Friday, June 29, 2012

FP101 - Ink Cartridges

Ink cartridges are a very convenient way to use fountain pens, and are something that most new users run into right away since they usually come with a new pen. But if you don't know how to install and use them, it can be a little confusing. So that's why I created this video. Here I cover:

  • What are ink cartridges (:21)
  • How to install them (2:55)
  • Ball Agitators (4:42)
  • Standard International Cartridges (5:54)
  • Storing, Cleaning, and Reusing Cartridges (7:37)

We've also set up a Cartridge/Converter Guide on GouletPens.com, to help you to figure out which cartridges fit your specific model of pen. 

Pens I used in this video:

I'm sure this video will help a lot of you to figure out how those cartridges work! I'd love to hear what you think, just ask whatever you want in the comments :)

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium Results....

The results are in! After running our poll about whether or not to change the formula of Noodler's Liberty's Elysium, we've come to a conclusion....

So yeah, we're going to keep the original formula, a new shipment is on its way. I talked to Nathan and it's a pretty easy decision to make. We both had the inclination it would turn out this way, and this poll has more than validated it for us. Thank you so much to all of you who voted in the poll, and especially for those of you that gave us detailed feedback about it. The fountain pen community is the best, and the passion and vigor that we've seen around Liberty's Elysium has just confirmed that we're in such the right business :) Thank you all!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wed. Review - New Stuff from Monteverde, Stipula, Delta, Conklin

Just got in some cool new stuff! We'd mentioned a while ago that we'd be carrying a few new brands, and we just got in our first order of pens and ink from Monteverde, Delta, Stipula, and Conklin. Total, we're adding about 25 new inks to GouletPens.com, bringing our ink total to around 675. That's pretty crazy, even to me!

The video is just an overview of the new stuff and my first impression of it, I plan to do more in-depth reviews later on as I have time to play with them all. Here's what we're going to be carrying regularly:

Monteverde Artista Crystals 
Monteverde Invinvias

We're just dipping our toes in the water, so if you have anything from these brands you want to see us carry or if you want to special order anything, just post in the comments or shoot me an email.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mailbox Monday #16

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 live in London (UK) and have recently travelled to Arizona where I am spending the summer. Within a very short time of being here I am noticing that my pens are drying up from one day to the next! We are in the desert here and the air is very dry so I am not surprised. I am using cartridges of ink as it seemed the safest way to travel. To get the pens going again when they have dried up, I tend to give the cartridges a good squeeze. I find that the ink is going rather fast with this method and I am wondering if there is any other way to go about keeping the ink flowing in my pens?

Welcome to the US! Summer in Arizona, huh? Yes, I can see how that might be a little dry and hot! Your pens drying out is no shock to me either, given your weather. Part of the reason your ink is going faster too is that I'm sure some of the water is evaporating out of your ink as it sits in your pens, so you may even notice the ink color seems more saturated and darker than usual!

There's a neat little trick that you can try that may help you out. If you cut up a small piece of sponge and put it inside the very furthest part of the cap, and wet it with water, this should help to keep your nib moist and increase the relative humidity level inside your pen so it won't dry out as quickly. Of course, you'll have to make sure the piece of sponge isn't too big, because if the nib itself actually touches the sponge, that could actually wick all of the ink out of the pen and into the sponge! It'll take a little tinkering, but it might be worth the effort :) Otherwise, I would say it could help if you keep your pens stored in a sealed plastic bag (like a Ziploc snack bag) when not in use, that would help to keep it from drying out.
I was just wondering if the Konrad Rollerballs were coming back, it seems they were gone forever! Maybe Nathan has stopped production? Also, i am in the market to buy a highlighter ink to use for school. I need the most Florescent noodlers highlighter ink that would not smear. Do you have any advice for me?
The Konrad rollerballs aren't discontinued or anything, we've just been out of them for a long time because Nathan hasn't made any available. I'm not sure why, some kind of production issue no doubt. I wish I knew when more would be in, but I don't. We keep trying to order them regularly, so as soon as they are available again, we'll be carrying them.

