Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi

Pilot Iroshizuku Take-Sumi (Bamboo Charcoal) is one of the three final Pilot Iroshizuku inks to complete the line. These inks, aside from looking great in the bottle, have typically be renown for smooth flow, not drying on the nib, pleasant colors, easy of cleaning, and fast dry-time.

I'm a big fan of the Iroshizuku line, even though it is not what I would consider a 'value' ink. It's expensive, but you do get what you pay for (in most people's eyes, some do not see the value and that's perfectly understandable). I had high hopes for this ink, to be perfectly honest. I love the performance of the Iroshizuku line, and I was really excited to finally have a black ink with the properties of the other inks. However, I know how easy it is to get my expectations too high with a long wait for an ink's release (Pelikan Edelstein anyone?). So knowing that I can easily run away with high hopes on a much-anticipated ink, I purposely lower my own expectations. That said, I can honestly say that my intentionally lowered expectations were exceeded.

You can see how and why I do my reviews in this format here. I did the review with a Lamy Al-Star with a medium steel nib, mainly because I enjoy it and I know it's a pen that you're likely familiar with, if you don't already have one.

Lamy Al-star, Ocean Blue. I love to use this pen for my ink reviews.

All of Take-Sumi's attributes are distinctively Iroshizuku: smooth flow, easy to clean, and stays wet on the nib. The only thing about it that let me down at all was the dry time. It wasn't bad, but just like a 'normal' ink. I probably had unrealistic hopes that this ink would dry in the 10-15 second range on Rhodia like most of the other Iroshizukus do, but this one was more like 30 seconds. It's not a deal breaker for me, but probably something worth noting for your sake.

I'm actually surprised (in a good way) how dark this ink is. I was a little worried when hearing the name was "bamboo charcoal", because I typically associate a charcoal color as being gray. But make no mistake, this a very black ink. See how it compares to even some of the darkest black inks. I won't say that it's one of the blackest inks, but it is darker than probably 2/3 of the black inks I've seen.

My bottom line assessment: this is about as good as I could have realistically hoped that a black Iroshizuku ink could be. If this were a perfect world, I would have wanted a faster dry time, but aside from that this ink has pretty much everything I could have hoped for. At $28 a bottle, Take-Sumi is not going to be the most popular black ink out there, but for those that are a fan of the Iroshizuku inks, I think you will be pleased. Does it live up to your expectations? I'd love to hear, just let me know in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

International Shipping Changes

The Background:

We hear from a lot of our international (outside of the US) customers that our shipping rates can be high. That is true, compared to domestic rates. But we've researched all of the shipping carriers and for the size business that we are, USPS has long been hands-down the cheapest way to ship internationally, especially smaller items like pens and bottles of ink. Around this time every year, we hear of price increases from USPS, which is currently the Goulet Pen Company's sole shipping carrier. Domestic rates are going up a bit, as we knew in advance, but we aren't making any drastic changes with those rates right now. We're absorbing them for the time being. But international rates are a different story.

What's Changing:

We were told about a week ago to expect "significant increases" from USPS, regarding international shipping rates. We just found out what the new rates will be, and they were right, they are rather dramatic. First-Class mail is the most dramatic, particularly for low-weight packages. We had to raise the price of our international Ink Drop from $12.50 to $15.00 (for all countries), because we saw an increase of about $3 of shipping on these small packages (notice, even with our price increase, we're still absorbing some of that cost!). For Canada, the increase was even higher for these small lightweight parcels.

Prices for Priority Mail and Express Mail will also go up, in varying degrees based on weight. The changes in rates will vary by shipping class, weight, and country location, so we can't give you a detailed breakdown here. Everything will be calculated real-time on our site as you add items to your cart. Just understand that international shipping prices for anyone shipping USPS are going to increase by a noticeable amount, starting this weekend. So if you're outside of the US and had your eye on some products from GouletPens.com or any other US retailer that ships by USPS, you will probably want to go ahead and move on it in the next few days to avoid these price increases.  I expect most packages will see an increase anywhere from $3-15 based on the shipping class, per package shipped. It will likely be around a 20% increase on average, but for some situations, it could go as high as a 50-70% increase. It just depends on what you're ordering and where it's going.

How to Maximize Your Shipping Savings:

The best way to save money on shipping is to consolidate your purchases into larger orders. The bulk of the shipping cost is in that first pound. Once you get over a pound of weight, the incremental cost to add more items drops dramatically. So, hypothetically, it might cost $30 for that first pound of products, but then only cost $2-4 more for each additional pound. You would end up spending $60 in shipping if you did two small orders, but only $34 if you combined them. If you don't have enough items you want to order at once, consider a group buy with a friend who lives near you and sharing the costs of shipping.

