Friday, September 28, 2012

Pilot Metal Falcon 14k Soft Extra-Fine

We just recently started carrying the Pilot Metal Falcons at GouletPens.com, and I was really excited to show you what they're about. Specifically, the 14k soft extra-fine nib, because it's a unique nib that's not available in the resin Namiki Falcon. The whole pen is slightly longer than the Namiki Falcon, which is just enough to allow it to use the Pilot Con-70 converter, which has significantly better ink capacity than the Con-50 that comes in the resin version. It's much heavier, obviously, but very comfortable and well-balanced in use. All of the trim on this pen is plated in rhodium, which I really think looks nice. The design of the nib and its flexibility is the same as you'd expect with the Namiki Falcon, but this particular nib size is only available in the metal version, which is why I wanted to show it off!

Pilot Metal Falcon, burgundy with rhodium trim

Pilot Metal Falcon, burgundy with rhodium trim, comes with a Con-70 converter

I'm not a magician with a flex pen, but I can at least show you enough to get the general idea ;) I decided to let the pen do the talking, this is my first 'silent' video! Let me know what you think.

***I also made this video showcasing all of the Pilot Metal Falcon soft nibs, enjoy!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Changing Noodler's Army Green…?

Every now and then, I get a fun surprise that an ink has changed formulas. It's happened before with numerous brands, and it seems that it's more often the case that it catches me by surprise because the manufacturer doesn't tell anyone about it. Here's the latest one, Noodler's Army Green.

Nathan Tardif, the ink's creator, had been getting feedback from some that Army Green, an olive green, wasn't 'green enough'. So he decided to change it recently, I'm not exactly sure when at this point but I would say around early August 2012. It's changed to more of an emerald green, with just the slightest hint of yellow to it:

Noodler's Army Green, original (left) and reformulated (right)

So basically, the less olive version is how Army Green is going to be in the future, unless there is overwhelming feedback to change it back. I personally love the old color, and I am not happy to see the change. The new color is too similar to a LOT of other greens in the ink world, but the old Army Green was a pretty stand-alone color, with only a couple of inks from any brand that even came close.

Let me know what you think in the comments, and Nathan will either keep the new ink as it is, or change it back if that's what most folks want. Either way, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mailbox Monday #27

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'm rather new to fountain pens, and currently have a Parker and a Cross, both with medium nibs. However my handwriting is a bit small / tight at times, which makes me think I would be better off with a fine nib. But I would also like to get a nib suitable for fancier italic handwriting. Would it be fair to say that the 1.1 mm nib is equiv. to a fine in one direction, and a medium / bold in the other direction? Also, how difficult is it to change the nibs on the Monteverde pens, and is their any issues with adjustments afterwards?
I just wanted to add my two cents about the italic nibs, sorry I've taken so long to respond! I would say the cross-stroke is about like a fine nib, but the down stroke is much wider than a medium or broad. That's where the italic number gets its designation....1.1mm means it's 1.1mm wide, so that's how wide the downstroke will be. Most broad nibs only go to about .8mm, so it'll be a noticeable difference. You can compare writing samples of the nibs in the Nib Nook and see for yourself.

