Thursday, June 30, 2011

Write Time 6/29/11

Watch live video from Write Time at 9 on Justin.tv

We had to reschedule our Write Time broadcast from Tuesday this week due to bad thunderstorms taking out our power, so we did our broadcast last night instead. It was a jam-packed evening talking about:
  • Aurora inks
  • Montegrappa inks
  • Online inks and pens
  • Omas inks
  • Sailor Sapporo pens
  • Platinum Mix-Free will be available next week!
  • Platinum 3776 LE Clear Demonstrator pens available next week!
  • Premiere LE availability, only 12 left!
  • Canada Post shipping updates
  • Sheaffer pens in July
  • 4 new brands announced that we're carrying: Waterman, Parker, Taccia, and Kaweco!
  • We have another pen brand in the works, but we are keeping it a surprise until things are more finalized
It was a fun evening, we were plowing through everything and will plan to get much more in-depth over the coming weeks. Thanks for watching and we'll see you next week at 9pm EDT for another Write Time!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Write Time Topics: 6/29/11

This broadcast has been rescheduled until Wednesday, 6/29. We're in the midst of a huge severe thunderstorm and keep losing power. Sorry for the last-minute change!

Boy do we have a LOT to talk about tonight! Here are some new product we have in:

  • Aurora inks
  • Montegrappa inks
  • Online inks and pens
  • Omas inks
  • Sailor Sapporo pens
  • Platinum Mix-Free timeline
  • Platinum 3776 LE Clear Demonstrator pens
  • Premiere LE availability
  • Canada Post shipping updates
  • Sheaffer pens in July
  • Three new brands to be announced available tonight
  • ...and another new brand coming in the next week (or so) with yet another one in the works!
Yeah, this is going to be the most jam-packed Write Time we've ever had, we have SOOOO much to talk about. I know we won't be able to go into great depth for each topic, these are all new products we have that are going to make for good conversation for weeks (probably months!). See you on Wednesday 6/29 at 9pm EDT!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Aurora, Montegrappa, Omas, and Online Inks

Link to YouTube for more viewing options.

As many of you know, we just started carrying Aurora, Montegrappa, Omas, and Online inks. I am spending my weekend doing swabs of the ink colors and loading them into our Swab Shop, and I thought I might just shoot a video for you with my general impression of the ink colors, having them fresh to my eyes for the first time. Enjoy!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Aurora, Omas, Montegrappa, Online, Pelikan stuff is in

We have been teasing this week about some new brands we're bringing in at GouletPens.com. We started getting some of it in (yes, I said some of it). Here's what we have in:
  • Aurora ink
  • Omas ink
  • Montegrappa ink
  • Online ink and pens
  • Pelikan Pelikanos and Pelikano Jr's

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sailor (Sapporo) Professional Gear Slim First Impression

Link to YouTube for more viewing options.

Rachel and I had a good customer of ours special order a beautiful orange demonstrator Sailor Professional Gear Slim pen (formerly known as the Sailor Sapporo) in a broad nib. She was kind enough to let us ink it up and take it for a test drive so we could see what it's like and share our experience with you! Thank you for that, you know who you are ;)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Write Time 6/21/11: Premiere LE Reveal

Watch live video from Write Time at 9 on Justin.tv

We want to give a special thanks to Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Co. for joining us by phone for the broadcast, it's always a good time having you on! The special occasion was for the reveal of the Edison Nouveau Premiere Limited Edition pen, which we've mentioned briefly before but not in great detail. We wanted to wait to talk until we had something to show, and now we do:

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Write Time Topics 6/21/11

Rachel and I are back this week for a special Write Time reveal of the new limited edition Edison Nouveau Premiere! We've mentioned this pen a couple of times, but didn't want to build it up into a big fuss until we had something to show for it. Well, now we have something to show, so we'll show it!

Brian Gray of the Edison Pen Co. will join us live via phone for the broadcast at 9pm EDT, so please join us! We'll also be revealing the Ink Drop theme for July, so stop on by :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lamy 2000 First Impression

Link to YouTube for more viewing options.

