Friday, May 22, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 79, 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.

I'm back this week after being across the country, and I have some solid questions to answer for you. I'm here talking about customs confiscating your pens, testing for archival ink properties, coarse paper damaging nibs, and the most expensive pens I've ever broken.

QOTW: How would you like us to publish Goulet Q&A slices? Vote here!

Pens/Writing - (4:26)

1) Karissa D. -Facebook - (4:29)
How do you safely store your glass pens?
  • pen cabinet
  • the box it came in! 
  • bubblewrap works well 

2) Gary W. -Facebook - (6:07)
I'm going to be traveling to England and Europe next month and I was wondering if I should be brave enough to bring my Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M800. Do you think there's a possibility they could still be confiscated at any security gate? I really love bringing my favorite pens but I'm very apprehensive about customs and security. 

  •  I’ve honestly never traveled internationally so I haven’t been through customs
  • I would probably be less concerned with customs taking them and more concerned with them being lost, stolen or damaged on the trip
  • it’s totally your call

Ink - (8:33)

3) Daniel B. -Facebook - (8:37)
What are the best ways to test an inks characteristics as far as how permanent the ink is against various things like water, chemicals, and light? What makes an "archival" ink "archival"? (If the purpose of the archival characteristic is not covered under the first question, what way can one test an ink to determine the strength, or even presence, of this characteristic?)
  • I’m no scientist, there are folks on FPN who’ve played around more with this stuff
  • water: drip test, soaking, running under the tap
  • bleach is most common chemical, maybe oven cleaner: usually soaking
  • light…no real consistent way to do it
  • ran experiment with Jamie Grossman of HudsonValleySketches and she put them in her window for 6 months
  • archival isn’t a standardized term across the industry
  • generally it means permanent (lightfast)
  • I don’t know of any real way to test this strength other than tons of time 
4) Eric O. - Facebook - (15:30)
There are times I notice what appears to be water on the walls of my ink sample vials. It happens when I leave them laying on their sides. I also notice this on my demonstrators (TWSBI 580/platinum cool). A gentle swish seems to fix it. Is something to be concerned about?
  • that’s just condensation
  • ink is mostly water, it’s evaporating, collecting on the vial/pen, and reconstituting once you shake it up 
  • don’t even sweat it 

5) Edith N. -Facebook - (17:03)
I notice that one of Brian's favorite inks (included in one of the sample packages) is Scabiosa, an iron gall ink. I would be curious to know what pen he pairs with that ink and why.
  • It’s a low-maintenance permanent dusty purple, well-behaved and very water resistant
  • I don’t have it loyal to a single pen, and in fact it’s not necessarily a mainstay in my regular rotation these days
  • I’ve often just paired it up in my Lamy Al-Star medium, maybe other various pens from time to time 

Paper - (19:57)

6) jimmyystardust – YouTube - (20:04)
Brian, Can coarser paper from books (or any type of book paper) damage the nib on a fountain pen?
  • potentially, over a LOOOOONG time
  • paper is very, very, very slowly wearing down your nib as you write with it, and coarser paper will speed up that process
  • you might be talking about a nib that lasts 30 years only lasting 20 or something, who’s to really know
  • the one paper that’ll definitely speed up the process would be stone paper 
7) Ronnie K. - Facebook - (22:12)
So you are in a store and there are notebooks - pads - or even buying on your site and obviously you cannot try the pads out with your fountain pens - 
A. What qualities in a paper would you look for to think it is fountain pen friendly paper and would work well ?
B. When feeling a paper what do you look for ?
C. When reading about a pad, book or paper on your site what are the key buzz words ? 

  • paper thickness is not a guarantee but it’s usually an indicator (80g+)
  • any type of language that says ink resistant, no bleed, etc
  • it’s essentially a crapshoot if it’s a brand you know nothing about and there’s no indication on it
  • some notebooks don’t even source consistent paper, so they could vary from one to another depending on how they source out their paper
  • this matters more with fountain pen ink than rollerballs and ballpoints which are much more popular in general
  • smoothness is often a good sign, though not a guarantee
  • really brand name is the biggest thing, and the reason I personally believe in online is because you can see real-time reviews and have way more information at your fingertips than in a store
  • fountain pen people tend to be pretty loyal to their brands when it comes to paper

8) Steve K. -Facebook - (30:49)
Any possibility to do a quick visual comparison of the Midori Traveler's Passport notebook and the Filofax Personal notebook? Or, at least could you talk about the size / paper comparison between 
the two?

