Saturday, March 30, 2013

Changing Noodler's Army Green...BACK!

Back in September of 2012, I posted this blog post talking about the change that Noodler's made to Army Green. It was originally an olive green color, and changed to more of an emerald green. I wasn't the only one who preferred the original olive color, and the responses on Ink Nouveau and my YouTube video reinforced my thoughts. Army Green was great as it was, and should be changed back.

Left: Original and now current Army Green formula. Right: Old emerald formula made from Sept. 2012-March 2013

Thanks to everyone who posted a comment with their support, Nathan (Noodler's creator) was able to see the support that the original color had, and decided to change it back. It took from September 2012 until March 2013 for the emerald color to work its way through the Noodler's distributor, but now I can say that the original Army Green is what will be made going forward. At GouletPens.com we're seeing only the original color coming through our shop, but if you're looking to buy at other retailers you may just want to ask them which color they have in case they have old stock.

Pat yourselves on the back, everyone! It was because of the grassroots support for the original color that Nathan changed it back. Bravo to Nathan for listening to his fans, too.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sula Jane and Earl Leather Pen Cases

If you like leather pen cases, and you like pretty colors, then check out Sula Jane and Earl. It's a start-up company from California, that hand-makes pen sleeves, pen wraps, and a journal/notebook/phone cover. Kelly Egan started it, and she's actually been a fan and customer of Goulet for the last couple of years. We're happy to be her first major retailer (apart from selling her products directly). Here's their official website.

A note about the manufacturer:
Founded in Los Angeles in 2012, Sula Jane and Earl is a family business inspired by heritage and a 60 acre family farm in Pennsylvania. Like the land our grandparents farmed, our work is hand made, strong, tactile and beautiful. Each product is sewn, nurtured and cultivated to protect your treasured writing instruments through daily use.

Each pen slip is made of genuine chrome-tanned leather. Chrome tanned leather may tarnish silver and other metals prone to tarnishing if a writing instrument is stored in them for a prolonged period of time. Using the products to transport for daily use, however, should not result in tarnish or wear to the metal.

There are three Sula Jane and Earl products, a Pen Sleeve, Pen Wrap, and Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover. All of them are available in 16 different colors: Absinthe, Carnation, Cerise, Cloud, Coal, Cobalt, Kelly, Marine, Midnight, Plum, Sand, Scarlet, Sierra, Sunshine, Tangerine, and Wisteria.

Pen Sleeves

The Pen Sleeves are single pen slips that are great for transporting a daily carry pen. These are especially handy if you like to carry pens in your pocket, or in some sort of bag/purse where you want your pen easily accessible but also protected, and with a case that takes up minimal space. I personally carry all of my ready-to-access pens in leather pen sleeves, as I find them to protect my nice pens well, and keep them accessible.

These sleeves will hold some pretty big pens, too. Even the Edison Collier, which is one of the largest pens I know, fits in without a problem. This sleeve easily holds TWSBI 580 and Vac-700's, Pelikan m800's, and the Noodler's Ahab with room to spare. And the great variety of colors makes it easy to match the sleeve to the pen or ink that you want to use, which is great if you want to carry different pens around.

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeves, available in 16 colors, fits pens up to around 19mm (0.75in, which is huge)

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeve in Cloud

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeve in Kelly, with a Lamy Charcoal Safari

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Sleeve in Marine, with a Lamy Charcoal Safari resting peacefully inside

Pen Wrap/Writing Sheaf

If you want to keep an arsenal of pens close at hand, then you should check out these Pen Wraps. It's made to hold 4 pens, all ones that are about as big as the Edison Collier. It's quite simple, stick the pens in, fold over the flap, roll it up, and tuck the strap under itself. Then you're all set.

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap, available in 16 colors. Hold 4 pens, each up to 19mm wide (0.75in, which is huge)

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap in Carnation

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap in Coal, filled with pens

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap in Cobalt, with some pens taking a nap inside

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap in Sunshine, filled with pens

Sula Jane and Earl Pen Wrap in Tangerine, with some pens waking up from a restful slumber

Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover

These covers might require a little more explanation than the others. It's a neat design that allows you to transport a 3.5"x5.5" notebook (like the Rhodia Webnotebook) or smaller, pretty much any size pen, and a smart phone, all in one leather cover. Bigger journals like Leuchtturm1917 and the Quo Vadis Habana don't fit though, the Webnotebook is the biggest bound journal I've found to fit it. But anything 3.5"x5.5" or smaller will work well.

