Friday, August 31, 2012

FP101- Flying With Fountain Pens

When flying with a fountain pen, it's really all about the volume of ink and the orientation of the pen. The pressure changing in the cabin affects the pens, especially during takeoff and landing so during those times you'll definitely not want to be using them! There are a few pieces of advice I can give when flying with pens:

  1. If you can, just clean them and keep them empty before flying, it's the only 100% guaranteed way to avoid an ink spill ;)
  2. If you fly with your pens inked up, keep them stored with the nib pointed up. Any air in the ink chamber will remain near the nib this way. The reason ink leaks during flight is because the pressure in the airplane cabin drops as you leave the ground and go up into the air. This means the pressure in your pen is higher than the surrounding environment, and when that happens...it wants to equalize. There's only one place for the air to go, and that's through the nib. And if there's ink between the air in the ink chamber and the nib, then the ink is going out! So if you keep your pens pointed nib up while flying, this keeps the air bubble in the pens at the nib.
  3. Keep your pens as full as you can if you keep them inked. Where you get into trouble is when you have some ink and a lot of air, as the more air there is in the ink chamber, the more likely it is to leak (for the reasons in #2).
  4. The biggest risk of leakage is during takeoff. Planes don't pressurize the cabin until about 6,000ft elevation, so the air pressure is dropping rapidly from the time you leave the ground until you hit 6,000ft (or somewhere close to that, it probably varies by plane). Once you reach about 6.000ft elevation, the cabin maintains pressure at that level and you're good from there on up. Using a pen while descending isn't nearly as big a risk as the air pressure is increasing as you drop, so the ink in your pen is being forces back into the pen.
  5. Ink bottles are fine, air pressure difference will equalize as soon as you open the top, and since the air will always be at the top when you open it, the risk of leakage is very low. You should probably be more worried about physical damage to your glass bottles due to the baggage handlers! Just be sure to pack your bottles well.

So there you go, keep them either full or empty, and keep the nib pointed up and you'll be okay :) And if you want to be really safe, put them in a ziploc bag that way if the worst happens and you do get a leak, it's contained :) Have a good flight!

Check out all of the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Materials used in this video:
Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pilot Con-50 Converter Doohickey

Back in March, I did this blog post where I pointed out the metal doohickey that's now showing up in Pilot and Namiki Con-50 converters. I'm still getting a lot of questions about it though, so I thought it might warrant a video. So here you go!

Long story short, the metal doohickey is there to help keep the ink from hanging up in the back of the converter, which these cartridges are known to do. Since the implementation of these doohickeys earlier this year, I haven't been hearing about any ink flow issues with these converters (though sometimes you can hear a little rattle inside, which is the tradeoff).

New Pilto Con-50 with metal doohickey (top), and old Con-50 sans doohickey (bottom).

This is how all of Pilot's Con-50 converters are coming now, and there isn't a way to easily remove the metal piece. So let's all get real excited for the doohickey because it's going to be a part of our lives moving forward :)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wed. Review- Noodler's Black Konrad Flex Pen

Noodler's has a new Konrad Flex Pen, in solid black. It's a classy alternative to the other swirly and demonstrator versions of this pen. But if you have been following Noodler's pens for a while, then you remember that Noodler's actually made a black Konrad already, in a rollerball and brush pen version. The Konrad flex has some subtle changes from these older pens though, and that's what inspired me to do this post.

Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen, in solid Black 
Noodler's Konrad Flex Pen, in solid black

So what's the big deal about a black Noodler's Konrad pen? We've seen them before, sort of. There are some differences, somewhat notable ones. The first change you can see before opening the pen. Just look at the back finial of the pen, and you'll see that the silver trim ring from the original is now gone.

Noodler's Black Konrads, old (bottom) and new (top).

I kind of liked the trim ring, but I understand why it's gone. This is a consequence of a change to the piston mechanism as a whole, going to a blind cap design, which helps protect you from accidentally squirting ink on yourself when the pen is posted! There is also a change to the piston seal, for the better, going from a hard plastic to a double-o-ring. Here is the old piston mechanism below the new one:

Noodler's Konrad piston mechanisms, old (bottom) and top (new). 

And last but not least, my favorite change, a clear ink window! It was a little bit of a letdown to have such a nice black pen with a kind of yellowy-gross ink window, but I'm happy to say they're clear now : )

Noodler's black Konrad, yellow ink window and no blind cap on bottom (old), clear ink window and blind cap on top (new).

All of the changes you see here were made on all of the Noodler's Konrad Flex pens, there's nothing specific to this black on that's different from any of the other Konrad Flexes. I just wanted to point out the changes between the old and new black Konrads, since I thought they might create a little confusion.

