Olive Octopus handwritten text with sketch of octopus

2024 Atlanta Pen Show Highlights

This pen show weekend, April 4th - 7th, was a lot of fun and flew by so quickly! Most of these highlights are about the "haul" because I didn't take a lot of pictures at the show and mostly want to show off the cool things people made, but overall I continue to find this community overflowing with creativity, kindness, inspiration, shared passion, support, and friendship.

Darail Penz

The first acquisition of the show was this pen from Darail Penz. There were a few pens that used this green material, but I liked this simple shape that was entirely the chatoyant green that caught my eye. I chose a broad nib with plans to get it ground at the show.

Chatoyant green resin fountain pen with straight sides and flat ends, next to a card for Derail Penz Custom Writing Instruments, Columbus, Ohio.

Smruti Pens

Another early stop was Smruti Pens to pick up a Tomoe River notebook and look through the swatch book to choose a new Taccia ink. I had another notebook ready to use during the pen show but I immediately abandoned it to use this for testing pens, inks, and grinds all weekend. It's always a pleasure to chat with Akhila.

A ring-bound A5 notebook with starry night sky cover and bottle of golden yellow Taccia Natane ink.

White Bear Pens

Visiting the White Bear Pens table to see Mikayla's pens in person was another item right at the top of my list, I was particularly interested in the Ursa model. The clear dome caps looked even cooler in person.

A resin fountain pen with clear domed cap sparkling with purple/pink/orange glitter and swirled blue gray, white, and translucent mauve body. White bear logo card and custom Rickshaw pen sleeve in background.

I was really drawn to this pen with the soft colors of the Lair of the Dragoness material paired with orange, pink, and purple sparkles. I can't stop picking it up to look at it since I got home. It writes beautifully, inked with the sample of Wearingeul Persephone I got with the pen. From branding to pen design, with awesome stickers, etched nibs, custom Rickshaw Pen sleeves, choice of ink sample with purchase—Mikayla is nailing it!


Being able to test different nib sizes and grinds in person is a great perk of being at a pen show. I was able to spend time testing a wide variety of Franklin-Christoph nibs including both #5 and #6 sizes, steel vs gold, and the cursive italic and S.I.G. (Stub Italic Gradient) grinds. I had a couple cursive italic nibs and a S.I.G. medium nib already, and after testing I was most interested in S.I.G. grinds at different sizes.

On Friday I picked out a Model 46 in a striking material that looked like pools of lava and ice with a Raven (jet black coated) S.I.G. broad nib. On Saturday my second choice was still hanging around, another Model 46 in a material that looks like cosmic dust swirling within a nebula, so I got that with a Raven S.I.G. fine nib.

Two Franklin-Christoph Model 46 pens resting on gray zipper pouches, one pen with swirling transparent orange and frosty blue, and the other with golden yellow swirls in a sea of dark blue and purple shimmer.

Pen Realm: Kirk Speer

This year I brought several un-inked pens as candidates for nib grinds, but I didn't go into the weekend with specific grinds in mind because I planned to spend time with the available test pens first. I made an appointment ahead of time online to visit Kirk Speer at Pen Realm on Friday afternoon, but went by the table earlier in the day to try out the testers.

A notebook page filled with sample writing from several test nibs at Kirk Speer's table with different grinds including Imperial, Speerpoint, Stub, Katana, Architect, Scythe, Tanto, Fude, Posting, and Cursive Italic.

The grind I enjoyed writing with most was the Katana, so I got that grind on my new Darail Penz green pen. The Scythe was also really interesting with variation from both direction and angle, so that went on a broad nib in my Pen Addict x Benu pen. Finally I had a "firehose" broad gold Lamy nib refined into a smooth cursive italic.

A notebook page showing writing with three different nib grinds: a Katana grind, a Scythe grind, and a smooth cursive italic.