You can mix up the arrangement, too. There's a slit cut in the left side that will hold your phone or a steno-style notebook. The pen goes in the middle, and there's a slit on the right side that holds a side-bound notebook or a phone. You can forget the phone and hold a side-bound and top-bound notebook, or forget the notebooks and hold two phones if you want! You have options, and the versatility is what makes this fun.

Sula Jane and Earl Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover, available in 16 colors

Sula Jane and Earl Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover in Midnight (dark blue)

Sula Jane and Earl Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover in Cerise, empty

Sula Jane and Earl Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover in Scarlet. Fits a 3.5"x5.5" notebook, pen, and phone. Shown here with a No. 12 Rhodia pad

Sula Jane and Earl Journal, Phone, and Pen Cover in Wisteria, in an alternate arrangement with a small Rhodia Webnotebook

We're thrilled for Kelly to be able to do something that she loves, and she's clearly going about it the right way, too. As a guy who started my company in my dining room, I can certainly appreciate what it takes to start small and create something from an idea and take it global. I'm happy to help to bring Sula Jane and Earl to the lime light, and we look forward to seeing it grow. One of the best things about smaller companies like SJ&E is they're always open to ideas and feedback, so please, let me know what you think in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

TWSBI 580 Disassembly

TWSBI has instructions inside their pens showing how to take it apart, but I find that taking apart and putting a pen back together is shown best in a video. This demonstration will show you how to take apart and reassemble a TWSBI 580, but the piston assembly is exactly the same for the 540, 530, and Mini, so these techniques will work the same for all these pens. If you've ever struggled putting your TWSBI pen back together, this is the video for you.

TWSBI Diamond 580
TWSBI Diamond 580


Write on,
Brian Goulet

Friday, March 22, 2013

TWSBI 580/540 Comparison

Ever since TWSBI announced that they were replacing their flagship pen, the Diamond 540, with the Diamond 580, everyone has been curious what would actually differentiate the two. If you remember, a couple of years ago the Diamond 540 replaced TWSBI's original pen, the Diamond 530. With that upgrade there were some subtle differences, but there was an increase in ink capacity. Well, there's nothing that drastic with the changes to the 580, but even still, it's worth pointing out the differences.

There honestly aren't any drastic changes from the 540 to the 580. TWSBI has been updating periodically on their Facebook page,  so nothing I'm talking about here should be a huge surprise. FPGeeks also did a blog post that has a pretty good pictorial of the differences. Bottom line, if you liked the 540, you'll also like the 580. The changes were mainly for manufacturing and quality/durability reasons.

The one thing I know I'll get asked about a lot that I don't cover in this video is how the nibs perform. The 540 started with Schmidt nibs, then moved to Bock, then Jowo, so it was a little tough to nail down exactly which nib you'd be getting when you bought one. But the 580's will all be coming with Jowo from their release. I'm told by TWSBI that there shouldn't be any noticeable difference with these nibs over previous ones, and I'll test that for myself in a couple of weeks when I have the nib units in stock to be able to write test. But the cool thing is that all of the 530, 540, and 580 nib units are interchangeable, so you can use older nibs on your new 580, or get 580 nibs for your older TWSBI pen.

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

TWSBI Diamond 580

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Midori Traveler's Notebook Arrangements

I did a Midori Traveler's Notebook video when I first began carrying their products back in early February 2013. In that video, I showed the Midori "official" way to arrange multiple notebooks inside the leather cover, using the Midori rubber connecting bands. After I published that video, I received some great tips on alternate ways to arrange notebooks, some of which didn't even require the rubber bands! I played around with a lot of different ways, and I settled on a few good techniques that I show you here in the video for arranging 1, 2, or 3 notebooks inside the cover, all just using the materials that come with the leather Traveler's Notebook (except the additional notebooks, that is). I use my personal Passport MTN, but the same techniques work with the Regular one, as well.

