08 Aug 2017
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know, do better. - Maya Angelou
This year’s DC Fountain Pen Supershow was at times both an exercise in frustration and a perfect example of all the magic that this community can bring to the world.
Show-and-tell-and-learn at the bar mixed with anxiousness about table assignments in the morning.
“Morning Traffic” waiting to enter the show that was worse than anything DC, NYC, LA, or Manila can offer, while in the company of friends that valiantly try to stop you from gradually losing your mind, by offering a hug or a shoulder, or dazzling with impromptu calligraphy practice in the hallway.
Astonishingly tight aisles in the main ballroom, the neverending hallway, and the hastily added auxiliary room, offset by the absolute wonderfulness of the Pay-It-Forward table.
At the end of the show, it seemed that the prevailing sentiment was: “Well, Friday was a mess, but I made my table money back and then some, I had a pretty good show. Let’s give them another chance and see how next year goes.”
I’ll put it plainly: you may have had a good show, but nobody had a great one, and why should any of us settle for less?
How many more pens could you have sold without the wasted hours of Friday morning? How many more smiles would we have seen?
How many more people could you have talked to and learned from, if only the aisles were slightly wider?
How many more sad, broken pens could have been turned into happy little ink gushers?
How many more boring, unpleasant, or just plain uncooperative nibs could have been granted that little touch of magic and turned into ones that will never fail to put a smile on their human’s face?
How many more newcomers, inexperienced users, collecters, collusers (portmanteau cringe, I know), or children could have visited the Pay-It-Forward table to pick out a new pen of their very own or receive a very special “Starter Kit for Little Ones?”
How many more children would have gotten this spark in their eyes?
As good as you feel you did at the end of the weekend, there are countless ways it could have been better for so, so many. It’s time to stop letting things slide and time to start pushing things forward.
Let’s join Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, announcing dates well in advance and allowing vendors and attendees both to register online in advance (how many no longer even know what a check is?).
Let’s join Chicago and San Francisco in offering fresh and interesting workshops. Writing isn’t the only way to use a pen and repairwork is no longer the only skill that can be useful. Playing with ink, making an artful mess, combining pens with watercolor and other media, bookbinding, stamp carving… they all have their place and inject a revitalizing bolt of energy into our community.
A well-organized, well-planned event can do wonders to improve people’s moods and increase their willingness to share. It can keep people engaged and increase the chance of them bringing others into the fold. And yes, it can even help open their wallets.
So while you might have had a good time at the show, you might have even done well financially, it’s time for the Supershow to change. It is time for it to become even better.
21 Apr 2016
I am finally recovering from this past weekend’s adventures at the Atlanta Pen Show, and wanted to relay the story of one of the most memorable purchases I have ever made.
As I was wandering the show halls on Friday, bleary-eyed from lack of sleep, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a pen. A pen that has long been out of production; a pen that almost never comes up for sale. It just so happens that this is a pen that my friend, Thomas Hall, has been talking to me about for months. The OMAS T2 Paragon.
OMAS T2 Paragon at the Vendor's Table
The T2 was released in two editions: a Milord-sized non-limited edition fitted with a titanium nib, and the Paragon-sized limited 75th anniversary edition that I found at the show, fitted with an 18 karat gold nib.
In talking to Thomas before the show, I learned that he had just sent off his T2 Milord to OMAS for repair before they shut down the repair center for good. The issue? The piston knob had come disconnected from the main assembly, and would no longer stay on the pen.
OMAS T2 Milord With Disconnected Piston Knob, image courtesy of Thomas Hall
Back at the show, I talked to the seller, he gave me a reasonable price, and I walked away to mull over the purchase. The rest of the day passed in a blur, Saturday joined it, and it was suddenly the last day of the show. Thomas had continued to
prod encourage me, and when she arrived on Saturday afternoon, Leigh Reyes joined his efforts. On Sunday morning, finally having convinced myself to go for it, I walked back to the vendor’s table, wondering all along whether the beautiful pen would still be available. As luck would have it, it was. I asked the seller for his best price, money exchanged hands, and I walked away, for the time being, a happy man.
Welcome to the Family, T2 Paragon
I had taken a few seconds to process what had just happened and wanted to make sure that everything was okay with my purchase (hint: wrong part of the transaction to do this), so I walked over to Kenro Industries (distributors of OMAS in North America) who directed me to Ed Capizzi. Ed proceeded to go over the pen, and the verdict? A cosmetically excellent pen with a piston knob that won’t stop turning. Yes, this Paragon was affected by the same issue as Thomas’s Milord.
At this point, my guts are turning, my heart has dropped to my stomach, and I have no idea what to do. Thomas and Leigh succeeded in calming me down, and I resigned myself to the need for sending the pen out for repair. After all, what is spending a bit more money on restoring a no-longer-available pen to a fully-functional state?
Note the opening down the middle of the piston assembly, avoid when glueing. Image courtesy of Thomas Hall.
I continued making my way around the show, and mentioned the situation to a friend with a good amount of pen repair experience. His diagnosis? The piston mechanism is fully functional…all you need to do is reattach the piston knob with a slow-drying super glue. Out comes the glue, and the repair begins! The only tricky part of the process is that you need to make sure not to get any glue down the center of the piston assembly, as that will cause the entire mechanism to seize up. Twenty-four hours later, the glue had completely settled, the T2 Paragon was healthy once again, and I, for the second time this show, was a very happy man!
T2 Paragon is Alive!
As it turns out, this is a common problem with the T2 series of pens: the glue connecting the piston knob to the main assembly dries out over the years. So if this happens to you, remember to stay calm, pull out a bottle of slow-drying glue, be patient while it dries, and enjoy many more happy years with your lovely writing companion.
31 Jan 2016
Hello, lovely pen (and non-pen) folk! It’s a brand new year (well, it was about a month ago), and after much prompting, I have made the leap into starting up a brand new site. There isn’t much here yet, but I hope to flesh it out soon!
blame thanks goes to Thomas R. Hall for the starting push, and to Tony Giunta for helping with the name.
See you soon!