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  • A Fleeting Ripple

once a year: dutch pen show 2024

The train makes its way through the countryside on another cloudy day, when the glimpses to the bright sunlight are a special treat. The cows and large houses speed past in the quiet chatter of the train. The train is almost empty, the Sunday morning leaving its place to the midday, still sleepy. Then the conductor announces, Utrecht Centraal.

First room of the Dutch Pen Show with a crowd.

It has been a very long time since I sat at my desk just to enjoy writing; these past couple of months have been extremely busy with my final project and thesis, with some more weeks to go. It feels good to be back for a little while, with my fountain pens lined up in front of me, to talk about the Dutch Pen Show last week. I was glad to take some time off studying to go hang out with cool people and see all the new stuff. My only regret is that I didn’t have time to research before I went, so I sometimes didn’t know what to expect.

Get a warm mug of tea -if it’s still cold like here- or some ice coffee -if summer has already found you- and sit on a comfortable chair. It’s going to be a long post.

Someone with the goodie bag from the Dutch Pen Show.

I had high expectations from the show, all the tickets had been sold out, I had barely managed to get one for the regular entrance. The last time I had found some time to go was in 2022, so it has been quite a while since I had been to a pen show. When I arrived at the hotel where it was held at, the show was in full swing. We got our bright pink bracelets and tried to pick a room to start with. The last time there was only one room and it was quite crowded. This time, the two rooms worked very well to make sure that there was enough space to walk comfortably between the tables and the people looking at the tables. In both rooms there was a good mix of old and new, smaller and bigger vendors, smaller makers and big brands. I think it was well organized, even though I apparently threw the little map they gave into my bag and only found it three days later.

I made a quick round to see what’s going on in general, then started out with the chatting, trying and shopping. Let’s start with the first room.

Kaweco's DIY Sport machines.

First off was the Kaweco distributor when you first entered the room on the right. I congratulate them on their table placement, because I was hooked from the moment I stepped into the room. They had the DIY Sport in the berry colour and all the hand machinery to craft it yourself. It’s a bit of a gimmick, but I liked seeing all the parts fit into place, and hey, I got a cool new colour of Kaweco Sport. They had the new piston Sport and the Art Sport’s out for display as well, and I was tempted for that terrazzo Art Sport.

Next up was the KWZ ink. I actually had to skip their table and come back a couple of times because it was incredibly busy. He had a lot of pens loaded up with inks to test and he was there to explain everything, so I get why it was so busy. When I managed to grab a seat, I just dived straight in to trying some inks I hadn’t seen before. The regular inks are great and all, then I saw the shimmer inks, and with a lineup name like “All that glitters” it’s hard not to get excited. The colours were amazing, and the extra special thing is that the glitter does not settle. I repeat, the glitter does not settle to the bottom like regular shimmer inks. It’s magical and I am loving it. Also, thank you for the simplified explanation for the not-so chemistry literate on how they work.

KWZ shows their shimmer ink
KWZ shows their shimmer ink

Luckily, Fontoplumo was right across the KWZ desk, so I got to get myself some magic shimmer inks. It’s always great to see Frank, the lovely guy behind Fontoplumo, and it’s even better to see him in a pen show! I managed to talk to him a little bit, and came back to get the ink later on. It seemed like they had a great show, they were practically out of everything! I hope they’ll bring more of the KWZ shimmer inks too, I want to get them all…

After that, I moved onto the Pennonia table. He had a lot of pens and inks for testing too. My favourite pink ink is Vattacukor, so I was happy to see another pink ink, Abigel, made for his goddaughter. It warms my heart when inks are so personal, and I want to get a bottle to see how much I like it. Pennonia’s inks are something special, their colours aren’t the most conventional and they still manage to nail it every time. I wish I did a little bit of research before I went though, because I was super overwhelmed at their table and when I scrolled through their Instagram on the train ride back home, I was curious about some inks. Oh well, I hope they’re there next year too.

Pennonia and KWZ tables were definitely my highlights. My boyfriend was there with me, and to directly quote him, “Pennonia has backyard mad scientist vibe and KWZ has ‘kicked out of wizarding school’ vibe.” Their experimentation and knowledge is awesome and it’s a treat to meet them in person.

This time around I didn’t get any nib work done, and all four of the nib specialists seemed super busy. The last time I was there, there was only one, so it’s great to see so many more at this show.