Also, Express Mail is only slightly more expensive than Priority Mail, but offers the benefits of faster delivery, including an expedited track through customs. First-Class is by far the cheapest (and only available for total order weight under 4 lbs including packaging), but can take several weeks.

In Conclusion:

We don't like to be the bearer of bad news, but that's pretty much what we are here. There's no sugar-coating it, prices will just be high for shipping anything outside of the US. Fedex and UPS aren't any better (in terms of price), and we're not even set up with them to be able to make a transition right now if we wanted to. We fully recognize that the new shipping prices will make it much harder for some of our international customers to shop with us, and for that, we're really sorry.  We'll continue to offer the best prices that we can, and to pack as well as we possibly can. But with increases like these, we have no choice but to raise international shipping prices.

Thanks so much for continuing to support GouletPens.com and the various things we do (like Ink Nouveau, our YouTube channel, Facebook, Twitter, FPN, Reddit, Pinterest, etc), we hope that you will continue to remain active and engaged in the writing community even if the higher shipping prices mean that you will shop with us less often.

Write On,
Brian & Rachel Goulet

Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai

Shin-Kai (Deep Sea) is one of the three final Pilot Iroshizuku inks to complete the line. These inks, aside from looking great in the bottle, have typically be renown for smooth flow, not drying on the nib, pleasant colors, easy of cleaning, and fast dry-time.

Shin-Kai is a blue-black ink that has a strong gray and purple/red tint to it. I find it to be a rather interesting and unique color from most other ones in this range. It's particularly interesting because it seems to have better shading than most other blue-black inks.  You can see how and why I do my reviews in this format here. I did the review with a Lamy Al-Star with a medium steel nib, mainly because I enjoy it and I know it's a pen that you're likely familiar with, if you don't already have one.

Ocean Blue Lamy Al-Star, my standard pen for doing ink tests

Here's my full Shin-Kai review:

This ink is a really interesting one to me. It's not like other blue-blacks, especially when you first open the bottle. It almost looks like Kon-Peki when you look at the wet ink on the inside of the bottle cap. When you first put ink down on the page, it's almost a bright royal blue, but then quickly turns much darker and more gray. It's pretty fascinating to see, actually! I show it in the video. You may also notice a red sheen to the ink on the heavier swabs I did. That's not something I saw come out with my 'normal' writing, but it's probably something you could bring out with a really wet pen.

Blue-black inks are pretty common, it's usually one of the first inks in an ink line, next to black. But not all blue-blacks are created equal. Here are a few that I think are somewhat close to Shin-Kai, or at least ones that are popular and worth comparing.

So am I impressed with this ink? The dry time isn't as short as I'd hoped, and that stinks because that's the attribute I desired the most. But it still flows amazingly well, cleans easily, and it still dries in a respectable time. While Noodler's 54th Massachusetts is pretty much my go-to blue-black ink, Shin-Kai definitely has a different appeal, especially with the way the color changes from wet to dry, that's a pretty fun thing to see happen. I think for anyone that really likes Tsuki-yo and wanted something that was a little less navy and more of a true blue-black, Shin-Kai will probably work out great for you. At $28 per 50ml bottle ($35 list), it's definitely not cheap. But, at least now you have a little more information before you spend your hard-earned pennies.

I'd love to know your thoughts! Let me know what you think in the comments.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday #38

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:

Brian, in your opinion, how does the Pilot Custom 74 compare to Platinum 3776 (like new Chartres Blue)? Thank you! I enjoy hearing your opinion since you can handle both of them and like the 74 very much.
Wow, tough question! I own both in a medium nib, and I must say, I really, really love both pens. Let me just say, I own both for a reason, and I'd buy both again. I would not be happy if I had to choose only one ;) There are some things I like more about one than the other, though. The Custom 74 has a higher ink capacity, has a slightly 'springy' nib that makes it feel softer when you write, it's easier to see the ink level in the pen because the material is more translucent, and it is cheaper. But the Chartres Blue has the Platinum "slip-n-seal" cap technology, which is marketed to keep the nib wet for two years. I honestly haven't tested this fact much with either pen though, because I write with them regularly ;) The nib is stiffer on the 3776 but still writes very well, and that blue color is just gorgeous. I'm definitely a fan of the aesthetics of the 3776 more than the Custom 74. So it really is a toss-up between the two for me. I do end up using my Custom 74 more though, mainly because it's already 2 years 'broken in', and I've become very accustomed to the way it writes. 