The Lamy 2000 is an iconic pen in the fountain pen world, with a cult following since 1966. It has a modern look even today. It's perfectly balanced, comfortable in the hand, and on paper. To me, the Lamy 2000 is a perfect example of German design and engineering.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Beyond the Pen: Mail Art

This is the next part of our 'Beyond the Pen' guest series on Ink Nouveau. This week's guest is Julie from Okami-Whatever. Be sure to check out her blog at Whatever ~Brian Goulet

From Wikipedia:
Mail art is a worldwide cultural movement that began in the early 1960s and involves sending visual art (but also music, sound art, poetry, etc.) through the international postal system. Mail Art is also known as Postal Art or Correspondence Art. The term networking is often used to describe Mail Art activities, based on the principles of barter and equal one-to-one collaboration.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ink Drop: Blue Skies Reveal

June's Ink Drop theme is Blue Skies. Rachel and I really wanted to go for a theme of sky-named inks, the blue part was more of a coincidence :) We hope you all enjoy June's colors! Normally, we would have posted the reveal sooner, but the Noodler's Flex Pen release really threw us for a loop. If you're still interested in getting June's colors, we'll be making it available as an ink sample package soon.

So here are the colors:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Filling and Adjusting the Noodler's Flex Pen

Link to YouTube for more viewing options.

There are a lot of Noodler's Flex Nib Pens out in the world now! I thought it would be prudent to make a video to show you how to fill the pen from a Goulet sample vial and also how to adjust the nib and feed to change the flex and flow of the nib. Enjoy! Post any questions in the comments below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Write Time Canceled 6/14/11

Rachel and I had a killer busy week last week and family in town over the weekend. We've been going at a crazy pace and we're going to need a little time to recover :) We haven't had any time to prepare anything for Write Time this week, so we'll just save it all up for next week when we have more to discuss. Sorry for any inconvenience, feel free to email us or post in the comments here if you have any questions!

Friday, June 10, 2011

All Caught Up

We're finally caught up from the Noodler's Flex pen release on 6/6/11 (4 days ago). The guys and I in the shop made a pact not to shave our faces until we were caught up, and we reached that goal today, thank goodness! It's high 90's here in Va and beards are not so fun....

It's been a hard, fun, and exciting week, and I really want to thank you all for all of the support you gave us this week. We've seen more patience, care, understanding, and enthusiasm from all of our customers and fans this week than ever before, it's just been awesome! Thank you all so much.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Write Time 6/8/11

Watch live video from Write Time at 9 on Justin.tv

Link to Justin.tv for the video. There's a technical issue that's keeping me from uploading these on YouTube right now, so I'll get on that as soon as I work that out.

We had a special broadcast that was rescheduled from Tuesday (we had family in town). We covered:
  • Noodler's Flex Pen release reflections
  • New Brause nibs and calligraphy inks!
  • New Rhodia Webplanners
Thanks to everyone for being so supportive to us during this very busy week!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Special Write Time Tonight, 6/8/11

What an eventful week this has been! Despite our business with the Noodler's Flex Pens, this isn't actually why we've rescheduled Write Time for tonight. We had my cousin, aunt and uncle in town only for tonight, so we put family first and spent time with them. We know you understand!

So here are the topics we'd like to discuss tonight:
  • Monday's insane Noodler's Flex Pen release, recapping the events and our reaction to it all
  • Steps we've taken for future releases like Monday's
  • Noodler's flex pen colors (this is the first Write Time since we've seen them for ourselves!)
  • Ink in water pictures, my latest craze
  • TONS of new Brause nibs and J. Herbin calligraphy inks we started carrying
Thanks for being so flexible and joining us on a Wednesday night this week. We'll see you at 9pm EDT!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rachel and Brian Recap Noodler's Flex Release

Today's release of the Noodler's Flex pens was one of the craziest, most exciting event we've ever had. GouletPens.com was flooded with traffic, breaking any and all previous records we've ever had, which is wonderful, but it was not without its stresses. Rachel and I made this video for all of you to see an insight into what the day was like for us, and also to explain some of the technical things that were going on behind the scenes on the most intense day in Goulet history.