  • they’re fairly similar in size
  • you’ll get more pages in the Filofax 
  • the Midori is more durable and rugged
  • there’s clearly a price difference
  • both good notebooks, I love and use both

Personal - (33:31)

9) GRA DON - YouTube
Request: pls recommend 2 to 3 reference books on fountain one can add to personal library.
  • I couldn’t tell you one
  • everything I’ve learned has been online or in person
  • FPN has some resources but I haven’t found any “you have to read this book to start out” things
  • any recommendations?
10) Ana B. - YouTube - (35:59)
If you were elected President of the United States which fountain pen would you use to sign your name on your Swearing-In ceremony and why?
  • Edison Nouveau Premiere- made in America! 

11) Vlad Y. - YouTube - (37:58)
Brian, what were the most expensive pens you ever a) bought, b) got as a gift, c) sold, d) presented, e) lost, f) broke?
  • a) Stipula DaVinci (700ish)
  • b) Mont-Blanc 149 BB
  • c) Platinum 3776 Karakusa (1200)
  • d) huh?
  • e) I don’t currently have any ‘known’ lost pens, never anything significant
  • f) nothing more than a Preppy, I have just never busted my pens

12) 林理谙 -Facebook - (42:30)
Personal question to Brian or any member of the the team: If you could right now decide how long you will live (anywhere from 1 hour to all eternity), how long would you live and why?
  • what a mindfreak question! 
  • I don’t want to know when I will die, that would seriously wig me out
  • gun to my head though…I’d say around 80, that seems about right to me

Business - (46:54)

13) @thepenpenchant - Twitter - (47:02)
Why does @PilotPenUSA not carry all of the color and nib options that Pilot Japan offers? I'd like to get a Custom 92 in grey.
  • no doubt it has to do with import costs and logistics of stocking and promoting so many different SKU’s
  • they clearly have some kind of method to their madness, I would love nothing more than to have access to everything!!
  • sometimes t could be stock issues, maybe some pens are exclusive to Japan or not made in quantities to ship outside the country
  • I wish I had definitive answers, I’m left to speculation

Troubleshooting - (54:36)

14) Charles D. -Facebook - (54:42)
I  just filled my Nib Creaper from a mostly-full bottle of Apache Sunset; got a color that was very off, and -- on inspection -- discovered that I had apparently failed to adequately clean the pen on last use and had fungal issues in the tank. Using a dip pen to test the bottle, it appears to be fine at this point -- but do I need to worry about having infected the rest of my supply of this ink (and keep other pens away from this bottle)? Is there any preventative care available at this point, or do I need to hope that the antifungals in the bottle are strong enough to prevent a larger issue?
  • mold is weird, and it really freaks people out
  • if you had it in your pen, you most certainly exposed your Apache to it
  • hardcore enthusiasts will tell you to throw it out, I would normally be inclined to agree but it’s really your call
  • Noodler’s does use some pretty legit biocides, it’s RARE I ever hear of a mold issue in a Noodler’s ink
  • chances are what contamination you had won’t survive in the Apache, but you’re definitely taking that risk so be aware 
  • if you use cheap pens it’s probably okay and worth the risk, but expensive pens…it’s safer just to toss the ink and get a new one
15) Jean-Michaël B. -Facebook - (1:00:00)
I recently bought a Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen, along with some of your ink samples. I wanted to try them out with my Ahab converted to an eyedropper, but I noticed that it had quite a bit of blotting and flooding, though it was more periodic than constant. Considering the fact that an ink sample only has about 2 milliliters, and that the eyedropper contains up to 6 milliliters, do you think that this ~4 milliliters of air pushing down on the ink in the feed could cause my blotting and flooding? I switched to the piston coming with it and the problem went away, but I want to know if this blotting I experienced was normal, that is if I am completely unable to use my Ahab in eyedropper mode.
  • I’m glad you mentioned that you put the piston on and it worked just fine
  • I greatly suspect the blotting you experienced was because of the relatively low volume of ink in a very large ink chamber 
  • when eyedroppers get low, the possibility of blotting goes way up, due to the heat of your hand increasing the pressure in the pen
  • doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the eyedropper? Yeah kinda, but you’ll only get about 1.7ml or so in the piston, you can get 6ml in the eyedropper
  • even if you only use the eyedropper to half-full, it’s still almost twice the ink capacity of the piston

QOTW:  We have a TON of Q&A slices ready to publish, should we do them in huge batches at once or trickle them out like one a day? - (1:06:00)

Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A's that you missed.

Write On,

Brian Goulet

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Travel Pens: Work Edition

I’ve been traveling more lately, and thought it’d be handy to show my favorite setup for attending work conferences or business trips. As I sat down to record this video I was literally preparing to go to a conference on the other side of the country and thought, what the hey, I'll take you through my thought process about what fountain pens, paper, and ink I take and why.