I actually just posted a video on changing out a Monteverde nib!
For a short time you offered the Pelikan 200, 205, and I believe the 215. Why did you discontinue these Pelikan Pens? Can different nibs be placed on them? Can you get the nibs? Will you be offering these pens in the future?
We did use to offer the whole m2xx Pelikan series, but they pens are somewhat ubiquitous and they weren't flying off our shelves. They were a bit pricey for what you got, and when Pelikan announced they'd be undergoing a pretty hefty price increase (that's been in effect since mid-July), we saw that the sentiment that most users had towards the m200's went down the toilet. An m200 now has a list price of $145....that's nearly 3 times the price of a TWSBI 540 and 10 times the price of a Noodler's Nib Creaper. It's worth it to some folks, but we knew we wouldn't be able to sell enough at that new price to justify our keeping them on hand. We can still order them though, along with separate nib units. Steel nibs start at $32 (I think), gold nibs are significantly more. We aren't planning to carry them regularly again in the near future, but the possibility is always there if demand is there for them. You're the first to ask me about them since July though, so it's not looking likely.
One of my pens' acting up, so I hit the web to find a loupe. My first stop, gouletpens.com, doesn't carry any! Are loupes something you guys might carry in the near future? This BelOMO loupe seems quite popular on fountainpennetwork.com...
I know, I know! I need to carry them, and I'm currently looking for them. There are a lot of really crappy loupes out there, I'm not even all that crazy about the Belomo ones, but they're the most popular ones you'll see on FPN because that's what Richard Binder sells. They're decent loupes, but the one that I actually like a lot better is one that Brian Gray of Edison Pens recommended to me, and I love it. It's larger and easier to see than the Belomos, plus it has a built it light which helps a ton. I haven't been able to find a wholesale source for these yet, so that's why I don't carry them. Unfortunately, no fountain pen supplier sells this kind of stuff, so I have to just go out into the world to try to find them, which is a pretty tough thing to do. I'm working on it though, I promise!
I’ve been experimenting with the inks on art materials. I wondered if you ever get enquiries from artists – re permanence and applications. If I can do anything for you in return, I’m happy to explain how far I’ve pushed the two inks I have – with surprising results – and how to make them permanent with acrylic paints and polymers. The BS in ARoses has stunning staining power.
I do have a fair number of artists who use fountain pen inks in their artwork, and I'm always interested to learn more. One that I correspond with on a regular basis is Jamie Grossman of Hudson Valley Sketches she's done a lot with ink washing and UV-resistance testing.
Brian: Saw Tardiff's videos on youtube and it seems the 3 Konrads I have can use a variety of nibs from other manufacurers. Will the Konrads take the inexpensive Knox nibs? Any others you know are compatible? Any special steps needed like heating, etc.? Would like to try a conventional nib an experiment. Any tips (no pun intended) would be appreciated. Thanks!
The nids on the Konrad are #6 size nibs. Theoretically, they should fit the Knox nibs, Edisons, Monteverdes, and other nibs of similar size. The only complication might be the feed, as feeds designed for flex pens are slightly bending up towards the tip, and feeds for conventional nibs are slightly bending down. You may have to do a little experimentation, I would almost assume the feed would need to be heat set. Obviously anytime you're mixing and matching brands you're taking a risk that it won't work right, but it might be worth trying out.
I just had a question for you regarding CF paper. I have a couple of Waterman pens that skip horrendously on CF paper, but perfect on almost all other paper types. I have other pens (lamy, bexley) that do write without issue on CF paper however, so I believe this is an isolated Waterman problem.

So my question to you is: do people report a lot of problems writing on CF paper? and have you experienced this? My Watermans write soooo smooth I think it is likely the shape of the tip leading to this, but just want to see what you thought about multiple pen brands on CF paper since this is more your forte than mine!

It's not unusual for some pens to want to skip a little more on really slick and ink resistant paper like Clairefontaine. I'm a little surprised to hear that your Waterman pen is such a drastic difference than your other pens, and that the Clairefontaine seems to be such a difference than other papers with that specific brand. I suspect that it has a lot to do with the way the nibs are ground. There's a symptom called 'baby's bottom':

Baby's Bottom - When the tip of a nib is too rounded where the two tines meet, not allowing proper capillary action for the ink to draw down to the paper. Though very smooth writing, nibs with this symptom will typically have skipping problems.

I suspect that you probably have a very moderate case of baby's bottom going on, so that when you're using it on more absorbent/fibrous papers the ink is being drawn through more easily, but the slicker and less absorbent Clairefontaine just happens to cross the threshold where the baby's bottom starts to impede the ink flow. You can try using wetter flowing inks, keep these pens on the papers that work well with them, or have the nibs tuned/ground by a nibmiester to fix the baby's bottom.
Is there some spunky reply for people who ask “How many pens do you need?” 
When someone asks me how many pens does one person need, I say, "I'll let you know when I hit the number" ;) 
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, September 21, 2012

Swapping Out Monteverde Nibs

One of the coolest things about most of the Monteverde pens is that you can swap nibs between them, and purchase nibs apart from the pens. Swapping nibs allows retailers (like me) to be able to offer pens like the Rose Gold Invincia, which would normally only come with a steel-color nib, to come with a black nib instead. This is especially cool since Monteverde has the only black 1.1mm stub that I know! The fact you can purchase nibs separately means you can just buy one pen, and get extra nibs of different sizes, to change up your writing experience without having to invest $80 or so on a whole new pen.

