Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Top 7 Fountain Pens to Last a Lifetime

Timeless. Durable. Comfortable. Finding a pen that can stand the test of time can, well, take some time! You want something that bucks trends and has that classic appeal that will last for decades. It also needs to be made of tough stuff, to stand up to years of hard writing. Finally, it must feel good in your hand not just now, but in 20, 30, 40 years.

The plethora of antique fountain pens in the world that are still in working order tells us that fountain pens are made tough. That being said, the number of antique pens requiring a little (or a lot!) of TLC proves that not all fountain pens are made the same. That is especially true in this day and age, with new and more economical materials and methods of production.

While all of our fountain pens will last you much longer than your average plastic rollerball, we've put together a selection of fountain pens that you'll want to make a long term commitment to. They are stylish but not faddy, durable but not bulky, smooth writers but never boring. In short, they are the buy-it-oncer's dream pens.

Lamy 2000
The Lamy 2000 is made of Makrolon (brushed fiberglass) and stainless steel, making it a strong and durable pen. With a gold nib and large filling capacity, it is a pen that will serve you well and for a long time. The design is sophisticated and pleasing, while the weight and balance of the pen make it an incredible tool to hold. To get the best writing experience, this pen may require a bit of getting used to, so be prepared for an adjustment period. That being said, the smoothness of the nib and stunning design make this a pen you won't mind making a lifetime commitment to.

The Lamy 2000 is available in Makrolon for $159.20 or Stainless Steel for $300.

Karas Kustoms
Hand machined in the USA, Karas Kustoms fountain pens were created with durability in mind. They are made to be thrown in your pocket, purse, or bag and rattle around next to your keys and wallet. In fact, the scratched and weathered appearance they acquire after a few years is part of the appeal to some. They are offered in aluminum, brass, and copper with swappable nib and grip sections, for personal customization. Depending on the material used to create them, they can range in weight, so make sure to double check that if you don't enjoy heavy pens. They come in two models, the Fountain K and the Ink, which have the same aesthetic but are different sizes (the Fountain K is smaller). To test their durability claim, Brian literally threw this pen across a parking lot once and it came up slightly scratched, but with no noticeable writing problems. If you have a tendency to go really hard on pens this could be your one and only, forever and ever, fountain pen. 

Karas Kustoms fountain pens range in price depending on model and material used. They start at $75 and go up to $150. 

Platinum 3776 Century
The Platinum 3776 Century has a classic design that will never go out of style. If you are only a sporadic writer, don't enjoy changing ink, or just hate the cleaning process that comes with fountain pens, this could be a good option for you. The Platinum 3776 comes with a "Slip & Seal" mechanism which keeps your ink from evaporating for up to 24 months. The gold nibs are gorgeous and give just a hint of feedback when writing. It comes in a number of beautiful colors including black, blue, burgundy, and a clear demonstrator. From time to time, Platinum will release a limited edition, which are made with equal care and attention but aren't available for long.

The Platinum 3776 Century is available at GouletPens.com for $150 to $176 depending on the model.

Pilot Custom 823
The Pilot Custom 823 is striking in amber with gorgeous gold trim. The fountain pen goodness doesn't end there - the vacuum filling system holds an incredible amount of ink and the 14kt nib glides smoothly across the page. It's a bit larger than other Pilot pens we carry, but still comfortable in the hand. The resin is a smoky amber demonstrator, so you'll be able to watch your ink level in the body of the pen. Additionally, this pen is incredibly well balanced and truly a pleasure to hold in your hand. It'd make a great pen for a lifetime because of the smooth nib, incredible balance, and ink capacity. The Pen Addict has a great pen review, which you can read here.

