Friday, December 20, 2013

Goulet Q&A Episode 16, Correspondence

It's time for another Goulet Q&A, and Episode 16 is all about Correspondence. I got a lot of good questions about paper and ink on this one, specifically geared towards writing to other people. Here are this week's questions:


1) Kimberly D.- Facebook (2:06):
Is there a way to seal or protect fountain pen ink on an envelope, in case it gets wet in transit? Some of my favorite colors are not water resistant, and I want to make sure any letters I write or address arrive in one piece. I have learned better than to just trust in the postal system.

  • Candle wax
  • Clear packing tape
  • Microglaze
  • Polystyrene (egg carton) melted in lacquer thinner  
  • Mix waterproof inks with non-waterproof ones
2) Phillip K.- email (4:18):
When posting a letter, do you go out of your way to use a waterproof ink (or change mediums entirely to paste or solvents) to address your letters.  I always hesitate to use anything that might get smeared in the rain. 
  • Noodler's Black 
  • Noodler's 54th Mass

3) Rawkzeagle- YouTube (5:17):
It's said there's a letter for every occasion. So what stationery (inks, papers etc.) would you recommend in situations like these: 
1. when you're writing to a loved one,
2. when you're writing to a close friend,
3. when you're writing to your enemy,
4. when you're writing to your boss/elders
  1. Laid paper, or cotton, cream colored; Deep pink, red, or purple
  2. Clairefontaine Triomphe; Dark/medium blue ink, or whatever new ink I'm using that strikes my fancy
  3. Does the paper really matter? Ink, Diamine Matador/Oxblood/Red Dragon
  4. Cream colored paper, something plain perhaps with a printed letterhead; dark/conservative ink, probably black or blue black
4) Mirjam- Facebook (8:06):
I send a lot of postcards, and some postcards have a glossy/smooth back. I want to write them with fountain pen too, but use a ballpen instead. What FP-ink combo can I use for those cards?
  • Pigmented ink- Platinum Carbon Black/Pigmented Blue, Sailor Nano inks
5) Steve B.- Facebook (9:57):
Question: I realize this is somewhat tangental to pen stuff, but here's my dilemma: I've been helping out my girls with their stamping endeavors in their Christmas Cards. And I was thoroughly disappointed with the ink that comes with most stamp-pads. It's thick, blobby, and it doesn't dry! I've thought about just using some good ol' black ink to help the girls out. Has anyone else tried this? Or is there a reason that pen ink and stamping ink are different things?

6) Michael H.- Facebook (12:13):
I'd like to know good envelopes, paper, and inks that could and should be used for correspondance. I never write letters anymore, but would love to write again.

7) Donald R.- Facebook (14:46):
About how many sheets can you mail on a single US stamp (US mailing weight is 1 ounce)? 

8) @gilmour70- Twitter (16:25):
Printing vs. Cursive for correspondence. Can people under 30 read cursive?

9) Schin L.- Facebook (19:38):
How do you keep wax seals from breaking in the mail?

10) William S.- Facebook (20:40):
Brian, its Christmas Time, what would be a great Christmas Red, and Christmas Green ink to use for writing Christmas Cards? I was looking at the Diamine Wild Strawberry, and the Diamine Kelly Green. Are there any better choices besides those 2? I will be using commercially available Christmas cards on Matt card stock, no glossy pages, just normal heavy bond paper. 
  • Past Ink Drop colors (view them here):
  • Dec. 2013
    • **De Atramentis Pine Green 
    • **Diamine Kelly Green
    • Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku
    • **Diamine Crimson
    • Diamine Poppy Red
  • Dec. 2012
    • De Atramentis Oriental Red
    • **De Atramentis Fir
    • **Diamine Matador
    • Noodler's Green
    • Rohrer and Klingner Verdura
  • Dec. Nov. 2011
    • **Diamine Oxblood
    • **Diamine Sherwood Green
    • Noodler's Gruene Cactus Eel
    • Noodler's Nikita
    • PR Ebony Green
  • Dec. 2010
    • **Diamine Evergreen
    • Diamine Ruby
    • Noodler's Polar Blue
    • PR Fiesta Red
    • **PR Spearmint
11) Joe S.- Facebook (23:45):
I heard that the cell phone texting trend is actually encouraging kids and teens to write more then the generation before them. Basically, because they read and write texts so much, its carrying over to young people reading more books recreationally. So have you seen anything that indicates that the personal letter is also coming back? I had a hipster roommate who loved writing postcards, for example. 