Lamy (all except the 2000), Edison, Pilot Vanishing Point, and TWSBI 540 fans have been enjoying this feature for a while. Originally, Monteverde didn't offer their nibs separately, but shortly after we began carrying the brand and we convinced them of the benefit of doing this, they started offering separate nibs to us. Other retailers may do this as well, but it's not something widely advertised so you may not see Monteverde nibs sold separately at most retailers.

There are several pens that fit the #6 Monteverde nibs, essentially everything except the Artista Crystal. I'm aware of a successful swab between the Invincia, Invincia Deluxe, Invincia Color Fusion, Invincia Stylus, Napa, and Regatta. There may be others as well, these are just the ones that I've handled myself and can say with certainly that they will swap.

These nibs are a little different than other nibs that swap, though, which is precisely why I wanted to make this video. It's not an extremely complicated procedure to swap the nibs, it just takes a few pointers to make sure it's done right. Once you get it down, you'll be a pro in no time. The main thing is that the nibs are only sold with the nib themselves (like Lamy), as opposed to a nib/feed unit in a house (like Edison/TWSBI). See my video on swapping Lamy nibs here, my video on swapping Edison nibs here, and my video on swapping TWSBI nibs here.

Monteverde Nib, sold simply as the nib

Edison nibs, sold as a nib/feed housing 

The fact these nibs are sold apart from their housing isn't the end of the world, it just means you need to pull the nib out of the pen, and learn to set the new nib into the house to align it with the feed. It's quite straightforward, especially in the video towards the end. If anything is unclear or you have any other questions, just post down in the comments and I'm happy to help you out :)

Pens I use in this video:

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wed. Review- Rhodia Rhodiarama Webnotebooks

Rhodia has come out with a new line of Webnotebooks called Rhodiarama! It's the same great 90g off-white Webbie paper you enjoy in the previous Webbie versions, but now with 15 different fun colors. They are coming in lined and blank versions, only in the 3.5"x5.5" (small) Webbie size, and they all have orange elastic straps and ribbon markers.

Here are the 15 different colors: Anise Green, Beige, Black, Chocolate, Daffodil Yellow, Iris, Lilac, Orange, Poppy, Purple, Raspberry, Sapphire Blue, Tangerine, Taupe, and Turquoise Blue.

Anise Green Rhodiarama
Beige Rhodiarama
Black Rhodiarama
Chocolate Rhodiarama
Daffodil Yellow Rhodiarama
Iris Rhodiarama
Lilac Rhodiarama
Orange Rhodiarama
Poppy Rhodiarama
Purple Rhodiarama
Raspberry Rhodiarama
Sapphire Blue Rhodiarama
Tangerine Rhodiarama
Taupe Rhodiarama
Turquoise Blue Rhodiarama

Another fun design element is the rainbow stripey zebra on the inside covers of these notebooks! I don't know why they're there, but it's fun. It reminds me of Fruit Stripe gum :) You can also see it has the same inner back pocket that the other Webbies have. 

Rainbow zebra!

Sorry I didn't include a writing sample on the paper, the quantities I have are limited and I didn't want to take one up just for me to use. They're the same 90g off-white paper used in all of the other Webbies. The only thing that kind of stinks about these is that they're currently only offered to US retailers in a case-pack of all 15 colors, so when I go to reorder, I can't get just one or two colors. This means that as some colors sell, others won't, and we'll either have to stock WAY up on the colors that don't sell as much, or just be out of the most popular colors for periods at a time (this is the more likely scenario). Sorry, but it's hard to keep popular colors in stock when they're only sold as part of a set :P

The Rhodiaramas are a little bit of a premium, $18.50 each instead of the regular $16 for the non-Rhodiarama Webbies. I will say though, the colors are all really nice, I think Rhodia has done an awesome job with these! What you do think? Let me know in the comments below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mailbox Monday #26

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:

This week I plan to order a Lamy nib or two and some stationery. But could you first give me some advice?