Vanness Pen Shop

Vanness did something cool this year with a dedicated station to show people how to get started using fountain pens all weekend, and an extra table nearby for ink testing. After looking through all the varied stationery offerings and ink swatch books I picked up some pretty Midori envelopes and a bottle of Wearingeul Tick Tock Croc ink. The lenticular label is fun and reminds me of my mom describing the impact the "tick tock" croc had in the theater during showings of the animated Peter Pan.

A pack of white Midori envelopes with watermark floral pattern and bottle of Wearingeul Tick Tock Croc ink, a blue-ish green ink in a square bottle with a lenticular label that shows the animated crocodile with wide open mouth.

Waffle House

There is a Waffle House right outside the hotel so it becomes a staple of many people's pen show weekend. I never got over there last year, but this year I was able to go with my friend Becky and had a lovely lunch waffle and hash browns (peppered).

A plate of hash browns with jalapeƱos and a waffle from Waffle House.

Anderillium Inks

I have been collecting bottles or samples of the eight inks in each of the three Anderillium series but due to an issue with an ink sample I was one short of the full set. Anderillum Inks had several inks ready to test so I tried out the ink I was missing, Purple Gallinule Purple, and decided to buy the full bottle. I was able to share how much fun I'd had in creating the swatch cards for the Lepidopteran series and look forward to completing sketches for the Avian and Cephalopod series cards soon.

Notebook showing swatch of the bright blurple Anderillium Purple Gallinule Purple ink, and a 3D printed custom stand holding the hexagon-shaped bottle and a dip pen.

I also attended an interesting free seminar about the history of dyes and pigments held by Bert Anderson, owner of Anderillum Inks, on Saturday afternoon. It's worth the time to check out what other offerings like this are available to pen show attendees, especially if you are attending multiple days of a show.

An Unexpected Find

It seems several people wondered about the "loose pen cap" at the Pen Realm table or being carried around by people at the show, then realized it was actually a complete tiny pen—then went and bought one. This was a buzzy item at the show and I too couldn't resist something so smol and fun that actually writes pretty well.

A crab pen holder with a small 2.5 inch long mini pen in a bright turquoise green material.

We even kicked off the Saturday night Pen Show After Dark by seeing how many of these Wancher PuChiCo pens matched the length of one Conid Giraffe (it was three).

Three small Wancher PuChiCo pens laid end-to-end at about the same length as a quite long Conid Giraffe pen.

Zodiac Pens

One of the people I got to meet during the Pen Show After Dark hangout on Saturday night was Bart of Zodiac Pens. I'd been matching inks from the stash of ink samples I'd made to a few pens that night and he asked if I had anything to match one of his Zodiac pens. I found a pretty shimmer ink that went with the pen pretty well, and in return I promised to swing by his table the next day to get an ink sample in trade and see the rest of his pens.

I ended up spending quite a bit of time talking inks and trading more ink samples with both Bart and Lexi, but also fell for one final pen this trip. There were some "Taurus" models in gorgeous materials that were tempting, but it was a dark "Capricorn" model in a dark starry resin with these chatoyant streaks of white flashing through that caught my eye.

A long, slim fountain pen with a gentle taper toward the ends in a rich dark blue sparkly resin with bright chatoyant streaks of white shooting through the pen as it's rotated in the light.

To my surprise and delight it turned out that material was from Pourly Controlled, made by Lisa Marie, another person I'd had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know over the weekend. Now this beautiful pen on my desk also holds these memories of hanging out with the people who made it.

Matthew's Nibworks

On Sunday the show is much quieter with good availability to get more nib grinds. I tried all the sample pens at the Matthew's Nibworks table and ended up with a Kodachi grind on a Sailor Pro Gear Slim and an Architect on the broad nib of my new Zodiac Capricorn pen. Matthew was also able to fix another nib that wasn't working very well. I'm excited about spending time with this variety of new-to-me grinds.

A business card for Matthew's Nibworks on a notebook page with writing tests for a Kodachi and an Architect grind.