I'd like to see you guys carry an ink that is really good at writing on waxy paper (like most greeting cards.) This is probably something you just ask Nathan about and let him work his magic, but that's where I'd encourage him.
Oh boy, that might be hard, if not impossible. Currently, the only thing I know that might work is pigmented ink, because it's meant to dry on a paper's surface instead of absorbing in. It works well for watercolor paper, stuff that's heavily sized, but I don't know about waxy paper. That might just be pushing the limit of what a water-based ink can do. Even solvent-based Sharpies and things like that struggle on waxy paper.

I got a noodler's creeper flex pen, and when I write I have found that ink leaks out of the slit in the nib. do you have any ideas on how to fix this?
I'm not sure you realize the irony of your question ;) What you're describing is called nib creep, which is a fairly common aesthetic effect of a reaction between ink and pen. Some pens do it more than others, some inks do it more than others, and the combination of the two makes this symptom a bit elusive. There isn't anything you can do to get rid of it besides change the ink or pen that you're using. I think that the main cause of it is that highly saturated ink colors require more lubricants in them to flow properly...and since Noodler's inks are known for both being very saturated in color and flowing well, their inks "creep" more than most. It doesn't hurt anything, it's just a visual thing. But some of the opposition to Noodler's ink would complain about this nib creeping, and as a funny jab at his complainers, Nathan Tardif of Noodler's named his first pens the Nib Creaper, a play on words of nib creep and the Grim Reaper, which is a tongue-in-cheek statement about how much some people exaggerate the seemingly negative qualities of nib creep in a pen. 

I bought the Platinum 3776 Bourgogne with a medium nib from you, and I love it. Now I want to get the Chartres (do you know of a good 12 step program). I am considering the Broad nib. Have you written with the Broad nib? I have the Lamy Safari Broad nib, how does it compare with that nib?

I'm a big fan of the 3776's! If you like the Bourgogne then you're going to enjoy the Chartres Blue as well, it's the same well-writing beautiful pen with the most amazing blue color that I think I've ever seen in a translucent pen. I have indeed written with the broad nib, and it is fairly broad. When it comes to Platinum (and Japanece nibs in general), I find that their finer nibs tend to be ground much finer than Western brands', but their broad nibs are usually comparable in size to Western nibs. It'll write very close to the size of your Safari broad, you can see this in my writing sample on the Nib Nook:

The broad is a bit of a jump up from the medium, but is still very enjoyable. It feels smoother, and flows wetter. I use both medium and broad nib 3776's myself and enjoy them both. The medium is closer to most other pens' fine nibs, but the broad is more of a 'true' broad.  

I saw that some companies have nibs they sell to replace theirs. I own pretty much all Noodler's standard flex, and the older standard nib pens. from the companies you guys offer nibs for, do you know of any that will fit them? or is there a piece you guys did where you showed what pen nibs were compatible with what pens? I read somewhere that some one used a Monteverdi 1.1nib in a Noodler's Konrad flex. Looking for a pen with those capabilities there are actually limited options of KNOWN swappers (Lamy being one of few companies that makes tons of reasonably priced nibs for their pens). If you guys have something like that please let me know.
The Nib Creaper Flex (standard flex) Noodler's pens use a #2 size nib, which is common in a lot of vintage pens, but we unfortunately don't have any spare nibs that fit that size. The nibs we have that can be used in 'other' pens are the Edison, Monteverde, and TWSBI nibs. The TWSBI Mini uses #5 nibs (not super-common except on TWSBI) and the Vac-700 uses #6, which is the same as Edison (except the Encore) and Monteverde (except the Artista Crystal). These can all be swapped onto each other, if you actually remove the nib from the nib housing. They also all fit the Noodler's Konrad and Ahab pens. In general though, nibs are not widely swappable across brands. There are a LOT of different nib styles and designs out there, and even if something physically fits another pen, it doesn't mean that it will flow properly or write like it should with a different pen's feed...so in general, it's best to try to stick to the nibs made for the pen you're using. 

I had a question about the Konrad/Ahabs. Do you know if the brush feed can actually fit inside the Ahab? I actually have a much higher preference to the Ahab's CC-ish design (I like the air insulation, prevents burps... also the colours are much more varied!) over the Konrad.
I actually did, and it's a no-go. The brush tip feed only fits the Konrad, mainly because the feed is threaded and needs to fit into a thread that fits on the Konrad. The Ahab doesn't have these threads. The existing Konrad feed doesn't even fit the 'old' prototype Konrad brush pens that were out about a year ago. Sorry!

