Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Is it disrespectful to write in red ink?

I've been told it was once considered disrespectful to write a letter in red ink. What do you think? The reason I pose this question is because I'm hooked on the J. Herbin Rouge Hematite 1670 anniversary ink. Thoughts?

Ink Nouveau #04: How many wax seals from one stick?

On J. Herbin's literature, they state 7 seals per stick of supple wax, but I noticed I was getting more than that. I'm using a J. Herbin brass letter "G" (for Goulet!), which is probably average-small for all of the seals out there.

I had a bunch of letters I was writing and I thought I'd grab the camera and time lapse the sealing I was doing to prove how many I could do. Well...I did 17 and only got through about half a stick. I used the J. Herbin H331/04 gold wax, to match the seal on the front of the new 1670 anniversary ink I just got in! Since I was writing with the ink, it was very complementary!

Doing that many seals in a row, it was helpful (and kinda critical) to use an ice pack to keep the brass seal cool. I gave this tip before in my other post about the seals.

This is a new stick next to the stick after 17 seals:

In the end, it took me 33 (close to 34) seals to finish out that stick! With 4 sticks in a pack, that's over 120 seals (at least the way I do it!). Not bad! Of course it'll vary, but since my experience is so much different than what the literature claims, I thought it was worth sharing!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Ink Blot #05: At the bottom...

Something kind of neat that a lot of fountain pen users tend to do with written correspondence is to write the name of the pen (with nib type), the type of ink, and paper used at the bottom of the letter. There's no particular order, you're really just sharing the information with your recipient so they have 'samples' of the products you prefer to use. Since most of us pen fanatics tend to be spread far and wide, this kind of 'in your hands' example is a great way to share with your friends the products that inspire you while you write. Try it next time you write a letter!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

The J. Herbin 1670 ink is here....

Yes, I got in a limited quantity of the J. Herbin 1670 anniversary ink! After filling my wait list, I have 2 remaining bottles. I am continuing a wait list for the remaining bottles and for the next batch that I will have coming in. Email me (brian-at-gouletpens-dot-com) if you're interested! And by the way....the ink is AWESOME!!! Yes, I definitely claimed one of the bottles for myself ;)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ink Blot #03- J. Herbin 1670 Ink

Email me at brian@gouletpens.com to get on my wait list for the limited edition J. Herbin 1670 anniversary ink! It's coming... very soon!

Link to YouTube for full-screen and iPhones.

Ink Nouveau #24: Fountain Pen 101

I've gotten several requests to do a video for the fountain pen novice. So, finally, here it is - Fountain Pen 101.

***To clarify from the video, Pelikan pens DO accept Standard Short International cartridges as well as their own proprietary cartridges.***

Link to YouTube for full-screen and iPhones.

Ink Blot #02- Making a Wax Seal

Making a wax seal for your envelopes is pretty easy and a ton of fun if you have a couple of simple tools. All you need is sealing wax, a stamp (usually brass) with a handle, and a heat source (butane lighter works well). My source is J. Herbin, the French company owned by Clairefontaine. They've been making wax continually since the 1600's, and they have a neat product called supple wax that's flexible when hardened and can withstand going through today's mail system. I also have some custom wood handles I've been making for fun, and I'd love to get some feedback!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Ink Nouveau #23: Goulet Fountain Pens Update

I've been getting a LOT of inquiries about my fountain pens lately. I've been on a hiatus because of the birth of my son (now 3 months old), but now that I'm getting back into a routine I'm finding some time here and there to get in the shop. I made this video on 4-22-10, and have since assembled the pens (my wife's waiting on me to take pictures so we can get them online!). They're coming! I swear!!

P.S.- I was going to make this an ink blot, but I felt it was too long. This is more ink blot 'freestyle' content, but I'm really trying to keep the content in the ink blots short and sweet. 