Also, Write Time is postponed tonight. We're having extended family in town just for tonight, so we're going to spend time with them (that is, when we aren't packing up orders). We're sorry! We're going to make it a special Write Time on Wednesday (6/8) at 9pm EDT. We will be exhausted, for sure, but we feel there's a lot about this release that warrants discussion and feedback. Sound like a plan?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Noodler's Flex Pens are available right now at GouletPens.com!

The wait is over, Noodler's Flex pens are available!

Clear and Lapis are already gone. We had some technical stuff going on with our site due to sheer overload of traffic on our site. We have a beefed-up server, but it was still stressed to its max! Things are running better now, so let us know if there are still any issues with your checking out.

We're working harder than ever before right now to straighten out any order changes and ship out as quickly as we can. If you're trying to call us right now, you'll get our voicemail. We're on the phone with our web host support to work out any kinks with the site, so we will have to call or email you back.

Just from my initial impression from this release, it's overwhelming! We've had a greater response than we even thought. Due to the sheer traffic we've had on our site, we're already considering ways to improve things for the next release, though honestly, we're hoping things don't get this crazy again! We know Nathan's working on redoing the feeds, which have been the holdup in these pens so far. Hoepfully, the next batch of flex pens will be much sooner and more available than these ones.

A special thanks to everyone who's been so incredibly patient. We're working as fast as we can to get your orders packed up and out the door, but this will require patience all around. Thanks for making today so great, so crazy, so hectic!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

How to get your Noodler's Flex Pen from GouletPens

Noodler's Flex Nib Pens will be available for sale at GouletPens.com on Monday, June 6th at 1pm EDT (Eastern US Time)!

After nearly 5 months of waiting, the next batch of Noodler's flex pens are finally arriving, with 4 new colors! Here are the colors:
We'll also have a limited number of the clear demonstrators available. These are 4 new colors never used before in a Noodler's pen, except in some early prototypes last year and shown in one of Nathan's YouTube videos. Nathan's mentioned before as a guest on our Write Time broadcast that there are essentially an unlimited number of possibilities for colors for Noodler's pens, so expect that this batch of these colors will be the last of them you'll see for a while. The next batch will likely have different colors, just like we haven't seen December 25th pens or Ivory Darkness come back since they were first released.


Everyone, and I mean just about EVERYONE is dying for these pens to come in. Hundreds of them have been sold in previous releases with the Clear, December 25th, and Ivory Darkness colors. Bloggers have talked about them, people have posted reviews on the Fountain Pen Network, Pentrace, Fountain Pen Community, Ravelry, Wetcanvas, and tons of other forums. They've gotten quite the reputation as being the 'everyone's' flex pen. They aren't the fanciest, aren't the nicest, and aren't the most buttery smooth of all flex pens every made. But, they are most certainly the cheapest, making them the most accessible flex pens around today.

The reason they have been held for release for 5 months since the previous batch is because of the labor involved in setting the nibs. Nathan Tardif, the one-man-show behind all of the Noodler's inks and pens, has had to inspect every pen himself and heat set every ebonite feed to fit each flex nib. It's a specialized skill, and a time consuming process that has been dependent on his time to be able to complete. He has been working countless hours on these pens.

Logistics of Ordering from GouletPens.com

Now to the part that really matters to you, how can you get one (or more) of these pens in your hand? The good news is that Nathan has made far more of these pens available than ever before...the bad news is that there is also more awareness and demand for them than ever before, too. It's really hard to say how quickly they're going to go. What I do know is that once these colors are gone, it's likely they won't appear again for a very long time, if ever. So it you're in love with one of the colors, make sure to get it.

