Pens, Passion and Entrepreneurship

Reflections on the Atlanta Pen Show


My wife and I made the trek from Columbia to Atlanta last weekend to catch the Atlanta Pen Show and the live recording of the Pen Addict Podcast. We went last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. (I wrote a post about last year’s experience, too.) Some quick thoughts on our new annual tradition:

Preshow. #atlantapenshow

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The Pen Addict Live. We wanted to go to the Atlanta Pen Show, but the live recording was the main reason we made the trip. The Pen Addict is a great show and I listen to it every week.*

The episode they recorded was excellent, as usual. Once again this year, Myke and Brad were joined by the equally awesome Ana Reinert. But they also had a couple of interviews on the show, too. Vito from Story Supply and Brooks from Carolina Pen Company both talked about their businesses. It’s always great to see and hear from people who are so incredibly passionate about their craft.

Seeing Vito and Brooks on the live show crystalized something that I’d been thinking about for a while. Yes, the Pen Addict is about pens (and ancillary stationery products), but it’s also a celebration of entrepreneurship. Myke and Stephen took their mutual love of podcasts and started their own podcast network. Brad and Jeff started NockCo and are building an amazing case business. Ana has a new product for sale, the Col-o-ring. Vito talked about what drove him to start the Story Supply Co. And I honestly have no idea how Brooks combines polymers and makeup to make the beautiful pens that he sells through Carolina Pen Company. 

Myke and Brad routinely bring in creators to talk about their products and creations. They support, encourage and build up the creative community.** I really do think that support is a big part of what makes the Pen Addict — and the larger pen community — amazing.

NockCo Sinclair. I enjoyed the show, but I didn’t buy much. (I’m still working my way through all the ink I bought at last year's show.) I checked out some vintage pens, but didn't see anything I had to have. 

One of my favorite purchases was the NockCo Sinclair. I was in the market for a smaller case… I love my NockCo Brasstown, but I wanted a smaller case for carrying with me to meetings. NockCo had some exclusive colors for the pen show circuit. I was eyeing the olive/lime Lookout. I seriously love the olive/lime colorway and you know how I love my bright greens… But once I saw the Sinclair with a black waxed canvas exterior and a garnet*** interior, I was sold. I’m a lifelong Gamecock fan and the creative director at the University of South Carolina. For a case to carry around campus, the garnet and black case is perfect. I’ve really enjoyed using it this week and I’m thrilled with my purchase. Hopefully, they’ll make some more pieces in this colorway, because I will buy them all.

Coffee #atlantapenshow

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Waffle House. There is a Waffle House in the parking lot of the hotel and we decided to grab a bite Saturday morning before we left Atlanta. (Myke and Brad have mentioned on past shows that they tend to frequent this Waffle House during the pen show.) It was packed. We found our way to a couple of open stools at the counter. The waitress told me that the weekend had been one of their busiest ones of the year. I guess we can blame the Atlanta Pen Show for the crowd. Next year, they should completely hook Myke and Brad up with some free coffee or something.

* I listen to a bunch of other Relay FM podcasts, too. I'm a Pen Addict, but I'm also a fan of the whole network.

** Unless your product is a bogus Kickstarter rip off. Then Brad will tear you limb-from-limb.

*** Officially, the color is burgundy, but I'm sticking with garnet.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he is trying to figure out how to use all the ink he has purchased. Follow Bob on TwitterInstagram and Micro.Blog.

The Pen Addict returns to the Atlanta Pen Show

Catch the Pen Addict Live!


I’ve been talking about Kickstarter projects lately and here’s another one: The Pen Addict is doing a live show at the Atlanta Pen Show again this year.*

My wife and I went last spring and I posted a recap of the experience. I instantly backed this year’s project and can’t wait to go again. Backing the project includes an opportunity to see the show recorded live. It's fun to see a live recording of one of my favorite podcasts. I’m also excited to get a special Nock Co. Sapelo that holds a couple of pens and small notebooks. Looks sharp, even if the inside color is orange.**

It’s already funded, but if you are near Atlanta, want to see a Relay FM live recording and meet a bunch of podcasters that you routinely listen to, back the project today. I’ll see you there.

* This year's Kickstarter includes sending Myke to the Washington D.C. Pen Show, too. No live recording, though.

** As a Gamecock fan, I try to avoid all things orange.

Bob Wertz writes about design, technology and pop culture at Sketchbook B. Bob is a Columbia, South Carolina-based designer, creative director, college instructor, husband and dad. He’s particularly obsessed with typography, the creative process and the tools we use to create. In his spare time, he wonders why everyone in the pen world is obsessed with the color orange. Follow Bob on Twitter and Instagram.

Review: Nock Co. Brasstown

When I purchased my second fountain pen, I started to think about purchasing a case to hold my pens, but I wasn’t impressed with most of the options on the market. They didn’t really fit my style and needs.

Finally, I came across cases from Nock Co., co-owned by Brad Dowdy from the Pen Addict podcast. Their cases were exactly what I was looking for. I also love that Nock Co. is located a few hours down I-20 from me in Atlanta* and all of their products are manufactured in the USA. 



I was instantly drawn to the Brasstown, a durable nylon case zippered case with a fold out insert that holds six pens. (Material-wise, it reminds me of my beloved Timbuktu messenger bag.) The Brasstown looked perfect, but it seemed like overkill for my two pens so I ended up not buying anything.

Fast forward a few months and my collection of writing instruments had grown. I started looking for a case again, and this time, the Brasstown made sense.

Nock offers their cases in a selection of “colorways” — pairings of colors that span across all their products. I liked a couple of the options, but wasn’t sure which one to get. When I finally decided to order, though, all of the Brasstowns were out of stock. 

After a couple of weeks, they restocked – and this time – with a new colorway: Red/Midnight. I instantly fell in love and ordered one. 

On the Red/Midnight Brasstown, the outside of the case is a bright red with a navy blue insert. The insert is sewn into the case and unrolls to reveal six slots. Each slot holds a single fountain pen but you can fit two smaller pens into each pocket if you want to.

The stitching is gray and looks sharp, especially on the navy insert. The zipper has two sliders and seems sturdy.

Brasstown, Open

Brasstown, Open

I was pleasantly surprised by how much the Brasstown holds. As expected, it easily holds my three fountain pens, my mechanical pencils and a couple of gel pens. But you can also put other pens and accessories in the main compartment. I’ve got mechanical pencil lead, erasers and more in the bag. And there is plenty of room for more. I can’t imagine ever needing another bag.**

The Brasstown is $35 and I highly recommend one if you are looking for a larger case to tote around your precious writing instruments. I’m very happy with mine.

(If the Brasstown is too big for you, check out some of Nock Co.’s other options. The Chimneytop and Lookout are different approaches, but also look awesome.)

* Their cases are named for mountains in Georgia. Nice touch.

** If they ever release a black/neon green or garnet/black colorway, I’ll be buying the entire line.