Of course, I can read your mind so I know you're going to ask me about the Konrad rollerball and brush pens, where they went and when they'll be back....well, they're being redesigned and are no longer available, until...well, until they are again. I'd love to be more specific but Nathan Tardif has a lot of balls in the air, and this is one of them. All I know is that at some point in the future, we will see Konrad rollerball and brush pens again.....probably.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday #24

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:

My limited edition VP just arrived with what looks like part of the nib inside the converter (a piece of grey plastic). How do I go about getting the nib replaced?
It's not part of the nib, but a metal piece that Pilot puts in all of their converters (since March 2012) to keep ink from 'hanging' up in the back of the converter. I did a blog post on it a while back here, and believe it or not I just shot a video on it this very afternoon! I still need to edit and upload it so it'll take me a few days before it's viewable.

In any case, that piece in your converter is normal, it's not anything broken or anything like that. I even addressed this piece in the converter in the video review I did of the LE VP, look at 9:45 in and tell me if this is the piece you're seeing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVt97JlEj5k 
I was looking at the Edison Hudson and noticed that in the writing sample which illustrates the text for each size nib, that the 18k gold fine nib seems to lay down a darker , wetter and thicker line than the steel medium; why is that? You must have tried both, is the 18k smoother and wetter? Can you comment?
The Edison nibs are actually all the same for everything except the Encore, so I speak to all of the pen models. You're right that the writing sample is darker and wetter for the 18k nibs than the steel ones, that's exactly how they write. Part of that is because the 18k nibs are softer and flex slightly under pressure...I have a bit of a heavy hand so this tends to put more ink down. But aside from that, the 18k nibs are just flat our wetter writing than the steel nibs, that's just how they are made. They're also remarkably smooth though...the steel nibs are smooth, but the gold ones are super smooth. I don't know particularly why they come this way, it's just how they are.
Recently I bought two J. Herbin glass pens from an online shop in UK. However, when I received the pens, once was performing like a regular glass pen. However the other one is not writing at all. I mean, you can merely write a word if you are luck. Even though it has ink on the nib, it is not writing. I attached a video to demonstrate the situation in a clear way.

I also send a message to J. Herbin but they haven't responded yet. So I am not sure what to do with the pen. Do you think I can use a bit of sand paper to smooth the nib?

J. Herbin's pens have had really bad quality control in recent months, enough so that we dropped them early in the year. Exaclair, the US importer for J. Herbin actually dropped the pens too, so there are no J. Herbin glass pens coming into the US right now until they change manufacturing techniques to have more reliable pens. I would contact the retailer who sold you the pens and either get an exchange or refund, there's nothing you're likely able to do to fix the bad pen.
What is the future of the Sailor Jentle line. Are they limited edition? Has sailor hinted at discontinuing it some time in the future, because particularly for the Epinard I would be heartbroken if that were to happen. I read online somewhere that these are limited edition inks from spring 2010.
There was on series of limited edition Sailor inks (that came out just before we began carrying the brand back in 2010), but the inks we have currently, Epinard, Peche, Ultramarine, Apricot, Grenade, and Sky High have all been available regularly since they were released, and will be available for the foreseeable future as far as I know.
I've been thinking about getting BSB ink to go with a Edison Nouveau Premiere Blue Cobalt. Both are bright brilliant blue shades. I know the deeply staining capability of BSB, so I'm wondering if you've used this ink/pen combination, or if you know of somebody who has. I suspect that the converter will become stained, but I'm hoping that the pen itself will won't be.
I've actually used BSB in my own cobalt Premiere with success. The ink does temporarily stain the converter and the feed, but cleaning with a 10% bleach in water solution cleans that up really well. The ink performed well in the pen and I saw no adverse effects.
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, August 24, 2012

FP101- Sampling Ink Part 2

Sampling inks is one of the most enjoyable things about using fountain pens for me, and I know it is for a lot of other pen fans. If you live a 'sampling lifestyle' like I do, then you're sure to be quite familiar with the ink sample vial, in some form or another. These are great little containers for sharing small volumes of ink, but there are some challenges when filling from these with certain types of pens. This video is a continuation of the first Sampling Ink video, and is intended to address just about every possible scenario you can face when filling from a sample vial.

Topics I cover in the video:
  • Filling from a sample in ideal circumstances (0:39)
  • Tilting the sample (1:12)
  • Filling a Noodler's Konrad/Ahab (2:30)
  • Filling a converter directly in the sample (4:17)
  • Ink syringe filling a converter/cartridge (5:40)
  • Ink syringe filling a piston pen (6:13)
  • Feed saturation method (6:40)
  • Ink Syringe filling an eyedropper pen (7:12)
  • Dumping it in! (7:39)
  • Special treat! Blooper reel (9:00)

These tips should help you to get the most out of your ink sampling experience! If you have any other tips or ideas, I'd love to hear it in the comments.