I'm a retailer showing you (for free) how to not buy something from me…how often does that happen?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

TWSBI Diamond 50P Inkwell

TWSBI has just released their Diamond 50P inkwell, and I've been getting a lot of questions about what makes it different from the Diamond 50 inkwell. I covered how to use the Diamond 50 in this video. In today's video I talk about the two, and show how to use the Diamond 50P. Here's what I cover:
  • Unboxing the TWSBI Diamond 50P (0:45)
  • Showing the 5 bottle colors (1:40)
  • Comparing the plastic 50P cap to the aluminum 50 cap (2:10 and 6:35)
  • Using the Diamond 50P inkwell to fill a TWSBI Mini (or 530/540/580) (2:40)
  • Using the Diamond 50P to fill a standard international converter (4:25)
  • Swapping caps with the Vac-20 bottle (4:43)
So you might be asking yourself, why get this one instead of the Diamond 50? The main reason is price, the 50P is $18.99, the 50 is $25.00. It's not a gargantuan difference, but it's noticeable. The biggest plus I see to the 50P is that its cap will work better when swapped with the Vac-20, if that's appealing to you. But the main draw is the price.

What do you think?

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, March 18, 2013

Apica Notebooks Overview

Above: Apica brand overview. I show the different sizes of Apica CD and Basic notebooks. For full product details, it's best to check out my site where I have everything laid out in a more browsable (is that a word?) manner than I can post here on the blog. The notebooks range in size from a 2.75"x4" to 7"x10",  and are priced from $1.80 to $8.60. The main idea with these notebooks is that they're relatively thin, and great for single-subject or single-topic applications. Sheet count ranges from 28 to 52 sheets in the CD, 50-100 in the Basics. The CD's are the thinner notebooks, and the Basics are more like lab notebooks.

Below: Apica Paper Test.  Okay, so my video on the brand overview ended up being really long, so I broke out the writing test into a separate one. The CD paper is good, similar to Rhodia in smoothness and performance. It's not quite as ink resistant with wetter pens and inks, but it holds up about as any non-Rhodia paper I've seen. The paper is slightly different in the CD than the Basic notebooks. The Basics have a lightly gray tinge, and have a longer dry time than the CD paper. Still pretty darn good stuff, but it is different enough where it was worth comparing in the video.

In this video, I test a Pilot Custom 823 medium with Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-Iro, a Pilot Metropolitan medium with Diamine Red Dragon, a Pilot Custom 74 medium with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts (wow, I'm just realizing I use a lot of Pilots!), a Pelikan m200 italic with Noodler's Apache Sunset, and a Lamy Vista fine with Noodler's Black.

The CD notebooks come in a variety of colors, and in everything but the smallest CD5 and CD7 notebooks, are available by the individual color. The CD5 and CD7 are only offered in mixed packs, so you can only get a random choice of 4 colors. The different colors include (in order you see here) Black, Light Blue, Light Green, Mustard, Navy, Red, Sky Blue, White, and Yellow:

None of the paper is perforated, and it's all lined. The line rulings range from 6-7mm, and the paper is all the same weight, about 80g.

Apica CD15, CD11, CD10, and CD7.

Apica 6A10 Basic notebook, lab-style with 7mm ruling.

There you have it! There's Apica, hit me up in the comments if you have any questions.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Mailbox Monday #45

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 am torn between a Platinum 3776 and an Edison Collier, I know you don't want to exactly tell me which one to get but I want some sort of feed back. Which one do you like best ? I have used an Edison collier but not a 3776 so I don't know the comparison but I'm pretty sure you do.
That's a bit like choosing between a Lexus and Mercedes ;) You really can't go too wrong either way! I personally have several of both pens, and I like them or different reasons. The 3776 has a gold nib, which is hard to ignore. But the Edisons write really well for having steel nibs, so that's not as big of a difference as you might think. The one thing I really don't like about the Collier is that it doesn't post...not a huge deal b/c it's a big enough pen to be okay without posting, but it's a dealbreaker for some so I thought I'd mention it. The other plus that the 3776 has is that Platinum designed a special cap seal that they tout keeps the nib wet for over a year. I haven't tested it that long, but the pen does write really well after not using for a while.

Edisons are beautiful, that depth and vibrance only comes from a cast resin material like you see in Edison's pens. Plus, it's made in America, and Brian Gray (the man who makes them) is a stand-up guy, I personally feel good supporting his business. 

