Friday, May 9, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 30, Using Fountain Pens at Work

It's a two-parter this week! I got so many good questions about Using Fountain Pens at Work that I just couldn't cut them all down. So you're kind of getting a two-for-one deal this week ;) Enjoy!

Part 1

1) Emily W.- Facebook (3:43):
I'm lucky enough to work in a place where I can push the boundaries in terms of ink colors, and I want to make the most of it. I'm happy with my samples of Noodler's Army Green and Diamine Syrah, and I'd like to add a few more inks to the rotation. Do you have any recommendations for inks that are slightly out of the ordinary, but still work-appropriate?

2) Debasis G.- Facebook (5:51):

You know this whole thing about changing everything else for the sake of using a fountain pen is pretty lame. People should know which pens write well on the worst quality workplace paper. I would like to see recommendation on smooth writing extra fine nibs on copy papers. The point is mainstream folks should appreciate a fountain pen. And this is the philosophy that makes Nathan of Noodler's stand out.

3) Ryan G.- Facebook (10:07):
Suggestions: top bullet-proof daily carry pens. Challenge level: may be subjected to teenagers. Context: high school teacher who caves when asked, "Mr. Gilbert, can I try that pen?"

4) Wesley S.- Facebook (12:47):
My two major struggles in daily fountain pen use are how I carry them and the necessity of using cheap paper. Can you recommend some non-dorky ways to carry a fountain pen on my person (I'm worried my pants pocket will destroy a nice pen) and some blue inks that work well with cheap paper?

5) Michael H.- Facebook (16:14):
Should I feel bad that I like whipping out my Spencerian-inspired flexed script at work? Furthermore, should I feel bad for having the forethought to fill my vintage Watermans with inks that will perform well on the crappy paper at work? Most of the time the reaction is positive, but there's always that rogue look of "well doesn't he think he's special…".
6) Pascal D.- Facebook (18:47):
Not a question, suggestion to help out:
Keep a mini "travel" bottle of ammonia-based (the blue ones) cleaners (for windows), it helps clean up the fountain-pen inks on the hands when your pen decides to do a mess, or if you do an accident when filling it. (regular soap doesn't work - while still good to wash hands anyway.. but to remove ink.. use the blue stuff)

7) Brian HC.- Facebook (19:45):
I'm a big fan of heavy, solid pens like the Monteverde Nighthawk. Can you suggest any other heavy fountain pens in that price range or lower? The rest of the Invincia line doesn't count as an answer.

8) Calvin P.- Facebook (21:18):
In my line of work I have cause to write letters, notes, cards, etc. to high school and college students. First, what fun, vibrant, colorful inks are still easy on the eyes (i.e., could be used to write a long note or very brief letter)? Second, I often find when writing on postcards or in cards, that I get extreme feathering with almost any ink...any inks (other than Noodler's X-Feather) that I might get better mileage with? Thanks!

9) Ray C.- Facebook (25:14):
How would you recommend carrying your pen If all you happen to have are your notebook/planner, and your pen, and it's a hot day so you don't want to keep your pen in a shirt pocket because of body heat making the ink rise in the pen and possible causing a leak, or in some cases the getting the pen wet from sweat?

10) Sherah E.- Facebook (27:34):
The paper at work (okay, in school) is horrible, and bleeds badly when I use Liberty's Elysium on it. Given that I can't change the paper nor do I want to change the ink, what can I do? PS. Using a Japanese F nib.

11) Tom S.- Facebook (31:28):
What is a good 3ring loose leaf paper, plain and lines, for fountain pens and ink?

12) Shane H.- Facebook (34:17):
What would you suggest we say or do when someone expresses interest in fountain pens? I tend to get really excited, say everything that comes to mind, and I'm afraid that turns people off because it's too much information. Should we recommend a video? Or do something else? I was thinking that buying them an introductory pen (and the necessary supplies) would be a nice gesture, but that seems presumptuous, and might constitute an inappropriate workplace gift.

Part 2

1) Valerie L.- Facebook (0:40):
I would like suggestions on avoiding inky finger. I'm right handed and I always get ink on my middle finger on my Ahab and Esterbrook SJ. I work on carbon paper, so those two nibs are good, but they write too wet. "dry"/"drier" ink suggestions or nib tweaking I should try?

2) Patrick D.- Facebook (3:10):
I have found a putting a "Quiver" on my Webbies to be ideal for keeping paper and pen handy at work. Have you ever considered carrying quiver products?