We are getting a pretty good stock of these pens at GouletPens.com, but we also have a record-breaking email notification list for them. We actually had so many people on the list when we tried to email everyone ahead of time to share with you a lot of the logistical information that's in this post, our online email server blocked us from sending the emails because of their anti-spam policy. We've exercised every possible option to notify you all ahead of time about getting these pens, putting up notices on the product pages for each pen, and posting on Ink Nouveau. Other than that, we literally can't do anything more!

So, here is what you need to do to have the best chance to get the pen(s) you desire from GouletPens.com:
  1. Sign up on the email notification list RIGHT NOW for the pens you want, which you do by clicking on the 'email me when back in stock' link right below the 'Add to Cart' button on the product page, then typing in your email. As soon as we make them available for purchase, you'll be notified by email. This isn't required for you to buy the pens, but is just an extra reminder to let you know as soon as the pens are live and available for sale.
  2. Get to GouletPens.com as close to 1pm Eastern US time as you possibly can, because that's when we're releasing the pens for sale. We chose this time to accommodate the most number of people around the world as possible. It sucks that it's 3am for our customers in Australia, and we're really sorry for that. 
  3. Load other items into your shopping cart ahead of time. Get to GouletPens.com early, and load up whatever else you want before 1pm EDT. Once we make the flex pens live, all you have to do is add them to your cart and checkout with everything. The first ones to checkout get the goods, just having them in your shopping cart doesn't reserve them for you!
  4. Arrange for someone else to purchase them if you're not able to at 1pm. If you have an important meeting or appointment at the time of the release, arrange for a family member or friend to help you purchase it. Though we feel we have a good stock of pens and won't run out immediately, it's impossible for us to predict how fast things will move. We may have a run not only on the pens, but on other products we regularly stock. It's likely we'll be out of stock on a number of products once the release happens.
  5. Make sure your credit card or PayPal is working properly. There's nothing worse than going through all of the excitement of getting your goods only to find out your card expired or you forgot to update something on your PayPal account. Get it all straight ahead of time so you know you're good to go when you checkout. 
  6. You have to order through GouletPens.com. If you email us or call us at 1:07pm, we're going to refer you to our website, if we're even able to answer right away. There will be such a mad rush of people flocking to our site, shooting us emails, and calling us, that we can't guarantee you anything unless it goes through our website. We're sorry if this inconveniences you at all, but it's the only way we can manage everything with just a husband and wife team like we are. If you are having technical issues with our website at that time email Rachel and she will help you as soon as possible.
Here are some other pointers about this event:
  • Purchasing your pens only matters if you checkout. Holding them on your waitlist or shopping cart doesn't actually reserve your pens, it all depends on who checks out first.
  • You can call us, but we may not be able to answer. Email is preferable, and will give you the greatest likelihood of a quick response.
  • We have decided not to impose a limit on the pens purchased because we trust everyone will be reasonable. Get what you want, but we will contact you after the fact if you're obviously hoarding them. This hasn't been an issue in the past so I almost hesitate to even bring it up. If you're purchasing 25 pens and you really only need 3, you're likely preventing others from getting pens. These aren't the last pens that will ever be made, more are already in the works. Remember, they're just pens! ;)
  • Shipment of orders to Canada may be delayed due to the ongoing Canada Post strike. We'll give you the option to either take the risk of having us ship your package now, or we can hold it until the strike is resolved and package delivery resumes. We'll follow up with you after receiving your order.
  • If you wanted to buy other items that are out of stock, please put a note in your order comments to have us hold your order and combine it when the items are available if you'd like to save on shipping.
Why doesn't GouletPens.com take pre-orders or do waitlists?