For highlighters, it's tough to go wrong with Firefly, that's the best all-around Noodler's highlighter in my opinion.
I will be moving from the USA to Scotland soon. Since I've become involved with fountain pens I've acquired a pretty good collection of inks (approximately 14 or so). I refuse to leave it behind so I've been debating how to get my ink collection to Scotland with me, and I'm going back and forth between coughing up the cost to ship it or taking it in my checked luggage on the airplane. From information I've read, as long as you pack an ink bottle very well, it should be safe to travel in luggage even with the pressure in the plane. But as someone who frequently ships to other countries (and maybe even has experience in having bottled ink in your personal luggage), what would you recommend?
Your ink should be just okay. We ship ink all over the world every day, and aside from rough handling or outright physical abuse to the package, the ink arrives just fine every time. Yours should be alright...I haven't done extensive testing but I have flown a couple of times with ink in my own bag and it did hold up just fine. I would definitely put them into separate sealed bags and pad them well though, you don't want a vindictive baggage handler to accidentally break them! That's probably your biggest threat to the ink during your travel ;)
Hi Brian. I am interested in purchasing the Platinum 3776 Bourgogne and was wondering if it is available with either a stub, 1.1 italic or music nib?
Unfortunately not, only in fine, medium, and broad. Perhaps Platinum will expand the nib offering down the road, but that's all we have for now.
I've been getting into reading my Bible more lately, and there are passages and verses that I would like to underline or highlight. I'd love to use one of the Noodler's highlighter ink for this purpose, but I don't want to ruin my Bible by doing that. I've noticed in some of your videos, you've used a notebook with scriptures written in it and I thought that you might have tried, or at least know someone who has, to use the Noodlers highlighter ink for this purpose.

In the same vain, is there a regular ink that wouldn't bleed through or ghost so bad it would hinder my ability to read the page?

Hmmm...this one is a bit of a toughie because the paper quality can vary so much from one Bible to the next! As a general rule though, Bible paper is usually very thin! So you'll want to go with the finest nib possible. Inks I've heard have the most success are either Noodler's Black or Heart of Darkness, or an iron gall ink such as Rohrer and Klingner Salix or Scabiosa, or Diamine Registrar's Blue Black (all of these are available through our site). Here's a thread on FPN I found with some thoughts: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/215542-best-ink-and-pen-combo-for-modern-bible-papers/page__p__2260806__hl__bible__fromsearch__1#entry2260806

Here's another thread talking about good Bibles for note taking: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/210877-best-bible-for-note-taking-in-fountain-pen/page__p__2196240__hl__bible__fromsearch__1#entry2196240

Highlighters are tough too, same problem about paper thickness. Generally, the best highlighter ink is Firefly, that's kind of the Noodler's staple highlighter ink. I would probably recommend trying a sample of that, one of the Dragon Cat highlighter colors, and maybe Year of the Golden Pig and test them on your paper to see how they hold up: http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Samples_s/851.htm
I use distilled water to clean my pens as you recommended in your video. Since it takes a bit to use a gallon jug, I'm wondering if I need to be concerned about contamination (though I pour water out and recap immediately). How long is it safe to keep and use? Same concern about ammonia. Is there a shelf-life once opened?
I believe they sometimes put an expiration date, perhaps not though. For the distilled water, you're fine for years. The water isn't threatened by contaminants in the air, the main reason you use distilled water instead of tap water is because of minerals in the water that come from deposits in the soil. Just opening the bottle won't hurt it for the purpose of cleaning pens. As for the shelf life of ammonia, I think 2 years is a pretty safe bet. But really, if you open it up and it still has a really strong odor, you're probably good to keep using it.
In your opinion, which ink comes closest to matching the new apple green Lamy Safari?
Diamine Apple Glory is actually a pretty dead-lock match, both in name and color!
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, June 22, 2012

FP101 - Filling Mechanisms

There are several filling mechanisms used in fountain pens today. Here I show you how to fill each of 4 types, as well as the pros/cons of each one:

  • Cartridge (:28)/Converter (1:20)
  • Eyedropper (2:30)
  • Piston (4:08)
  • Vacuum (5:28)

There are certainly some other filling mechanisms like bulb, lever, crescent, blow, and button fillers, but those are mainly in vintage pens and not my area of expertise. This video should cover about 95% of pens you'll see, especially newer ones.

