Goulet Q&A Episode 2

This is the second episode of Goulet Q&A, where I answer your fountain pen, ink, and paper questions. Every week I take your questions on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and InkNouveau.com, and answer them in this video. I took a lot of the feedback you gave after the first one and made some tweaks and improvements, which include:

  • Time stamps for the start of each question
  • Shorter video overall (36 minutes instead of 50)
  • Overlaid pictures of pens/inks I’m discussing in the video

The tradeoff with doing a little bit shorter video is that I’m not able to answer all of the questions that come in, and I’m sorry for those of you that are asking questions that I leave out. This is still an experiment, so I’m open to feedback about the Q&A video format. I’m liking the way it’s shaping up though! Next week I’ll still have an open forum, but I think I would like to try out some topical vids, so please let me know what topics you might want to see me focus on, such as ink mixing, paper, permanent inks, flex pens, nib smoothing, storing pens, pens for beginners, or anything along those lines. 

Here are this week’s questions:

1) @NotMattOhmann- Twitter (1:42):
What/who introduced you to fountain pens, and how long ago was it?

2) Shan De Almeida-YouTube (3:06):
What is your favorite aspect of the fountain pen community? What makes us special to you, and makes you be an enthusiast with us? Why fountain pens?

3) @KwentinBusam- Twitter (7:15):
What is your favorite filling mechanism?

4) @MobyProf- Twitter, Miss Thundercat- Ink Nouveau (9:13):
I’d like to try mixing inks (esp. Noodler’s WoW). What do I need to know NOT to mix (brands, properties)?

5) @fmfisdead- Twitter (14:25):
 Would you ever consider having an in house nibmeister? Probably a long shot and not worth it. But would be awesome

6) tendollarword- YouTube (18:01):Any chance of you doing a video on the Monteverde Jewelria?
Also, are you guys going to carry the TWSBI notebooks?

7) Brett Poole- YouTube (19:47):
Thank you so much for fielding my question so thoroughly! I was going to make a Visconti my first “big time” pen. I bought my first fountain pen from you, and (call me sentimental) I want to get a high quality pen in the 150-250 range from you. What’s your recommendation for a juicy broad?

8) Christopher Hulsey- YouTube (21:34):
Is there a blue ink that closely matches the blue in your logo?

9) PeartFan76028- YouTube (22:53):Could you tell us about all the letters and things behind you on your letter wall?

10) Minibom26RS- YouTube (24:10):
What is your favorite brown ink? What’s your thought on Diamine – Chocolate Brown?

11) Jen D- YouTube (25:06):Flex pens are my new obsession, i recently purchased an ahab and love it. can you recommend: a) a few inks that go nicely with flex pens (good shading, nice flow etc) other than the noodler’s black swans & apache sunset? (already got em!) b) a flex/soft nib pen to graduate up to after the ahab? i really enjoy the line variation i get with the ahab. the price leap after the ahab makes me a little wary, any direction would be greatly appreciated.

12) monkehm- YouTube (27:34):Brian, I found an old Sheaffer fountain pen in my parents’ basement. It’s a lovely pen I’d like to use, but the nibs don’t seem to ever come clean. I’ve rinsed one nib for over half an hour with a bulb syringe and the water still runs cloudy grey from the black ink. Is there anything I can do to speed it up, or are the nibs unusable?

13) Alec Johnson- YouTube (29:03):
What couple pens do you use on a regular basis?

14) VallivueLaxPlayer- YouTube (30:24):
Brian, could give us a list (written or off the top of your head) of pens that use a #6 nib? Or do you have a way of knowing what sized nib is on a pen?

Thanks so much for a great set of questions, everyone! Keep them coming, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind. Just post here in the comments, and maybe I’ll answer your question next week πŸ˜‰

Write On,
Brian Goulet 

2017-10-11T14:20:23+00:00 August 30th, 2013|Goulet Q&A|44 Comments
  • Ashleigh Low

    Hey there Brian,

    Good video – personally didn't have many questions that piqued my interest this time around, but nonetheless, the Q & A segment seems to be shaping up. πŸ™‚

    Wanted to drop in my feedback on the nibmeister issue:

    I would personally LOVE the idea of a nibmeister (at least) tuning the pens before sale!