Can I choose the nib size of the Platinum Preppy included in Noodler's 4.5oz ink bottles?
Unfortunately not. They're all fine nibs, and they're a custom-modified Preppy so we're not able to change them out. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Write Time 1/16/13

Hello again! Things have been pretty busy around the Goulet shop lately, and they're not going to let up anytime soon. We just found out that Alex, our chief admin gal, is going to be leaving us to pursue another job. We're incredibly sad to see her go as she's come to be a very integral part of the Goulet experience, but life goes on. Rachel and I are going to have to step in to fill in Alex's very big shoes, and we're working to get our new admin (also named Rachel, that should only be a bit confusing!) trained and up to speed. It's going to take a good bit of time to make this transition, and our focus will be required to keep the internal workings of our company operating smoothly over the next few months. Write Time, though we love it, is a big commitment of our personal time, and we're going to have to put it on hold for the time being. We're not sure what the future of Write Time will hold for us, we're just going to be taking things a day at a time around here.

We also have some updates on product timelines:
  • TWSBI 580's were supposed to be here at the end of the month, that's what we were told when we talked to them late Tuesday afternoon. But according to a thread they posted on FPN, apparently the timeline for them changed to late February. 
  • We're still waiting on Diamine Music Sets to come in, and though the offering will be limited at first, they are going to be a regularly available product. This is different than what we were originally told by the Diamine distributor, and what we said in last week's Write Time. 
  • We are going to be getting some TWSBI mechanical pencils in, mainly just to play with them and dip our toes in the water. We've had a lot of people ask us about carrying pencils, and frankly we've always thought they're kind of neat, so what the heck, we'll give it a shot. We're not going nuts, and our focus will certainly still be on fountain pens all the way, but we're making the pencils available for anyone interested since they're not widely available now.
  • We're also going to start carrying Pilot Varsities. Big whoop, you can get them everywhere, but they are pretty cool pens and you can actually refill them as eyedropper pens, which is not something widely known. I'll probably shoot a video on that at some point.
  • We also talked about each of the 3 new Pilot Iroshizuku inks
  • Towards the end of the video, we talked about our hiatus and all the changes we're going to go about internally at GPC. It's not anything you're likely to notice from the outside as we're working to keep everything we do publicly as stable as possible, but we will have a lot of internal changes that will ultimately work out much better for everyone. We're excited about the opportunity to get some fresh perspectives and new personalities into our company, and to be able to ultimately offer you more than we have in the past. That's our goal!

Thanks to you all for keep up with Write Time and spending your free time with us, we do really enjoy your company and we will be a little sad to be on yet another hiatus. We know it's going to be better in the long run, and we're excited about the chance to tighten up our operation a little bit so that we can continue to rock your fountain pen world!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Write Time Topics 1/16/13, Last one for a while

Tonight will be the last Write Time that we have for a while, after this week we're going to go on a hiatus for a while. We've been pretty busy lately as it is, and we've talked about that. But the real reason we need the hiatus is because we're undergoing some personnel changes at GouletPens. Rachel and I will have to fill in for more of the 'hands-on' work, which means us cutting back on some of the more fun 'extras' that we do, like Write Time. We're not sure how long of a hiatus we'll need, but it will likely be a few months. We will still work to keep up the blog and videos as much as we possibly can, trust that we're going to work as hard as possible to keep things 'normal' during this time of change for us. It will be very demanding of our time, and we want to make sure that we keep a healthy balance with our work and family life as we know our kids (3 and 1) are in a very critical time of their development.

So for tonight, we'll keep it fairly short. But we plan to talk about:
  • What we expect to happen for us over the next several weeks/months 
  • Timelines for TWSBI products
  • Diamine timelines
  • Timelines for various out-of-stock products
  • Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro, Take-Sumi, and Shin-Kai
  • TWSBI and Lamy mechanical pencils
  • Product reviews across similar products (something we mentioned last week as a 2013 goal)

Thanks for being ever-patient, and ever-flexible with us. It has been a bit of a roller coaster for us personally over the last several months, and we want to make sure that we keep the core of our business healthy. We need to spend some time to get our 'house' in order so that we can continue to offer the same great service that we've built our company on. I know that last week we talked about all of the grand plans for things we wanted to consider for 2013, and we will certainly look to achieve as many as these as possible. We just need to spend some time to welcome some new Goulet team members and get them up to speed before we can continue the aggressive goals we've set for ourselves.

We'd love for you to spend time with us tonight, so that we can enjoy out last Write Time for a little while. If you're around your computer at 9pm EST tonight, then we'll see you here!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro

Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro is one of the three inks to have come out recently to complete the Pilot Iroshizuku line of 24 inks. The inks, aside from looking great in the bottle, have typically be renown for smooth flow, not drying on the nib, pleasant colors, easy of cleaning, and fast dry-time.