Check out some Wikipedia filling mechanisms here.

Check out my other FP101 video on pen maintenance here.

See how to convert a pen to an eyedropper here.

See what uses you can have for an ink syringe here.

See how to get the most ink into your pen here.

Learn about the feed saturation filling method for your piston pen here.

See my full review of the TWSBI VAC-700 here, and how to fill it to the max here.

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Photos of common Filling Mechanisms and how they work. Showcasing Kaweco, Lamy, TWSBI, Noodler's, and Pilot.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium Reformulation...?

After my original video on Noodler's Liberty's Elysium (here), there was a little kerfuffle on the Fountain Pen Network over the definition of the term 'bulletproof' and what it means for an ink's waterproofness. In a good faith effort to try to give everyone what they wanted (more waterproofness), I worked with Nathan on a reformulation as we had announced two weeks ago (here).

I don't want to sway your opinion, so I will just give you the facts here and let you decide for yourself if you like the original or the reformulation. If you have 30 seconds to spare, I'd love if you could fill out a quick survey about which version of the ink you like better.

Go here to fill out the quick survey about Liberty's Elysium. 

I will say that Nathan worked on many different formulas including ones using much more expensive components, and this one I show here was the best he could make that was the closest to the original color. Here are some tests I did:

Brian's review of the original Noodler's Liberty's Elysium formula

Brian's review of the reformulated Liberty's Elysium, better water resistance, but at a price. 

Water drip and smear test with both inks.

Ink dried for 1 hour, then submersed for 30 minutes in water. New LE is better,
but still not what everyone was hoping for.

Top shows rubbing with a  q-tip soaked with bleach until the paper began to
wear away (ink still is readable), bottom shows paper soaking in bleach for
10 full minutes. Both inks lost about 70% visibility, but remain readable. 

These tests, especially the ones with the bleach, are pretty aggressive tests that conventional fountain pen inks would not withstand hardly at all. Only the strongest of inks will withstand this type of testing and I'll be the first to admit that other Noodler's inks like Luxury Blue and Polar Blue are more impenetrable, but at what cost. The most permanent Noodler's inks are flat, chalky-looking colors, and LE does not look like that at all.

After all of this reformulation and with extensive talks with Nathan on the phone, I now have a pretty good understanding of the relationship of the blue dyes in this color range. It would seem there's an inverse relationship between the lubrication/color vibrance of Liberty's Elysium and the permanence/waterproofness. The more vibrant the color, the less permanent it is likely to be, and the more permanent you make it, the flatter and more chalky the color appears, like Luxury Blue and Polar Blue.

So the story of the Liberty's Elysium reformulation is one of give and take, and I'd love to know what you think. Take a second to take the poll and voice your opinion about whether we should move forward with the original or new formulation of this ink.

***Update as of 6/28/2012: The results are in, and it's pretty conclusive! See what everyone thinks of the two inks here

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mission: Small Business Grant

Several weeks ago, we began receiving emails from our fans/customers saying that we should apply for the Mission: Small Business Grant. Chase is giving Grants to 12 small businesses across the country who do some cool stuff, and we plan to do cool stuff!

We need 250 votes to be considered for the grant, and after only two days we already reached that goal thanks to all of our supporters! You're still eligible to vote for us through the rest of June though, and we're thinking that maybe if we have a strong show of support then we could get more serious consideration (though they don't say that anywhere in their guidelines for the Grant application or anything).

The competition for these Grants is fierce, but if we did win we would put the money towards hiring additional staff to help with video and photo post-production as well as customer service. These are our two most important aspects of what we do, and even though we have what many would consider to be a strong reputation for our product reviews/education and our service, there's so much more we want to do. We have ideas just pouring out of us, so much so that we're throttled only by our time.

So if you haven't already, go HERE and search for Goulet Pen Company. The site will make you log in to Facebook to vote, which we wish wasn't the only option but it is (sorry, we would have loved a one-click link to take you right there, but we didn't set this part up).