The nib(s) will be for a Safari, now fitted with a M nib. But, further into the future, I may be interested in a Lamy 2K. I know the 2K nibs are nothing like the Safari nibs, being gold rather than steel, to take just one point of difference. But have you found any correspondence in width between the 2K and the Safari nibs. Does a 2K F write at about the same width as a Safari F? A 2K XF the same width as a Safari XF? If yes, then I'd know which Safari nib(s) to order to get an idea of the nib I might eventually order for a 2K. Your Nib Nook tool is wonderful, but it doesn't quite resolve these questions for me.

Also, I might try a calligraphy nib for the first time. Are the Lamy calligraphy nibs essentially stubs? Do the widths--1.1., 1.5, 1.9--correspond in any way with EF, F, M, etc.?

The Lamy 2000 is going to write just a little bit broader/wetter than the Lamy steel nibs. The 2000 is an entirely different nib design and I don't know if they intend it to match exactly to their steel nib sizes, you'd imagine that they would. I think that the nib itself is about the same size, but because it's a different nib/feed the flow is a little different, and it writes a little wetter/broader than the steel nibs do. It's not as drastic as the 14k nibs that fit the more expensive Studios and Accents (the gold nibs that are shaped like the steel nibs), but there is a difference. If you like the Lamy fine steel nib, then I'd recommend considering the Lamy 2000 extra-fine. I think part of the reason it writes a little wetter is that the gold nib is softer than steel and allows for some flexibility when put under pressure, so when an individual (like me) writes with somewhat of a heavy hand, then the Lamy 2000 writes wetter, where the steel nib would normally maintain its rigidity.

And for the Lamy calligraphy nibs, yeah, they're stubs. I actually don't know of a single pen company that ships 'true' (crisp) italic nibs with their pens, that's something you have to have done custom. The italic nib sizes don't really correspond at all to the other steel nibs. The 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9 designations are the measurement of the width of the nib's tip, so the higher the number, the wider it goes. I want to say the broad nib is somewhere around .9mm wide.
Do you have any thoughts on choosing between a Namiki Falcon and a Platinum “Maki-e?” I have a Sailor 1911 Mid-size, which I love, and am considering getting a second Japanese pen. I’ve read that these two write similarly – is that your experience? Any pros, cons, personal preference? The Platinum is certainly a prettier pen, but I think I’d like to get the pen I’ll have the most fun writing with.
Hmm....tough choice! Both pens have flexible nibs, though I'd say the Falcon probably flexes a little further than the Platinum Maki-e, mainly because of the nib design. I personally enjoy both pens (I have one of each in my collection), and I find that they both write well. Both pens are light and pretty thin. I would say that if I HAD to choose one, it would be the Platinum. Both pens write comparably, but the Platinum pens are just so much more attractive to me, especially the Kanazawa Leaf ones!
I have to confess, I have a terrible handwriting that I’m trying to correct it with italic so I was wondering if an italic nib would improve my handwriting "further" since I tend to write with an heavy hand, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to have some "thins" in my HW. 

To give some information, I like bigger and heavier pen, I tested recently the Waterman Expert and I found it pretty good, but a little "light" for me, interestingly, I also tested a Montblanc Meistertuck and found it ... below the waterman which is odd (tbh I was utterly disappointed since I heard nothing but good press on it).

I did a little research and it seem there is basically three brand that carry italics pen (contradict me if I’m wrong), Lamy, TWSBI and Monteverde. I don’t really like the design of Lamy, so it boils down to the TWSBI 540 clear (if I’m correct the other colors don’t have the italic nibs, right ?) and the Monteverde Invicia Color Fusion.

What do you think could be a good pen ? Do you have any other pen beside italic one I should check ? (I prefer "classic" or "retro" design, I’m not very modern for that kind of thing ...)