There are several reasons why we don't take firm reservations, or worse, take your money in advance:
  • Limited supply. There's nothing worse than thinking you've got a product reserved for you, only to find out it was oversold. Then you're stuck scrambling at the last minute trying to find it anywhere you can, and it's very stressful!
  • Delays!!! They happen ALL the time, across all brands. If we had started to take pre-orders for these flex pens in January (when the last batch was sold out), we would have been holding your money for 5 months. That would be insane.
  • Damage in shipping. It happens! Sometimes we're anticipating a big order of new product and we get things in and 1/4 of the product is crunched, wet, or defective in some manner. Then what? If we already sold it, we have to explain it to a group of disappointed (and likely angry) customers. Nope, we like to get things in hand, make sure we know exactly how many we have, then sell them.
  • We just can't manage preorders. If we had been taking reservations or pre-orders for these flex pens over the last five months, we would have to contact everyone individually and collect payment for the pens right now. People change their minds about wanting them, people want more, or less, they move, they change emails, it just gets way too complicated to handle. We're a husband and wife team here, and Rachel is the one who ends up handling all of the order/logistics correspondence...that is while she's watching our 16 month old son. We simply can't manage a backlog of everyone waiting for one product, so we have to do a landrush just to be able to manage it all in a way that maintains our sanity.
Many retailers do preorders, and it is tempting to do because it snatches the attention of the eager buyer. But, for all of the reasons above, we feel that the longer term strategy of doing things the way we do it is a better way. It's better for us, and better for you. You know if we sell you something, you're going to get it as soon as it's available, and you won't be oversold.

We did a waitlist....once. It was the very first batch of J. Herbin 1670 ink that we received last year, and we received 20 bottles of ink. We had at least 24 people on our waitlist (I can't remember exactly now). Thankfully, we hadn't taken anyone's money, but even the act of essentially promising those customers bottles of ink that weren't going to be able to get it was something that made those people pretty upset. Not only that, it just made it so that the people that got the inks first were the ones that just so happened to contact us about it, not the people who really wanted it the most. Plus, because we had sold the bottles before they even came in, they were never even listed on our website, which was confusing for all of our customers. We knew there had to be a better way.

We tried doing our first 'landrush' for the next shipment of 1670 ink, and it worked out great. We did it just like we're doing here, letting everyone know in advance when we're listing it, and it gave everyone the fairest opportunity to get it if they wanted it the most. Plus, all of the excitement of everyone arriving to get it at the same time made it into a whole event, which is exciting for everyone. And this is how we've continued to do it since.

The New Colors

Lapis Inferno

The Lapis Inferno pens are a dark blue with white striations through the pen body. The pattern (not the color) is very similar to Ivory Darkness, if you're at all familiar with those pens. The pattern is unique on every pen. The size and design of the pen is identical to the Noodler's Piston Fill pens, but it's the nib that really makes the difference.

The flex nib on the Noodler's Flex Nib Pens are a pretty unique design. Unlike many vintage gold flex nibs, the slit on these nibs go all the way up into the body of the pen. This allows the stainless steel nib (which would normally be quite stiff) to flex and spread its tines, allowing a varying line to be drawn depending on the pressure you put on it while you write.

Here is the nib 'flexed', where you can see the tines spreading.

Poltergeist Pumpkin

The Poltergeist Pumpkin is pretty obviously a Halloween-themed pen. Much like the December 25th pen was red and green with a Christmas design, this one is orange and black for Halloween. Why Halloween in June? I have no idea, but it does look kind of cool. The pattern on every pen is unique.

Cardinal Darkness
Cardinal Darkness is modeled after 1890's British ebonite pens, which were known for the flame type pattern of red and black in the material. The pattern is unique on every pen.

Vulcan's Coral

Even though I'm a TOTAL sucker for blue, I think the Vulcan's Coral pen is actually my favorite of the four new colors. The red is kind of a raspberry red, with white/pink striations. The striations on this pen seem to be more pronounced than the other 3 pen colors. The pattern is unique on every pen.

