Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wed. Review - New Noodler's Flex Colors

Noodler's has (yet again) come out with more pen colors, this time in all three pen models. In the Nib Creaper Flex, there's Red, Navy, Turquoise, Green Mountain, and Burgundy. The Ahab is seeing Gray Fox, Green Mountain, and Tiger, and the Konrad has some exciting smoke and blue demonstrators! It's hard to keep up these days, isn't it? All of the pens are the same as the previous versions, just new colors. I just wanted to share them with you, what do you think?

Noodler's Konrad Hudson Bay Fathoms Blue demonstrator flex pen

Noodler's Konrad Pequod's Smoke demonstrator flex pen

Noodler's Ahab Gray Fox flex pen

Noodler's Ahab Green Mountain flex pen

Noodler's Ahab Tiger flex pen

Noodler's Nib Creaper Burgundy flex pen (same color as the old non-flex nib creaper)

Noodler's Nib Creaper Navy flex pen (same color as the old non-flex nib creaper)

Noodler's Nib Creaper Red flex pen (same color as the old non-flex nib creaper)

Noodler's Nib Creaper Turquoise flex pen, reformulated to be darker than the 'old' turquoise
For comparison, the 'original' Noodler's Nib Creaper Turquoise color (since discontinued)

How many more colors will there be? Who knows, Nathan Tardif (of Noodler's) has hinted at the almost unlimited possibility of color combinations. These are just the latest ones :) What do you think?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mailbox Monday #13

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I'll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so: 

In the Platinum Preppy, there is a clear plastic, cylindrical support section that seems to be designed to support the rear of the feed stem and perhaps is designed to provide some support and alignment for the Preppy ink cartridge. The Preppy that Noodler's supplies doesn't have this feed support section. Is this some sort of insert that can be removed? Or, is it a permanent piece that cannot be removed? Should I just ignore that it is there? Seems like ink would feed better if it weren't in place. I tried to gently remove it by attempting to use the slot at the top of it to see if it would unscrew but didn't have any success.
You're one of the few people ever to ask me about this, believe it or not! All of the Preppy's come with this plastic support....it's there to hold cartridges in place. The reason it isn't there on the pens that come with Noodler's inks is because Nathan fundamentally doesn't 'believe' in cartridges, so he removes these plastic supports from the pens he puts in his ink bottles! It doesn't really make a difference in terms of the flow of ink, but it obviously makes the pen useful only as an eyedropper. You can remove it from your other Preppy's, but it's not necessary, and I don't believe it can be put back once you take it off. Mystery solved :)
Before the revamp of your site one could narrow the list of inks by style or whatever they were called. For example show me the Eel line or the Russian links. Where did that go?
We actually still have this feature, but it's not named as Noodler's-specific terms like 'Eel' or 'Russian'. If you go to any of the brands (or the 'Shop All Bottled Ink') pages, you will see drop downs just below the header where you can filter your searches. The ones you'll want to focus on will be 'shop by ink property':

Perhaps we can look to integrate Noodler's-specific searches in the Noodler's groupings, I'll talk to Rachel about that.
This one will give you lots to do for Ink Nouveau. It kind of looks like some of the De Atramentis inks, especially the famous persons are duplicates of regular inks, just with a new name. If so can the duplications be cross referenced?
De Atramentis....yeah....you're not the first to ask for this! This is a project for sure, something I plan to do but not right away. It's going to be a huge undertaking. I'm basically on my own with it, because Dr. Jansen (who makes the ink) doesn't even speak English, he has to have his daughter translate all of our emails going to and from him.....and it's not always super-clear what's being said and it takes a week or two to get a response to an email. I'll have to do a lot of investigating myself to see about the inks and their similarities, and it will happen...at some point.
Hi Brian: I just ordered a sample of Noodler's Black from you. I have read a couple of posts on the Fountain Pen Network that this ink can be diluted and not change it that much. Just wanted to hear your take on this, and what I can expect, with reference to saturation, shading, etc.
It's true, a lot of the Noodler's inks can be diluted to improve flow and increase the cost effectiveness. You can usually do a 10% dilution of distilled water to ink and not notice any significant change in color. You can dilute to your heart's content up to about 50%, but of course the more you dilute, the thinner the ink will get and the lighter the color will appear. It's something you can play around with, I just recommend diluting in small quantities until you find the right ratio for you :)
Can the Noodler's Konrad Flex pens and Rollerball pens accept each other's nibs/feeds?
Unfortunately, the diameter of the inside of the two Konrads (rollerball and flex pen) are slightly different, so the nibs aren't interchangeable with each other :(
I received today the Noodler’s 4.5 oz Lexington Gray with the enclosed eyedropper pen – thanks for the quick delivery. As I understand it, the pen can be converted to a rollerball (as delivered, the fountain nib was installed). I can’t figure out how to do the conversion – I’ve looked on the web but the videos I’ve seen don’t look like the pen that was delivered to me, and the papers delivered with the pen don’t appear to provide any direction.