Check out all of the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

These are the materials I use in this video:

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wed. Review- Lamy Nexx & Nexx M

The Lamy Nexx and Nexx M are the newest pens to come into the US from Lamy. Lamy USA was selling these for that last few months as a sort of test run, to see if it would be worth opening up to retailers to offer for distribution. I guess they sold well enough, because we were offered the opportunity to carry them at GouletPens.com. And at a price under the famous Lamy Safari, it definitely piqued my interest. After spending a little time with them, I have been able to learn some of their strength and weaknesses, and I thought it best to share them with you in this video. Here's what I cover:

  • All colors of the Nexx and Nexx M (0:42)
  • General overview of the Nexx (1:35)
  • Nexx and Nexx M differences (4:05)
  • Nexx vs. Safari (6:18)
  • Installing a cartridge or converter (8:08)
  • Inking it from a bottle (9:20)
  • Writing test (10:53)
  • Cute bonus footage of my son Joseph naming the pen colors (13:30)

Lamy Nexx and Nexx M colors (minus the orange one).

Lamy Nexx, uses the same stainless steel Lamy nibs you know from the Safari, Vista, Al-Star, etc. Rubber grip is a nice touch.

The Lamy Nexx and Nexx M take Lamy cartridges and the Lamy Z24 (or Z26) converters. 

No doubt the design of the Nexx will be more appealing to some than others, but it's hard to deny that Lamy has a reputation for getting attention and making workhorse pens. My favorite feature is the larger diameter rubber grip, it'll be great for newer fountain pen users, and kids especially. We're working on getting it up in the Pen Plaza right now, thanks for being patient!

I'd love to hear what you think!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mailbox Monday #23

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:

As you already may know, ink smudges when highlighted, a notorious case is when I used Noodlers X-Feather. I currently have Heart of Darkness loaded in it, which doesn't smudge as much.... Anyways, I was wondering if you knew of any black inks, that don't smudge or barely smudge, when coming in contact with highlighter ink.
Noodler's permanent inks are cellulose-reactive, which means that they gain their permanence after bonding to the fibers of the paper. Sometimes this takes a little while, days even, to happen fully. X-Feather in particular is an ink that's a little thicker and less absorbent for the exact purpose of not absorbing into the paper (and therefore risking feathering). This is good, except that when the ink is staying on the surface of the page, it's easier to smudge, especially when another ink is smeared across it like when you're highlighting. There are likely other inks that will work better by either absorbing faster into the paper, or by drying quicker on top of the page. Noodler's Black and Noodler's Heart of Darkness are two that come to mind as ones that may work better by absorbing into the page, they're also pretty good about resisting feathering. Platinum Carbon Black and Sailor (Nano) Kiwa-Guro are pigmented inks, and though they require more regular cleaning (every week) than other inks, they are famous among ink wash artists for keeping their line on the page when being washed overtop. I'd recommend trying samples of these inks first to see which works best for your particular paper, since these inks are a little more expensive.
I'm just getting into fountain pens, and I'm interested in your Ink Drop club, it seems like a great way to try out inks without a huge amount of hassle, or ending up with a ton of ink I end up not being too fond of. My question is this: How well would these inks work with dip pens? A dip pen would be a really simple way to try these inks without the hassle of putting them into a pen. So basically, would this be a good method to try out new inks, or would they be too thin to use with a dip pen?
To just get a broad idea, a q-tip swab is the fastest way. But that doesn't always show you how it looks in the pen. You can use a glass pen or a dip pen set to do quick tests of inks, they aren't as hard to clean as fountain pens so you can quickly go from one ink to the next. You can also just dip a fountain pen into the ink to test it, without filling the pen. That'll get you a good idea of it, if you just want to write a few lines. Then, you only have to clean out the nib of the pen instead of the whole inside.