If you have any other questions about the Noodler's flex pen release, just ask in the comments below!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Beyond the Pen: Fountain Pen Ink as Watercolor Wash

This week's guest blogger in our guest series Beyond the Pen (a focus on fountain pen ink uses outside of the fountain pen) is Jamie Williams Grossman, who has a terrific sketching blog called Hudson Valley Sketches. I recommend checking out her blog for lots of great art and advice on sketching, painting, and watercolor art. Thanks Jamie! ~Brian Goulet

If you're already fond of fountain pens and ink, maybe it's time to get creative with them in a different way! By adding just a waterbrush, like the kind that comes with some of the Noodler's 4.5 oz inks, it's amazing how expressive and quick a sketch can be. Whether you're just doodling while talking on the phone, enjoying a quiet afternoon out on the deck, or recording your travels, there's nothing faster to work with and more convenient to carry than a pen, waterbrush, and paper. In fact, if you're into fountain pens, you probably already have two out of the three on your person at all times!

Aside from lots of practice, there are three components that will determine the outcome of your efforts. They are:
  • The type of pen you choose
  • The weight, sizing and finish of the paper
  • The washability and saturation of the ink

You'll want to use a pen that lays down a lot of ink, so that you'll have enough ink in the lines to create your washes.  I've had good success with the Platinum Preppy fountain pens with the 05 nibs, and they are inexpensive enough to keep an army of them filled with all my favorite sketching inks. I either empty and refill the cartridge that comes with the pen with the ink of my choice, use the Platinum converter, or do an eyedropper conversion with the pen. The Lamy pens and converters have also worked very well for me. I use one of those little label-making machines to label the barrels of the pens so I always know what's in which pen.

Inks for these "ink and wash" sketches need to have a high saturation, due to the fact that you'll be diluting them with water from the brush to create your darkest areas and shadows.  "Bulletproof" or "water resistant" inks will not work well for these purposes. Some inks wash better than others, but the trial and error is part of the fun and exploration of the process. Thank goodness for ink samples!

The paper you select also plays a role in determining the outcome of your sketch. Well sized watercolor-type paper lets the ink sit on top of the page, so it washes easier and retains more brilliance. A smooth, "plate" finish with good sizing allows the pen to easily glide across the surface and makes the wash flow effortlessly, but good sizing makes textured paper possible as well. I happen to like all of the Stillman & Birn sketchbooks (can't even choose a favorite because they are all so good) for ink and wash work, and the Fabriano Venezia book.

The sketch above was done with an ink that many artists seem to love --- Private Reserve Velvet Black. I did this sitting in front of the gorgeous courthouse in Hudson, New York. First the line drawing was done with the pen. Then I took out the waterbrush, and using the ink from the lines I drew, I pulled out the shadow areas of the building, leaf clusters on the tree, and gave some halftones to parts of the grass and path. This was done in a 10x7" Stillman and Birn Beta Series sketchbook, which has very heavy, bright white paper that can take a beating. If you prefer ivory paper, their Delta series has the same heavy weight paper and great sizing in the ivory color. What I love about this Private Reserve Velvet Black ink is that the wash is a bit violet-tinged, with some subtle shades of pink. The complexity of the color, high saturation, darkness, and ease with which it washes make it one of the indispensable inks for my sketchbooks.

This sketch was also done on location, this time at the old Tioronda Hat Factory in Beacon, New York. If you look closely, you can see that it was done across a two-page spread of a stitch-bound sketchbook, which is my preferred way of working. In this case, it was a Fabriano Venezia book, using Noodler's Nightshade, another of my favorite washable inks. I find it colorful without being garish, and the high saturation makes it a natural for ink and wash techniques. A Lamy Safari fountain pen with Medium nib was my weapon of choice here, followed by the waterbrush.

Private Reserve Chocolat (above) is more toward the reddish brown spectrum than Noodler's Nightshade, and also washes very well. Above is another street scene from Hudson, New York.

If you're too shy to go out sketching in public, just look around your house! I had a nice time last weekend relaxing on the porch while sketching my patio tomato plant, using Noodler's Sequoia in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Series Hardbound book. The paper in the Epsilon book is a fountain pen aficionado's dream.