Can you tell me how to do the conversion?
Nathan briefly covers the Preppy rollerball tip in one of his videos. It's a video on Baystate Blue, which also comes with that same Preppy fountain pen with the interchangeable tip. You'll want to skip ahead to 22:20 and watch until about 23:15: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOws7QsdQMM 
The basic idea is that the nib/feed pulls right out of the pen (it's friction fit), and you just replace it with the rollerball tip in the pen. I will probably end up doing my own video on this at some point.
Can I go ahead and buy something that is Out of Stock - and just wait for it to come in?
Unfortunately not, sometimes we are out of stock of items for months at a time due to unreliable supplies (Noodler's flex pens when they first came out, TWSBI's, etc), and it would be a logistical nightmare for us to try to keep track of backorders. The way we go about it is we have an email notification list, and we are willing to combine orders if you'd like us to. I have a video that explains how to do the email notification sign-up, as well as our philosophy behind why we do it: http://www.inknouveau.com/2011/11/gouletpenscom-email-notification_362.html
I have started up a blog at TheInkedNib.com. It's a hobby blog, but I am trying to do the blogging thing right by creating a good number of decent quality reviews. I intend to review a mix of pens, paper, and inks on the blog.

I own a decent amount of paper as it is now. However, the only Clairefontaine paper I own aside from a couple of really tiny Rhodia pads is bound in such a manner that using it for reviews would be a challenge. I am scanning my reviews, so I really need something either loose or perforated. I'm just not willing to take apart a Habana or a Webnotebook to be able to easily scan the paper.

I'd prefer not to go down the path of Rhodia because I don't like the finish of that paper as well as the Clairfontaine. I admit I haven't looked too carefully at the selection you have, but is there any paper with the Clairfontaine-type finish that can be perforated for my use? If not, I'll just have to grin and bear it with Rhodia for my pen and ink reviews and get a little creative for paper reviews.
First, you'll need to decide what size you want, I'd recommend no smaller than A5 and no larger than A4. Here would be my top choices for Clairefontaine papers for you: 
Top wire bound A4
Top wire bound A5
Top staplebond A4
8.5x11 side wire bound
These are all micro perforated, and the same 90g Clairefontaine paper you know and love. Good luck with the blog! :)
Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. I'll be compiling this coming week's emails into next week's Mailbox Monday post!

Friday, May 25, 2012

FP101- Storing Fountain Pens

I get asked a lot about the 'proper' way to store your fountain pens, particularly the orientation of the pen's nib. The honest truth is that you can store them however you want, it's really up to you. There are some loose guidelines I've learned, so I'll pass along what I know.

Generally speaking, there are 3 ways to store your pens:
  1. Nib pointing up
  2. Nib pointing sideways (horizontal)
  3. Nib pointing down
Me personally, I store all my pens horizontally, in leather pen cases or in pen rolls. But that's me. I find storing pens horizontally keeps the nibs wet enough to start writing right away, without leaking into the cap. When I take pens with me in my pocket or laptop case, I'll store them nib up, usually, so that ink doesn't leak down into the cap like it would if they were nib down. I don't store anything nib down, but I would if I had a pen that tended to dry out a lot when left sitting. 

You can store your pens in the boxes/cases they come in, but that's usually not practical if you're going to use them often. I like leather cases because they're durable, portable, and can hold a lot of pens. I know some people who have wood cases, though not as many people as I would suspect. 

Even after several years in the pen business, I haven't found one particular way that everyone prefers to store their pens, it really varies a lot by individual, and I've seen some really creative ways of storage! How do you store your pens? 