Ama-Iro (Sky Blue) is a medium blue/turquoise with no green or purple in it, it's a very 'pure' blue color. You can see how and why I do my reviews in this format here. I did the review with a Lamy Al-Star with a medium steel nib, mainly because I enjoy it and I know it's a pen that you're likely familiar with, if you don't already have one.

Here's my full Ama-Iro review:

I didn't have the highest of expectations for this particular color, mainly because I already have some great blues in my lineup that are close to this (Kon-Peki and Liberty's Elysium). I was pleasantly surprised in some areas, and only disappointed in one…the dry time. The dry time is 'normal', about 25-30 seconds on Rhodia, 10 seconds on my HP 24lb Laserjet, and that's where most inks fall. But most of the other Iroshizukus I've used dried a lot faster, so I had that expectation in mind. Oh well! It's still a great ink, it flows amazingly well as all Iroshizukus do, and even though the water-resistance isn't great, it's better than I thought it might be. 

Turquoises in this medium blue range are a dime-a-dozen, but this is the only one I was able to find that's without green or purple in it. See how other inks compare: 

So while I'm not blown away by Ama-Iro, I do find it to be a rather pleasant color. The packaging and presentation of the Iroshizuku inks are second-to-none, and I'll happily display a bottle of this on my desk for a while. If you're interested in a smooth, true blue turquoise/sky blue ink, then I think you should give Ama-Iro a look. At $28 a bottle ($35 list!) it's not exactly an impulse purchase, but at least now you should have a little more information. I'd love to hear what you think! Just leave me a comment below.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mailbox Monday #37

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:

Say, while I'm thinking about it, does the Custom 74 have more ink capacity than the dadgum (I'm a grandma now, I have to watch my language I'm told) VP converter?
Why it sure does! The Custom 74 uses the Con-70, which holds about twice what the daggum Con-50 does (used in the VP). That's part of why I enjoy the Custom 74 so much more...

I've noticed that ive had a certain affinity for a color recently. That color is Lime Green. The brightest one I can find. And I have no idea why but I digress. What is the brightest shade of Lime Green ink that you have that won't break the bank (>15 $ and at least 50 mL)? Thanks and as always, keep up the amazing work!!
Here are all our greens. I don't know which of these you'd consider lime, but the brightest green without question is Diamine Apple Glory. It's punch-you-in-the-eyes green! Diamine Meadow is also pretty vibrant. Diamine Kelly Green would probably be next in line. Diamine has a lockdown on vibrant greens!

My birthday is coming soon and I was thinking of a new pen. I am considering one of the following: Black Lamy 2000, Lamy Accent Briarwood, or the Studio, in the new red limited addition. I write a lot and have a lot of high end pens. I use generally medium , broad, etc. Have some good flex (vintage nibs). I am also intrigued by Stipula T-Flex nib. Of the three above which one have you had the best experience with or do you prefer. I respect your judgment because I can not handle the pens. I like wet nib. Would you recommend another brand, such as pilot, in the same price range. Let me know. I am due for a new pen.
I'm more than happy to share my pen experiences with you. I personally have a Lamy 2000 and a Lamy Studio with the same 14k nib as on the Royal Red, and I have experience with the Lamy Accent (though I don't have one in my personal collection). The Accent and Studio are going to write very similarly, as the feed/nib is exactly the same on both pens. Those 14k Lamy nibs are really great, incredibly smooth and wet writing nibs, they're some of my favorites. The broad is VERY wet, almost too wet for me. But the medium is just right. I tend to prefer mediums and broads myself.

The Lamy 2000 uses a different nib, though still 14k, and they do write smoothly especially in the mediums and broads. Mine is a medium, and I do enjoy it. The Lamy 2000 has kind of an understated elegance to it...a very simple design that it's flashy but rather industrial, it's very Bauhaus (German design). It's been a very popular pen for over 45 years, and for good reason. It's just a solid pen. The Studio is a little flashier, and while I do love the shape, the color (oh, that color!), and the nib, the one thing I really don't like about it is the grip. It's a smooth metal grip, which is fine for short notes but after a few minutes, my oily fingers begin to slip and the pen is not as comfortable for me to hold anymore. Some people don't mind this, but for me, I do. Aside from that one issue though, the Studio is a great pen. The Accent is really nice, too. In the early days of the Goulet Pen Company, I was actually hand-turning pens out of wood...this was before fountain pens, ink, or paper were on the horizon. So to me, the wood grip on the Briarwood is particularly enticing, it reminds me of my pen turning days, which are now (unfortunately) a thing of the past for me.