Of course, the absolute most accurate way to tell how an ink is going to flow/etc in a pen is to ink it up just like you would a bottle of ink, but these other methods will work for getting a feel for the color. And funny enough, I was actually planning to make this my topic for Fountain Pen 101 tomorrow, so I'll have a video for you! (and yes, I did a video on it last week)
I know you said with eye dropper style pens to keep them half full to avoid burping, but what are you to do when using sample vials?
Well, 2ml of ink (the minimum in a Goulet sample) will fill a good portion of the Preppy. But if that's all the ink you have, then that's all you can put in it! Burping isn't a foregone conclusion, it's just that if you have the option to fill the pen, it'll reduce the chance of a burp.
I had my eye on Empire Red. I'll try a sample first, but I don't want to get hooked on something I can't get. Do you intend to get Empire Red back in stock? Would you sooner recommend Fox? Those seem to be the only two options for a bulletproof, eternal red. I wonder... is it more difficult than other colors to make a good red ink?
I know that red dyes are far less stable than other colors like black and blue, so making permanent red dyes is amazingly difficult. Fox and Empire Red are the only permanent red inks I know, except for Platinum Pigmented Rose Red, which is a pigmented ink (as opposed to a cellulose-reactive dye-based ink like the Noodler's ones), and is really as much of a pink as it is a red.

We do intend to get more Empire Red, but we're completely dependent on Nathan for our supply. This is an ink that's made especially for us, and it's very challenging and time consuming for him to make. Not only that, but the price of the raw components for this color has gone up, which makes it harder for him to get. We ordered more soon after we ran out in February, and we've been waiting since then. He's only one man making ALL the Noodler's ink, so we're at his mercy! We ask him about it periodically, but since he has such limited time, he often has to trade off making one ink for another.
I'm looking for a permanent blue or blue-black - If Liberty's Elysium won't cut it for record keeping, then I'll need a recommendation for a blue or blue-black. I was mainly considering Upper Ganges and Polar Blue as substitutes. I couldn't find a bunch of info on Upper Ganges, and some on FPN say the Polar Blue bleeds terribly and some people say it doesn't bleed at all. Any recommendation or additional info you have on any of these three inks (or something else) would be helpful.
Liberty's Elysium will do just fine with record keeping. The only thing about this ink is that it'll lose about half of it's color with water or bleach washing, but pretty much no matter what you do to it, you'll be able to read it on the page. Upper Ganges is basically a more permanent (but less vibrant) Liberty's Elysium. So it would certainly do the trick and give you more resistance to UV, bleach, and water, but it will sacrifice a bit of bleeding and feathering in the process. It's a tradeoff with all inks, pretty much. Polar Blue is kind of the same way, and the reason there are such mixed things about it is that the nib size and paper type will make a huge difference in how it performs, moreso than most inks.

The spreadsheet has a list of all the permanent inks, you can also see all of the permanent Noodler's inks here. Other ones you may want to consider besides what was mentioned already are Bad Belted Kingfisher, Bad Blue Heron, and Luxury Blue. Since bleed through and feathering are concerns, you may want to try samples of all these inks and see what works best for your specific nib/paper situation. In terms of longevity, all of these inks will do well, they're basically the most permanent fountain pen inks in the world. What distinguishes them is the degree of fraud resistance they have, which doesn't really seem to matter too much to you in this case. Really, we're comparing best with bester inks :) Any of these will last far longer than you need.
I was wondering if there are there any more of the Black Edison Nouveau Premiere's left, and why did Brian Gray discontinue them?
Unfortunately, they are now gone. We do plan to replace it with a new Premiere color in the next month or two, but there are no more satin blacks left. Brian wanted to discontinue them mainly because the satin finish on this pen is pretty time consuming, and in a production setting, time is everything. When we first came out with this pen over a year and a half ago, it was the only Edison production pen and we were his only retailer. Now, he has 6 different models of production pens with many different retailers, so his time is more limited now than it was then. I'm really sorry!
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!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pilot Vanishing Point 2012 LE- Charcoal Marble

Every year, Pilot comes out with a limited edition Vanishing Point, and this year's one is out! It's Charcoal Marble, a very interesting pattern I've never seen before in a VP.

Pilot Vanishing Point, 2012 LE Charcoal Marble

There are 2012 of them being sold worldwide, 850 of them in the US. The serial number is engraved on the centerband (look below). We have a few of them, and I must say, they look very nice. I don't even know exactly how to describe what they look like, and the pictures hardly do justice. The video shows it a little better.

Pilot VP Charcoal Marble, engraved with an individual serial number

One thing worth pointing out, these pens are only coming with medium nibs, so if you want to keep it for the sake of collecting, you'll need to buy a medium nib to have the nib match the label on the outer box. Because rhodium-plated 18k gold nibs are available on their own, we (and other retailers may, too) offer the pen with an extra-fine, fine, medium, or broad nib. There may be a little confusion about the nib itself, some retailers were advertising it as white gold. This has caused a little bit of confusion as Pilot has been calling their current nibs "rhodium" or "rhodium-plated". I'm definitely no jeweler or metallurgist, but I did a little research about what 'white gold' actually is, and it's essentially an alloy of gold with nickel, manganese, or palladium. Sometimes rhodium is used as a plating overtop of white gold. Now, I don't know about the exact compound of Pilot's nibs (and frankly it doesn't really matter in this context), what's important to point out is that the nibs on these pens are the same as the rhodium nibs Pilot has been offering, they're not anything special or new just with this pen. They are the same 18k gold nibs, with rhodium plating to give is a silver color, and their performance is identical to the 18k yellow gold VP nibs. 