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium

Video timeline:
  • Meaning behind the label (0:55)
  • Ink performance (5:25)
  • Comparison to Baystate Blue (8:53)
  • Bleach torture test (10:01)

Liberty: freedom from external or foreign rule; independence
Elysium: the abode of the blessed after death

Here's the newest ink from Noodler's, our Goulet-exclusive ink called Liberty's Elysium. This is a brand-new ink, not a reformulation or repackaging of any previous Noodler's ink. We have been working with Nathan Tardif for some time now on this ink, and what we wanted was a bulletproof vibrant blue, on par with Noodler's Blue (one of my personal favorite colors) that was inspired by Patrick Henry. Our Goulet shop is located in Ashland, Va., which is just minutes down the road from Scotchtown Plantation where Patrick Henry was born. In fact, I went to Liberty Middle School and Patrick Henry High School in Ashland, Va., so early American history is quite prevalent in our area!

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium bottle label, inspired by Patrick Henry, Mary Dyer, and Nathan Hale.

The label is done in typical Noodler's fashion, steeped in history, deep meanings, and somewhat in-your-face images. There are three people featured on the bottle, Patrick Henry, Mary Dyer, and Nathan Hale. Each of them had a strong impact of the formation of early America, and they all devote their lives (or lost them) for the cause of liberty and freedom. I strongly encourage you to read up on each of them, they're quite fascinating!

We had Nathan put together the most vibrant bulletproof blue that he possibly could, and we're thrilled with how it turned out. So here it is:

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium, reviewed by Brian Goulet.

There are a couple of slight drawbacks to the ink, it takes a little while to dry on ink-resistant paper like the Rhodia that I tested. It's a pretty vibrant and saturated color, and its bulletproof properties make it so that it needs to soak into the paper and bond to the actual paper fibers, as the way that Noodler's inks are bulletproof is by cellulose reaction. Because of this, there may be some excess ink that sits on the top of the page that can smear a bit when wet, as you see in my drip test. However, there isn't another blue this shade that even comes close to this level of water resistance, so we're happy with this result. As the ink dries over several days, it'll become even more permanent.

There are only a couple of other bulletproof blues, and they're really much darker. Bad Belted Kingfisher and Bad Blue Heron are both bulletproof but are really more blue-black. Noodler's Blue and Blue Eel are close in color, but not waterproof at all (see my review here). Diamine Asa Blue and Private Reserve American Blue are also close in color, but again, not waterproof at all.

Now I knew we wouldn't be able to come out with a vibrant bulletproof blue and have it NOT get compared to Baystate Blue, so I went ahead and swabbed up the two side-by-side. Baystate Blue is more vibrant, and has more of a purple-tinge to it, but Liberty's Elysium is going to be more permanent and a little more conventional than the infamous BSB.

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium and Noodler's Baystate Blue, compared.

Liberty's Elysium is bulletproof, which means that it's fraud-resistant and will fight against aggressive chemicals like bleach that are used to wash ink off paper. I wanted to test this out for myself, so I soaked a q-tip with straight household bleach and rubbed it on the ink. The ink held fast, but the paper did not! As long as the ink is making contact with the fibers of the paper, then it's going to create a permanent bond that is so strong that the ink will hold fast to the paper right up until the end:

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium bleach torture test

Many Goulet fans out there suspected this would be a blue that would be dubbed as 'Goulet blue', matching our ink splatter in our logo, as well as the blue stretch-wrap that we use for packaging up products as we ship them out, and I think that's a pretty dead-on description :) This ink is distinctively Goulet, distinctively Noodler's, and one that I am hoping will help to fill a much-needed gap in the ink world. You can check out more info and pick up your bottle of Liberty's Elysium here.

I would love to hear what you think, please post in the comments!

Write on, 
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Getting a Full Fill on a TWSBI VAC-700

The TWSBI VAC-700 is a pretty cool pen, check out my full review of it here. It has a pretty interesting vacuum-filling mechanism, not all that common in pens today. Doing a 'conventional' fill, you get about 1.5ml of ink in it, which isn't shabby at all (about 3x's the capacity of a standard cartridge/converter). However, if you're like me and you derive a sense of personal satisfaction from maxing out your pen's ink holding capabilities, you can get a full 2.3ml into your VAC-700.

This technique can be used for any vacuum-filling pen such as the Pilot Custom 823, as well. It does take a bit of practice and some guts to take the risk of shooting ink everywhere, but if you're like me and live life on the edge (not really), you'll enjoy having one of the largest ink capacities around. Let me know what you think!