The Pilot Custom 823 is available at GouletPens.com for $288.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 
Edison Nouveau Premiere fountain pens are known for their beauty. Their designs are classic, smooth, and made of stunning acrylics in a variety of shades. One of the things that distinguishes these pens from others is that you can change a number of things about them. You can use a standard international converter (which comes with the pen) or eyedropper it for increased ink capacity. The nibs are also easily swappable and come in two varieties, steel or 18kt gold. Both nib styles are extremely smooth and a joy to write with. They are also fairly lightweight with an ergonomic grip section perfect for long writing sessions. While the Edison Nouveau Premiere is a favorite around here, the Collier, Beaumont, or Pearlette fountain pens all have their advantages.

You can find the Edison Nouveau Premiere at GouletPens.com starting at $149.

Visconti Homo Sapiens
The Visconti Homo Sapiens joins this list for a number of reasons. First of all, the pen is made from basaltic lava, a fact that is fascinating but also provides incredible strength to the body of the fountain pen. It is virtually unbreakable and hydroscopic, meaning it absorbs the moisture from your hand as you are writing. This is especially helpful if you are prone to long writing sessions which can sometimes result in slippery grip sections. This pen has a number of other incredible details that make it a top contender to be your be-all, end-all pen. The 23kt palladium nib is wonderfully smooth, although quite a wet writer. It features the Visconti Hook Safe Lock, which means it won't come unscrewed in your pocket and create an inky disaster. Additionally, the vacuum power filler is resistant to ink corrosion, making it a safe bet for long term use. It comes in two sizes, regular and midi, so you have some options if you prefer larger or smaller pens.

The Visconti Homo Sapiens ranges in price depending on size from $440 to $556 at GouletPens.com. 

Namiki Maki-e

The line of Namiki Maki-e pens actually come with a lifetime guarantee. Urushi lacquer, which is used in every Namiki pen, is an incredibly durable material for all that is a natural substance. Each pen is not only gorgeous, they are well balanced and come with incredibly smooth nibs. The designs are intricate and would be fascinating to behold, even 20 years from now. The understated and classic color palette on each pen won't go out of style. While the Emperor might be a bit large for everyday use (or not! depends on your hand size), the Nippon Art Series, the Yukari line, and the Chinkin Collection will fit snugly in most hands.

The Namiki Maki-e fountain pen collection range in price based on the model and are available at GouletPens.com.

A couple of tips if you are purchasing a pen with the idea of using it for the next fifty years or so. You're going to want to take care of the inner mechanisms and the outer body. Even the best engineered pen will become finicky if you don't maintain a regular cleaning schedule.

If you plan on carrying it around in your pocket or purse, a pen case or sleeve made of leather is your best bet for body protection. You might see some wear and tear on the leather after a decade or so, but your pen should be just fine inside. We carry Aston and Visconti pen cases that would work perfectly for this purpose and vary in price.

Those are our top picks. What do you think of our selections? Do you have a pen that you've purchased for lifetime use? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Write on,
The Goulet Pen Company Team

Monday, August 22, 2016

Diamine Autumn Oak with Tactile Turn Gist Black Polycarbonate: Monday Matchup #107

Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.

Hey there, Foutain Pen Friends! Lydia here, bringing you my happy matchup of Diamine Autumn Oak and a Tactile Turn Gist Black Polycarbonate. Despite the Halloween color scheme of this pen and ink combo and the obviously fall inspired name of this ink, I still felt like it captured a very summery essence. If I had to pick a color that reminded me of the month of August, it would be orange.

August is a very family oriented month for me. With multiple sibling and grandparent birthdays, as well as anniversaries, it seems like I spend the whole month celebrating with loved ones. One of my favorite things to do with my family is watch movies. Movie night usually involves piling on the couch with whoever is around, shutting off the lights, and tuning into the alternate reality on the TV. What better way to honor this month than with one of my favorite movie quotes from one of my favorite family movies? It doesn't get much more carefree than that, so hakuna matata was a perfect mantra for this theme!