In addition to the ink and wash samples shown above, I have many other favorite colors that you might like to try for your doodles. Many of the Noodler's inks work very well because they are so saturated. I'm always exploring and trying new inks, with a preference for subtle colors that don't scream too loudly. Here's a list of some of my current favorites for ink and wash work (including the inks showcased in the sketches in this post) in no particular order:

Noodler's Sequoia
Noodler's Nightshade
Noodler's Midnight Blue
Noodler's Purple Wampum
Noodler's Brown
Noodler's Zhivago
Private Reserve Velvet Black
Private Reserve Chocolat
Private Reserve Midnight Blue
J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil
J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune
Caran d'Ache Grand Canyon
Iroshizuku Yama Guri

In addition to all the brands and colors currently available, it can be fun to mix your own colors. Brian has warned me that mixing different inks can cause pen problems, so don't experiment with your favorite expensive pen! Private Reserve Chocolat and Private Reserve Velvet Black mix together in various ratios to form fabulous neutral colors. Below is a mix of mostly Chocolat, with about 1/4 Velvet Black. The result is like a very highly saturated version of Iroshizuku Yama-guri! (This sketchbook is a Stillman & Birn Beta Wirebound.)

Back in April, I did an experiment based on the April Ink Drop. Those of you who are Ink Drop members will remember that was the Easter Egg Hunt month. I took equal proportions of the five inks from the hunt, mixed them together, and called the result Scrambled Easter Eggs. It's a gorgeous muted blue that washes into tones of pink, blue and violet. Who knew!

Keep in mind that while fountain pen ink is wonderful for use in sketchbooks, it is not archival. My own lightfastness tests have indicated that none of these works could be framed and hung in a room with even indirect sunlight without fading after a period of time ---- sometimes a short period of time! Enjoy them in your covered books, and when working on pieces to hang on your walls, turn to lightfast, archival alternatives in artist grade mediums.

Fountain pen use for artists doesn't stop with ink and wash. I use some of the bulletproof inks with watercolor for colored sketches. I also use gray and black inks in brushes to create multiple values without using the ink lines to get the wash color. But those applications are for another post someday! Those interested in seeing more of my sketches and techniques can follow along with me on my blog, Hudson Valley Sketches .

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Gradating Inks with Pilot Parallels (Rachel's first video!)

Link to YouTube for our channel and more viewing options.

This is Rachel's first video! She really took interest in the Pilot Parallels, and what drew her into it was the unique design of the pens. Particularly, the emphasis on being able to kiss two pens together to transfer mixable ink colors to get a gradation effect!

The pen comes in a package with two ink cartridges, one red, one black. There's a converter (that's only used for cleaning, it doesn't fit snug enough to ink up the pen with it), a nib cleaning doohickey (that's the technical term), and an instruction sheet on basic calligraphy.

Rather than a conventional nib, the nib for the Parallels is made up of two straight (parallel) plates that are sandwiched together. There are 4 different nib sizes available for the Parallels, a 1.5mm, 2.4mm, 3.8m, and a whopping 6.0mm:

You might wonder if this type of nib is scratchy or uncomfortable to write with, but I promise you, it's surprisingly smooth. It's not the fanciest pen out there, but it performs well and is a great pen for the money ($10 as of this posting). It's probably not practical for an everyday writing pen, perhaps the 1.5mm could be, if you like wide italic nibs. The others will all be too big for daily use, unless your daily use consists of calligraphy and drawing, that is!

Now for the cool part, the gradation. Keep in mind, Rachel and I are just learning how to play with these pens, so our demonstration isn't polished. You will likely be able to achieve what we're showing here with relatively little practice, and you'll only get better over time. Rachel shows you how she does the gradation in the video, it's quite simple.

You aren't limited to using Pilot (proprietary) ink cartridges with these pens, they will accept a Pilot Con-50 converter (not included with the pen) so you can use whatever bottled ink you like:

We haven't yet experimented to see if you can use the Parallels to gradate inks of other brands besides the Pilot mixable inks that are made for these pens, but we are told from experienced users that you can.

What's your impression/experience with the Pilot Parallels?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

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