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Ink Nouveau #22- Flushing a fountain pen with a bulb syringe

If you own a cartridge/converter pen, then I don't have to tell you that one of the most tedious tasks is cleaning it out. You're sitting there, twisting and untwisting that stupid little converter over, and over, and over, and over....it's enough to drive you nuts. Well, there is an easier way!! Get yourself a $5 ear bulb syringe from your local drug store, and flush that bad boy out, just like I do in the video. It'll cut your cleaning time waaaay down, and bring your enjoyment level waaaaay up!!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ink Blot #01- Salvaging a Sealing Wax Stick

Ever wonder how to use that last little stub from a stick of sealing wax? It's pretty simple really....melt the end of it and adhere it to the next wax stick! Watch the vid, it's short ;)

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Ink Blots! What are they?

I'm introducing my new Ink Blots! They're short videos with topics that aren't robust enough to make into a formal 'review'. They'll be more conversational, with more of a focus on the ideas I have than the 'production' of the video. I tend to overthink quite a bit when I'm doing videos, especially on product reviews. It usually generates a very thorough and well-thought-out end result, but it's very time consuming and often results in procrastination. With shorter and more informal videos, I will be able to share much more about everything I have going on, and keep the information more up-to-date.

Do you have any ideas? Anything you'd like to see? Just let me know and I'll knock out an Ink Blot!

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ustream Tuesdays at 2:22! #3, April 20, 2010

Today was my third live broadcast on Ustream.com, called Write Time at 9, every Tuesday night at 9pm EST. A brief overview of the topics discussed include discussion of the Technoscribe, my return to making Goulet fountain pens, J. Herbin supple wax seals, my custom Goulet wax seal stamp handles, and a detailed look at a real-life tri-fold antique writing box (borrowed from a friend).

If you're reading this blog, there's a good chance you've seen my article on Technoscribes, but if not, see it here. I have found that since defining the Technoscribe, there are many variations. The main theme is that there is some marriage of technology and writing that the technoscribe uses to enhance their overall writing experience. Some use pens to write a stream of consciousness before typing up a story, others use the computer to layout and spell-check a letter before writing it by hand. Others scan handwritten notes into the computer then email them to friends. I am finding out all kinds of interesting aspects of the technoscribe habits, the most interesting part being that it's a previously undefined term that is essentially changing with technology.

I have officially ended my penmaking hiatus. I took a break for a while with the birth of my son (and the cold weather didn't help!), but I'm getting back into it now. My focus will be on exotic burls and Tru-stone (powdered stone cast in resin) in fountain pens. I'm working on lining up some good nibs and making some really top-notch looking pens. More to come on that soon.

My friend Sam (same one who helped me define the Technoscribe) and I have been messing around with J. Herbin supple sealing wax. I showed what fun I was having mixing different colors of wax, and the custom seal handles that I was making mostly for fun. I'll probably end up selling them just so that I don't have 100 wax stamp seal handles lying around the house!

Lastly, I was able to show my friend Sam's antique writing box (circa 1849). He has a very complex tri-fold writing box made out of solid Macassar Ebony. It needs a bit of TLC (to say the least), but it'll be a good basis for me to get pictures, measurements, and some techniques for box building that I need to learn if I want to make boxes that last 161 years too.

The broadcast was broken about 45 minutes in, so the video was split in two. Enjoy!

Click here for the link to Ustream.com, video 1 (the first 45ish minutes of the broadcast)
Click here for the link to Ustream.com, video 2 (the last 15ish minutes of the broadcast)

First 45 minutes of video (before the glitch)

Last 15 minutes of video (after the glitch)

J. Herbin Supple Wax and Goulet Custom Wax Seal Handles

Although I didn't originally set out to do a J. Herbin supple wax review, that's kind of how it's shaping up! I was actually just messing around with the wax because I was personally interested in it. My friend Sam (the same one I mentioned in the Technoscribe post) came over and we were messing around with our new wax seals. Sam was doing the red "D"s, and I had the silver "G"s (note that Sam has the knack of it a little better than me!).

Supple wax is essentially flexible wax, for use with modern postage. Original wax back in the 1600-1900's wax very brittle, intentionally. It was a security measure, to ensure that anyone that tampered with it would crack the seal. So when you received a hand-delivered letter, you knew no one along the way had read it if the seal was intact. Modern postal services are a little more....how should I say....careless with the way postage is handled. Original (aka Traditional) wax would bust apart into pieces in the mail, but supple wax remains flexible.