TWSBI VAC-700, vacuum-filling pen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mailbox Monday #12

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I'll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

Do you have any tips on what to do with inks you never use?
There are a few things you can do with ink you don't use:

1) Give it away/sell it to someone who does want it (especially new people just getting into the hobby)
2) Throw it away (that's a shame though!)
3) Keep it, perhaps you'll come back to it later and like it
4) Use it for experimentation like ink mixing/diluting
Do you have any tips on how to convert my fellow college classmates (and a few professors) to fountain pen geekery? At one point, I tried giving out Preppies to my interested friends but they inevitably ended up treating it like a "special pen" to be saved for "special occasions." Now, I understand this is a limitation of the Preppy sans converter and ink bottle. But I really can't think of a cheaper or easier way to get people into fountain pens! Any advice? 
For 'converting' your friends to fountain pens (pun!), there's really not a lot you can do other than educate them. A Preppy is a great place to start, and you're starting them out right with that! But obviously it doesn't do any good if they don't use it! Show them how to ink it up, how to write with it, and how to clean it, and point them to my videos (especially the Fountain Pen 101 videos) so they can educate themselves. If they take an interest in it, then great! If not though, there's nothing you can really do to force it upon them. The thing about fountain pens is that they have a lot of cool benefits to offer, but only if someone's interested to learn them. I've made efforts to 'convert' all my friends and family members, and some of them just don't 'get it', others have taken it and run with it. 
It is difficult to look at one fountain pen nib size (the overall nib size) and compare it to another fountain pen nib size (the overall nib size) on your website or anyway else on the Internet. I was wondering is there a way to determine the overall nib size on a pen by looking at the pen on the Internet? I know the nibs used to be number based upon nib size.
There are some very loose standards, but most companies today don't designate any kind of size. The only tool I really have is that we measure the length of the nib as it protrudes from the pen, and put it under the detailed measurements on each product page. You need to use the comparison tool on our website to see more than one pen at once, but at least it's there:

I wonder if you know why the J. Herbin boxes state that the inks must never be mixed. Will they blow-up, curdle, turn weird colors, make the writer extremely eloquent, profane?
J. Herbin is just covering their butts with the warning, I can't think of any practical reason why you can't mix them, and I know plenty of people that do. I guess the reason they put it there is because they don't want someone mixing their inks with another ink with different properties and coming back and complaining to them.....but in a practical sense there's nothing going on with their inks that prevents you from being able to mix them. Just realize if you do, you're going 'rogue' and they won't stand behind any of the results you get by mixing the inks, but if you're okay with that then go ahead and mix to your heart's content :) 
I ordered a Noodler's  Ahab along with some silicone grease and a package of Noodler's Ahab Piston O-rings because my intention is to turn the Ahab into an eye dropper.  Unfortunately, I ordered the wrong rings, but I will just add them to my fountain pen maintenance kit.  Which o-rings do I need to order...the Preppy o-rings?
You actually don't need to order any additional o-rings to make the Ahab an eyedropper, it already has an o-ring on the pen threads. A little silicone grease on the threads and you're all set! If you do ever need to replace that o-ring though, the Preppy o-rings will be what you want: http://www.gouletpens.com/Platinum_Preppy_O_Rings_p/orings-preppy.htm
I am interested in acquiring at least one Noodler's Konrad fountain, but want to get one from thee ebonite series if such a things exists.   However, I don't know if there is going to be such a beast.  Can you tell me if the Konrad will be coming out in ebonite and if so what will it's expected price and release date?
There was a very limited batch of ebonite Konrads that were made, and those are long gone now. I have heard that Nathan is going to make more, though I don't have an ETA yet. I don't think it will be too long, maybe a few weeks? It's hard to tell with Nathan, he's not really an 'exact date' kind of guy. All I know is that when we do get an official word on when they'll be coming, we'll list them on our site ahead of time, and you'll be able to sign up for an email notification. It's still too early for that point though. I'd recommend signing up for our newsletter if you haven't already, because we'll have the info in there as we find out more. 
Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. I'll be compiling this coming week's emails into next week's Mailbox Monday post!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stefan V. compares Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite to 4001 Blue-Black

Many of us were shocked last year when the Pelikan 4001 Blue-Black was discontinued suddenly in the US due to chemical regulation changes. Since then, Pelikan has developed a new Edelstein color called Tanzanite, presumably meant to replace the missing blue-black ink. 

Stefan emailed me saying he had some 4001 Blue-Black and wanted to compare it to Tanzanite to see how suitable a replacement it really is. I sent him some samples of the ink and he wrote an incredibly thorough and comprehensive review/comparison of the two inks. 

Here's a preview of his post, to see the whole thing visit Stefan's blog, here

Long story short, the inks are pretty darn similar. Not exactly the same, but very similar. See how Stefan gets to this conclusion hereThanks so much for all of the hard work, Stefan! 