This rhodium-plated nib has been the common nib color for previous LE VP pens, and for the black matte VP that came available last year. It wasn't until around January 2012 that Pilot began offering their rhodium nibs individually (at least in the US), apart from these special pens.

The case for this pen is special as well, matching the design of previous VP LE pens, but with a brown crackled material:

Case for the 2012 Charcoal Marble Pilot Vanishing Point

Case for the 2012 Charcoal Marble Pilot Vanishing Point

Included with the pen is the nib, Con-50 converter (the new and improved one with the metal insert to help maintain proper ink flow), a cartridge, and a metal cartridge cap. The metal cartridge cap is used to cover over the cartridge to keep the click action working properly without putting stress on the plastic cartridge.

Pilot Vanishing Point, broken out with all its parts

We were initially expecting this pen to arrive mid-September, so we were a little surprised ourselves when it showed up to us on August 17th. This pen arrived a little before expected (which is rare!), so we may be catching you a little off-guard. If you've been saving up for this pen, you might not have been ready to spring on it until next month, and I'm sorry that it arrived so much ahead of when we expected. I don't anticipate these will sell out immediately so you do have a bit of time, but as with any limited edition pen, once they're gone, they're gone.

If you're interested in the Charcoal Marble VP, the list price is $240, and you can find it at GouletPens.com (my store) for $192, as well as other retailers around the world at varying prices.

Check out my other VP overview video, as well as my video on how to fill a Vanishing Point.

What do you think of this year's color?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Friday, August 17, 2012

FP101- Sampling Ink Part 1

One of my favorite things about using fountain pens is the ability to try all kinds of different inks. And the best way to do that is with ink samples, which have been an integral part of the Goulet Pen Company from very early on in our business. I'm a serial ink sampler myself, so I wanted to pass along some of the tricks and advice I've learned over the years to make the sampling process as enjoyable and efficient as possible.

In this video, I talk about:
  • Cataloging ink writing samples (1:19)
  • Swab storage, showing the official Goulet swab book (3:02)
  • Q-tip swabbing (4:08)
  • Glass pen testing (5:18)
  • Dip pen testing (6:02)
  • Dipping your fountain pen nib (8:09)
  • Ink sample storage and organization (10:34)
Of course, sampling is really a personal thing and it should be something you enjoy. I just show some of the things I do or have seen others do to get the most out of the experience, and I'd love to hear if you have any advice of your own!

Materials I use in this video:

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Omas Blue Color Change

Some of you were excited a year ago when we announced that we'd be carrying Omas ink, because of the famously beautiful, dark Omas Blue. This ink was pretty much the reason we wanted to carry Omas ink at all. But from the very first batch we received, there were inconsistencies with the color. We opted not to sell the ink until we could figure out what was going on. And now, a year later, we finally have consistent colors coming in (with assurance of ongoing quality).

The fact we're getting in consistent color is good, but it is a different color than the dark Omas Blue that had originally drawn us to it. And that's what this blog post is all about, to let you know the color has changed. Here is the new (left) vs. old (right) Omas Blue:

I haven't inked it up to see if the performance is any different, but I thought at a minimum I could let the world know about the color change.

Here are some ink color comparisons to the "Old" Omas Blue:

And here are the inks that look like the "New" Omas Blue:

What do you think of the change?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wed. Review- Stipula Etruria Alter Ego

The Stipula Etruria Alter Ego is a beautiful celluloid pen with (in this case) a new Titanium T-Flex nib, a very interesting nib coming from Stipula. Thanks to a special order customer who was generous enough to let me play with it, I took the opportunity to compare it to a Namiki Falcon with a soft medium nib, and a Noodler's Konrad flex pen. In the end, it's hard to really compare a $500 pen to a $140 and $20 pen directly, but at least you can see them all in action.