Things that are important to me when I travel:
  • Portability
  • Ability to carry-on (when flying)
  • Durability
  • Function and reliability
Keeping these core tenants in mind for me when I travel, here are my product preferences:


Pilot Metropolitan F
  • reliable writer
  • inexpensive enough to lose and not worry about it
  • very fine nib works great on cheap paper
  • snap cap is very convenient
  • takes cartridges or converter
  • $15

Lamy 2000 EF
  • great writer
  • piston fill, nice ink capacity
  • snap cap is convenient
  • ink window is nice
  • understated, design is impressive without being flashy
  • $159.20

TWSBI Vac-700 EF
  • high ink capacity
  • ink chamber locks for flying
  • visible ink level
  • “cool” factor
  • $65

Pilot Vanishing Point EF
  • extremely convenient “click” mechanism
  • EF nib is very fine, great for cheap paper
  • Great writer
  • Takes cartridges or converter
  • $140

Lamy Rollerball
  • fallback plan, great for a backup pen
  • works well on terrible paper
  • a few color options for you
  • snap cap
  • won’t dry out like a fountain pen if left uncapped
  • most reliable on other peoples’ business cards
  • easy for other people to use (maybe that’s not good!)
  • $25.60


Filofax Notebook, A5 size
  • dividers and removable pages are great for attending different seminars
  • jot notes down quickly, organize later
  • color options will stand out from other notebooks
  • $18.95

Leuchtturm A5
  • color options let it stand out
  • page numbers and table of contents are great
  • dot grid is great for all different kinds of writing
  • $18.95

Midori Traveler’s Notebook, Passport size
  • small, rugged
  • notebooks are swappable
  • very portable, great for quick meet ups
  • $50.20


Overfilled samples
  • 7ml, plenty of ink!
  • Can reuse vials from samples or buy them in 10-packs
  • Small enough to carry on 

Diamine 30ml
  • plastic bottles, 1oz in size so okay to carry on
  • fit nicely in a ziplock snack bag
  • lots of popular colors available

  • a necessary evil sometimes
  • some standard international pens can fit a spare cartridge in the pen which is very convenient

My ink colors of choice:

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness
  • Solid performing, deep black ink
  • Great black for cheap paper
  • $19 for 4.5oz bottle

Diamine Red Dragon
  • nice red, vibrant but not too vibrant
  • stands out from the black ink on handouts
  • great for writing down ideas for emphasis
  • $7.50 for 30ml bottle

Diamine Majestic Blue
  • deep blue, just a personal favorite
  • stands out against black, but very subtly
  • $7.50 for 30ml bottle

  • Aston Case-10- plenty of room for all your pens, plus ink samples and even syringes if you want
  • Aston Slip- protects individual pens
  • Ziploc bag- always handy to stop leaks from ruining your clothes

I should mention that I have a video in my Fountain Pen 101 series called Flying with Fountain Pens that goes into detail about this specific way of traveling with pens. That said, if you can keep your pens oriented so that the nibs are pointed up when you takeoff, you'll pretty much never have an issue.

These are the things I have enjoyed taking with me to my work conferences, how about you? Let me know in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brian's Top 7 Shading Inks

You'll definitely get a chuckle with the intro of this video, for my top 7 shady....err....shading inks. What is shading? It's a common (and often desired) aspect of fountain pen ink where there is pooling in certain parts of a letter when writing, so that the color and saturation of the ink appears different within a single letter or word. Shading inks are something commonly sought out by fountain pen enthusiasts because it's a characteristic that can't be achieved with ballpoint or rollerball pens.

I'm often asked which shading inks are my favorite, and to be quite honest, it's really difficult to narrow down even to a top 7 list. I could just as easily have made it a top 40. I chose to focus on trying to get a somewhat varied color range, especially as I've found that certain color shades tend to be better shaders than others. Oranges and turquoises tend to all have incredible shading, whereas reds and blacks seldom have any.

One distinction to make here is that I omitted inks with "sheen", as that's not really what I'd consider shading by how I've defined it here. You'll likely see some incredible inks I've left out here that you would have wanted to see, it's very likely it's a sheening ink instead of a shader.

Without further ado, here are my top 7 shading inks (in no particular order):

Noodler’s Apache Sunset (4:18)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle

Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses (5:24)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle

Diamine Marine (6:34)
$14.95 for an 80ml bottle

Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise (7:27)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle

Noodler’s Golden Brown (8:03)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle

De Atramentis Mint Turquoise (9:03)
$12.95 for a 35ml bottle

Noodler’s Lexington Gray (9:37)
$12.50 for a 3oz bottle, or $18 for a 4.5oz bottle

I hope you enjoyed the video and my selections. I'd love to hear your favorite shading inks in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Disqus for Goulet Pens Blog