Thanks so much for your help! Write On ;)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday #15

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:

For a budget under $180 I was wondering what you, Rachel, Drew, Alex, Sam, Ben. Randall, and Will think about for a smooth writer.  I am wondering what pens are the smoothest for the budget.
That's a pretty good budget, you have a lot of options there! I have a few favorites, the Pilot Custom 74 with a medium nib is one of my favorite daily writers, and one of the smoothest pens around is a medium nib Lamy 2000! Generally speaking the larger the nib the smoother it feels, but that's not always the case. What nib size do you prefer? http://www.gouletpens.com/Lamy_2000_Fountain_Pens_s/944.htm

Edison pens are also quite smooth and reliable, I'm a fan of those as well. The nibs on all of the Edison pens are the same, it's just the body that's different (with the exception of the Encore, but that is $5 above your budget!). http://www.gouletpens.com/Edison_Fountain_Pens_s/987.htm

All of the Lamy pens with gold nibs are really pretty amazingly smooth...the Lamy 2000 is one I already mentioned, but there are other models like the Studio and Accent that has comes models with steel nibs and some with gold. The gold nibs are pretty awesome. http://www.gouletpens.com/Lamy_Fountain_Pens_s/933.htm

Pilot Vanishing Points are pretty darn smooth as well, and they're incredibly popular. They're just plain interesting pens. http://www.gouletpens.com/Pilot_Vanishing_Point_Fountain_Pens_s/950.htm

These are some of my favorites, most everyone else around the shop uses steel nib Lamy's or pens I've already mentioned here ;)
As I'm working my way through your videos the thought struck me that I should seek the sound advice of a subject matter expert. I was pleasantly surprised and really impressed with the amount of written correspondence that you undertake. So what would be your recommendation for a good quality correspondence paper? And what size? You know, something good enough to send to family and friends and not too expensive so that when I send letters to rant at our representatives I won't feel the pain when they get round filed/shredded/recycled?
I'm happy to help! There are a few paper's I love for correspondence. The size is really a preference thing, and it depends how long your letter plans to be. The two main sizes for correspondence are A5 (5.875" x 8.25") and A4 (8.25" x 11.75"), with corresponding envelopes. For A5 paper, you'll want the 4.5" x 6.375" size, for A4 (larger) paper, you'll want the 4.33" x 8.66".

Rhodia Premium: off-white, smooth, great for fountain pens, and pretty economical. It's just nice stuff! There are no matching envelopes for them though, so you'll need to get one of the other types for that. http://www.gouletpens.com/Rhodia_Premium_Notebooks_s/930.htm

Clairefontaine Triomphe: Very bright write, super super smooth. Awesome paper, and pretty fairly priced too. They do have matching envelopes. http://www.gouletpens.com/Clairefontaine_Triomphe_s/65.htm

G. Lalo Vergé de France: this comes in several different colors and is what's called 'laid' paper, meaning it has raised lines going across the page. It feels amazing in the hand...is not as smooth to write on as the other papers, but is class all the way. It has matching envelopes. http://www.gouletpens.com/G_Lalo_s/67.htm

Original Crown Mill Classic Laid: nearly identical to the G. Lalo paper. http://www.gouletpens.com/Original_Crown_Mill_Classic_Laid_s/1104.htm

Original Crown Mill Pure Cotton: This paper is what it says, pure cotton, and it's more absorbent than any of the other papers. If you like a lot of shading an color variation with your ink stay away from this, but boy does it feel nice. It's good stuff, different than any of the other paper listed here. http://www.gouletpens.com/Original_Crown_Mill_Pure_Cotton_s/1103.htm

