February In Three Parts – California Pen Show & Other Adventures

It was a surprisingly busy February for me. The shortest month of the year was full of events, acquisitions, and adventure. With so many Pen Things to share I wasn’t certain where to start so, rather than part it out over a few posts, I’ve decided to share it all wrap-up style.

I will explain. No, that will take too long. I will sum up.

Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

The Pen Show Experience

There’s a new pen show in town! Like many of my fellow Southern California pen nerds, I was devastated to hear that the long-running Los Angeles International Pen Show would not be returning in 2023 due to the increased costs of putting on the show. I was elated when (seemingly hours later) it was announced that there would in fact be a pen show in Los Angeles in 2023, and it would be called the California Pen Show. So obviously I had to attend. I only spent a few hours at the show but here is what I saw, what I bought, and what I thought about this brand-new pen show.

The California Pen Show is, well, a new pen show hosted in a decent-sized basement ballroom at the Los Angeles Airport Marriot. Although the show only consists of the single space, it was organized in such a way that every vendor appeared to have enough space for their wares without looking too crowded. There weren’t as many vendors as previous shows in the region, but they really made the most of the space they had.

The show was a pretty even split between vintage pen dealers and modern brands, as well as a few nib tuners/grinders/artisans scattered throughout. Also present were tables from several retail stores like Flax Pen to Paper and Dromgoole’s, both of whom had fantastic ink selections at the show all swatched up an priced to move. And, of course, there was the Plotter/Travelers Co. trio of tables showing off a wonderful assortment of leather goods and journaling accessories. in my short time on the show floor, that section of the floor was the most consistently packed with people. More on my experience at the plotter booth in a moment. The turnout looked pretty strong for the Saturday afternoon I was present. It always seemed busy, but never crowded; I never felt like I had trouble moving throughout the show floor.


I really enjoyed the California Pen Show and I hope it returns next yere bigger and better. Although I came into the show in a celebratory mood, I didn’t go overboard. I was able to walk away with a handful of goodies and the knowledge to make some non-impulsive purchases after the show. That being said, CY’s table really had me sweating for a moment. Although I miss the larger layout and extracurriculars of past shows in the region, I’m happy (and lucky) to have a pen show that I can drive to for an afternoon. Also I’m really psyched to have met some cool people! Shout out to April and Kelly of The Stationery Cafe and CY (aka The Nib Sith) of Tokyo Inklings.

The Purchases

I was surprisingly restrained at the pen show, taking home only one fountain pen, two inks, and a dip pen. The fountain pen is a Karas Pen Co. Hunter Orange Decograph. As a multi-Karas pen-haver, I’ve had my eye on the Decograph line for a while but never actually picked one up. Well, I could resist the call no longer, and this bright orange Cerakote finish just really caught my eye. The Decograph is Karas’ take on a traditionally sized and shaped US-style fountain pen. It uses a Bock #6 nib and standard international cartridges, and was machine-made of solid 6061 aluminum.

The inks are from two brands that I have been hearing a lot about lately so I thought I’d check them out. Since I will never need ink again I ended up shopping based off names. I brought home Troublemaker Petrichor and Wearingeul A Taxidermied Genius. The former is an interesting almost pencil-like grey-silver with hints of pink and purple hidden in deeper pockets, the latter is a deep wine red with a sparse green sheen.

While I did see some incredible handmade glass dip pens, I brought something else home. What I got is the Sailor Hocoro dip pen with a fine steel nib. There are a handful of extras available, like an attachable feed and easily-swappable nib units, that I may look into later on. For now, this is just a nifty little dip pen with a simple design and useful features.

And that’s it, that’s all I bought. Apart from a beautiful Platinum pen on CY’s table, nothing else really caught my eye at the show. I do see this as a good thing, as my curious eye has put me over budget multiple times in the past. But I did walk away with something else; a whole lot of knowledge and hands-on time with the Plotter system. Shortly after the show, I placed an order. (Three post-pen show orders actually, the largest of which was with Plotter USA.)

Plotter Liscio Wine in Bible Size

Part celebration of my first year on the job, part deal with myself to keep working and growing and improving; this bible/personal-size Liscio Red Plotter is my new organizer. I purchased the Plotter with weekly planner, blank sheet, and grid ruled refills, as well as a pack of project management folders and the elastic loop divider. With some additional refills I’ll touch on in a moment this book is an efficient way to keep my work schedule at a glance, keep and organize project notes, and chart out launches and other tasks. It is a beautifully made piece that will age and wear unique to me the longer I use it. I’ll definitely expand on this more in a future post but for now, know that I’m lovin’ it.

So then PenAddict had a sale… I had all but sworn off new Sailor pens as of the new price point, but Brad had this old Imperial Black ProGear on offer for 1(one) heck of a deal. So yeah, this is mine now.

After all that I just about had the pen show purchase bug out of my system, but there was one more order in February. I picked up a few odds and ends from JetPens; these shockingly fountain pen friendly Raymay Davinci planner refills, some Kokuyo divider tabs, and some blueblack carts for the Sailor. Not a whole lot to write home about there, but to any Plotter or Filofax users, definitely check these out.

The Reason for The Season

So why was I feeling so spendy? Why am I talking about all these things in a connected way? Why did I walk in to the California Pen Show looking for something to buy? Well… I got married!

That’s right. I started February off with one of the most important events of my life. After thee ceremony, we took a nice mini vacation drive up to the redwoods in northern California. We saw trees, we saw deer, and we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where we saw creatures from the deep. Exactly one week after we walked down the aisle, my Wife and I walked the floor of the California Pen Show. Who could ask for anything more?

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