I love that so many of us look at the Rickshaw Sinclair Model R with 3 distinct pen slots and then load it up with about 6-12 pens (with the assistance of additional dual or single pen sleeve(s) and pen clips as needed). I picked up a really nice clay (dark orange) with peacock teal lining version last year, but find it so useful that I wanted to get a second Sinclar and two-pen sleeve combo. I chose the Yuki Cat pattern Sinclair and the same clay/peacock colorway for the two-pen sleeve.

A Rickshaw Sinclair Model R pouch in a cream fabric with playful black cats design, and a dark orange two-pen sleeve.

Overall I was excited to see a lot more accessories compared to last year. I picked up a wooden 5 sample vial and pen holder from Pen Realm and pretty resin tray with glass bottle pen holder from Divine Pens Plus. I also got an Anderillum bottle and pen holder.

Handmade pen holder that is a green resin square with angled glass bottle to hold a pen, a wooden stand with spots for 5 sample vials and a horizontal pen rest, and a 3D printed stand for the hexagon Anderillium bottle and a pen.

Ink Haul

In addition to the inks already mentioned, I picked up Robert Oster Pink Squirrel (which I already knew I liked from a sample), Muddy Water, and Muddy Swamp at the Orlando Pen Show table, and the Franklin-Christoph Pen Show inks '24 ATL Pen Show (a peachy color) and Solar Eclipse (black). I also came home with a dozen new ink samples from friends and ink sample swaps.

Colorful ink swatches and bottles for eight inks including three Robert Oster inks, a Wearingeul ink, a Taccia ink, and the two Franklin-Christoph show inks.

Pen Show Hangouts

During afternoon breaks and in the evenings, people gathered around the seating near the bar and lobby to talk with old friends and new acquaintances. On Friday there is a cookout by the pool which is a great way to catch up with friends and meet new people.

Small table covered with notebooks, ink bottles, pens, swatch cards, etc.

Since I drove to the show I was able to bring along most of my pen collection, but also a good portion of my ink swatches including:

  • Col-o-ring swatch cards separated into groups of water-resistant inks, shimmer/super sheener inks, and standard inks (roughly sorted by color)
  • A portable Rol-o-dex case with the roughly 200 Col-o-dex cards I've finished with sketches (grouped by brand)
  • A folio of Wearingeul swatch cards including the 2021-2023 Diamine Inkvent calendar inks and various other swatches
  • My Franklin-Christoph NWF Vagabond cover filled with inky notebooks and experimentation

A Rickshaw pouch full of Col-o-ring swatch cards, circular and horizontal holders for several hundred Col-o-dex cards, and folio of Wearingeul swatch cards.

Since I am ink obsessed, I also brought along a mini "ink testing station" with inexpensive Jinhao Shark and pull-cap pens filled and labeled with interesting inks for people to try, a few envelopes of "paper testing" kits with single sheets of a variety of fountain pen friendly papers, and a couple of these grippy sample vial racks (that can be flipped upside down without losing any ink vials!) of samples from my ink collection.

It was a lot of fun to hang out with other pen people I had only known online previously, or just met at the show, and be able to show ink swatches in person, try to find the right ink sample for someone to ink up their pen, share some of the ink exploration and artsy projects I've been inspired to do since the last pen show, or even answer questions or demonstrate something for newer folks.

A discbound notebook full of test paper and ink swatches, two racks of ink sample vials, a small pencil pouch full of labeled ink testing pens, envelope of different test papers.

Final Thoughts

I came home from this show with a lot of cool stuff, but these items will be regular reminders of the people and good times from this weekend.

Multiple pens, ink bottles, ink samples, notebooks, and accessories laid out across the desk.

I plan on visiting one of the BIG shows this year as well, "The Fun Pen Show" in San Francisco this August! Since I have to fly to that show, it will be a different experience but I'm looking forward to it.

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