my first show: the dutch pen show
The tram shrugs and wobbles on the daisy ridden tracks. It never goes very fast, the stops are too close together to allow for that. It’s quiet, the only noise is the voice announcing the stops and the constant motors. The air is stuffy, not many windows are open, but rare gusts of fresh air mostly make up for it. As the tram snakes down the roads and through the city, it gets busier. The last stop is the train station, where everyone rushes out to catch their train and others try to step in.
Last week was the Dutch Pen Show. I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years now, but last year after an unfortunate bike accident I couldn’t attend it. This year, I bought my tickets the day they were released. It was my first pen show, and it was completely worth it.
After getting a bit lost in the Dutch public transport system, I had two goals in mind: check out Giants’ Pens and try to find Troublemaker inks -which are surprisingly hard to come by in Europe. I did get some handmade pens, but my search for the inks proved to be futile. My first round was anti-clockwise from the entrance, and I’ll try to give a breakdown of some of the tables like that.
Scrittura Elegante’s table was one of the busiest throughout the show. They introduced their new brand Penlux for the first time. I tried a few of them but the super large size didn’t feel comfortable and balanced in my hand. The one pen that I wanted to check out from them was the new lilac colour of Laban Rosa. They were sold out by the time I came to check it out, so I didn’t have the opportunity to handle it very much. And this was during the beginning of the show, so I still was a little shy and cautious about the whole thing.
Next up was Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery’s table, which seemed to have the largest ink selection. I particularly liked that they put out swatches of the inks on different papers. Everyone was comparing them and looking through the swatches. Taccia and Guitar Taisho inks were the ones I hadn’t seen in person before. I’m pretty basic when it comes to inks and don’t particularly go for fancy Japanese inks often, but the artwork and packaging on these were striking. As far as I’ve read online, the quality seems amazing too.
Afterwards, I pretty much beelined for the Giants’ Pens table. It was the first handmade pen table I’ve seen and it got me overwhelmed quite quick. All the materials were extremely beautiful. I mostly looked at the resin ones which were a mix of resins that they had mixed themselves and blanks from other blank makers. I got my first handmade pen and first pen of the show from them, in Brooks’s Water Lilly Koi material. Purple and green are my favourite colours, but the competition was intense with the other colourful resins.
Right across from them was the table of Penmeester.be. I hadn’t heard of him until the show, but that’s why I looked forward to this show anyway, to meet with new people and their work. The first thing that caught my eye was his urushi work. A guy next to me was super excited to get a pen from him and I guess his excitement was contagious. Thankfully Mr. Penmeester was patient with me handling and looking at almost all of the pens before buying one. I was genuinely surprised to see the price tag on them too, I wasn’t expecting to see urushi work for that price.
Then towards the end were the two Turkish tables that I wanted to take a look at: Studyo Agackakan and Galen Leather. Studyo Agackakan’s Instagram account is full of their intricately designed and made pens and I was a little wary of their price for that reason. Fortunately for me, they had brought simpler turned resin pens as well. The depth of the materials that they had used was amazing, I almost couldn’t decide on what to get. In the end, one with white & navy resin stole my heart. The people in Galen Leather were awesome as usual, I was happy to find a couple of moments to chat with them as well, my Turkish is getting a little rusty at the moment. Even though I admire the quality work they deliver, I have enough pen cases to last me for a while and my cash reserves were pretty depleted at that point.
I’ll quickly mention Akkerman from The Hague and Fontoplumo too. I didn’t spend much time at their tables as I already frequent their shops. One thing that caught my eye was Frank’s (can I call you Frank?) lovely t-shirt.
I am a little daunted by vintage/rare/super collectible pens but it was great to see so many vendors with them as well. I’m especially thankful for The One Man Penshow for not having any fear in his eyes when two college kids came over to hold and ask about his pens. Pen people are a lovely bunch!
I had only taken a quick look at their goodie bag during the show, but had more time to go through it when I arrived home. My favourite thing is the Galen Leather single pen sleeve, I had been needing a single pen sleeve these days and it was really the perfect coincidence.
Thank you for reading. I will upload some photographs tomorrow, but I forgot to take any during the show. @dutchpenshow over on Instgram has all the photographs that I forgot to take. This is what happens when you get super overwhelmed about everything…
The only picture I'll include is from u/autiflips from Reddit because I managed to photobomb it!