12) @whatzitmather- Twitter (27:56):
Any tips for making correspondence a regular habit? Who to write/what to write about?
13) Maggie K.- Facebook (31:57):
I love writing letters and have recently started using wax seals on some letters. Right now, I have small pellets of wax that I melt in a spoon using a regular lighter. After I let the melted wax cool a bit, I pour it onto the envelope and stamp with my wax seal. For a college student in a dorm room, this is really messy. I know that the J.Herbin supple wax that you can smear right on the envelope would probably be a bit less messy, but I want to use up my wax pellets before buying anything else. Is there anything else I can do to make this less of an ordeal? Also, are there any wax seals available from Goulet Pens that are not initials?

14) Inti- Facebook (36:32):
Do you keep a record of all the letters you write/receive? If so, how would you recommend doing it?

15) Francisco G.- Facebook (37:37):
So..... I'm in high school, and I plan on asking someone to prom. I want to write "billets doux" notes to her. I plan on using a Lamy italic nib with Claifontaine stationary. What ink would serve proper for such an occasion?
  • Deep pinks, reds, blues, and dusty purples
  • Pinks/reds- Noodler's Shah's Rose, Ottoman Rose, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses, Diamine Syrah
  • Blues- Diamine Asa Blue, Noodler's Liberty's Elysium, Ottoman Azure
  • Dusty Purples- Diamine Damson, RnK Scabiosa

This Q&A will have to hold you over for a little while, I'm going to be taking a break until January 10th, 2014. With Christmas and New Years coming I'm going to be taking some time off to spend with the family and get some year-end business-y things taken care of, so I'll ease into things again in a few weeks with another Open Forum theme. Be sure to check out any past Q&A videos here if you like the format.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. For those having to train themselves (or who want to teach cursive to their kids), I highly recommend going with an italic handwriting guide. The reason? Italic cursive is derived from the printed letters. Instead of learning one way to print letters, and then an entirely different way of writing in cursive, you just join up the printed letters. Building upon your experience with printed letters just makes sense to me. Plus, it just looks better to my eye than the Palmer cursive (which I abandoned in high school... many, many years ago).

  2. I'm at work so can't watch and listen to the answers (I suppose I'll do that on Monday or Tuesday when I next clean out my pens and change the inks), but I have to address @gilmour70!

    I am under 30 and I can read cursive! But I turn 30 in 2014, so maybe I don't count. How about my younger siblings? My baby brother, age 23, reads and writes cursive. Though his is more of a scrawl of necessity to make taking notes faster...

    I imagine that cursive isn't so hard to read, since a lot of fancy typefaces emulate the style, but if it is sloppy or scratchy, it's going to be tough for kids, just like any sloppy/scratch handwriting. Also, a lot of us who write cursive develop our own little quirks, like my f's not having bottom loops or my capital I's resembling other people's O's (but not *my* O's! my I's have a definite triangle shape and open on the left, not the right).

  3. @Steve B.- Re:inks for stamp pads. I do a good bit of block printing which, whenusing rubber blocks is similar to using stamps. If the stamp pads aren't doing it for you I'd suggest a visit to your local art store and picking up some basic Speedball block printing ink. They come in pretty basic colors but mix well. You'll also need a small brayer (roller). You won't apply these iks to the stamp pad...instead your roll the ink out onto a flat smooth surface (like a smooth cutting board) and ink the stamp directly from the surface or using the brayer. Total investment shouldn't be a lot.

  4. Agree with all. Just to be clear though...the basic Speedball inks are 100% water based...so easy clean up.

  5. I've been pleased with Pilot as far as economic options go... Varsity, Vpen, Plumix, Penmanship, Metropolitan, and as I understand now the Kakuno with a molded grip like the Safari... and all for under $20. Pretty good as far as getting people into fountain pens.