I'm also big fan of Pilot pens. The single pen I've used more than any other is my Pilot Custom 74 blue with a medium 14k nib, I just love it! It writes well, is smooth and wet, and the nib has a little bounce to it. Not enough to write like a flex pen, but it just feels a little springy so it feels kind of like when you have shock absorbers on your car. The Custom Heritage 92 is a similar pen to the 74 but with a piston mechanism, and the Custom 823 is another favorite of mine with a larger nib and very neat vacuum filling mechanism. It holds a lot of ink!

I personally have a Stipula Model-T with the T-Flex nib, and it's pretty nice. It writes pretty wet, so wet that it's hard to use on 'normal' paper. I actually use the same T-Flex nib in this video I made of the Stipula Etruria Alter Ego, if you want to see it in action. I actually do a write comparison with a soft Namiki Falcon and Noodler's flex pens, so that's probably something of interest to you.

A friend is bringing me some Platignum Studios from the UK and I understand these don't come with converters and use an irritatingly proprietary variation of the standard international cartridge. Over on the FPN, some people say standard converters will fit, others follow your advice on the monteverde mini converter, but there always seems to be a problem with converters fitting these pens. So my question is, does the monteverde mini fit the Platignums tightly? I carry my pens in a backpack right next to a camera and a laptop, so you'll understand I need some degree of safety on this!
Yeah, it's a little confusing. Some retailers are advertising that they accept standard international converters....but they don't. The Platignum cartridges look REALLY similar to standard international, but they're just a bit narrower at the neck. The pens actually have a slightly more narrow opening on the back of it where the cartridge connects, so you need a thinner cartridge to fit it. What's interesting is that I've read from others that some standard international cartridges fit, others don't because they're too wide to fit that neck. It's weird....so while I can't fit a full-size standard international converter on a Platinum pen, the Monteverde Mini converter is slightly narrower at the neck and does fit, though snuggly. You probably don't have anything to worry about carrying the pen as you will...the mini converter holds a pretty small amount of ink, so even if you have a spill, it won't be much. You can always play it safe and put the pen in a plastic ziplock bag or pen sleeve if you're worried about it though : ) 

I’ve got a little pen money stashed away and I’m just wondering if you have any ‘Special Editions” coming up with Edison pens. If you can’t write anything about it, I understand. I’d like to know before I spring for anything from Edison. I’d much rather get a limited edition from you people if one is coming up in the near future.
We just wrapped up our Encore LE last month, but we don't have anything else in the works right now. Even if we conceived of something right now, it would be several months before anything happened with it, especially because Brian just released his Beaumont pneumatic filler...so he's likely going to be a bit busy for a while!

I'm looking at the Aston 20 pen case. I have no experience with these cases. I'm looking to use it at home for long term storage. I'm worried about damage to the pens. Is this case safe for long term storage? Is there any worry of the elastic pen loops damaging the pens finish? Does the elastic get stretched out with prolonged use? I had heard that you use a similar case and was hoping for some first hand experience to help make my decision. Thanks.
I do in fact use Aston cases for all of my pen storage, and have been for about 2.5 years. Even after constant use and a fair amount of transporting, the first case I started using still looks practically new. The loops are still tight, but they don't scratch my pens. The cases hold up well...they do get a little softer over time as leather will do, but it doesn't at all affect the case's ability to protect the pens. The only downfall of a case like this, and it's nothing against Aston, is that it's not crush-proof. It's a leather case so it's very durable, but if you had the case sitting on the sofa and someone sat on it, that would be really bad. But, short of a hard wood case or something of that nature, you're going to face that issue. For transporting and storing 20 pens in a well-crafted case that will hold up for many years, look attractive, and be priced reasonably (for genuine leather), Aston is tough to beat. Other cheaper leather pen cases you see are imported from China and India where acid-tanning is the method of choice, because it's faster. The acids used though are not good for the metal hardware on pens, especially silver. Aston's are all hand-tanned with vegetable oil, here in the US using US cowhide. I'm a big Aston fan, and not because I sell them....I sell them because I'm a big fan and use them personally with great enjoyment.  

I appreciate that you put my VAC700 question in the mailbox section verbatim. That was nice to see. Do you ever edit the questions at all for brevity?
When it comes to Mailbox Monday I try to keep the integrity of the original question intact, but sometimes I have to edit it down in some fashion because the question needs context referenced in another email or part of an email, the question is good but the grammar is terrible, there's a typo that changes the meaning of the question, or something like that. But sometimes I get lucky and can more or less copy/paste ;) 

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, January 12, 2013

Pilot Iroshizuku, Completing the Line

With the release of the Ama-Iro, Take-Sumi, and Shin-Kai, Pilot has now completed the line of their 24 Iroshizuku inks. This is a broad overview of the brand as a whole, showing how the new three inks fit in to the palate. Full reviews of the three latest inks will be coming soon.