The Etruria Alter Ego is a stunning pen. The celluloid is cast in a solid block and turned individually on a lathe to create this pen. The clip and centerband are solid sterling silver, designed in Florentine style like you see in many of the Stipula pens. Older versions of the Alter Ego have been cartridge/converter, but this newer pen is a piston-filler with Stipula's SCS (Self-Cleaning System), which is unique to any piston mechanism I've seen. It rotates the piston seal inside the pen as it turns down, cleaning the inside walls of the pen as you use it. I only tested it for a few days so I don't know how much of a difference the SCS piston works over time. The craziest part about it is that the end of the pen that is connected to the piston mechanism turns backwards from most other piston pens, it takes some getting used to!

Stipula Etruria Alter Ego

Stipula Etruria Alter Ego, with titanium T-flex nib

The T-flex nib isn't as smooth on the paper as the Falcon, it's definitely not scratchy but it feels more like the nib has some drag on the page. This is really a matter of preference, as I know plenty of people that don't like super-smooth nibs because they feel a loss of control. I think that having a little drag on a nib like this is okay, because you want deliberate, controlled movements on a flexible nib anyway. The degree that this nib flexes rivals any modern flex nib pen, but man does it put down a lot of ink! You'll want to use only the best paper with this pen, and set it aside with plenty of time to dry if you plan to flex it out.

Closeup of the Stipula T-flex nib, available on many different Stipula pens

Stipula Etruria Alter Ego, with its solid sterling silver trim

This is one of the more expensive pens I've ever played around with, and there are some things I really love about it. It's out of my own budget (y'know, the whole two kids in diapers thing) but if you're in the market for a $500ish pen, you like celluloid and sterling silver, and you want to flex around with a titanium nib, then check out the Etruria Alter Ego.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mailbox Monday #22

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:

Just to check -- aren't many of Noodler's inks lightfast?
Not all of the Noodler's inks are lightfast. We have a spreadsheet we put together (with Noodler's stamp of approval) that explains what properties each of the inks we carry have, as well as what each of those properties means, and you can see which are lightfast here.

Even still though, these are just UV resistant, not anything intended to be hung on a wall as artwork for 50 years or anything like that. Dye-based inks are inherently weak to UV light, so you'll need to stick with art materials (like high-grade acrylics) approved by the ASTM for fine art if you're intending to display your work.
Just saw the new Edison Beaumont, which looks nice - I'm currently using a Lamy Safari (both F and EF) as my primary daily writers, and have used the Pen Plaza and Nib Nook tools to do a bit of comparison. Do you think that I would notice much of a difference in writing smoothness with the Edison?
The Edison will almost certainly be smoother....Lamy steel nibs are usually pretty smooth but their quality control (though good for nibs that are only $12.50) is not quite as good as Edison's. Brian Gray inspects every nib for each of his pens, so there is rarely one that isn't smooth. So I guess my answer would be that Lamy nibs can sometimes be as smooth as Edison, but if I had to put my money on one brand, it would be Edison as coming out ahead every time.
For the Platinum Preppy refillable marker, if I wanted to use fountain pen ink with the converter for the pen, would I need to use a syringe to fill the converter?
That's actually a really good question...the Preppy marker will fill with a converter, as it's not actually filling through the nib/tip of the pen, but in the area surrounding the plastic piece that holds it in place. The only drawback to filling a marker with a converter would be that the whole end of the pen would be saturated with ink and be a little bit of a mess to wipe up when filling from a bottle....so filling the converter (or cartridge, for that matter) directly with a syringe would be a 'cleaner' way to fill it. It's really a matter of preference.
I have a Pelikan M1005 Demonstrator on the way, and I would like your advice as to what ink I should order for this pen specifically since it is clear. I want to try to avoid staining the inside of the barrel. This pen will not be a daily writer, maybe a once a week writer. It's primary job will be sitting on my desk looking pretty. I'd like to stay with Edelstein ink, but i defer to you - ink color does not matter. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! My current bottled ink is as follows: Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire, Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine, Mont Blanc Blue (regular long bottle), Parker Quink Black. I'd like another color just for the 1005, that won't stain (or minimize).
Well, if you ask Pelikan (or any large pen company) they'll tell you only to use their inks in their pens, so if you want to be super-safe about it, then stick with any Edelstein or Pelikan 4001 inks. If you want to branch out from there, you can go with any inks made by pen companies, so Lamy, Waterman, Parker, Omas, Montegrappa, Mont-Blanc, etc. They all tend to make inks that are on the 'safe' side, in terms of their properties. Not to say you couldn't use just about any fountain pen ink in your pen with success, you likely can. The only thing I might suggest if you want to avoid any potential complications, is to stay away from permanent inks, so that means no waterproof, iron gall, or pigmented inks. But if you're happy with your Pelikan inks, then use them and you'll be good :)
Hi Brian I got a Parker sonnet fountain pen a couple of months back and I wrote with it for a little. then I stopped writing with it for a couple of weeks. The ink dried up inside the pen, so I refilled it, but now it doesn't write :( please help
If the ink dried up, then the pen needs to be cleaned out. I have a video on pen maintenance that should help you out. Once it's clean, you should be able to refill it with ink and be on your way :)