    No need for the advanced stuff like nib repair/re-tipping/re-grinding/making flexible, because I understand that can get pretty complex (especially if you have to entertain pens that get sent in for servicing). Just basic tuning to write it 'as it should' and (maybe) flow adjustments would be a great way to add value to the pens you sell. Similar to 'Binderising' guarantee of Binder's business.

    If you're concerned about voiding the warranty, you could always make it optional. Just a little checkbox that says "Yes, I would like my pen tuned". Otherwise, the default would be to have them be sold out of the box. Over time, you can get a sense of whether people trust/prefer the nibmeister's service, and remove/keep the option accordingly (if it gets too complicated to keep the option there).

    But of course I understand the nibmeister service will have to be factored into the pricing (if at all), so that will require number crunching. Personally, I wouldn't mind paying a couple more bucks to get a tuned pen than not.

    My two cents!


  • Suzy Lyons

    I'm loving the video format for Q&A. SO much more interesting/personable than just reading a blog post! (Although your posts are usually great anyway!)

    An idea for a themed Q&A: Pen materials! There are so many options and a slight difference in materials used can mean the difference between a pen being useful as an eyedropper, or not; a nib being springy, or not; how the pen feels in the hand, its' weight, durability, price etc. You'd probably get a lot of questions, and I could see the video being a great go-to source of info for choosing a pen in the future.

  • Nigel Barrier

    The new video format is defiantly a keeper! I don't know any other fountain pen enthusiasts in person so I really enjoying the video format, it lends an aspect to the hobby that I don't often see. As with most other aspects of your business it feels more like a community, rather than just a revenue stream that some corporate entity is trying to suck out of me. I'm cynical about most businesses, but I genuinely like supporting yours!

    As to future topic suggestions… In my opinion you cant do enough videos( or text based info for that matter) on Ink colors and properties. This is the reason I first became interested in Goulet Pens, you have the most comprehensive amount of info on ink I have ever seen from a retailer. From the swab scans to info on properties it makes a huge difference in what I buy and all that more enjoyable.

    Paper is also a good topic ie. what inks are good for what paper in what pens. Is seems to me that the importance of finding good paper is somewhat overlooked. Again another reason I like Goulet Pens so much. Also I don't mind if the videos are a bit long, its like watching Fountain pen TV!

    Best Regards,
    Nigel Barrier

  • Tomasz S Suchecki

    Please continue these Q&A

    Theme concepts
    1. Fountain Pen friendly paper, possibibly noting inks and nibs that work well with which brand
    2. American Pens and Inks – even if there are only Noodler's and Edison
    3. Past ink drops, exspecially inks you still carry

    Whenever possible use items you sell, I would rather you make money off my use of your knowledge. For the themed direct links in the post may be a good idea.

    Have a great Labor Day guys

  • David

    Hi Brian, The video format is much improved – thanks for the time stamps.

    For next time, maybe anser one or more of the following questions…

    Q1. What is that green liquid on your desk during the Q&A videos?

    Q2. What are you thinking when you get dressed in the morning? Barney Tee or Teenage Mutant Nija Turtles Tee?

    Q3. When are the Noodler's Konrad Acrylic pens going to be back in stock?

    Q4. You keep mentioning a table of properties for Noodler's ink. Where is this? I can't find it on gouletpens.com.

    Thanks, David in Jakarta

  • Blue Moon

    I agree with Ashleigh Low. When I purchase pens, if Richard Binder sells it, I'll always buy from him because I know the pen will work and work smoothly when I get it. I read somewhere that all-in-all, a pen will work to its' finest right out of the box only about 50 percent of the time. However, if you sold pens tuned and tweaked, then tested to make sure they were perfect, I'd buy those same pens from you. That'd be great if you could grind them also, but at minimum, the customer would know they were meant to write the way they were meant to write out of the box.