Write On,
Brian Goulet 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Write Time 1/9/13

Last night was the first Write Time of 2013, and in our usual fashion we ran a little over our normal goal of an hour broadcast ;) But that's okay! We were on a roll. We covered a whole variety of topics, including:
  • What we have been up to over the last month while not doing Write Time (spoiler alert, we've been busy!) (0:52)
  • We bought a second, yes, a second gold Pontiak Aztek…we now have a pair ;)
  • Pilot Iroshizuku inks, Ama-Iro, Shin-Kai, Take-Sumi, to arrive today! These inks will complete the Iroshizuku line at 24 inks total (8:40)
  • Diamine Music Set, pack of 10 unique inks named after composers to arrive sometime soon. We were originally told the set was going to be limited and heard back the morning after this broadcast that they in fact will be regularly available (15:20)
  • TWSBI 580's, hopefully to arrive the end of January with Jowo nibs (19:00)
  • Noodler's Ripple Ebonite Konrad pens, coming next week (maybe the week after) but in very good supply! (22:25)
  • New Rhodia/Clairefontaine products coming very soon (37:30)
  • Our thoughts and goals for 2013 on GouletPens.com (47:10)

We have a lot of different things we're looking to pursue in 2013, and we have to focus our efforts on the things that are most in demand and most achievable to us given our current resources of time, money, and talent. One this is for sure, as much as we've improved our website and tried to improve the overall writing experience, we will continue to do so with passion and vigor. If you have any ideas of things you'd like to see us do or resources that you know that would help us to achieve our goals, do let us know in the comments!

Thanks to everyone who joined us live, it was a nice broadcast and we're glad to be back. We'll see you next week for another Write Time at 9 ;)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Write Time Topics 1/9/13

We've taken some time off of Write Time, but we're coming back tonight! It's the beginning of a new year for us, and we see a lot of potential for us in 2013. Here's what we'd like to talk about tonight:
  • Our thoughts/ideas/goals for 2013, with your input about what you'd like to see us accomplish
  • New 2013 Rhodia/Clairefontaine products
  • Timelines for new Iroshizuku inks, TWSBI 580s, ebonite Konrad pens, the Diamine Music Set and other various new things
  • Our holidays at the Goulet shop/household

 If you have some time tonight, we'd love to have to stop by and see us at 9pm EST for Write Time!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Cleaning A Pilot Prera Cap

If you own a newer (demonstrator) Pilot Prera, then you've experienced the affliction of ink behind the cap insert. This insert does a good job of sealing the nib so it doesn't dry out, but it also does a good job of sealing ink into the cap! I used to think it was just a fact of life, but with some experimentation, I discovered the cap does in fact disassemble entirely! With these few simple steps, you can completely clean out your Prera cap to look like new.

Write On,
Brian Goulet 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mailbox Monday #36

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:

What is the difference between Noodler's Blue Ghost and Noodler's Whiteness of the Whale? The swabs on your site look very similar.
These are two interesting colors, and they look similar in a swab because, well, they're both hard to see :) In order to see either of them, we had to use a UV-blacklight. They're both UV-reactive, so they look similar. But Whiteness of the Whale is a milky-white ink...not really made to be used on it's own, but to be mixed with other inks to lighten them up. So you can take a red and make it pink....or a dark purple and make it lavender, that kind of thing. Blue Ghost is actually invisible, you can't see it on the paper at all, except under Blacklight. If this is the effect you're trying to achieve, then Blue Ghost would be a better choice than WoW, because it's cheaper if for not other reason :) 

I'm new to fountain pens, and I've decided I'm going to be ordering a Pilot Metropolitan pen relatively soon as my "starter pen". I know you guys offer the Pilot CON-50 converter as an optional add-on when I order the pen. Do you think I will need it, or will the squeeze converter that comes with the pen be sufficient for a beginner? I only plan on using one ink when I get it, but I may switch it up with a second ink down the road if I find that I really enjoy fountain pens as a new interest.
Welcome to the fountain pen world! I think you'd be happy with the converter that comes with the Metropolitan. The Con-50's one better quality is that it's clear and you can see how much ink is in there, but other than that it's worse in a lot of ways....it costs money, lower ink capacity, harder to clean, harder to fill. It would probably hold up better in the long run because it's all plastic instead of metal/rubber like the one that comes with the pen, but I would say just try the one that comes with it and only go to the Con-50 if you find you don't like the other one. You'll get more enjoyment putting that money towards a second ink!