3) Scott Y.- Facebook (4:36):
Hi Brian et all! Thank you for doing what you do. Contacting and purchasing from you guys has always been a pleasure and your good vibes has only strengthened my love of fountain pens. Recently at work I was using a Noodlers Ahab and it got very scratchy and was producing very low ink flow. I took the barrel off and tried to prime it, but got ink splattered all over my desk and spent about 20 minutes cleaning. Any tips for priming at work with Noodlers or any style pen? Thanks!

4) Winnie U.- Facebook (9:05):
What is your favorite highlighter ink?

5) Brandon D.- Facebook (9:41):
I have loved Goulet Pens ever sence I got my first pen in the fall, you guys have been a tremendous help (except for all the pens I want to buy now). I am a college student working at internships this summer, I am looking for a pen in the $100 and below range that is professional looking but also stand out looking and will impress by employers. And off of that any inks or notebooks to pair with that are professional looking as well.

6) Adrian C.- Facebook (13:59):
Three important considerations for my choice of ink in my line of work are 1. Bulletproof/eternal type qualities in my ink to prevent forgeries and 2. Color other than black to be able to distinguish the original vs. a copy of a document. 3. However, I would like to stand out from the usual blue ink signatures with another dark color that is still professional looking. (I.e. Not a pure blue ink). Although I am partial to purple or purple/black, I am open to other suggested colors. Any ink recommendations that fit the bill? 

7) Berk F.- Facebook (16:01):
What are some ways to keep our pens safe?

8) Jonathan K.- Facebook (17:17):
What would a good pen/ink combo what would be good to use on high gloss paper?

9) Richard F.- Facebook (18:43):
Is Goulet planning on carrying professional portfolio covers for business use?

10) Lira M.- Facebook (19:54):
Are there any covers that fit the Stillman & Birn size journals? Are there any notebook covers that protect the pen instead of leaving it exposed like the Midori Clip?

11) Rebecca C./Michelle L- Facebook (20:46):
I use a lot of post-its at work. Is there a particular type that works well with fountain pens? What sort of ink/pen combo works well with them?

12) Rob P.- Facebook (22:03):
I've been having a lot of difficulty finding a weekly planner. The Rhodia planner looks like it would be a great fit for my needs but I cannot find any updated versions for 2014-2015. Are there any other fountain pen friendly planners you might suggest?? Thanks.

13) Jennifer B.- Facebook (24:38):

What are some more affordable options for those of us on a budget? I'm especially interested in flex nibs - I love the line variation and wouldn't have to be stuck with a music nib I didn't like. ($40 would be an out-and-out splurge on a single pen.) Ditto for notepads/paper. Also, what are the best pens for getting kids (13-15) started? I have a daughter who really loves art, and have been thinking of picking up some X-feather and a Preppy or two to start her out.

14) Tan C.- Facebook (27:03):
Hi Brian, Which of the bullet proof inks are the most resistant against solvents like alcohol? I use alcoholic hand rubs quite frequently at work and they sometimes come into contact with paper that i have written on. Have you considered testing alcohol in your drip tests in addition to water?

15) Martha S.- Facebook (29:43):
What is a good smaller size notebook to take into meetings at work? I have those small steno pads but that means I must use a fine nib and it isn't as awesome as my 1.1 italic nibs, which look gorgeous on paper. 

16) David V.- Facebook (31:14):
I have converted two colleagues from rollerballs to fountains. Can you share some ideas how to promote our awesome hobby at the workplace? I know I always get tons of compliments and questions when coworkers see my pens.

Thanks to everyone who asked such great questions this week. If you've missed any old Q&A's, be sure to check them out here. Next week will be an open forum, so ask anything you want! Have a great week.

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. I can't write as fast as you can talk. Can you post a list of the inks you recommended as inks that are slightly out of the ordinary, but still work-appropriate?

