It’s been just about eleven months in home quarantine, and it is really hitting me how much I miss pen shows. This time last year I had already been to the Philly show, where I first saw (but ultimately did not buy) the above pen. And I was just a couple of weeks away from the Baltimore Pen Show, where I was excited to spend a couple of days volunteering and the rest of my time hanging out with so many of my pen friends, and of course buying and trying new pens. The 2020 Baltimore Pen Show was probably the best pen show of my life so far. It was also my last, thus far, and it turns out to have been the last show for a good number of people.
But let’s not dwell on how much we miss pen shows. Let’s celebrate how much pen shows will mean to us when they finally come back in a way that most of us are comfortable with. And I have just the pen to do that. This one-of-a-kind pen was made by my friend Brian of the Red Dragon Pen Company. I’ve shown off Brian’s work before, and even if you don’t follow him on Instagram (and you should) you may have seen the Pocket Parallels that he has made with hand turned barrels pop up in other people’s pen collections. Brian does some really amazing work when it comes to full-size and over-size pens as well, using all manner of materials from alumilite to ebonite to ultem to wood, and more.
This particular pen uses three out of those four materials. The cap and rear finial use a beautiful alumilite color with a blue base and streaks of brown. The grip section is made from a black Japanese ebonite that feels great in the hand. And the barrel is made of a gorgeous purpleheart wood. When I saw Brian at the Baltimore show last year I was surprised to find that he still hadn’t sold this pen. I had spent a month and a half regretting not buying it in Philly, and I knew I didn’t want to make the same mistake again. Once I bought the pen, however, I realized I would need to find the perfect ink to match it.
While there’s of course no way that I would ever try to portray this current pandemic as a good thing, I am open to recognizing some of the silver linings in this dark cloud in which we live. One of them has been the accelerated adoption of technological solutions for all kinds of events that previously would have been held off-line only. In the pen world, one such event has been the Sailor Virtual Ink Shows. I haven’t had the opportunity to participate in these myself, but my understanding is that when your appointment comes up you have a 15 minute video chat with Don and Rachel from Sailor North America where they walk you through all kinds of Sailor inks, and you get to order whatever ink you like (with special pricing). Admission cost $20, but if you ordered any ink you would get an additional bottle of Sailor’s North America Pen Show exclusive ink packed in for free. Even though I never took part in this virtual event I can still recommend participation if you’re looking for a special ink, because that is more or less how I found the perfect ink for this pen.
After purchasing this Red Dragon pen I knew I wanted an ink that would match the purpleheart wood, so I went to Sailor North America’s table, where they had a wide variety of inks produced by Sailor. Rachel helped me comb through their ink binders until we picked out Bungubox Clown Teardrop. In addition to being a perfect match for the pen, it is one of my all time favorite ink names.
The nib is the one piece of this pen that didn’t come from the show. I wanted something special on here so I placed an order with Pablo at FPnibs. This is a Broad steel Jowo #6, ground to Pablo’s version of a Zoom tipping. It is also partially sandblasted to give a matte texture on the inner portion of the nib, and the breather hole has been modified into the shape of a water droplet, or as I prefer to think of it, a teardrop. * A clown teardrop. * When this nib arrived and I screwed it in, I knew this pen was complete.
Of course, this nib was one of the first pen items I ordered that arrived after the Baltimore show, meaning I haven’t had a chance to show it off in person to my pen friends yet. That’s the other thing that this completed pen represents to me, it represents all the fun we will have in person, when it is safe once more, showing off all of our pandemic purchases to each other.
I’m looking forward to letting you all try this pen in person, hopefully some day soon.