Friday, June 13, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 35, Open Forum

It's Friday the 13th! But you're in luck today, I have a nice looong Q&A for ya. It's a Open Forum theme this week so I cover a variety of topics for you. Enjoy!

1) 林理谙- Facebook (4:55):
How to make a pen drier? Another question (sorry if that's too much): cheesecake, or ice cream cake?
  • Making a pen drier is really tough for the untrained individual
  • best to try using drier ink first, Pelikan 4001 ink is notoriously dry
  • may need to call on a nibmeister
  • Hmm…well I just love cake, so either one’s good for me! Probably cheesecake, ice cream cake is good, but only really tastes awesome because I hardly ever get it 

2) Patrick D.- Facebook (8:51)
Have you ever considered a customer loyalty points program? 
  • We have considered it, trying to think of what that would look like
  • would have to align with our company’s values
  • This is a tough one, because I struggle with the what ‘loyalty’ means here
  • Loyalty isn’t bought, it’s earned, a loyalty program in the traditional business sense isn’t really about loyalty, it’s about repeat business
  • Simon Sinek says: "Anyone can sell product by dropping their prices, but it does not breed loyalty.”
  • Loyalty is earned by adding value, such as shooting a video, educating, and engaging with you like I am right now. 
  • What is my loyalty program? This, right now. 

3) Edgar H.- Facebook (13:25):
Hi, Brian! Ink question: Diamine Blue Black or Diamine Twilight, which would you pick? By the colour, I'd like to pick Twilight, but I've heard it's more prone to bleedthrough, is that true? Also, they seems to be pretty similar colours. What do you think?
  • I like Twilight better
  • darker, slightly green
  • not sure about properties side-by-side 

4) Shane H.- Facebook (14:48):
I saw an article online that negatively slammed Noodler's and Private Reserve. The Noodler's stuff was the same BS people always complain about and isn't necessarily true. The Private Reserve stuff I hadn't heard, though. I was able to disprove every claim but one, which is that Private Reserve inks have a molding problem. The insinuation is that the inks mold more easily than any other inks. Have you had any experience with Private Reserve inks molding, or is this another ink urban legend?
  • Pretty much BS
  • some mold happened in the past, but that’s happened with just about everyone
  • ink makers all fight mold like crazy, and will make it right if there’s any there
  • urban legend

5) Flavio A.- Facebook (17:24):
Does the color of the paper influence shading? Will I get less shading from an ivory colored paper than from a white one? Also, do you have any plans on selling oxford notebooks/notepads?
  • it doesn’t necessarily affect the actual amount of shading, but certainly how much it shows
  • paper color can REALLY affect the color of an ink
  • absorbency affects shading more than anything
  • no plans for oxford at the moment

6) Bence N.- Facebook (20:44):
Can I use marker pen ink in my FP?
  • probably not a good idea
  • stick with water-based fountain pen ink, anything else will likely clog or harm a pen 

7) Matt Z.- Facebook (21:59):
Are there any plans to expand the Goulet nib line? Recently I got a hold of a 0.8mm stub, and I really enjoy it. While a 1.1mm stub might put out too much ink for copy quality paper, perhaps a .6 or.8 would be more appropriate.
  • not at the moment
  • Hard to find any stub smaller than 1.1
  • Jowo (maker of Goulet nibs) doesn’t make anything smaller 

8) Bradley G.- Facebook (22:58):I'm looking for loose leaf paper that works well with fountain pens, any suggestions?
  • My fav is HP 32 lb Premium Laser Paper, a little thick/expensive to use around Goulet office
  • We use HP 24lb Laserjet, works great

9) Tristan N.- Facebook (24:42):
When can we expect a duet with you and Rachel?
  • LOTS of musicians around the Goulet shop
  • I sing, have played clarinet, bass clarinet, contrabass clarinet, tenor sax, bari sax, sousaphone, piano, guitar, bass guitar
  • Rachel sings, plays guitar, bass guitar, piano
  • Trevor sings and plays banjo in River City Band
  • Adam majored in music, sings, plays piano, guitar, learning banjo
  • Ben has an album, sings, plays guitar and harmonica
  • Sam sings and plays guitar
  • Jacob sings and plays guitar

10) Ryan G.- Facebook (29:11):
What are some of the "wettest" inks available for those of us who love gushy flow? Noodler's Rome Burnining, Private Reserve's Tanzanite, and Waterman's Serenity Blue are some that come to mind, but I am always looking for more. Also, I love your Q&As! Your answers are always excellent.
  • Noodler's Eel series, Polar, Fast Dry
    De Atramentis, most of them
    many Noodler's and Diamine colors
11) Hugo W.- Facebook (30:30):
Have you ever thought of taking in the pen company Faber Castell? Their pens are one of the best introductory pens with the price of a Lamy Al-Star and Safari and the smoothest steel nib out of any company.
  • recently reached out to them, interested
  • Faber Castell is promising, Graf Von Faber Castell is higher end and not as likely to fit us right now 

12) Kiri H.- Facebook (31:49):
Does Banditapple have any plans for making A5 sized notebooks? Have had excellent experience using their TN size but always find myself wanting more horizontal space.
  • I don’t believe so
  • They have their sizes and while they have prototyped several different sizes, they’re all pretty unconventional 

13) Sarah S.- Facebook (32:31):
I want to start restoring vintage FPs. Do you know of any people who would let me glean knowledge from them?
  • oh boy, not my area of expertise
  • FPN, maybe? couldn’t find a specific ‘repair’ sub forum

14) John B.- Facebook (34:03):
What recommendations might you have for note taking in an environment without tables say at something like a church service or keynote at a conference. balancing a notebook other reference material and now not choking up too far on a pen has been an issue for me for years.
  • bound journal like Webbie or Habana, fold the covers over onto each other
  • don’t know quite what the choking up on a pen issue is
  • anyone else have any ideas?