    I have another alternative to that. Why not work out an arrangement with someone like Pendleton Brown to tweak, tune, grind, etc. nibs for your customers. For example, that would be an option when ordering. Depending on what you wanted done, you could select your options, then the pen would be sent from you to the nibmeister, then to the customer. You could indicate the approximate delivery. We, the customers, know full well:
    1. It will cost a little more
    2. The warranty will be voided
    3. Arrival will take a while

    However, I think you'll have more of a market than you realize.

  • Blue Moon

    Where did you get the cool hourglass with the green liquid on your desk? I'd like one.

  • Nelli G

    I love your Q&A videos, and I've also been kind of fascinated with that green hourglass timer you use.

    My question for a future episode: A few months ago you mentioned the possibility of carrying Tomoe River paper, though it'd be a bit expensive. Is this still something you're considering?

  • Arika Harman Cloud

    Near the end of the video, I heard you say that the TWSBI Micarta is a #6 nib. I'm assuming this means that the Micarta version 2 is also, but I figured I should ask before I jump the gun. I like my Micarta 2, but realize now that I should've gotten an M nib!

  • RGH

    I'm warming to the video forma a little. The timestamps definitely help. On the other hand I like the fact that in a written format you can do readable lists/bullet points more easily to get your point across.

    I do have a question.

    I like to keep a pen and notebook in the car for jotting down ideas (and to-do's). Unfortunately I live in the swamp of North Florida, and FPs really don't like being left in the car in 95+ heat. I don't care about 'destroying' the looks, I just want it to work when I take the cap off.

    Likewise I like to go for walks when I'm working through a problem (even when it's hot), and again I take a pen with me – generally stuck in a shorts pocket (too hot to wear a shirt with a pocket). FPs on the whole don't like being joggled around so there is often ink on the section and in the cap ..not cool!

    So, any suggestions about which pens might solve these problems? At the moment I keep a mechanical pencil on hand for both of these uses.


  • Ted

    Theme idea: pen package sets according to uses:

    for example a set that includes a travel pen, an office pen, and a signature pen

    or a lending pen, a rugged pen, and a bling pen


    perhaps throw in a tri-case!

  • Bourgeoisie


    Would you consider selling some of the Noodler's Ahab ebonite feeds separately? I own three Noodler's pens and the feeds are very inconsistent. I would love to tinker with each of them to open up the ink flow without the fear of messing up the pen.

  • Mike Piontek

    On the nibmeister question I asked and in response to some of what others responded with:

    I think this is about the only thing missing from Goulet which keeps it from being hands down the only place you ever need for a fountain pen. As you get further into the hobby you begin to have more advanced tastes and as you discover grinding its just a whole new awesome world. You would definitely have to figure out if the venture is even profitable. But would this then open a whole new demographic to you? Is that niche large enough to support it? I would think offering this to new purchases only would probably also be the ideal way to go. Also working something out with an already known nibmeister might not be such a bad idea. Would perhaps drive a lot more business to that person but might not make sense numbers wise for you.

    If you are considering doing it yourself, that may be an awful lot of extra weight to add to your shoulders so I understand how that may not make sense. Especially since I think it's possible that these video are way more important to the brand you have. I think this service would make you the undeniable one stop shop for all your fountain pen needs. Even further than you already are.

  • Iim

    Of the 2 Deltas coming out besides the gold overlay on the fusion 82 do they share the same steel nibs? Also on your pictures of both the Serena and fusion 82 are the nib close up photos copies or photoshops as I noticed the space and alignment of the tiines on the close up photos is perfect on every one regardless of nib size model or color

  • PapaKuma

    You always include a piece of candy with your shipments. What is your favorite and how often do you sneak a piece out of the stockpile?

