chatting with him about how people used to learn handwriting and how he uses those principles to mimic their styles was fascinating.
- Picking up a box of blanks from Jonathon Brooks of Carolina Pen Company for my father, who has just started making pens. I formally declare Jonathon one of the kindest people in the pen world. When I send these blanks to my dad, I'll be declaring dibs on a few of them--they're gorgeous.
- Talking about flowers with Matt Armstrong and Lisa Vanness.
- Asking for a glass of water at the bar and having the bartender ask if it was for drinking or ink (I think they're getting used to us).
There were a lot of people I wanted to spend more time with, but alas, I had to leave Sunday morning. I hope I'll get to see those folks again next year! I'm already excited. And if the show keeps growing the way it has been, we'll soon have to take over some additional event rooms! Saturday the ballroom was packed like inky sardines. I hope it was as successful for the vendors as it was for the attendees. I certainly did my part. And I hope you'll all join us there next year!