I discovered your page and shop only few weeks ago, but I like them a lot. I have been reading a lot of your posts and watching a lot of your videos in the last days and got inspired by your ink reviews and swabs. I decided to make something simmilar and join your Ink Drop today. So now I have the pen(s) (Faber-Castell e-motion, Cerruti 1881 West and hopefully TWSBI and Platinum soon :D), I have the ink samples needed, but I have no idea which paper to use. I would like to write 1 page per ink sample and it should also include a swab test (do not want to have the swabs on separate pieces of paper), so I think that an A5 is enough. But I do not know what gsm, lines or dots or blank, if bound in a notebook or separate pages (as I want to scan it afterwards for my blog). If notebook, perforated pages or or another type suitable for scanning? I am also thinking about using an A4, print some kind of "fill-in form" on it (2 forms per page) and cut it into 2 A5s. I know, that you are using Rhodia papers, but you have also mentioned, that Rhodia is fountain pen unfriendly paper.
I personally settled on Rhodia No. 16 Dotpads for my reviews. I'm not sure if you mistyped or if you have a misunderstanding about my view of Rhodia, it is actually some of the best and most fountain pen friendly paper in the world, and I love it. The reason that I use it for all of my reviews is because it's some of the most consistent and friendly paper I've used. It comes in multiple sizes so you can get whatever suits your fancy. A5 (which is No. 16 in Rhodia) is pretty tight, I personally use A5 because I want to limit my reviews. I personally settled on my review format after trying a lot of different ones, but everyone has a different style.

Using a printed form isn't such a bad idea, either. Honestly, if you want good copy paper, HP makes a great laser paper called HP 32lb Premium Laser that's some really good stuff. Not quite Rhodia/Clairefontaine, but dang close and a lot cheaper per sheet. I don't sell it, but you can find it at any office supple place. 

One of my favorite inks is Noodlers X-feather. I made the mistake of buying a couple of journals that use recycled paper and anti-feather is the only ink that will not bleedthrough or feather. My question is, does Noodlers (or any other ink company) make an ink with similar properties, only in blue? Or any other colors?
Oh yeah, recycled paper is pretty much the worst stuff for fountain pen ink, unfortunately! Noodler's is the only brand that even markets a non-feathering ink, and only in that color. I did a little poking around and found an FPN thread about mixing X-feather with Lamy Turquoise to get a nice blue-black!

Honestly, I'm not aware of any non-black ink that resists feathering quite as well as X-feather. Noodler's Upper Ganges Blue is pretty good (it's a pain to clean from the pen, though). Platinum Pigmented Blue is good too, but that's a bit of a different breed of ink. Rather than being dye-based, it's pigment-based, so the ink dries more on the surface of the paper, instead of soaking in. It's designed mostly for brush pens, but works in fountain pens, too. Just don't let it dry up in your pen, it's a pain to clean out if you do!

I'm putting together another order from you, and am considering the Monteverde Prima with stub nib. Unable to find any enlightening reviews of this nib online. Can you tell me, in your opinion, does it tend toward being a soft or crisp stub? Someone reviewed it on your site as "like writing with the tip of a spoon," and that sounded like the kind of stub I'd be unhappy with. I like pretty crisp edges--my favourite pen, still, is my Speedball C-4 dip pen! Searching for a fountain pen that will give me that kind of crispness.
I did this video of the Prima, and I actually use a 1.1mm stub in my demo! It's really a stub, not at all a crisp italic. I don't know exactly what the person leaving the review meant by 'writing with the tip of a spoon'...I'm guessing that means they think it is very smooth, which it is. These nibs really are not crisp, and in fact, there are very few stub nibs that come from the factory of any pen company that I feel are crisp, it's usually something that has to be done by a nibmeister. 

Brian, will you be carrying the standard size bottle of Noodler's Heart of Darkness? They are really all the quantity I need. My Liberty's Elysium is still 3/4 full and I've used that the most!
There currently isn't a 3-ounce Heart of Darkness, Nathan only makes it in 4.5 ounce. If he decides to make it in 3 ounce, then we'll carry it. But I don't think he has plans to. Sorry!