Hey Brian! This is my first time emailing you. I wanted your expert opinion on carrying fountain pens in pants pockets because I feel like I've been getting a lot of varying opinions on the subject. I currently carry my Pilot Vanishing point in my front pocket, nib up, and in your Aston single pen pouch case. I feel pretty safe with this and can't imagine how anything would happen but I'm also worried as well. People have told me they have broken pens by doing this and had leaks. One of my main concerns is that I'm using noodlers ink which I hear has a tendency to nib creep (and it has on all of my pens) and maybe get some dried ink caked on the trap door and somehow have it be open to leak on my pants.

This is my first real fountain pen so I'm not sure. But I've been carrying gel pens in the same manner for years and never had an issue once. And those pens are just made of plastic. One important thing of note is that I only carry the pen in the pocket with a pocket notebook. If I'm wearing cargo pants I sometimes toss it in the cargo pocket. Not sure if this is okay. Thanks for your help and time!

I'm happy to help! I don't know if I'm an expert on carrying pens in pants pockets, but I'll give you my best advice :) You're carrying it in a case (I use a lot of these Aston slips myself!) and that's definitely the right thing to do. The biggest 'danger' to pens in pockets is other stuff in the pockets, like keys and change that can scratch and damage a pen. You're okay in the case though. You never had a problem with a gel pen in your pocket and that's good to hear, but fountain pens are a little different than them. Gel ink is thicker and isn't as prone to temperature/pressure changes as the much more liquid fountain pen ink. There are pretty much two causes of leaks in pens when in your pocket:

1) movement, the pen gets jostled and thrown around, especially in a cargo pocket like you mentioned because basically ever step you take flings the pen back and forth, which can force some of the ink out. It's going to vary with the specific pen and ink combo how much this will happen (if at all), but just know the risk is there. I think with a VP in an Aston slip pointing nib up in your pocket your risk is pretty low, it tends to be more of a problem with eyedropper-converted pens that have large volumes of ink (2ml or more).

2) heat/pressure. I think the Aston case helps fight this, but the concept is that a pen with liquid ink in it touching right up against your warm leg (or chest, if it's in your shirt pocket) heats up, and if there's any air inside the ink chamber, then this air *can* heat up and increase the pressure inside the pen...and there's only one way to relieve that pressure, through the nib. If the nib is pointing up it's not a problem because the air inside the pen is already up at the nib, but if the pen is in any other position where the air bubble would be blocked by ink, well then that ink is going out the nib! This is sort of the same thing that happens on airplanes, it's all about pressure differential. I wouldn't be quite as worried about this with your situation, but I suppose the potential is there if you're sitting down and the pen is in a more horizontal position.

I don't hear about widespread leaking problems with people carrying their pens in their pockets, so I think your risk is pretty low, but when you're dealing with liquid ink the potential for a leak is something you shouldn't rule out as a possibility in certain situations. I personally haven't had a problem carrying pens in my pocket (even with Noodler's ink), but I suppose the potential is there if just the right circumstance occurs with the pen/ink/temperature/movement situation occurs.
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!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Heading to DC today

It's that time again, for the Fountain Pen Supershow in Washington, D.C. It's the only pen show that Rachel and I get the chance to attend since our two young kids keep us close to home! In fact, we wouldn't even be able to make it to DC (about 2 hours away from us) except that her parents live nearby and we can get some help watching our little ones :) We aren't doing a booth or table, and really don't have any special plans except to head to the show today around noon for the FPN meet up (if we can time Ellie's feedings!) and stay through most of the afternoon.

We'll just be walking around as guests, so if you see us, stop and say hi! We're looking forward to hanging out a little bit with Brian and Andrea Gray of Edison Pens, Eric Schneider of FPGeeks, Stephen Brown of sbrebrown on YouTube, and Tyler Thompson of Organics Studio inks. I'll be bringing my camera and snapping some pics, and we'll tweet what's going on, too. It's always a fun show, and we're looking forward to going for the fourth time.

Friday, August 10, 2012

FP101- Fast Pen Flushing

Over two years ago, I did this handy video on flushing your cartridge/converter fountain pen with a bulb syringe, which is easily the single best trick to improve your fountain pen cleaning experience. I wanted to update the video to include it in the Fountain Pen 101 series, as well as include a bonus trick for flushing pens like the Namiki Falcon and Sheaffer 100 that don't flush well with a bulb syringe.