That gives you some options!
I travel a lot for work and I write a lot as well. I would like to carry a fountain pen. But I am very concerned about leaks, or a plastic pen getting crunched in my briefcase. could you recommend a sturdy pen that minimizes the likelihood of a leak or breakage?
When it comes to a good travel pen, there are really only a couple I'd stay away from. Platinum Preppies, though great pens, can crack if crushed. You also probably don't want anything too nice or expensive, because if you lose it, that would really stink. As far as leaks, there's nothing that is an absolute guarantee against them, unfortunately. Fountain pens use liquid ink, and they're more prone to leaking than ballpoint or rollerball pens. There is really one main thing that causes a fountain pen to leak (aside from just outright damage), and that's changes in pressure. Two main things cause this that you'll encounter as a traveler: 1) airplanes (changes in cabin pressure) and 2) rapid temperature changes (especially going from a hot car to a cool building). In general though, leaking isn't a problem if you have any wherewithal about the way you're treating your pens. What I would definitely stay away from is any eyedropper-fill pens...that's pretty easy because there are very few eyedropper-only pens, most of them do accept cartridges and converters as well. Stay away from flex pens too, those are a little finicky and you don't want to mess with those on the road!

So, all that said, your options for pens are fairly open, one of my favorites that I can easily recommend is the Sheaffer 100. It's very solid and can take a ton of abuse (it's metal), it writes reliably, and is affordable enough where you won't cry if you lose it (it's $38). Plus it's pretty classy looking. Another rock-solid pen I can recommend is the Lamy Safari (or Lamy Vista, they're identical pens except the Al-Star is aluminum instead of plastic). Both pens are reliable, pretty affordable, and durable.
I just saw your newsletter and you have the Kaweco products on closeouts. Are you not carrying them any longer?
We aren't dropping Kaweco completely, just everything outside of medium nib pens. The Kaweco distributor only brings in medium nibs into the US, and we've been having to special order everything else from Germany with high minimum quantities. It's been nothing short of a logistical nightmare, and it's just not economical for us to continue doing it. That's why we're clearing them out.
Tell me: is Noodler's Black a nib-stainer? My nib is getting a bit stained. It's obviously difficult to clean because any contact with a tissue etc will just draw out more ink. But previous inks seemed like they'd clear away more easily. Noodler's Black leaves the nib rather grubby. I'm not complaining because the ink is great and the purpose of the pen is to write, not to look clean. Just wondering if it's the particular ink and if there's anything I should be doing.
Black isn't necessarily 'staining' your nib, it's doing what's called nib creep. It's very common with a lot of inks, especially with Noodler's Black specifically. If you look at this video at 6:29, I actually use a pen inked with Noodler's Black in my video! http://www.inknouveau.com/2012/05/fp101-terminology-2-fountain-pens-in.html
I'm looking at the Pilot Custom 74 on your site and my Pilot Prera and wondering if they have the same size/shape nib (as in the actual metal piece). It might sound odd, but I like the body of the Prera better than the 74 but am interested in upgrading the nib on the Prera somehow, and swapping it with a 74 seems like it might work. I see on the comparison chart that they two nibs are the same length but I assume that's only protruding from the pen, don't know how they look inside the feed.
Unfortunately, the nibs are different. The measurements of them protruding from the pen is a coincidence, they're entirely different shapes and the feed system is different too. I'm sorry!
The clip on my Lamy CP1 is slightly loose and moves to the right and left. I'm also able to push it down (where the clip meets the cap) and it comes back up, as if a spring is under it. I just wanted to ask if this was normal, seeing as it's new and I don't want to break it (I've only had it for three days and I found out the clip was movable about ten minutes ago).
Yes, the CP1 clip is spring loaded and supposed to move like that, it's not broken or anything! Additionally, if you were to grab a hold of the clip and wiggle it back and forth, it will shift a bit from left to right. Have no fear - it's sturdy! As long as you don't bend it too much, it should hold up well.
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, June 15, 2012

FP101- Pen Cleaning and Maintenance

Proper fountain pen maintenance is a very important, yet often overlooked aspect to getting the most enjoyment from your pens. I set out to create this particular video to help new and experienced fountain pen fans alike to get the most out of their pens, and to give my personal thoughts about pen cleaning to the community. It's long, longer than I originally set out to create. It's all good stuff, though, and it covers a lot.