I recently placed an order for a series of items including Brause Calligraphy and Writing Set (code B0137). I recently began jotting ideas down in an "academic journal." I decided that it would be easier if I titled pages in an ink (red, brown, green, etc) based on topic: book ideas, articles ideas, course idea, reading lists, and so on. Since an idea on one page (titled in red) be different from the next page (in green) I decided that a dip pen would be best. I ordered the Brause dip pen because it seemed like a good "starter pen" and it had an italic nib which would further distinguish the title. The order was speedily shipped and filled before I learned that a Brause dip pen may not write with fountain pen ink. Watching some of the Goulet videos before bedtime- yes, I am that big of a geek- I noticed that you ink your swab cards with a glass dip pen. So, I need some advice. Will the Brause dip pen work or should I return it for a glass dip pen. I understand that the glass pen will not write in italic, but the first requirement for a pen is that it writes.
It's a little hit-or-miss when you're using a dip nib set with fountain pen inks. Fountain pens inks are water-based, and are thinner than the shellac-based calligraphy inks that they are made to use. That said, the nib set you're getting will work with most fountain pen inks, for most of the nibs. I've found that the nibs with ink reservoirs will work best. That includes the italic nibs, they come with ink reservoirs on them. I have a video where I play with the set a bit, here. I also use a glass pen there, so you can see how the two compare.

Yes, I do use glass pens for my swabs, but that's mainly because it's easy to clean...and it's because that's how I started doing the swabs 3 years ago, and it's too late for me to change it! Glass pens write really wet, and aren't necessarily the best representation of how the ink will look in a fountain pen.

If you're only going to be switching between a couple of ink colors, it may be best just to get a couple of inexpensive pens to use and ink up with your red and green inks. The Pilot Metropolitan is my favorite, and is only $15. 

Any plans to get the J. Herbin pre-cut blotter sheets in white and if so will you be offering a package set including the blotter the way you do with the full-size sheets?
Herbin only makes the pre-cut sheets in pink :P Otherwise, we'd carry them in white! They only have white paper in full sheets.

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, March 15, 2013

Removing Vacuum Filler Pen O-rings

I recently posted this video about unscrewing the back of your filler knob on your vacuum-filling fountain pen (such as the TWSBI Vac-700 or Pilot Custom 823, among others) so that you can ensure you get proper ink flow while you write. Understandably, some find this practice annoying. For those of you who feel that way, I give you, today's video.

Basically, you just unscrew the mechanism out of the pen, and pull off the conical o-ring on the end of the rod. This is the o-ring that seals up the ink chamber (it's separate from the o-ring that actually fits to the walls of the pen to allow it to fill), and by removing it, you bypass the need to unscrew the back of the pen altogether.

Now, realize that when you're doing this you're opening yourself up to an increased risk of leakage during traveling, especially during extreme elevation or temperature changes. These types of pens aren't necessarily more prone to this than other pens, except that any pen with a large ink capacity (2ml+) has an inherent increased risk of leaking under these situations, particularly if there is a lot of air in the ink chamber.

***WARNING*** This is probably something your pen manufacturer does not want you to do at the risk you'll do something irreversible to your pen! Be certain that you're clear about your pen manufacturer's warrantee policies, and understand that by disassembling your pen and removing a part like this, you're likely going to have to pay for any potential damage or loss of small parts that you cause, if that happens. This is a pretty simple and straightforward process, but I don't want you coming after me or the pen maker if you do something crazy to your pen while trying this. If you're not comfortable doing it, then don't!

Okay, so I got all that disclaimer mumbo jumbo out of the way there…unscrewing a vacuum filler rod from the back of pens like these and removing a small rubber o-ring really isn't dangerous or scary, the biggest risk you're likely to face is losing the o-ring, which is a unique conical shape that you likely won't be able to find anywhere if you lose it. You could also potentially cause harm if you severely overtighted the rod as you're screwing back into the pen, but that really doesn't have anything to do with the o-ring. That's just something the watch out for anytime to take out the rod and put it back in.

Usually I try to stay away from the kind of tips and tricks where I need to give disclaimers, but since I'm a retailer showing you how to go rogue on two of the pens that I sell, I thought it was safer to put them there. It's totally up to you if you decide to do this to your own pens or not, but I figured at least showing you how to do it and understanding how these pens work a little better couldn't hurt.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Screw Them Vac Fillers!