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Friday, May 18, 2012

FP101- Terminology 2, Fountain Pens In Use

Following up on last week's Fountain Pen 101 on Parts of a Fountain Pen, I'm going to explain a lot of the terms that involve pens, ink, and paper, and the interactions you get when you put them all together.

Here are all the terms I cover (with time markers for the video):

  • Feathering (0:53)
  • Bleedthrough (1:24)
  • Ghosting/Show-through/Echo (1:41)
  • Spread (1:53)
  • Dry Time (2:40)
  • Feedback/Tooth (3:18)
  • G/GSM (paper weight) (4:18)
  • Sizing (paper coating) (5:11)
  • Absorbency (5:53)
  • Nib Creep (6:29)
  • Saturation (6:51)
  • Shading (7:42)
  • Flow (8:23)
  • Skipping (8:36)
  • Starting (9:17)
  • Flex/Spring/Softness (9:45)
  • (Nib) Grind (9:50)

The video is a little longer than I like to shoot for with most FP101's, but the terminology is so important to understanding future topics I plan to cover, I thought it was important to include as much as I could. Now of course this doesn't include everything, there are a lot of other terms I left out. For anything you still don't understand, I recommend you check out the Glossary of Terms in the Fountain of Knowledge

My goal with the Fountain Pen 101 series is to educate new fountain pen users the way that I wish I had when I first started out. If you're new or have friends you want to introduce to fountain pens, I recommend you start out at the beginning of the series and watch them in order, here.

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Write Now 5/17/12

I'd mentioned a while ago that I would try out doing live broadcasts on the fly when I have time during the day. Well, I had some time today while I was swabbing up 5 new Diamine colors (Sargasso Sea, Grape, Ochre, Peach Haze, and Misty Blue) and 10 new De Atramentis colors (Verdi, Puccini, Shakespeare, Handel, Tchaikovsky, Raphael, Augustus, Dante, Brahms and Don Quichote), so if you have any interest in watching me do that, enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks Overview

Stillman & Birn is a relatively new company that has burst onto the art journaling scene with some incredibly high quality sketchbooks, and bloggers are starting to rave about them for sketching, mixed media, and ink washing. I first found out about them from Jamie Grossman's blog with her glowing reviews, and after checking them out for myself, I knew these things were legit.

The brand is broken out into 5 series, Alpha (3:48), Beta (5:52), Gamma (7:15), Delta (8:33), and Epsilon (9:50) that are all blank paper. For easier reference in the video, just jump to the time marker next to the series name.

Here's a chart to explain what they're all about:

Overview of the Stillman and Birn series lineup

What I aim to do here is to explain the different series and how they all differ. It may seem complicated, but it's really not. There are a couple of different paper grades, two different bindings, and two paper colors. All of these series are just a combination of these factors. I'll go through each series and explain what's up.

Alpha Series

Alpha Series Key Points:
  • 100lb/150gsm natural white paper
  • Vellum surface (smooth, but with some resistance)
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)
  • Exact same as Gamma series (except Gamma has ivory paper)

Beta Series Key Points:
  • 180lb/270gsm natural white paper
  • Rough surface (that's what they call it, but it's not really that rough)
  • Wirebound only, 25 sheets
  • Exact same as Delta series (only Delta has ivory paper)

Gamma Series Key Points:
  • 100lb/150gsm ivory paper
  • Vellum surface (smooth, but with some resistance)
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)
  • Exact same as Alpha series (except Alpha has white paper)

Delta Series Key Points:
  • 180lb/270gsm ivory paper
  • Rough surface (that's what they call it, but it's not really that rough)
  • Wirebound only, 25 sheets
  • Exact same as Beta series (only Beta has white paper)

Epsilon Series Key Points:
  • 100lb/150gsm natural white paper
  • Plate surface, smoothest paper in the Stillman & Birn line
  • Hardbound (62 sheets) or wirebound (50 sheets)

The Paper

Stillman & Birn's focus is on the paper, point blank. They recognize that art journaling is now becoming its own art form, and the sketchbook is no longer just a transitional tool from the field to the art studio, it's becoming its own fine art. So they wanted to create the highest quality art journal possible, that can withstand the most demanding of art mediums, such as ink, acrylics, chalk, and watercolor. 

All of the paper washes exceptionally, with no bleeding or feathering on any of the inks I tried.

I don't know much about ink washing, but it sure is fun to try!