I'm glad you like my videos! Personally, I LOVE italic nibs, for the exact reason that you're looking to use them. My handwriting isn't awesome, I mean it's okay but nothing to brag about. So when I want to make my writing look a little fancier/cleaner, I immediately pick up an italic nib pen and it looks better, without me really having to change much of anything! I personally have every italic nib we carry in my own pen collection, and I use them often. The 3 you mentioned are all good, the Lamy is the cheapest and sometimes not always a smooth as the others, but it's good for just trying out an italic nib and for having something to carry around that's not a big deal to damage/lose. The TWSBI 1.1mm italic is a great pen, I highly recommend it. We don't always have them in stock, partly because the supply of the tends to be kind of limited, and also partly because people like them and keep buying them up : ) The TWSBI italic nib is smooth, and even a little soft/springy so it writes with a good bounce to it if you have a heavy hand like me. The Monteverde stubs (another term for italic, basically) are also great, I am a big fan of them. They're smooth, flow well, and are pretty stiff so they're a little bit different than the TWSBI. The pens are hefty, large in diameter and a bit on the heavy side. I like that about them, actually.

There are a couple of other pens to point out that you didn't mention:

Pelikan Script: This pen is pretty cheap and I HATE The design of the body with the stupid pointy end, but it's actually a pretty nice writing pen for what you pay. I'd definitely consider one of these since they're so cheap.

Pilot Parallel: This is a pretty bizarre looking pen that I also think looks pretty ridiculous, but like the Pelikan Script, writes amazingly well for the money. The neatest thing about the Parallel (besides the ink mixing trick you can do with it), is the nib sizes...if you want to do any kind of calligraphy, you can get up to a 6.0mm wide nib! Crazy!

Platinum Music Pen: This pen is just awesome....it's pretty light and a little small for my hands, but I put up with it because it is the smoothest italic nib I've ever used. It's the most expensive of any of these pens here, but worth it if you like this type of pen. I wouldn't jump to this pen first, but maybe put it on your radar if you find that you really like writing with italic nibs. This pen has a very classic design.
Hello Brian! I am a grade 11 student who is just starting in the fountain pen world and was wondering, is there a good notebook or something of the sort that could fit in a binder? I would really love to use my pen at school and don't feel like using super cheap garbage paper to write on. :)
I think it's awesome you care about your paper! I will admit, the selection for good notebooks for students is pretty limited, fountain pens aren't exactly booming in popularity in schools today! At least not in the US, in Europe they're more common, but they use different size notebooks than we do. Clairefontaine does make one notebook though that I think would fit the bill for you, right here. It's side-wirebound, 3-hole punched, has perforated pages, and is American sized. Black n' Red is another brand that I've heard has good paper (I don't carry those), I know they make a wire bound version but I'm not sure if it's 3-hole punched or not...
I enjoy your videos very much. I'm one of the 10% of ppl who are left-handed. I like the idea of writing with a fountain pen, but is it practical for people like myself who drag the side of their hand over what they just wrote? Have you come across this problem before, and if so, what would you recommend?
Smearing is definitely a problem for lefty fountain pen users, and is something to work around. There are two ways to go about it: 1) find the right pen/ink/paper combination to minimize the risk of smearing, focusing on fast drying, or 2) adjust your hand/paper position so you don't rub your hand over your writing. Neither method is particularly easy, and which you prefer will depend a lot on your own writing style and how comfortable you are writing in different positions. If you just absolutely can't write without smearing your hand over your writing, then you'll be on the hunt for the fastest drying ink/pen/paper combo out there, and it can be a bit limiting in terms of what nib sizes and ink colors you can enjoy.

I've actually been considering putting together a Fountain Pen 101 video on left-handed fountain pen tips, I've been emailing with some folks who are left-handed to get a good idea what's going on. I have some key points already: putting less ink on the page is good, try for faster drying inks, smaller nib sizes are better, more absorbent paper is better, holding position is critical (and may need some serious practice to adjust to prevent smearing). The point of this video for me will be to give some basic guidance to beginner lefty pen users, just so they can be aware of what key things they need to figure out with their writing style.
What is your favorite fountain pen and why?
My favorite fountain pen? I have to choose one? ;) I have a LOT of pens that I really like, and all for different reasons, but to me it's really about how they write. And I've used and been around enough pens to know that one pen can write very differently for one person than another, there are a lot of variables. So when I say what MY favorite is, it doesn't mean its the best pen, but just the one that I find myself pickup up time and time again, ahead of all the others. And that would be my blue Pilot Custom 74 with a medium nib. I love blue, the overall design of the pen isn't my absolute favorite but I do find it attractive, and I do like the ink capacity of the pen. But the way it writes, something about it just clicks with me. It's smooth, flows well, and the size and length of the pen is just perfectly suited for my large hand with lanky fingers.
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, September 13, 2012

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean, Rhodiarama Webbies, Rhodia Webnotepads!