How it works is quite simple, really. You melt the wax (a butane lighter works best, candles or matches create unsightly soot), put the wax on the paper you wish to seal by either dripping or rubbing the melted wax onto the paper, and stamp your brass seal into the wax. It's best to try to spread the wax into a thin blob generally the size of the stamp you're using (as opposed to just having one big blob) before stamping. If you huff a quick warm breath onto the brass before stamping, it helps create a moisture barrier which will assist in keeping the wax from sticking to the brass.

If you're going to be doing multiple seals at once, the brass will heat up quite a bit. 3 or 4 in a row will be okay, but any more than that, you'll need some help. Putting the seal onto a frozen ice pack will keep it cool. This will also give it that moisture barrier that will help to keep it from sticking. I find that the cooler the seal is, the faster it cools (hence hardens) the wax, which makes it form more crisp details.

The J. Herbin seals work like I believe most other seals do. They are solid brass, with the letter engraved out mechanically. They are tapped in the back with threads, and the handle has a threaded rod (that matches the seals threads). This allows you to have multiple brass seals interchangeable with one handle. The engraving is a reverse image of the final result, which can be a little confusing (especially if your letter like my "G" is very swoopy and swirly!).

The supple wax comes in sticks that last somewhere around 7-8 seals per stick depending on your usage. J. Herbin claims 7 seals per stick, but I find you can go a lot further if you aren't dumping tons of it on the paper! I can usually get 12-15 seals because I'm a bit conservative. There are 4 sticks per pack. You might just be wondering how you use the last portion of the stick! Well, it's quite simple. You use the lighter to heat up the end of the stick (as you see below), then stick it right to the next wax stick, let it harden, and keep on truckin'!

Sam and I were like two giddy 6th graders messing with their school lunch while we were doing these wax seals....my wife was quite amused! Being the tinkering 'technoscribe' that I am, I thought it would look really neat to mix two colors of wax together in one seal! Sam had red, I had silver, so we melted a couple of drops of the red onto the silver wax stick, then melted the silver wax and rubbed it on the paper, which after stamping produced what you see below. It gave a hint of red swirls in the silver.

I thought it was really neat, but that it might look better with a couple of silver drops into the red, so the red was more prominent. What was most encouraging to me was seeing that the colors don't bleed together, but rather produce distinct swirls, which is exactly what I'd hoped! With 10 J. Herbin colors in the supple wax, I can see many more combinations to come!!!!

I was so giddy playing around with all of these fun waxes, the only thing that underwhelmed me a bit was the quality of the wax stamp handle. I'm a wood worker, and have been long before getting into fine writing paraphernalia. Perhaps I just have a high threshold for being impressed by wood objects, but the handle to me, though functional, is hardly impressive. It appears to be white oak (or something like it, stained brown with a coat of unpolished lacquer. It's fairly light, and obviously machine-turned. As a pen maker who turns pens by hand using exotic burls and other woods, I always look for ways to improve wood objects in my life. I saw a golden opportunity here.

Though the look of the handle is something to be desired it is functional. I like how it has a threaded rod that allows for interchangeability of brass seals. J. Herbin has 26 letters of the alphabet, 24 picture seals, and 10 'modern' seals, so there's quite a variety from which to choose.

As an inspired artist and curious tinkerer, I decided to prototype a wax stamp handle out of Brazilian Tulipwood, a beautiful member of the rosewood family. I didn't take exact measurements, but I got it pretty close to the overall dimensions of the J. Herbin handle.

But I couldn't stop there!! I made a few more. From left to right, you see the J. Herbin handle, two Brazilian Tulipwood handles, a figured East Indian Rosewood handle, and an African Blackwood/Birdseye Maple Burl handle. All of them have the same threads that fit the J. Herbin brass seals.