  2. David V. - if your handwriting is good with a fountain pen, you could create some favorite quotes on fountain pen friendly paper and post them in your office or work area. If you use different inks in your pens that would be a great demo of how versatile the fountain pen is. If you are good at drawing or sketching putting up some drawings made with fountain pens would also be awesome.
    Emily W. - I wish I had Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses before I retired, I would have used it at work, as well as El Lawrence (more subtle, but it should look great under bright office fluorescent lighting). I love them both.
    Brandon D. - I would have loved using a $50 TWSBI Mini at work, especially the black. Understated but very professional looking. Adding the TWSBI Diamond 50P ink bottle to my desk would have been particularly awesome, especially for my fellow engineers and technicians who would have been impressed with its design.
    Rob P. - I think a good weekly planner would be the Midori regular size. You write in each month and day so it can start any day you want it to. May be more expensive than you would like with the leather cover, but you just buy blank insert refills when you need.
    Jonathan K. - Some glossy paper has a glossy clay based surface over the paper fibers and any water based ink should work well. My Noodler's inks all work well on a calendar with glossy pages. But, you have to run a test to see if the paper you want to write on is water resistant (plastic coated) or not. If it takes water based inks then any ink may do well. If you use a fine nib, it may scratch off some of the coating and require frequent cleaning to clear the nib out (unless you use very light pressure on the nib).
    Brian HC - A good solid and heavy fountain pen is the Pilot/Nameki Vanishing Point; particularly if you use it as a desk pen. I used one for some 10 years or more at work. Might be a little heavy for a shirt pocket (a bit lighter than your Nighthawk), but great on the desk or in a case or portfolio.

  3. Hi. For Adrian, you might check the ink reviews at fountain pen network ( just the ones you already know are water proof. ) I seem to recall that a few of the reviewers were including alcohol tests.
    Also, a recent ink drop had a selection of several bulletproof inks from different vendors including scabiosa, a lovely dark purple, and Salix an unusual denim blue.

  4. Waski_the_SquirrelMay 10, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    I have to say that, as a North Dakota resident, I was a bit jealous when you mentioned you were in the 90s today. There is still snow sitting in the shadows here!

    But, I just wanted to mention something for the teacher. I'm a teacher as well and I find that my students who want to try my pens are pretty good with them. I always tell them not to press down and to unscrew the cap, but otherwise, they're fine. I did, however, learn that the Platinum Preppy as an eyedropper is not teenager friendly. I did a paper chromatography lab with fountain pen inks. One student ended up with hands coated with green ink. Luckily he didn't do that with one of the pens full of bulletproof ink!

  5. Sadly, in my experience the $2 Noodler's nib does not fit well in a Jinhao X750. YMMV, though I thought it worth mentioning.


  6. I've been meaning to remind you about the Greys (ink). I have several which I use quite frequently, my favourite being Noodler's Lexington Grey, which has that slight green tint, just like a battleship.

  7. Lamy Blue. Excellent performance on cheap (Mead 5*) paper. Even with stubs.

  8. For future Q&As: I'm curious about ink recommendations. I'm looking for the following, any advice? 1) A yellow that's readable across a page or more of written text. Sort of like, what's the yellow version of Habanero or Apache Sunset? 2) I love how Zhivago is so close to black, but still retains just that hint of dark green. Are there any blues, reds, purples, browns, or whatever that are dark enough to function as a black for formal use, but retain some color like Zhivago?

  9. I'm really surprised that some people experience so much trouble with fountain pens during daily use. I must be very lucky. I have a whole bunch of manufacturer cartridges and Noodler's inks and there are only a couple of combinations that have objectionable bleed and feathering. My biggest problem was solved when I switched to Nathan's "bulletproof" inks for official documents.

    The really cheap copy paper is so bad that fused toner can be scraped from the page, and printer ink bleeds like all get out. I think your only option on that is pencil, since the paper dust clogs ball-points as well. We don't use that where I work because it isn't acceptably durable for legally-binding documents. Other than than, I write on all kinds of cheap notebooks and pads and have pretty much no issues.

    I don't get it. ???

  10. tjp, I'm with you in my experience. I used a number of fountain pens at work for ove 14 years on all kinds of paper. Used Noodler's Black in them for the last 5+ years. Never any problems at all with F & M Kaweco Sports, F 18k Waterman, M Vanishing Point, and a M Monteverde. Most of these sat over 2 and 3 day weekends unused with no start-up problems. Then they would sit unused over a week or more twice a year during scheduled plant shutdowns. The 20 pound copy paper used at the plant was no problem, or the yellow note pad paper.

  11. Regarding #9 Richard F - As soon as he asked the question I was thinking that your answer would be about the pen quivers that attach to notebooks... Then I realised that this video was made shortly before you started carrying those. So just thought I would point out that those are an option.


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