  • Miss Thundercat

    Thanks for answering my Q on ink mixing, and good to know I'm not the only one wondering about this, haha πŸ˜‰ i never considered the fact there could be a crazy chemical reaction upon mixing, but luckily the mixing i did was for my dip pens. And everything remained liquid in my ink well so nothing quirky happened. Will definitely experiment some more and let you know about it. 30ish min is a lot better for this format!Looking forward to this week's installment πŸ™‚

  • Michael Graziano

    For JenD Re: flex pens to graduate up to from the Ahab, the next pen I would recommend graduating up to is another Noodler's pen – another Ahab or a Konrad would be my choice.

    Nathan designed these as "tinkerer's pens", and there's a couple of things you can do that will radically change your writing experience – for the better IMHO.

    First thing I'd suggest: Grab the pen tuning kit Brian sells (http://www.gouletpens.com/Goulet_Pen_Tuning_Package_Set_p/gpc-package-tuning.htm) and work the nib a little bit. Noodler's nibs are a "fine medium" (unflexed), but with a little careful shaping on the micromesh you can make the nib a genuine fine nib.

    The top end of the flex stays about the same width after this, but you get more range of line variation because you're starting out finer. As an added bonus you can smooth the nib while you're doing this – my tuned Konrad writes better than some of my Kawecos.

    The other thing I'd recommend is the "Ease My Flex" mod discussed over on FPN (http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/240492-noodlers-ahab-ease-my-flex-mod/) — you need to be comfortable with a dremel or other fine grinding tool to do this, but you can make the Ahab very "flexy" by doing this. I've done it to the cheaper Noodler's Nib Creaper pens with wonderful results.

    I'd suggest picking up one or two Nib Creaper pens to practice on (for both nib tuning and grinding for improved flex) — both are mods that remove material from the nib, so they're irreversible.

  • Michael Graziano

    For what it's worth I've had excellent luck mixing Noodler's inks — specifically adding Noodler's Black to their conventional inks to get some "bulletproofness" in my notes. (Like Brian mentioned I stay away from mixing Baystate inks – besides the only one of those I like is Baystate Blue, and the only "mixing" that needs for my taste is a 50/50 dilution with water πŸ™‚

    I usually use an empty Ink Drop sample vial to mix in – if you mix up 5ml of ink and let it sit overnight you can use an eyedropper to suck out a bit of ink from the bottom of the vial the next morning and spread it on a plate to check if any gunk is settling out of the solution. If I don't see any problems in 24 hours my mix is probably safe.

  • Asked the same thing last time. Brian said he was going to go into it at some time in the future – maybe trying to keep the videos to about 30 mins is cutting into that… But I, too, am interested. I've seen OOZE glasses on Amazon but none that look exactly like Brian's. When you can get to it Brian, we want to know ! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  • Joan

    I just ordered some Tomoe-River paper from a US source after receiving a note from a friend written on that smooth as silk paper. It was love at first touch. If you'd carry this line of paper I'd be over the moon. I like having all my writing needs met in one place.

  • Joan

    Brian's Timer: If not exact, this is close:


  • liban

    Hi Brian,
    My Q for Q&A: What do you do to the pens that you've used in video reviews and the nib nook? Do they get placed in the Bottom Shelf or does the warehouse have a copy of every pen/nib you sell? Thank you.

  • This gives me a lot to think about. I don't believe that charging a premium would be the ideal solution, even though it's extra time…because other retailer/nib guys are including this as part of their service…so essentially I'd be saying that my expertise is worth more than theirs. At least that's what comes to my mind, others may not see it that way. I suppose it's something we could always do based on price, too…say gold nibbed pens get adjusted upon request at no charge, but steel nib ones you might have to pay a couple of bucks for. Just raw thoughts here, this isn't a promise…

  • Thanks Suzy! I'm having fun with the Q&A, it harkens back to the feel I had with Write Time back in the day πŸ˜‰

    Pen materials, that's a good theme! I'll jot that down. I can see that being really useful! I have a good list of theme ideas so far, and this one is definitely right in there.