If you've ever written with or read about a problem with vac-filling pens (such as the Pilot Custom 823 or TWSBI Vac-700) drying up after writing for a few minutes, you will definitely want to check out this video. The solution to your problem could be so simple you'll slap your forehead. Long-story short, you need to unscrew the back filler knob when you write in order to ensure proper ink flow.


Because there's an o-ring on the end of the filler rod that seals up the ink chamber, and unless you unscrew the back of the pen, you are essentially cutting off ink supply to your nib. You can still write for a bit (nearly 10 minutes in this video) before it dries up, but it'll happen, eventually. Unscrewing that filler knob opens up the ink chamber and allows ink to go through the pen.

So why do pen companies design them this way? Any pen that holds this much ink (2ml or more in most vacuum fillers) can be prone to leaking due to pressure changes caused by elevation and temperature variations.  They seal them up so that leaking isn't as likely to happen. It just means you have to unscrew the back knob. I'm not sure most fountain pen users are aware that vacuum filling pens require this, as I get a lot of questions from frustrated vac owners and read about it a lot on FPN.

Hopefully, this helps to clear up some of the confusion and mystique about vacuum-filling pens. I do love the design and think they're a very novel way to fill a pen, and with this simple trick, it's easy to enjoy your vac-filler as it was intended.

Here's the letter I wrote while waiting for the pen to dry up after a fresh fill. It was pretty much a stream of consciousness, but ended up being kind of funny. Excuse the many spelling errors, I wasn't going to accuracy, but more for speed!

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Filling The Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen

It's been a while since the Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen came out, and I have had this video in my sights for some time. So without further ado, here is a video that shows how to fill the Ahab with its piston, as well as how to convert it to an eyedropper pen. I even show the various ink capacities that the pen can have, and how that compares to your average cartridge/converter pen.

Noodler's Ahab Flex Pens

I'd actually recorded this video about two weeks after the Ahab was released back in November 2011, but I had an audio technical issue that rendered all the footage useless. I'd intended to reshoot it shortly after, but I was in the process of completing the Nib Nook (a huge project at the time) before my daughter was to be born, which happened just a few weeks later. For whatever reason, I had kind of mentally checked off that I'd done that video, and never got back around to doing it, until I had someone ask about how to fill it recently. I couldn't believe that I had forgotten to reshoot it in all this time, so I dropped everything and got it done!

There are two different ways to fill the Ahab, with the supplied piston, or if you remove that piston, as an eyedropper. Both will get you a good volume of ink, (1.7ml with the piston if the breather tube is missing, 1.9ml with the piston if the breather tube is in place, and 6ml+ with the eyedropper!). This was a significant improvement over the original Noodler's Nib Creaper Flex pen, which only holds about 1ml of ink.

So I apologize for such a delay getting this video out, but at least it's here now :)
If you'd like to see an overview of the Ahab, click here.
If you'd like to see a video on how the Ahab actually writes, click here.
If you'd like to see how to convert another pen to an eyedropper (Platinum Preppy) click here.
If you'd like to see how the Ahab compares to the Noodler's Nib Creaper and Noodler's Konrad flex pens, click here.

If you have any questions at all, just let me know in the comments.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

Monday, March 11, 2013

Mailbox Monday #44

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:

Does the Noodler's Black bulletproof 4.5oz come with a pen? If i am not mistaken dollar per oz, the 3 oz bottle works out to be cheaper without the pen. I am in malaysia work in singapore. Do you have issues with sending inks here? Were you ever limited to a quantity? This side of world, noodler's is strangely unpopular. In over 20 years of using the fountain pen I for one swear by noodler's stuff.
The 4.5 ounce Noodler's Black does not come with a pen. It is ever-so-slightly cheaper than the 3 ounce ($4 per ounce, instead of $4.17 per ounce), but that's it. We're currently out of the 4.5 ounce ones anyway, though, so if you need to order soon, you may just want to get the 3 ounce. I haven't had any particular problems shipping to Singapore or Malaysia, other than it can take several weeks. Customs always holds things up.