Here's another angle of the same handles:

I like the density of the heavier woods, and the natural beauty of exotics woods (exotic to the US anyway!). None of my handles are stained, only polished clear lacquer letting the natural beauty of the grain shine through.

Though the figured East Indian Rosewood doesn't photograph all that well, it's still pretty impressive.

I had fun doing the African Blackwood and Birdseye Maple Burl. I did it on a whim!

I haven't really nailed down a particular profile, I was really just experimenting. I think the one I like the most is the EI Rosewood (2nd from the right).

The quality and enjoyability of these waxes has prompted me to carry them. The full line of J. Herbin supple wax sticks, J. Herbin (letter) brass seals and custom Goulet wood handles will be available soon at GouletPens.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ink Review: J. Herbin Êclat de Saphir

Welcome to my review of J. Herbin Êclat de Saphir! This is one of my favorite inks. It's a very popular blue ink, widely accepted as one of the nicer blues among the fountain pen enthusiasts. It's one of the more saturated J. Herbin inks, with nice flow and better-than-average permanence. I took some nice pictures and will let them speak for themselves. ;)

The paper I used was Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery tablets, which is 90g and oh, so smooth (and white!), and G. Lalo Vergé de France in ivory, which is 100g with a more textured feel. I also did a 'watercolor' picture, using a q-tip to swab the ink (and a J. Herbin Creapen to draw the outline) on a Clairefontaine Grafit sketchpad.
I tested with three pens, a 1.5mm Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen, my own Goulet fine nib pen (why not?), and a J. Herbin glass pen. These 3 pens all write very differently and show the variation in shading.

A 30ml bottle of J. Herbin Êclat de Saphir retails for $9.50 at The Goulet Pen Company. Samples are also available for $1.25.

Here are some links to other reviews of J. Herbin Êclat de Saphir. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ink Review: J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche

Welcome to my review of J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche! I've seen other ink reviews, and I wanted to put my own little spin on it. I started out with the idea of doing a comparison with dry times, saturation, flow, bleedthrough, blah blah blah. Bottom line is that ink is subjective, based on the pen you use, the paper you write on, and your personal writing style. Not to mention the fact that the lighting, picture editing, and your individual computer monitor settings will affect the color you see. So I took some nice pictures and will let them speak for themselves. ;)
The paper I used was Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery tablets, which is 90g and oh, so smooth (and white!), and G. Lalo Vergé de France in ivory, which is 100g with a more textured feel. I also did a 'watercolor' picture, using a q-tip to swab the ink (and a J. Herbin Creapen to draw the outline) on a Clairefontaine Grafit sketchpad.
I tested with three pens, a 1.5mm Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen, my own Goulet fine nib pen (why not?), and a J. Herbin glass pen. These 3 pens all write very differently and show the variation in shading the ink has.

A 30ml bottle of J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche retails for $9.50 at The Goulet Pen Company.

Here are some links to other reviews of J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche. Enjoy!
Spiritual Evolution of the Bean
Rants of the Archer
Fountain of Pens
La Plume Etoile

Friday, April 16, 2010

Clairefontaine Life.Unplugged. Notebook Elastic Band Hack

A customer of mine, Lauren Irby, received her handwritten thank you note that I wrote her with the new Clairefontaine Life.Unplugged. notebooks that she ordered from GouletPens.com (my online store). She took my request for feedback very literally and felt inspired to create a hack, out of nothing but the sheer goodness of her heart. When I read her very detailed and interesting description on what she planned to do, I asked if she wanted to 'guest blog' here on Ink Nouveau, and voilá! So here is the official guest blogger introduction for Lauren Irby!

I appreciate the shout-out Lauren gave in her article, though since they're scanned PDF's her links aren't clickable! Here is her review on the Fountain Pen Network, and the link to my site (she has no affiliation with me other than being a satisfied customer and now a guest blogger) GouletPens.com. A special thanks to her for putting together this hack, for all of the time and effort that went into documenting this for the sheer goodwill of us all. Thank Lauren yourself by sending her an email at irbyls@hendrix.edu, or send a direct message to irbyls on the Fountain Pen Network.

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