  • I'm glad you're liking the format, Nigel! Haha, I'm glad you like it long, it'll probably end up being that way more often than not πŸ˜‰ I'm really long-winded, and back when we were doing Write Time live broadcasts Rachel and I would frequently go double our planned time for each week.

    Yeah, ink is definitely a good topic, there's soooo much to cover there. I'd probably have to break it down even further than that, maybe ink for work/school, ink properties, specific brands of ink and breaking them all down, stuff like that. Paper is another big one, and an often overlooked aspect of enjoying fountain pens. Great topics!

  • Thanks, Tom! Great suggestions here, I will make note of them. Funny enough, I do get people from time to time that criticize me or call my bias into question because I often only talk about products I sell. Well true, I make my living from selling the stuff I talk about, and that should always be taken into consideration. But for anyone who watches me regularly, they can tell pretty quickly that I'm not just trying to sell stuff, I really work to be as fair and honest in my presentations as possible. That said, the biggest reason I mostly talk about only stuff I sell is because quite frankly, that's the stuff I know and handle all the time. I'm not an expert on brands I've never heard of or hardly seen in person. For me to make an educated recommendation about a product, it should be something I've used or handled myself. And if there's something that I don't carry that I use and handle that I really like and would recommend to others, well then I'll probably try to carry it in my store! That's pretty much how I've grown my business over the last 4 years, after all πŸ™‚

  • Glad the timestamps help, David!
    A1: tee hee…I'm not going to share the story behind that yet, but I will
    A2: Oh goodness, no Barney. Barney is forbidden in the Goulet household! We do watch a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Little Einsteins…but to more get at the tone behind your question, I don't take the way I present myself as seriously as most people do, clearly. I didn't start my own business because I wanted to dress the way other people thought I should πŸ˜‰
    Q3: Good question! Soon, hopefully. No eta.
    Q4: It's in a link at the top of the Noodler's bottled ink page, here: https://www.gouletpens.com/v/vspfiles/files/noodlers-ink-properties.pdf

  • Definitely all stuff for me to consider. With nib guys like Richard and John Mottishaw who sell pens and tune them, they're dealing almost exclusively with gold nib pens in the $150+ range. They can afford to build in the labor for that kind of stuff, especially since tuning a nib for them is practically like breathing (and they have a more limited variety of brands than we do). For us, we have a great deal more affordable pens, and there's just no way we could afford to tune pens like Lamy Safaris and Al-Stars, as an example, without charging a kind of substantial (by percentage of the cost of the pen) premium, and delay the shipping by days if not more. Plus, since we're more of a one-stop shop with all of the ink, paper, and other goodies that we have, we'd be holding up customers' entire order while that pen is waiting to be tuned.

    I have considered some kind of affiliation, but the biggest problem with that is most decent nib tuning folks are booked out for weeks if not months with their own work, and I highly doubt they'd be willing to move the tuning for my customers to the front of their queue for what little I'd be able to afford to pay them to do it. Plus, I don't live anywhere near a nibmeister, so serious time and expense of shipping would be involved, which I doubt most people would be willing to accept.

    This kind of stuff is definitely harder to work out logistically than it seems. The concept of tuning nibs before shipping a pen seems sooo simple, but yet it's amazingly complicated. I will continue to give it thought, but I will not be making any hasty moves in this area without seriously weighing out all of the consequences and tradeoffs.

  • Oh, several people have asked about that thing, and I'm intentionally not discussing it yet because I want to keep the mystery alive and built up some suspense. I will talk about it soon, I'm sure. πŸ˜‰

  • Yeah…we have been trying to make contact with the Tomoe-River distributor, to no avail so far. This is how it goes with trying to establish distributorship sometimes. It's on our radar, but it won't likely be something to happen soon, just fair warning.

  • I'm about 99% sure the Micarta 2 is #6, but honestly I haven't handled that pen yet myself so I can't be 100% certain. You can always get a Goulet nib for it, and return it if you don't like it or it doesn't fit (but it should).