I've used fountain pens since 1973 (3rd grade) and have tried dozens of inks over the years. I'm a blue fan and most of my pens get filled with one type of blue or another. After much experimentation and miles of writing, I find that I really like Lamy Blue. Simple, understated but quite functional. My question is this; "What other ink would you recommend that would have the color of Lamy Blue but would include qualities that Lamy Blue doesn't have. Specifically the qualities of drying fast and and hopefully not smearing (even when dry)" If it helps to know, I'm a left handed, overhook writer.
The best way to find an ink similar to Lamy Blue would be to first check out our Swab Shop, then try some ink samples of the closest matching colors. Looking at it myself, I would say that you may want to try Pelikan Royal Blue, Waterman Serenity Blue, Parker Quink Washable Blue, Delta Blue, or Stipula Deep Blue. They are all somewhat close in color and may dry a little faster, though I'm not sure. The one that I know will dry faster is Noodler's Bernanke Blue, as it's formulated as a fast-drying ink. It will spread a little more on the paper, but that's how it achieves its fast-drying feature, it absorbs quickly into the paper and dries off the surface to keep from smearing. I've also had really good like with the Pilot Iroshizuku inks, so you may want to try Tsuyu-Kusa or Ajisai

Which rollerball is better the J.Herbin or the Noodlers one and which lays down a finer line?
For the rollerballs, they're both pretty similar in the way they write:

The Herbin one only uses standard international short cartridges though, the Noodler's one is piston-fill and can use bottled ink. I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions. 

I'm primarily looking for black inks. I was debating between Noodler's Black, Noodler's X-Feather, Noodler's Heart of Darkness, and Aurora Black (but unfortunately you guys are out of Aurora Blacks at the moment). My primary concern with these inks are dry speed, since my hand does tend to go over previous words I've written. Would you be able to give me a quick run-down of them? I do know that X-Feather tends to take a substantially longer amount of time to dry as compared to Heart of Darkness or Bulletproof Black.
Hmm....those are all good blacks, honestly. But if dry time is your biggest consideration, Black or Heart of Darkness will do you best. Which one specifically may vary based on the pen/paper used, but you could try a sample of each and see what works best for you. X-feather and Aurora Black are great, but wetter. Borealis Black is worth a look if you like Aurora, very same inks (Noodler's did a reverse formulation on Aurora to get Borealis, hence the name!). 

I am bouncing back and forth between ordering a Lamy 2000 or a Pilot Custom 74. I'd really like a Dialog 3 but don't want to spend that much. I do like the look of the Lamy 2000. I'm more interested in how they write though. I'm not the type to pull out a pen and wait for someone to ask about it so I can tell them how expensive it is. I just want a well made pen that writes really well with an archival grade ink like Noodler's Black for the best price/performance ratio I can get. I'm not really set on any one brand.
My honest opinion? Don't get a Dialog 3. They're good, but not as good a value as the other two. The Lamy 2000 and Custom 74 are both great pens, I have and use both on a regular basis. If I had to chose one or the other that would be really tough, but it would be the Custom 74. I just happen to like the way it writes just a bit better. But I do love the utility and piston-filling of the Lamy 2000. Dang! I actually have a really hard time recommending one over the other! I don't really care about the 'bling' factor of my pens either, I'd almost rather have something more discreet so that people don't ask me to see it ;)

I personally think the Lamy 2000 is a little more 'understated', there's a simplicity in its design that I really like. As far as which will perform better, I find them both to work really well, but there are some slight differences. The Custom 74 is a screw-off cap, whereas the Lamy is a snap cap. Both are secure, but the Lamy is more convenient if you're going to cap/uncap it a lot. The Lamy 2000 has a little finer sweet spot, and can be less forgiving for those who tend to rotate their pens in their hand as they write. The Custom 74 is better in that respect. If you hold your pen close to the nib, then the Lamy 2000 would be better, because the hooded nib allows you to hold it really close to the tip without getting your hands inky. These are just some additional considerations. I've used Noodler's Black extensively in both, and they both flow really well. The Lamy 2000 is a little easier to fill/clean though, so that might be a consideration for you. The button-filling Con-70 converter on the Custom 74 can be a little tricky.

I am having a hard time deciding b/w the Monteverde Prima and the TWSBI 580 (whenever it gets released), and I am hoping you can help me tease out which one would be best for me. I would probably purchase either with the 1.1 nib I like the prettiness of the Prima but folks seem to love the 540 (and hopefully the 580). I am very open to other suggestions. I would like to keep the price under $50.