To begin my piece, I outlined the lion, then created a second line inside of that to make the outline bold. I then went through and filled in the space between the lines. I loved how dark the ink was able to shade in this space. Then I wrote the quote around my drawing. I have always loved writing in cursive so I went with that.  I loved the thin lines of the fine nib of the pen in contrast to the bold lines of the drawing. After I wrote the quote in, I felt like the piece still looked a little too plain so I decided to take the brush pen and fill in the drawing. I put a few drops of ink in my brush pen and then filled it with water. I loved the a yellow- orange hue! It was the perfect contrast to the outline. This ink is not at all water resistant so my lines ran like crazy when the water hit. Once it had dried, I went over my outlines again to fill them back in.

I was excited to get my hands on the Tactile Turn Gist because I've been eying up the copper one since we announced we were carrying them. These pens definitely create tactile experience, but not in such a way that it is disruptive to writing. It was very comfortable to write with but the engraved exterior of the pen gave it a little excitement and made it stand out from the experience of using other pens. Autumn Oak is no Noodler's Apache Sunset, but it still gets a pretty good variety of shading, which was awesome. I was skeptical at first when I saw the color of the ink when it goes down on paper (it wasn't a very pretty shade), but I was pleasantly surprised when it dried. It is a very pleasing orange.

This pen is definitely a great pen for writing, whether it's notes, letters, or just jotting things down. The fine nib especially is great for writing. Diamine Autumn Oak is great for writing letters to break out of the ordinary colors. It might be good for writing key important parts of notes, but maybe not for a full page of note-taking as the orange might be hard on the eyes when going back to study. This is a great, versatile pairing of pen and ink though.

If I were to do this piece again, I might try using a different design with more intricate line work to really showcase how well the pen handles for fine lines. The ink is gorgeous and has beautiful shading but I feel like the brilliance of the pen was a little underrepresented in my design. It is such a great pen. Overall, I am very happy with my piece though.

Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.
Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.
Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.
Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.
Orange Hakuna Matata pen and ink illustration, drawn with a Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen and Diamine Autumn Oak ink.

You can find the Tactile Turn Gist black polycarbonate in EF, F, M, and 1.1 at GouletPens.com for $99. Diamine Autumn Oak is available in a 30ml bottle for $7.50, an 80ml bottle for $14.95, or a 2ml sample for $1.25.

Have you ever used an ink that you weren't a fan of when you first saw it on paper, but fell in love with it after it dried?

Write on,

Friday, August 19, 2016

Goulet Q&A Episode 134, Open Forum

Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

In this episode, I talk about custom pens, when to tell if your ink's gone bad, and my biggest complaint about fountain pens!

This week:
  • Rachel and I celebrated 10 year anniversary, went to the beach

New/Upcoming Products - (2:04)

Pens/Writing - (4:40)

1) Ashley B.- Facebook -(4:41)
You've shown in a few videos how to clean out a pen with a cartridge converter or a piston filler. I have yet to find any information on how to best clean out an eye dropper pen. I put some J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre in my Charlie pen and I'm wanting switch out to Diamine Blue Velvet. What's the best and easiest way to go about cleaning/flushing the ink out so I can try out the Blue Velvet?
  • It's usually similar to a cartridge/converter pen
  • the best tool is a bulb syringe
  • flush out the body with just water (cover the opening and shake it)
  • use a q-tip if needed
  • be aware of what ink you use, CdC is not one of the easiest to clean out so try to stick with it for a while if you use it in an eyedropper

2) Evan M.- Facebook -(9:16)
Hey, I just bought a London fog. I watched every video I can find but can't seem to get a definitive answer. In a perfect working pen equipped with the double resevoir, it should write until the first chamber (small chamber) is empty without having to unscrew the blindcap cap correct? Or am I supposed to be leaving it open?
  • You can write with it without having to unscrew the back, yes
  • it holds about as much as an SI cartridge
  • open the back when you need to refill that front chamber, otherwise don't sweat it
  • it's easy to tell b/c it's clear

3) shubor- Instagram -(13:40)
Best places to get custom pens? Esp cool ones you saw at dc?
  • I have nothing to gain by mentioning any customer pen maker, I'm not affiliated with any of their pen sales
  • custom pen makers are near and dear to my heart, that's what I had originally set out to do with Goulet Pens
  • Edison pens (I'm affiliated with their production line only)
  • Shawn Newton, Newton Pens
  • Jonathan Brooks, Carolina Pens
  • Ryan Krusac, Ryan Krusac Studios
  • Kanilea Pens 