In the video, I cover:

  • Flushing a pen with a bulb syringe (0:34)
  • Adapting an ink syringe with an ink cartridge (4:45)

Materials I use in the video:

This is a handy trick that's much easier than flushing out a pen with a converter, enjoy! I'd love to hear what you think in the comments :)

See the other Fountain Pen 101 videos here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Introducing: Edison Beaumont

The Edison Pen Company has come out with a new production line pen, the Beaumont. Brian Gray has been interested in developing smaller Edison pens lately, starting first with the Mina (custom only), the Pearlette (custom only), and then with our collaborative Edison Nouveau Encore and now these Beaumonts.

In the video, I cover:

  • Beaumont unboxing (0:38)
  • Showing all 3 colors (0:55)
  • Comparison between the Beaumont and Encore (2:35)
  • Removing/swapping the nib units (7:20)
  • How it fills/cartridge/converter (8:10)
  • Comparing the Beaumont to the Collier (9:50)
  • Comparing the Beaumont to the Hudson (10:25)
  • Comparing the Beaumont to the Herald (11:22)
  • Comparing the Beaumont to the Premiere (12:00)
  • Close-up of the 3 Beaumont materials (12:47)
  • Writing with the Beaumont (14:15)

Because of the threads inside the black blind cap on the end of the body, Edison actually recommends not converting the Beaumont to an eyedropper. If you would like to do it, it can be done, but you need to seal the blind cap, which I didn't realize when I shot this video.

You can view the Beaumont in comparison to every other pen at GPC in the Pen Plaza. It looks very similar in shape and size to the Encore, that's hard to ignore. Let's see the dimensions of the two side-by-side:

Comparison of the Edison Beaumont and Encore dimensions, pulled from GouletPens.com

The biggest difference between the two besides the slight dimension difference and the medallion on top of the Encore is that the Beaumont uses the larger Edison #6 nib that all of the other (non-Encore) production Edisons use. Here's a writing sample of the nibs available for the Beaumont:

Edison #6 nib size options, available in the Beaumont.

Edison Beaumont fountain pens, as they grow in nature.

Classy black accents on the Edison Beaumonts, I'm a fan. Left to right: Sapphire Flake, Bedrock Flake, and Black Onyx Flake.

Edison Beaumont materials, flakes everywhere!

The Beaumont is a welcome addition to the Edison line. It's available at all of the Edison retailers, including GouletPens.com. What do you think of this new pen?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

August Ink Drop Reveal & Contest

First things first! The $25 GouletPens.com gift certificate first-prize winner of the July "Summer Olympics" Ink Drop contest was Sauni-Rae Dain with the amazing depiction of words formed into the Olympic rings (shown below). What amazing work!

The $10 gift certificate runners-up were Gerald Taylor with his humorous letter, and Ana Reinhart with her names and swabs. Thank you to all three of you for your submissions!

Now on to August....

August's Ink Drop theme is Get in the Shade. Each color tends to demonstrate high shading, at least in the right pen and the right paper. ;) After nearly two years of doing Ink Drop, it's getting harder and harder to find colors that we haven't previously used, as some of our favorite shaders were already used in past months. But we think we found some good ones here! The colors chosen were:

Now on to this month's contest! All you have to do is to submit an entry that uses all five Ink Drop colors and is related to that month's theme.

Contest Entry Guidelines/Rules:
  1. You can submit any kind of writing or artwork. It can be an ink review, a poem, a watercolor wash, a sketch, swabs, words, or even get all scientific with chromatography... it just has to be ink on paper.
  2. You must use all five Ink Drop colors.
  3. It would be awesome if it relates to the theme, but not required.
  4. Entry can be submitted electronically (email rachel@gouletpens.com) or via snail mail (The Goulet Pen Company, 10201 Maple Leaf Court, Ashland, VA 23005). Any physical submissions will become our property to hang up on our letter wall. :)
  5. Entry must be received by August 31, 2012 at 11:59pm EST.
  6. You can submit as many entries as you like, but you will only be eligible for one prize.
  7. Please include your name and email when submitting your entry so that we can contact you if you're a winner!
  8. The voting period will be open on September 1, 2012 and close on September 6, 2012 at 11:59pm EST. It will be announced through Ink Nouveau with a link to the image gallery and a link to vote. You may vote once - just vote for your favorite entry!
  9. The entry receiving with the most votes will win a $25 GouletPens.com gift certificate. The second- and third-place entries will each receive a $10 gift certificate. We'll announce the winners on September 7 on Ink Nouveau.
Email us if you have any questions, and let us know what you thought of this month's colors in the comments below!

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