  6. #13, Maggie K. - I recently found a site that sells sealing wax sticks for use in a hot glue gun that they sell also. Don't know if the sticks will work in any glue gun or not, but it looks to me to be the least messiest way to apply wax seals. I used to use the sticks with wicks in them but have switched to the J. Herbin sticks at Goulet Pens, works much better than the sticks with a wick for me. Here is the URL for the sticks and gun: http://www.paperinkarts.com/tools-of-the-trade-wax-and-seals.html

  7. #10, Christmas Cards: Glossy paper can still take fountain pen ink if it is not plastic coated. I have a very glossy calendar and it takes fountain pens very well as it is not plastic but clay giving the paper its gloss. These papers may take longer to dry, but they do absorb the ink. Of course you won't know this until you buy the cards and try them out. The cheaper Christmas cards will probably not be coated. I used Noodler's Hunter green and Noodler's Fox red inks this year in my cards, and both did very well on the matte finish card stock. Funny, the matte finish light paper envelopes on some of the cards was very resistant to fountain pen ink, taking 15 minutes or more to fully dry. The relative humidity in the house was below 30% so I was very surprised at this.

  8. @wax seals: try searching for them on etsy.com

  9. #10--what do the double asterisks indicate (**) in front of some of the green and red inks listed?

  10. Thanks for your tip. I have dumped the cartridge and washed the pen. Now it's filled with some Iroshizuku ink. No problems so far!

  11. Question and a comment.

    First, is there any fountain ink that works for signing the little strip on the back of credit cards? They seem designed for ballpoint-only; not only roller ball but even Sharpie seems to smear for me every time. But I hate using ballpoints, especially for my signature, since it flows so poorly and winds up looking very little like my normal signature.

    Second, while I learned the Palmer Method in elementary school in the early 1980s, like most people I stopped using it as soon as I was permitted by teachers in middle school. Point being, in my experience there's little to no relationship between the ability to write any given cursive system and the ability to read it. It may take a little longer to read, say, 18th century documents, but basically anyone who can read print English can read cursive. But for kids, it would be better for schools to teach an italic form than simple block letters. Plus, italic flows nicely with wet-ink pens like rollers or fountains.

  12. The Getty/Dubay "improve your handwriting" italic book is easy to get and is a really nice resource for anyone wanting to make their writing more legible, imo. Plus it's a fun way to use more pens and inks!

    I have some other nice resources too that I found out about on FPN, but that one is easy to find and I think a lot of people would find it enjoyable.

    FPN's site is down, by the way. Hopefully that's temporary ...

  13. My son is 8 and is in French school (in the states) and they study French cursive, just like they do in France. I had to get him some Japanese fine nibs (he loves fountain pens) so they'll write small enough -- he's also left-handed, so the super fine nib helps prevent smearing.

  14. The permanent FP inks are meant to chemically interact with paper, so I can't imagine that any of them will work on a credit card. I use an ultra fine point sharpie and be sure to let it dry for a minute or two before touching, and I don't get smearing.

  15. Lastly, put a strip of clear cellophane tape over your ink work on the back of the credit card. It will keep your masterpiece looking fresh for the life of the card...

  16. What's the humidity level in the office where you test your pens? I work in an amazingly dry office building, and it does a number on mine. Depending on the pen, I can barely leave them uncapped for 5 minutes before they dry out.

  17. Having just listened to the video, I can say that those are the inks Brian specifically mentioned by name.

  18. I had a surprise when I filled a pen with PR Ebony Purple from a recent ink drop. I couldn't get the nib deep enough into the sample vial so I used a syringe. I found that I couldn't draw any ink into the syringe -- when I pulled the needle out of the vial I found a blob the size of a half a pea stuck on the end! I got rid of that and filled the pen normally and have had no trouble with that ink since. I hope this is not typical.

  19. I don't keep copies of all the correspondence I should (sometimes I just write comments on a stupid letter and send it back!) with one exception; if it's typed correspondence that I wrote on the computer, I have a file, and I always save the files containing outgoing letters. The file is named, I hope, in some appropriate manner so I can tell what it is later, and kept in some appropriate directory or folder. What I plan to do, when I write a letter or note I might like to keep, is to scan it in (since I have an easy-to-use scanner as part of my all-in-one printer). That results in a color pdf file I can save under an appropriate name and folder, and if one has a scanner handy, this is not much work. The result of course is not searchable in the text (though there is probably some handwriting reading software out there) but at least I have a copy.

  20. @John S. check out the Pelikan Griffix: http://griffix.eu/griffix/Pulsar/en_EU.CMS.displayCMS.1./the-systematic-way-of-learning-how-to-write


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