The Beta and Delta paper especially can withstand just about anything, watercolor or straight ink dumped on the page. That's straight Noodler's Apache Sunset, dumped on the paper and smeared with a q-tip, and you can't even see it on the other side!

Minimal show-through on the Alpha, Gamma, and Epsilon, none at all on the Beta and Delta. 

I'm no artist, and I am definitely biased because I sell them, but even still I can safely say the paper in these sketchbooks is very tough to beat. Drew and I had fun just messing around with a lot of different pens and inks on all the Stillman & Birn paper, and I can safely say that it'll all take just about anything you can put down.

We're starting out with a limited offering of Stillman & Birn at GouletPens.com at first, and we'll expand as there is demand for it. These sketchbooks are a bit outside of the type of notebooks we typically carry, but I believe in supporting a good product and I think it's something that fountain pen users will enjoy. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mailbox Monday #11

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I'll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I am looking for a good black ink that dries fast, but has somewhat bulletproof qualities. If not, at least waterproofy. I plan to use Rhodias, Clairefontaines, and some good 28 lbs HP paper as well as the Staples eco-friendly pads. There are forums on the web, but sometimes it does give conflicting info.
    What you're experiencing is a classic case of wanting it all :) Noodler's inks achieve their permanence by cellulose reaction, which means the dyes in the ink actually need to bond to the fibers of the paper. However, finer papers like Rhodia, CF, HP 28, are all coated to repel the ink (to avoid issues with feathering/bleedthrough/etc). So you see, there is a conflict here, the ink needs to soak into the paper, but the paper wants to repel the ink. What that means is that it's going to take a while to dry (because of the coating on the paper) and will take a little while to become permanent as well.

    The Noodler's bulletproof ink that dries the fastest is Heart of Darkness. It's similar to Black, but might work a little better for you. I'd try a sample of that. Another alternative if quick drying is key, is either the Platinum Carbon Black or Sailor Kiwa-Guro (Nano) Black. These inks are pigmented, which are made to dry on top of the paper instead of soak into it like the Noodler's inks. The tradeoff of these inks though (aside from their higher price) is that the pigments in the ink can create more of a clogging hazard in your pen, so you must be fairly diligent about your pen maintenance. Another ink you may want to look into is J. Herbin Perle Noire.....still a nice black with some good water resistance, but no crazy ink properties to have to worry about, it's just a conventional ink that's more water resistant than most.

Brian, on the packing slip I received with my Lamy broad nib, someone had written a thank you note using DA's Kiwi. I LOVE the color...but when I searched all of DA's ink, I could not find Kiwi but found Kiwi Fruit in the scented inks section. I am not a fan of scented ink. Do you know if DA offers a regular, non-smelling ink in Kiwi?
    De Atramentis Kiwi Fruit is the ink that was used, and it is scented. They don't have a non-scented version of the same color. However, the scent on that particular ink is very subtle.

Why do all these pens look like demonstrator's? I'd prefer to buy the pen once they've decided to go into production and not trial products.
    They're called demonstrator pens, but it's not by any means a 'trial' product, it's designed like that on purpose. Demonstrator pens have been incredibly popular as regularly offered fountain pens lately, it's not like it was years ago when the only ones who had demonstrator pens were retailers trying to show how a pen worked, many pen companies make clear or translucent pens now and call them demonstrators.

    I have it as a definition in the Glossary of Terms under our Fountain of Knowledge: http://www.gouletpens.com/Glossary_of_Terms_s/1136.htm

    "Demonstrator - Transparent pens, originally developed for salesmen to show to distributors and retailers to display the inner workings of the pens' parts. Now, it is a common aesthetic design adopted across many brands. The appeal is that you can see the ink level clearly in your pen without having to take it apart."

    I have a lot of definitions there, hopefully there are others you can find useful as well.

Can you recommend a large, hefty fountain pen, under $50, that’s good for eyedropper conversion?

Are Noodlers your only American made pens?
    We also have Edison, which are made by Brian Gray in Milan, Oh. Those are all the US-made pens we carry though, the only other American pens (that I know) are Bexley and Franklin Christoph. Just not a lot of fountain pen companies in the US these days!

I was wondering if the sale price on the Rhodia No. 19 Notepad - 8.25 x 12.5, Dot Pad - Black means that you'll be phasing them out in favor of the No. 18?
    Yeah, we're anticipating the demand for No. 19's will all but vanish now that No. 18's are out, that's pretty much how it works with all the other Rhodias where both 18's and 19's are available. If we have enough people asking for No.19's we might keep them, but I doubt we will.

Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. I'll be compiling this coming week's emails into next week's Mailbox Monday post!

Friday, May 11, 2012

FP101- Terminology 1, Parts of a Fountain Pen

There is a lot of basic terminology that I'm going to be using in future Fountain Pen 101 videos. It will be much more helpful for you to have the foundation of understanding what all the parts of a pen are called and how they work before you learn the more subjective aspects of the use of a fountain pen.

All of these terms (and many others) can be found in the Fountain of Knowledge on GouletPens.com under the Glossary of Terms, as well as Common Online Abbreviations to make it easier for new fountain penners cruising forums and blogs to understand the slang.

In this video, I'm focusing on the parts of a fountain pen. Here I cover the following terms (with time markers for the video, for easy reference):

  • Nib (0:31)
  • Tip/tipping material (1:06)
  • Slit (1:30)
  • Tines (1:49)
  • Breather hole (2:15)
  • Wings (2:45)
  • Feed (3:03)
  • Feed Channel (3:23)
  • Fins (3:50)
  • Filler hole (4:34)
  • Body/barrel (5:15)
  • Grip Section (5:31)
  • Reservoir (5:54)
  • Threads (6:22)
  • Cap (6:51)
  • Finial (7:15)
  • Clip (7:37)
  • Trim/hardware (7:54)

There are a lot more terms, for sure, but this will help to give you a solid foundation for the parts of a fountain pen as I continue to talk about them ongoing. Next week I'll be covering FP101 Terminology 2, Fountain Pen Use Terms. These will include terms such as shading, dry time, bleed through, flow, nib creep, and a lot more terms that involve fountain pens, ink, and paper as they all interact with each other.

A picture of a pen with labels describing all of the parts of a fountain pen

Let me know what you think in the comments! I'd love to know what terms you'd like me to clarify in future videos. See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


We just got in the hot new TWSBI VAC-700's last Thursday, and amidst the chaos of trying to get them out to eager new VAC-700 owners, I had a little bit of time to shoot a video on the new pen. For the sake of time, I didn't record the intro or outro of the video, as I wasn't planning to post it until 6 days later (today, Wednesday). Ironically enough though, I got a sore throat over the weekend and my voice sounds like I'm a chain-smoking sea captain, so I had to 'improvise' in the video. It's definitely worth a look!

The VAC-700 has been talked about for nearly two years now, and it's release has been pushed back all the way from October of 2011 until now, May 2012. That's a long wait, for sure. So I thought even though my time was limited and I knew that these pens would be limited in supply, I would still make a video introducing them even though I know it will make some of you who weren't able to get one angry. I'm sorry!

The video explains most everything, but here are some highlights:
  • It's slightly bigger than the 540
  • It has a vacuum filling mechanism which is super cool
  • The ink capacity is 1.5ml, but I am able to get 2.3ml in there with some finesse (which I'll feature in a future video)
  • They are offered in the same colors as the 540 color demos, amber, blue, smoke, and clear (clear isn't yet released though)
  • VAC-700 nibs are different from 540 nibs, and they are all made by Bock in Germany
  • Nib sections will be available separately, but for now it's only whole pens
I didn't get to a full writing test or anything like that in this video, and I'm sorry. It was already long enough ;) But I'll be talking about these more, this is just to give you an idea of what a vacuum filling pen even is, and how the VAC-700 follows up to the TWSBI 540.

TWSBI VAC-700 in amber, blue, and smoke

TWSBI VAC-700 in smoke

TWSBI VAC-700, screw on cap, push to post on back (posts really securely)

TWSBI VAC-700, vacuum filling pen, which is not very common these days

TWSBI VAC-700, nib units are interchangeable, but not available separately (yet)

TWSBI VAC-700 (top) and TWSBI 540 (bottom), almost the same length capped

TWSBI VAC-700 (top) and TWSBI 540 (bottom), uncapped nearly identical in length

TWSBI VAC-700 (top) and TWSBI 540 (bottom), posted the 540 is actually longer

TWSBI VAC-700 nib (left) and TWSBI 540 nib (right), all VAC-700 nibs are made by Bock in Germany, 540's are moving that direction from Schmidt

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mailbox Monday #10

My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I'll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