Here's what I cover in this video:
  • Why you need to clean your pens (0:53)
  • How often you should clean them (2:40)
  • Pigmented/Carbon inks (3:46)
  • Choosing proper inks for use in fountain pens (5:07)
  • Storing unused pens (6:43)
  • Demonstration of how to clean out a pen from start to finish (7:25)

Of course everything I have here is my generalized opinion, you should always refer to the instructions provided by your specific manufacturer when considering the cleaning process for a given pen. That said, the guidelines I lay out in this video will be acceptable and universal for almost all fountain pens, so take the info and use it however you most feel comfortable :) 

I'd love to hear what you think! Post any questions in the comments below. See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Eco-Friendly Bubblewrap

Many of you are aware of the legendary packing that we do at the Goulet Pen Company, and an integral part of that is our bubblewrap. In an effort to be more eco-friendly, we want to consider switching to biodegradeable bubblewrap. The stuff is pretty cool, it looks and feels a lot like plastic, but it biodegrades after only 12-24 months in a landfill. I've already put it through some testing and it's holding up well, I soaked it underwater for about 20 straight hours and there was no change in it at all, and it seems to be just as strong as plastic.

For the next week or so (depending on our shipping volume), we'll be using our new green "Eco Bubs" as we've come to call them around the shop. We want to see how they will hold up in the real world, so if you're ordering from GouletPens.com in the next week or so, you will probably see some eco bubs used for your package. If you do, we'd love to get your feedback on how they held up! We have this online survey (it's really quick) that will help us to get the feelings you have towards our new bubs and our green initiative.

We are also going to be trying out some green (biodegradeable) stretch wrap as well, but we're really torn about this one! Our blue wrap has become so distinctive, that we kind of hate to give it up! So we'd love your thoughts on that too.

***I want to correct one thing I said in the video. I said the green bubbles 'can't be recycled' but what I meant was 'doesn't have to be recycled'...these bubbles CAN actually be recycled, but they will also biodegrade if simply thrown away, so you have options ;) 

If you know you aren't going to be ordering from us but still want to share your opinion on our eco stuff, just post here in the comments as I'd really love to hear what you think!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wed. Review- Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo is one of the more popular Pilot colors, and for good reason. It has an amazing dry time, is very vibrant, and all-around performs very well. It's expensive, but worth it to many fountain pen fans. Whether it is or not for you will depend on what's important to you. Here's my review:

If you've never seen my reviews before and want to learn more about my format, go here.

Here are some colors similar to Yama-Budo:

What do you think about Yama-Budo? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Mailbox Monday #14

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 have a TWSBI 540 EF that I love, also a Lamy Safari EF that to me is ok, and a Monteverde Invincia Stealth (either F or M). I was wondering if you had any recommendations, in regaurds of selection, for someone semi-new to fountain pens. I guess if I had to set a limit, I'd prefer to keep it under $100, but I could flex up to $150.
You have some decent pens already! There are a lot of good ones to choose from still, and a lot of what I can recommend will depend on what you want. Some people like to grow their collections based on what they like, getting one of every color Lamy Safari for example, and inking them up with all different colors. Other people like to build their collection based on diversity, getting pens because they're different than anything they have in their existing collection. Think about what you like, that'll help you right there because it'll tell you if you should be looking for pens similar to what you have, or if you should avoid ones like you have!

If you like what you have and want something like it, an obvious pen to consider is the TWSBI VAC-700 ($85). It writes much like the 540, but has a cool vacuum filling mechanism (which is typical only seen in pens MUCH more expensive) and has an ink capacity up to 2.3ml (the 540 is only 1.5ml). I have a video on it here:http://www.inknouveau.com/2012/05/twsbi-vac-700.html

If you like the Lamy and want to stick with it, there are a lot of other models that you can 'upgrade to'. The Al-Star, Studio, Accent, CP1, PUR....these are all basically going to write the same since they all share the same nib type (as your Safari). Spend a little more in some of these same models with 14k gold nibs, and those nibs are really nice! They're a bit more though, only certain Studios and Accents have those, and they're pushing just past the $150 range. Steel nib Lamys in these other models are in the $50-80 range though.