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean, Rhodiarama Webbies, Rhodia Webnotepads! They've all arrived at GouletPens.com! These are all new, and much anticipated. I did a full review of Bleu Ocean yesterday, and I intend to do something to show the new Rhodia stuff (but it literally just arrived minutes ago). We released everything at 1pm EDT (East Coast US time), and Bleu Ocean sold out in 24 minutes. I'm really sorry for anyone who wanted it but didn't get it, we still have samples though :)

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean, 50ml bottle for $22, (2ml samples are $1.75):

Rhodiarama Webnotebooks, 3.5" x 5.5", in 90g off-white blank or lined paper paper, in 15 different colors, $18.50 each:

Rhodia Webnotepads, two sizes, with 90g off-white (microperforated) 5mm dot grid paper, in orange or black in 3"x4.25" for $13.20 each, or 3.5"x5.5" for $15.70 each:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wed. Review- J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

I hereby present, J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean. It was announced a few months ago, with anticipation building for its release. It was just over two years ago that J. Herbin released the 1670 Rouge Hematite, to commemorate the 340th anniversary (wow!) of the company's founding back in.....1670. The ink was available in very limited supply and was also in incredibly high demand. So when we would receive a shipment, it was not unusual for the ink to be on our site for a matter of hours, with months passing in between each shipment. The ink was so wildly popular that they decided to continue offering it into 2011 (it was originally only supposed to be sold in 2010). The uncertainty of Rouge Hematite's future was finally put to rest when it was announced that not only was the ink here to stay, but that Bleu Ocean, a new commemorative 1670 ink, would join the line. Yes, 1670 is now its own line of inks within the J. Herbin brand.

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite

The thing that draws us all to Rouge Hematite has been a heavily saturated blood red color, with an intense gold/green sheen to it. And that sheen is intense, more than any of the nearly 700 inks that I've encountered. Red inks are notoriously lame (usually), in my opinion, but this one stands out from the crowd, and has earned a reputation for its uniqueness. So when it was announced that Bleu Ocean would be another 1670 ink, it was hard not to get excited about it.

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

Now I haven't been around as long as some other folks in the fountain pen world, but I have seen some things over the last 3 years. Whenever a new ink is to be released, it's almost always a big deal. Some of the more notably hyped ink releases since Rachel and I started GouletPens.com include Herbin's Rouge Hematite, Pilot's Iroshizuku inks, the Pelikan Edelstein series, a slew of new Diamine colors (30 in all) including some awesome ones like Syrah, Red Dragon, Ancient Copper, and Oxblood. We've seen Platinum Mix-Free and Rohrer and Klingner's Blau Schwarz. And who could forget Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, Blue Nose Bear, Rome Burning, or the drama that surrounded my own collaborative Noodler's Liberty's Elysium. What is it about all of these inks that drive us all so crazy? Why, when we have access to hundreds and hundreds of inks do we still go so nuts over a new color? Because, we love it, that's why :) And the lead up to this ink has been no exception to the rest.

J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

So we find ourselves here once again! I have the ink, and you want to know about it. It's always easy to get all hyped up and excited about a new color, and that's definitely part of the thrill. $22 is a lot of money for an ink though, and I want to give you my very practical and objective opinion of this ink, all hype aside.

When I first found out that there would be a new 1670 ink, a blue ink, I got so incredibly excited. Blue is by far my favorite ink color, and I do love inks that sheen (can I get a shoutout for Diamine Majestic Blue?). I wanted to find out as much as I could about the ink before I went forming an opinion about it though.. I was told that it was going to be a dark blue, more heavily saturated than the standard J. Herbin line, something between Eclat de Saphir and Bleu Nuit, in a bottle identical to Rouge Hematite but with a blue cap and silver wax seal, and that it would not have a metallic pigment like Rouge Hematite. Okay, so that was a pretty decent description, better than I get for some other inks before they're released. The stock pictures that accompanied were pretty enticing, too. But I didn't want to really get my hopes up until I had the ink in hand. At this point, I know that as many inks I've handled, I am my own best judge for trying to get an idea of how an ink 'fits' into the ever-growing ink world. Especially since dark blue inks are in no short supply, I wanted to really keep an open mind.

Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean box from J. Herbin
Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean bottle from J. Herbin

Stock photo of 1670 Bleu Ocean swab from J. Herbin

Herbin's marketing stuff states the motivation for the development of Bleu Ocean saying, "It recalls the sea voyages of J. Herbin when he was travelling in the far east and discovered the famous gum which will allow him to manufacture wax." (Herbin was real big into sealing wax at its founding, still is, really).

Now let's talk about the bottle. It's stunning, and really beautifully crafted. I have personally always loved the combination of blue and silver, and the wax on the cap and front of the bottle definitely sets it apart from the other inks on my desk. Most ink companies view bottles as an afterthought, but a few brands like Pilot Iroshizuku, Pelikan Edelstein, and J. Herbin's 1670 truly stand out from the crowd. The box that it comes in is beautifully designed. Though it doesn't actually say Bleu Ocean on it, there is a blue seashell on the top, with J. Herbin and 1670 in blue writing. 

The only thing that I don't like about this bottle is having to use it. That sounds crazy, but it's honestly just not designed to be used as much as it is to be admired. The bottle itself is a square, which is okay, but the neck is a much smaller diameter than most other ink bottles. The opening is 12.85mm wide (about 1/2"), which is about the same as a Goulet ink sample vial. It'll fit most pens in there okay (Pelikan m800 starts to push the limit), but when the ink level gets down to about half the bottle, you'll have a hard time filling any pen from it because you can't even angle the pen into the corner of the bottle and tilt it like you would need to. So basically, if you want to use this ink a fair amount, you'll need to get an ink syringe to go along with it, or plan to decant it into another more usable bottle.

All of this packaging and design stuff is great, and J. Herbin really does this ink right in that respect. But if you're like me, what matters most is what's in the bottle. So without further delay, here is Bleu Ocean:

Some of the inks that I feel are closest to Bleu Ocean are:

It's always a little tough to tell the intricate details of an ink from a computer screen, so I'll talk you through my key thoughts on this ink.
  • It's a pleasant blue with a slight lean towards purple, darker and more saturated than any of the standard J. Herbin inks
  • It does not have a sheen like Rouge Hematite, and shouldn't really be compared to it except in the bottle/packaging
  • It flows extremely well, cleans easily, and does not appear to have any of the nib creeping/crusting issues of Rouge Hematite
  • It dries faster than most other inks, and reminds me of most of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks in terms of performance and pleasure of use
  • Water resistance is not incredible, but writing is still very readable when wet
  • The bottle is absolutely beautiful, but one of the least practical ones in the fountain pen world (mainly due to the diameter of the bottle's neck)

The main thing that I've discovered and need to get across to you is that this ink, though labeled as 1670, is really quite different than it's sibling, Rouge Hematite. Rouge Hematite is an ink that I love, but don't find myself using very often because it's quite frankly just not the most practical ink in the world. It's hard to clean, crusts up on the nib, needs to be shaken vigorously before use, and sheens so incredibly that it almost changes color when the light shifts. But, for all of its quirks, Rouge Hematite is still a favorite because it's just such a unique and intense ink.

Bleu Ocean, on the other hand, is much more of a conventional ink. It's a solid-performing, rich blue ink that is more practical than Rouge Hematite....though I'm not sure that is what everyone who's come to love Rouge Hematite was hoping for with Bleu Ocean. Nevertheless, I am eager to see how this ink is received in the fountain pen community. There are thousands of bottles of Rouge Hematite on desks and bookshelves around the world, and they are sure to be complemented by bottles of Bleu Ocean as well.

The supply of Bleu Ocean will be limited at first, but it will be available ongoing. it may take some time  before it's regularly available, but eventually it will be. For the inaugural batch, we're going to be listing it at GouletPens.com on Thursday, 9/13/12 at 1:00pm EDT (East Coast US). See more details about our release here.

I've shared my opinions, and I'd love to hear what you think! Please take a moment to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Write On, 
Brian Goulet

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