Your intro video of the Noodler's Konrad was great, but missed a discussion of IF the Konrad will make a wider line than the Ahab and nib creaper?  
I mentioned in the video that the nib and feed are identical to the Ahab, so it will write just like the Ahab does. I did a video when the Ahab came out comparing the Ahab writing to the original flex pen writing, and I found them to be very close to each other. http://www.inknouveau.com/2011/11/noodlers-ahab-writing-test.html
What is the ink capacity of the Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen?
With a regular 'first fill' from a dry pen, I got about 1.1ml. But if I expel all the air out, I can get somewhere between 1.3ml and 1.4ml. The Nib Creaper flex is about .9ml, and the Ahab (piston) is 1.9ml, Ahab eyedropper is almost 6ml. Your typical ink cartridge/converter will get you about .5ml, just to put things in perspective.
What's with the pictures of pens on top of rice, beans, etc? It's cool but do you actually have like, little boxes of dried rice and beans that you break out for product shots? Or a little square of flooring?
Haha, a perfectly legit question! Why rice and beans? They're small, interesting, and cheap :) They provide an interesting background, and also provide a somewhat 'soft' bed to lay pens down so that I can position them in any placement I want and they stay put, as opposed to a solid flat surface like paper where I have to prop up the pens to stay in place, then they rarely do... 
I actually have several baking sheets filled with things like rice, beans, sand, small stones, korks, potpourri, etc for miscellaneous pictures. It's fun! It's all a great experiment, and I pretty much just go to places like Target and Michael's and look for anything that would 'look neat' in a picture with a pen. 
Just for curiosity's sake, would it be possible for Nathan [Tardif, of Noodler's] to make a custom ink order, but instead of one of the regularly offered inks, have him make up a bottle of black ink jet printer ink? I remember him saying that he made all of his own printer ink since he prints all the labels himself, and was just curious about it. 
Nathan does mix up inks for his own printers, and that's what he uses to print the Noodler's ink bottle labels, he does all that himself. He is willing to make custom sizes of his regularly available fountain pen inks, but he doesn't sell inkjet inks or any custom ink mixtures. He's about the busiest man on the planet and he is a staff of one, so he has to keep his work streamlined to his regularly offered products. I'm sorry!
I'm thinking about getting a Pilot Vanishing Point but am worried that the capless design (i.e. the hole in the top) could potentially make the nib dry out very quickly. I'd be curious to hear about your and your customers' experiences with this pen, especially as regards "dry-out" (sorry if that's not a real term) and flow/start-up after disuse. 
That's a totally understandable concern. The VP actually has a little gate (flap-type thing) that covers over the nib inside the pen to seal it shut when the nib is retracted, and it works remarkably well to keep the nib from drying out. It essentially makes it so that it's like any other fountain pen in terms of how long ink will last in the pen before drying. I have one and use it regularly without any noticeable problem, and it's also an issue I rarely hear from our VP-owning customers. There are a lot of VP's floating around out there, and the overall consensus is that you don't have to be too concerned with it drying out.
Look at the picture below.  Look at the discoloration at the lower part of the cap.  The main body of the pen is jet black.  But the cap has discoloration (as the pictures show) in striations.  It seems like a flaw.  But - not having owned a Lamy 2000 prior, I'm not sure.  What do you think? 

It may seem like a flaw, but it isn't. Just about every Lamy 2000 I've seen has this. The material used to make this pen is called Makrolon, which is a material made of a composite of fiberglass...what you're seeing there is apparently some kind of dust left over from the manufacturing/polishing process, likely from the stainless steel grip section. It's purely cosmetic, and you can actually even see a similar grey mark on the pen I used for the Lamy 2000 pictures on our site: 

Interestingly, in a follow up email, this Lamy 2000 owner found that rubbing the pen with a microfiber cloth typically used to clean a computer monitor actually removed the gray streak! I've heard others have done this as well, if the grey streak is bothersome. Other's like it and leave it :) 

A nice addition to your Fountain of Knowledge (or wherever it should go) would be a list of DeAtramentis colors listing the unscented versions of the scented inks for those of us who can't tolerate fragrance. There are so MANY inks in their line now it's hard to figure out accurately. If there's already a complete list somewhere (in English) could you please tell me where to find it? Thanks! 
 This is a good idea! Believe it or not we only carry about 2/3 of their ink line, there's still about 100 more that we don't carry....yet. It's hard because there's no list of any kind out there, so we'll have to go through every ink and investigate for ourselves. This kind of project is hard to do because it takes a tremendous amount of time, and there's really not any information to pull from out there in the online world. We'd be creating it from scratch. I'll see what we can do, no promises right away but it is definitely a good idea and something we'll work on!
Thanks for taking the time to read my emails! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments. I'll be compiling this coming week's emails into next week's Mailbox Monday post! 

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