Sheaffer also has some great writing pens, they're quite wet writing. They're metal pens so they're heavier, but they write really well. The 100 is the least expensive at $38, but it writes just as well as the more expensive 300 and Preludes. This should be enough to wet your palate. :)
What makes Pilot Iroshizuku inks worth the price? I have yet to find a video review of any of the colors I have looked at. Are they water resistant at all?
Haha, you're definitely not the first to ask this ;) It's good ink, for sure. The bottle is also gorgeous and quite functional. However, you're definitely paying a premium (and we have them discounted too, list price is $35 per 50ml bottle!). It's some of the most expensive ink around, and the truth is that its value is in the eye of the beholder. Some will say its overpriced and not worth it, others will say it's the best ink and use it exclusively. My suggestion to you is to get samples of whatever color you're interested in and try it for yourself, you will be the best judge! http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Samples_s/851.htm

As for water resistance, they're okay but any water resistance is an afterthought, it's not the intention of this ink. I will say the dry times on most of the Iroshizuku inks is faster than most other inks, that and their smooth flow is the most attractive feature.
The Platinum converter I ordered is too large for my Platinum pe500. Do these converters come in different sizes or am I missing something? I would have thought that one size would fit all Platinum pens since they also accommodate Platinum cartridges, which I assume are all the same. Basically, the converter is too wide to fit into the nib section. Any ideas?
I'm sorry to say that Platinum only makes one size of converter, and it's the one you have. I'm not aware of any other converters they've made in the past, at least since we started carrying the brand a couple of years ago. (Any insight you readers may have here would be helpful!)
As far as the Vanishing point goes, I am down to trying to pick a color (which is good since I have been reading about the VP for nearly two months), is the red a maroon red, a maraschino cherry red, a dark red... it is hard to tell from a computer screen. It looks like a deep red, but I can't quite tell.
The VP is a great pen, very popular and one of the better 'value' pens in the gold nib arena. The red is more of a dark red, definitely not maraschino cherry. It's closer to maroon.
The Edison Nouveau Satin black is listed in the Clearance page, but the price is the same. Which is it? Obviously, I'm rooting for a sale price! :D
The pen is going to remain at the current price at the request of Brian Gray, but he only has a few of them left and he wanted to discontinue the color. So they are on clearance because once we sell the pens he's already made, there will be no more. Sorry there won't be a drop in price (unless Brian changes his mind), but if you did want to get a Satin Black, your time will be running out before too long. I'm really sorry if this sounds like a high pressure sale and I assure you I don't want it to be that way! We have 8 of them left and I don't anticipate they'll sell right away, just be aware that once they're gone, they're really gone. You're welcome to email me at any time if you're curious to know how many are left, so you won't miss out. I think you have some time though.
I have just ordered few items from you and as I live in India will I have to pay various taxes or is it inclusive in the express mailing option?
I can't guarantee that the customs/duties fees will be included. Sometimes packages go through without incurring fees, other times fees get charged. It varies a lot by country, and seems to vary by the value of the package too. I would contact your local customs office to see what their rules are. I would plan on having to pay fees, and if you don't then it is an added bonus. There's nothing we can do on our end to avoid any fees though, it'll all depend on your locality.
Is there an ink that has some bulletproof characteristics that is not from Noodlers? From what I read, these inks are bad for piston fillers and I have a 50's Pelikan 400nn in the mail coming my way. I need another ink that is resistant to water and can withstand nature really. It doesn't have to be something in the antiforgery area since I don't write checks or do special things for the government.
Well, when it comes to permanent inks, there's no safety guaranteed in a vintage pen like this (noodler's or any other ink). The bottom line is that permanent inks are meant to stain....hopefully stain the paper, permanently, but they are more prone than conventional (washable) inks to stain other things....clothes, fingers, carpets....and pens. If you look at any of the big pen companies' warrantee policies, they'll all pretty much say only to use their company's ink and no other. The problem is, they all sell non-permanent inks. The only companies that sell permanent inks for use in fountain pens are boutique companies like Diamine, Rohrer & Klingner, Noodler's, Private Reserve, and a few others.