Next, I looked around to Journal This’s table. They’re new to me, as I hadn’t looked very thoroughly at their online shop. I knew that I wanted to try some of their Diamine inks, so I was hoping that they’d show up. Their beautiful stamps were practically gone, as so were some of their inks. I managed to grab two, and so far I’m in love with their pastel shades. Their table was a little oasis of journaling goodness, and I look forward to seeing them around and taking a closer look at their website.

It was a great show for ink lovers in general, because Robert Oster was also there with a testing station. They had swatches of practically all of their inks. Conveniently enough, Papier & Stift had put their Robert Oster inks on the table that’s adjacent to the testing, so you could just get the inks you liked. They had also brought the Diamine German editions, including Bloody Absinth, which I wanted for a while now.

Galen Leather had one of the biggest tables in the show, and looked like it was full to the brim with their lovely leather goods. I eyed their Nahvalur demonstrators for a while, but I don’t know how  feel about Nahvalur pens yet… My boyfriend ended up getting a lovely Tomoe River notebook from them. They’re very generous and it was fun to chat over some Turkish delight.

Haul form the Dutch Pen Show.
A sneaky haul pic

Before we move on to the next room, they had set up tables for people to sit in a foyer-like place between two rooms and there was also an ink testing station from the Dutch Pen Show. There was a bottle of Montblanc Lavender Purple that I’m dying to get, so I had to just be content with scribbling a little bit on my notebook.

The smaller room was a little less busy when I was there, which was very welcome to spend a bit more time looking at tables. I spent a lot more time looking at the vintage pens in here. I like that they put mostly modern pens and vendors etc. at the outer ring of tables and vintage pens are in the inner ring. Though, there was a lot less vintage than I remembered from previous time, and a lot more vendors from outside of the Netherlands. It’s interesting to see how preferences shift over such a short period of time.

Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery isn’t a shop I frequent, though their Japanese ink selection is great. The greatest part is that someone -I’m so sorry I forgot to ask your name, I was just really excited about the pen!- was selling their “lightly used” Scribo’s on the side of the Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery’s tables. There, I saw a pen I had been daydreaming about for three whole years, the one that really got away, slipped from in between my fingers. It was a Piuma Impressione, in that blue and orange crackled-like resin. I have still never seen such an interesting resin, and the Piuma shape is simply beautiful and I just could never forget that pen. He offered to change the nib to a fine, which was better suited for my writing, and I got it! I can’t believe I got it! I made one promise to myself though, I want that pen to be my graduation pen, so I hid it in my closet away from temptation until I finish my project.

I saved the best to last, a completely new small maker to me, I didn’t even see their Instagram before last week. It’s Skogsy Pens! With a funky name, fun pens and lovely pen cases, what more can you ask for? I was eyeing their sparkly smaller pens when I first walked up to their table, but in the end I really fell for the Rickshaw pen cases they had. The designs and patterns on the fabric were super cute and I couldn’t resist getting a Sinclair R. It took me a moment to decide on the pattern, and I went with waves rolling on a beach under a warm sun. The cacti and plant ones were amazing as well, but I needed to bring a little warmth to my life because the weather in here doesn’t seem to think it’s June yet.

Dutch Pen Show bracelets.

I know I skipped over a lot of lovely people, but these were the highlights of my show. I didn’t get to attend any classes or seminars, which I really want to next year. Hopefully my schedule will be a bit more clear, so I can buy tickets earlier. Overall, it was a great show, the organisers did a good job with the layout and the theme. Oh, one thing I wished that they still did was sell the previous year’s inks. Two years ago, they were selling them in a bundle, and this time I couldn’t see it -if they actually sold it. I didn’t get this year’s show ink, it looks very similar to Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo-like colours, and they’re simply not my thing. I did wish a little for a brighter, spring pink.

In the end, I was exhausted after a couple of hours and left early to go to the canal side in Utrecht. The sun was shining, the food was good and looking through the goodies that we got at the pen show was priceless. I think pen shows get better as you go to more of them and get used to it, because the first time was super overwhelming, and this time I actually enjoyed it a lot more. Here’s to many more!

Of course I forgot to take some pictures, so enjoy the few I have…

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with the Dutch Pen Show or any of the brands mentioned. I spent my own money and all opinions are my own.



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