Ink -(19:42)

4) Connor Adlam- YouTube -(19:43)
Does the saturation of an ink affect its fade resistance over time? For normal non-permanent inks, would a less saturated ink be more susceptible to fading over time than a saturated ink in the same colour family?
  • To a small degree, probably (I have no proof)
  • I think the nature of the dye itself is a much bigger factor
  • I don't think the saturation of the ink should really impact how you use/store your inks, you should still keep them out of direct sunlight and in a cool/dry place

5) Suzanne W.- Facebook - (24:19)
What do you consider in deciding if you have a bottle ink gone bad? Wondering about one of mine, have had major flow problems in 3 different pens from cheap to a bit more expensive, different size nibs and 2 styles of converters. It has a slight odor - rather musty or like damp dirt. None of my other bottles (6 different brands) have any smell to them.
  • it sounds like yours has gone bad
  • the smell is a big tip-off, especially with others inks to compare
  • anything visibly off, like fuzzy stuff on top, sludge, stringy fibers
  • I would dump it, unfortunately
  • if you're curious, strain it with a coffee filter and see if you can see anything in it
  • I would then clean your pens with a 10% bleach solution to get the gunk out of the pen

6) j1448- Instagram - (29:24)
Do you think there is room left in the fountain pen market to make completely new colors?
  • oh sure, there's always room for innovation! 
  • a couple of years ago, no one would have guess that glittery sparkles in ink would be a thing, and here it is
  • there are a lot of different colors out there, and while there are a lot of fountain pen ink colors, it's nowhere near everything we can see
  • I get asked what inks are close to specific colors, and sometimes it's tough to find something exactly like it
  • the differences may be subtle, but they're there

Paper -(32:48)

7) @geekosupremo- Twitter - (32:52)
Is there a “best” combo of ink & paper for using both sides of the paper?

Personal -(35:26)

8) Appa YourFlyingBison- YouTube - (35:28)
Hey Brian, I always keep up with your morning motivation on snapchat and I was wondering what earphones you use and what you listen to while biking. Keep up with the great motivation
  • that's very cool, thank you!
  • I use Yurbuds Focus 300, they're pretty good, but nothing amazing
  • I prefer over-ear earbuds so they hang on while I'm moving around a lot
  • I listen mainly to audiobooks, a LOT of them
  • I've listened to over 60 audiobooks in the last 3 years, most non-fiction business/leadership, personal development or religious books, a biography here and there
  • I debate about listening to things while riding, if it's truly "safe"
  • I ride early in the morning on extremely rural roads, so there's rarely anyone else on the road when I am, so I feel comfortable
  • because it's speaking, I can still hear my surroundings as it plays, unlike when listening to music
  • please be safe when listening to anything while you ride/run

9) Rebecca S.- Email - (40:15)
We all love fountain pens but what is your biggest complaint about them?
  • I hear complains about ink on fingers, having to fill/clean/maintain them, leaking, spilling, you name it
  • none of that bothers me, really
  • my biggest complaint is actually the thing I love the most about fountain pens, too, it's a paradox
  • the variability of pen, ink, and paper performance as they interact with each other is frustrating when it isn't acting like you want it to
  • it's also wonderful and keeps my fountain pen experience rich and interesting even after 7+ years of being completely immersed in this world

Troubleshooting - (44:07)

10) ceew- Instagram - (44:10)
Are crescent fillers not compatible with the Visconti travelling inkwell? I've tried it several ways but I can't get my Visconti Millennium arc or Conklin crescent to fill from it. Help?
  • they are, it just takes some finesse to make it work well
  • you can actually get a very full filling this way

QOTW: What are some cool things you've done to celebrate significant anniversaries in your life? - (48:32)

Thanks so much for joining me this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

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