  • There's a tradeoff with video vs. written blog posts, for sure. There is more of a time investment with this Q&A format on your part as the viewer, but I will work to pack as much info and entertainment as possible into the vids as possible!

    Here in Va. we have some pretty hot days in summer too, so I know where you're coming from. I'll address this in Q&A.

  • Hmm…neat idea!

  • I wish I could. Noodler's doesn't offer feeds orο»Ώ nibs through their retailers, but if they did I'd carry them in a second.

  • Believe me, this is something I've been thinking about for years now. There is no clear cut answer, because no major retailer (I'm considering "major" in this definition to mean is not run out of someone's house) has ever successfully offered nib tuning on a grand scale. As for myself doing the actual tuning, that would surely be the death blow to my business. I would have to cease all video production, social media, and other management aspects of what I do on a daily basis so I can tinker with nibs, and though that would be good for a few people whose pens I'm tuning, it would be at the expense of a far greater number of people who would miss the other things I do. So then I'd have to basically train someone else to do it, and how the heck do I find someone who can? There are a handful of people that even do this kind of work to begin with, let alone find someone who would be willing to do it in my local area, working for me (instead of themselves).

    The truth is that if I honestly felt that it made a lot of sense for my business to offer it, I would. But for the time being, the tradeoffs I feel are too great, and it would not be a successful and sustainable venture for me. Of course, I could be wrong, but there's really no way to truly know without actually doing it. And that isn't a risk I can afford to take at this point.

  • No, the nibs on the Fusion 82 and Serena are completely different in terms of size and style. We didn't photoshop the nibs themselves, but the close up shots of the nib are shared across the various pens/colors, if that's what you're asking. We sometimes share secondary images across pen colors for things like nib shots where there isn't a difference across the pens.

  • Haha, fun question!

  • Great tips, thank you! This is a good way to go about it.

  • You're welcome! Yeah, it's not often you'll get a crazy reaction, but if you do, you really don't want it to happen in your pen πŸ˜›

  • close…

  • Arika Harman Cloud

    Thanks, Brian! I've added the nib to my wishlist and will pick it up when I place my next order!

  • Arika Harman Cloud

    I can see what you're saying, Brian. I still consider myself a newbie, and a great deal of my FP knowledge came from right here at Goulet Pens. I love that I can compare ink samples, nib sizes, etc. here. The Fountain Pen 101 serious is AMAZING. I think these things, along with the countless videos, the Facebook page and the blog, really make GP stand out and feel like a real community. I would be sad for those things to be cut out or minimized.

    Honestly, there have a few times (a VERY few!) that I've noticed an item at another store for a buck or two less, but I still end up buying from Goulet because I want to support a business that I feel has given me quite a bit , for free!

  • Blue Moon

    Thanks for the insight, Brian. I
    have another idea. What about having someone who works with you trained
    to tweak and tune nibs. He/she doesn't have to be a Richard Binder, but
    the person can make sure the pen writes very well before it leaves your business.
    Forget grinding. Just focus on making sure the tines are aligned
    and the nib doesn't skip or have hard starts. I think that's what most
    people want – a pen that does what it's supposed to do without issues.

  • Rich Anderson

    I know this is several months 'after the fact'. I'm a new Goulet customer and I am 'catching up' watching the videos… About mixing Noodler's inks. I like to do this too. Brian mentioned using a CMYK method. Noodler's Yellow and Black work great for the "Y" and "K", but try Noodler's Navajo Turquoise for Cyan, and Shah's Rose for Magenta. I have tried Noodler's Red, Blue, Yellow, Black for a CMYK method and you just can't make a nice purple. However, I did make an awesome orange that I find so very close to Apache Sunset (shades just as awesome). I have that ratios I used, but not sure if there is a policy about sharing/posting that kind of information? Is it ok? Is there some special place on Inknouveau or Goulet Pen to post ink mixing recipies? Sorry if that was confusing, I have a tendency to ramble πŸ™‚