Newcastle Pen Show: An Interview with John Twiss

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a pen show. In part that’s because this whole pen thing is quite a personal thing (yet I have a blog all about it!), in part it’s because other people are, in general, quite scary (yet I was a teacher and now work in the service industry!), and in part it’s a general fear of making myself bankrupt. These days, in my current job, Sundays are always my busiest days and in the UK pen shows are always on Sundays, so I can’t see myself getting to one for a while.

However, pen shows do seem like wonderful things. The Newcastle pen show is this year being revived by my favourite pen maker, John Twiss. John is a regular at pen shows all about the UK and he was kind enough to spare a few minutes to tell me about pen shows in general and the Newcastle one in particular.

You’ve been to lots of pen shows and I haven’t been to any. What am I missing?

The sheer variety on offer, from ultra rare vintage pens to a knock off TWSBI. You also get the opportunity to try before you buy (mostly anyway) which, with the sad decline of the high street pen shop, is a luxury.

You will also be dealing with knowledgeable folks who have a passion for what they are doing.

You can get you nib ground to almost whatever profile you want.

The atmosphere.

What led you to organise the Newcastle Pen Show?

There used to be a Newcastle pen show but the organisers (UK Pen Shows) decided that attendance was too low and decided to cancel it. Agreed, the numbers were low, but just about all the vendors really liked the show, and when we asked them if they would like it back on it was a resounding yes.

This is the first year in about for that it will be on and we are hoping to get more people through the door.

What will be different about this show?

It’s a new venue, just outside the city centre, but still less than a quarter of a mile to the metro line and just off the A1.

Plenty of FREE parking.

Calligraphy demonstration.

Free goody bag with at least a fountain pen and a notebook in for the first 40 accompanied kids.

Free raffle for all fee paying adult visitors with a Twiss custom pen as first prize followed by some Northumbrian pen company leather pen cases and a TwiCo fountain pen.

What makes a good pen show?

The visitors. It is them that create the atmosphere.

What else would it be useful for people to know, if they’re thinking about attending?

Most of it is above. The rooms are large and airy with plenty of room for buggies, wheelchairs etc.

A large entrance room/lounge for relaxing and chatting.

There is a restaurant on site which does a Sunday carvery, and there is a coffee franchise….Costa or Starbucks type of thing.

A spa within the hotel with pool that is open to the public (fees may apply).

Anyone wishing to make a weekend of it there is a discount code on www.newcastlepenshow.co.uk for reduced rate rooms. I think it’s about £70 for a double including breakfast.

Do you have plans for more shows next year?

At the moment we only plan to do the Newcastle show as we are not trying to oust the UK Pen Shows or anything like that, we are just reviving one that was asked for.

On a personal side I plan attending more international shows. I have already done the Poland show this year which I loved and have already asked for a table to be reserved for next year.

I have also just booked a table for the three day Madrid pen show.

Finally, a question about your pens. You’re often experimenting with new materials. What materials are getting you excited at the moment?

Silver 😊 I now have my own hallmark, and have done a few silver pens, but hope to start experimenting with some more overlays next year.

Also, I have been doing a bit with some vintage celluloids from Omas.

This seems like it has the potential to be a great show! If you’re able to go, please let me know about your experience.

Thank you again, John, for your time.

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