Other pens I have considered are: Lamy Nexx (for the wider grip, but still triangular. and it just looks goofy) and Noodler's Konrad Flex (seems a bit high maintenance for me). I am newish to fountain pens. Most important is function; defined as comfortable, practical, durable, and easy to use. I love a smooth flow, but not a bleeder. I am left handed (with hands - long and skinny), but have not had a problem with standard nibs. So far my favorite nibs are 1.1. I'd love to find a slightly smaller stub nib. Also, I am a serial ink changer. Ease of filling/cleaning may need to be factored in. I hate skipping, scratchy, and high maintenance. I am looking for an all around pen for daily use and journaling.

Yeah, definitely not the Konrad. It's good for a flex pen, but the nature of it is that you have to tinker with it quite a bit, and it's not really ideal for newbies unless you really want to dive in deep. Really, the Prima, 580, and Nexx would all fit the bill. Okay, so taking all this into account, I have some recommendations:

Lamy Nexx: Cool pen, kinda weird looking, but is comfortable and reliable to write with, like a nicer Safari. It can also use the same nib as your Safari, so you have versatility. It's much cheaper than the other two, which is a plus. Fun colors, too.

MV Prima: Classy looking pen, like an Edison. Good nib options, and the 1.1 is pretty awesome. I can easily recommend this one.

TWSBI 580: It's hard to really say with this pen because it's not out yet, but assuming it is going to be an improved 540 as advertised, this could also be a good choice. It's much longer than the other pens, which may or may not matter. The nicest thing about the TWSBI is the bigger ink capacity, and the clear body if that matters to you. These are really three pretty different pens, so it really just depends which of the different features matter to you. 

I am wondering if you could get me one of these...a blank Exacompta sketch journal...100grm paper..it is black with silver lining on the edges of the paper. All you are selling is lined.
The Exacompta sketchbook is discontinued and no longer being made. We found out about this a few months back. There may be some retailers who still have them, and if so, you should snatch them up right away before they're gone forever. 

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, March 8, 2013

Love Letter Contest Winners!

As you may recall from earlier this month, we announced a little contest where we would be giving away two Royal Red Lamy Studios (winner's choice of 14k nib), and 5 bottles of ink (winner's choice of either Noodler's Purple Heart or Noodler's Qin Shi Huang).

We had anyone interested mail in entries all during the month of February for a chance at a random drawing for the prizes, and we've selected our winners! So without further delay, here are the winners. For privacy's sake, we're only posting the first name and first initial of the last name, we checked to make sure there are duplicates are there shouldn't be any confusion based on what we're posting here:

Lamy Studio #1: Bhuvana
Lamy Studio #2: Tess G.
Ink Bottle #1: Stephanie H.
Ink Bottle #2: Guiseppe A.
Ink Bottle #3: Lisa R.
Ink Bottle #4: Benjamine F.
Ink Bottle #5: Jennifer B.

The winners are all being emailed apart from this blog post, to get information about where to ship their prizes. However, in accordance with the rules that we originally laid out, if they fail to respond within 3 days of this blog posting, we will select an alternate winner for the prize in limbo and contact them on an individual basis. If you're unsure whether you won or not, send us an email to confirm.

280 Love Letter Entries
We have gotten a few people asking why we chose to make this a random drawing rather than picking winners based on our 'favorite' letters, and that's a very valid question. The main reason we didn't want to do that is because honestly, it's just really hard to pick favorites! We received some letters where there was amazing drawing/ink washing work, some had simply mind-blowing calligraphic handwriting, and others were cartoons that were very funny and clever. Some were elaborate sonnets, others were adorable stories written by 9-year-old kids. We have no idea what criteria we would have used to pick favorites with such a diverse range of entries. We ended up with right about 280 entries, so you can imagine the time it would have taken to give everyone fair consideration for winning if it was based on picking a favorite, and how subjective that would have been. We'll consider that for future contests, though.

Though we didn't pick winners based on favorites, we do have some letters that really stood out to us and we will feature those in a separate blog post once we contact those individuals and get their permission to use their work (keeping it anonymous, of course). Thank you so much to everyone who entered, it's so awesome to see how much love there is for the beloved fountain pen :)

Write On,
Brian and Rachel Goulet and the rest of the Goulet team

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