I saw that you had the Noodler's Konrad Brush Pen in stock. I picked up the tortoise/medium because that's all that was in stock. Besides color, is the all black/fine model the exact same pen except the way the brush is cut? Would I be able to turn mine into a fine tip?
The brush on the medium is just cut a little thicker, that's all. It's actually the same brush tip in both pens, just cut differently. You can cut down your medium to make a fine either from the tip you have, or with a replacement tip that we have available separately. I think Nathan covers it in his video here. I plan to do my own video soon, but I've just been so swamped I haven't been able to. 

Is there any difference in writing between the Noodler's nib creeper rollerball & the rollerball that comes with the preppy?
The tip is exactly the same, so essentially they write the same. But the pens themselves are different. The Nib Creaper is a piston-fill and the Preppy is eyedropper, and they're obviously cosmetically different, but it terms of how they write they're very similar. 

I have a question about my TWSBI Vac-700. I'm having some feed issues with it that I didn't have with my 540. Both are EF, but the 540 has the older Bock nib, and the VAC has the newer Jowo nib unit. I'm getting very dry feed and skipping both when I start to write, and about 30 seconds in where it seems like the pen is out of ink. This happens for me more often because of my use of EF nibs, but with converter pens, I can simply push down the plunger a bit and get back to work. However, that's a bit hard to do with the VAC700, and I usually end up unscrewing the fill mechanism and then lifting it a bit and pushing it back down. That seems to saturate the feed enough to get back to writing. Is that standard operating procedure for the VAC700 as you've experienced it, or is that a defect of my pen?
One thing that a lot of folks don't realize (and I forgot to mention in my video review of the Vac-700) is that when you're writing for an extended period of time (more than a quick note), you need to unscrew the cap on the back of the pen. This allows for the pen to get proper air/ink interchange and for it to flow properly. It sounds like this is your issue, give that a shot and let me know if that helps. 

I am a high school student who is very interested in buying an everyday fountain pen that will last me possibly through my college years and even into the workplace, if it is durable enough. After thorough research, which includes browsing through your awesome website and watching your first impression of the Lamy 2000 Makrolon, I think the Lamy 2000 Makrolon version fits the bill (the stainless steel one is too cumbersome for an EDC pen). In your review of the stainless steel Lamy 2000, you said that you have used the Makrolon version a lot and I just wanted to know more about how durable it is with careful usage, which is how I intend to use this pen. Many users on the Internet said that a patina finish will develop over time that will make the matte finish look more glossy. Is this true for your pen? If it developed a patina, how long does it start to develop and how do I make it look matte again, if that is possible? (I very much prefer the matte look compared to a glossy look) And, I am very fond of the Lamy Safari medium steel nibs. So, which of the Lamy 2000 nibs - fine or medium - would deliver the closest line width and wetness compared to a Safari medium steel nib?
I do love my Lamy 2000! I don't personally use mine a lot every day, so mine is still all matte, no shiny parts yet. I don't know if/when that usually happens, but it's probably quite a while before it does. I haven't heard of that being a major issue with this pen and I've been selling them for two years, so it's probably something that develops with regular use after several years. In all honesty though, anything that you have with a matte finish will shine up after that long, because of the oils in your hand and the friction of your fingers holding the pen. That's part of why most pens are glossy. I'm not sure how easy it is to buff the finish back to a matte. It's probably not all that hard, just some fine grit sandpaper (maybe 400-600 or so) and it would get rid of the shiny parts. Be careful doing this though, it would undoubtedly void your warrantee. Do it at your own risk.

Overall though, it is a very durable pen. You don't want to abuse that fact, so it's best to carry it in some kind of pocket/case/sleeve of some kind. I carry mine in my laptop case in an Aston slip. The fine L2K nib would probably be the closest to the medium steel Lamy nib. The medium is the one I have, and it's the smoothest of all of the L2K nibs. I really enjoy it, but it is just a bit broader than the steel medium nib. 

I had a question about the Konrad/Ahabs. Do you know if the Konrad brush feed can actually fit inside the Ahab? I have a much higher preference to the Ahab's CC-ish design (I like the air insulation, prevents burps... also the colours are much more varied!) over the Konrad.
I actually did try to fit the Konrad brush feed into the Ahab, and it's a no-go. They only fit the Konrad, mainly because the feed is threaded and needs to fit into a thread that is cut inside the Konrad. The Ahab doesn't have these threads. The existing Konrad feed doesn't even fit the 'old' prototype Konrad brush pens that were out about a year ago. 

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!

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