Noodler's Black is an ink that I hear the least trouble with, but my advice is if you want to truly avoid staining in your vintage Pelikan, stick to the conventional inks and dedicate a modern pen to the permanent inks.
I'm hoping you can recommend a fountain pen for me. I'm relatively new to the fountain pen universe, but I've fallen in love quickly. I have a Lamy Safari, a TWSBI 540, and an Ahab flex.
I love them all, but my problem is that my hand and wrist start hurting after extended periods of use (more so with the TWSBI than the others). I really need a pen that has a wide grip section but is still a smooth writer that won't completely break the bank (preferably under $100). Do you have any suggestions?
I think this issue here is more about the way you're writing than it is about the specific pen. The TWSBI 540 and Noodler's Ahab in particular are some of the larger pens around, you're actually going to have kind of a hard time finding much bigger, believe it or not! Can you describe to me how your hand hurts? The reason I think it's the way you're writing is because most people (before they switch to fountain pens) are used to having to 'bear down' with poor performing ballpoint pens, using the wrist as the pivot point instead of the elbow. Ideally, you want to sit at a desk where your elbow is about at a 90 degree angle, and your wrist should stay locked in place, and your shoulder and elbow should move and pivot to move the pen, not your wrist. Using the wrist to pivot will cause fatigue particularly for the tendons in the back of your hand. The overall idea when writing with a pen is that your hand should be relaxed, as a fountain pen is fluid and should write well without a lot of pressure (like what's usually required with a ballpoint pen). If your hand is tense when you write, then it's going to hurt no matter what type of pen you use!

So I'm not trying to discourage you at all from exploring other pens, but I would hate to see you spend up to $100 on another pen only to see you have the same hand pain when you write!
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!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Noodler's Liberty's Elysium Update

This past week, some ink fans have expressed their desire for Liberty's Elysium to be more water resistant than it is. The hype started building in this thread on the Fountain Pen Network, and it all came to a head in this thread (now locked). We've spent a lot of time talking with Nathan and deciding the best course of action for how to respond to the public's reaction to the ink, and we think we've come up with a good plan.

The video above covers the full explanation of what's going, but the main point is that Nathan is going to do what he can to improve the ink. We're reclassifying the ink in its current form as 'semi-bulletproof'. Now, we're currently out of it but we do have one more batch of the ink as it exists on the way. By no means is anything 'wrong' with this ink, we just want to make it better. So we will still offer the ink in its current form while we have it, since it's going to be upwards of 3-4 weeks before we can see any reformulation happen. Nathan has to take some rather drastic measures to work with his dye component manufacturers to improve the permanence of this color, but he has given me a vote of confidence that it can be done, without sacrificing the current color, shading, or performance of the ink (with the exception of making it more water resistant, or course).

Once he has a reformulation, he will send me some ink to test, and I will post a video and pictorial comparison of the current and new formulas. As soon as it's ready for production, it will then replace the current formula and it will remain as the formula ongoing.

The main thing to keep in mind here is that we and Nathan are pushing the envelope here, and it's always tough going into uncharted territory. We really appreciate all of the feedback that's been given about the ink, as we're learning from the whole experience. Despite some individuals typing some things (specifically about me) that were tough to read, I have no hard feelings at all and will continue to do what I do. We fountain pen folk are a mighty passionate bunch, and I have to take the good with the bad ;) In this case though, I think we'll be able to take a good ink and make it better, and we will hopefully see Liberty's Elysium become one of the staple inks in the fountain pen world.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Friday, June 1, 2012

Taking a week off

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you know I'm going to be light on the blog this coming week (starting today). Rachel and I have had a really busy last several months (moving the business, having a baby, moving the business again, now moving personally), so we're going to take some time off for the next week or so to get our new house in order and take care of family things. We'll still be accessible by email and working from home, but I won't be blogging as much as usual until we're settled in. I'm pretty sure I'll still be doing Mailbox Monday this coming week, but FP101 today and Wed. Review next week probably aren't happening (FP101 next week is up in the air). Don't worry, I'll be back up to it all again soon, but I have to take care of my family and my home right now :) Thanks for understanding, and write on!! ~Brian Goulet

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