15) Mike H.- Facebook (36:42):
I use the Clairfontaine 1951 series and I love the look and the paper but the ink takes forever to dry. Is there a good notebook that has just as smooth of paper with a little more absorbent paper?

16) Umi H.- Facebook (37:52):
I've been writing with bulletproof black in a Pilot Metropolitan extra fine (?), which has been alright. A bit scratchy, but I chalked that up to the extremely fine nib. I recently got the 54th massachusetts samplers from you, and was blown away by how much it changed the writing characteristics. The pen felt significantly smoother and laid down a thicker, more consistent line. Is this due to the wetness of the inks? Would I get a better result with the Noodler's Black in a fine nib instead?
  • this is all part of the grand experiment! 
  • so many factors at play here, paper, nib size, feed, ink properties, writing angle, etc
  • definitely some inks cooperate better in some pens than others
  • sometimes you just have to try and find out! 

17) Erin W.- Facebook (40:36):
Hey Brian! I love writing with my Pilot Metropolitan. It's so smooth. I usually have it filled with Noodler's 54th Massachusetts. The only thing is I feel like it writes just a little too wet. This may just be a result of it being a medium nib or the ink that I'm using. But before I break down and shell out for the sweet, sweet fine nib version, is there any way to "customize" or adjust the nib and feed to control the flow of ink? Kinda like with the Noodler's nib creepers? Thanks!
  • no, not really
  • could try diluting the ink a bit
  • seems counter-intuitive that water would ‘dry’ the ink
  • heavily concentrated ink like 54th would have a lot of lubricant in it, making it write wet
  • Adding water cuts down the lubricant
  • test in a small batch 

18) Katie S.- Facebook (42:54):
I've got a cheap indian pen with a very scratchy nib, you can feel a scratchy snag on the nib, does it have to be ground down by someone or can I just use some fine sandpaper or something to smooth out the imperfection?

19) Jennifer Z.- Facebook (44:45):
What's the best way to get started if you want to learn how to make a pen but have no idea where to start?

20) Ahmed K.- Facebook (45:49):
What kind of things can you specify when commissioning JoWo to make nibs? Are you able to suggest how smooth you want it, tolerances, etc? I'm just wondering if all JoWos were created equal or not since a lot of pen manufacturers use nibs made by them.
  • All similar coming from Jowo, as is
  • special things can certainly be done to them after they’re initially made
  • trade secret :) 

21) Matthew P.- Facebook (47:38):
On my twsbi 580 the feed broke and ink bleeds out where your fingers are supposed to go. I believe the only way to fix that is replace it, but coukd i replace that part, the whole.nib/feed construction, or the whole pen?
  • could replace the nib unit
  • contact twsbiinc@gmail.com 

22) Reilly I.- Facebook (49:04):
Do you plan, in the future, to carry pens such as the Pelikan m200, m205, and m215?
  • did that once before
  • not a lot of requests for it, can special order
  • likely won’t carry them regularly for a while 

23) Devon G.- Facebook (50:04):
My Namiki Falcon resin with a fine nib has been a problem child since day one... It's an incredibly hard start, skips a whole lot, and really railroad tracks. I don't think I've sprung the nib and I've cleaned it very well. I've used a whole slew of different inks. I've checked alignment with nib and feed. Nothing works. I want to love this pen. Help!
  • not much I can help to diagnose it here
  • there have been some isolated and unexplainable issues with some Falcons, not many but enough
  • contact your retailer, you will likely need a replacement 

24) Junee L.- Facebook (53:25):
What is the difference in pen materials, resin vs celluloid vs ebonite? Is it all just aesthetically different or is there any other properties that set them apart?
  • resin = acrylic aka plastic
    • durable, attractive, relatively inexpensive
    • several types, injection molded vs. cast
    • cast is nicer, more expensive
  • celluloid, smoother than resin
    • material predates modern resins
    • flammable
    • takes a long time to make, thus is more expensive
    • distinct smell
    • few make it
  • ebonite = hard rubber
    • predates celluloid and resin
    • wicks away hand moisture
    • distinct smell
    • expensive, few makers of it

Next week’s theme will be Platinum pens and ink, so be sure to ask me any questions in the comments below. Be sure to check out any previous Q&A's you missed here. Have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Vintage Pens - Sarah - I came across this site from another pen site: http://www.billspens.com/ Bill Acker may be able to answer some of your questions or point you to other helpful sources.

  2. I tried to use a eyedropper converted Platinum Preppy once (converted by you all), and I found that it didn't matter what I wrote on it would feather A LOT. Even on the Rhodia or Clairefonte notebooks. I was using noodler's ink, but I don't know if that would make a difference, since the same ink behaved just fine in my other pens on the same notebooks.

  3. Regarding the Namiki Falcon, I have both the Namiki Falcon SF and the Pilot Falcon SEF. You might want to try priming them. Generally when I start to write with either of those, I prime it. I never have any issues when I do that. I also have the Ahab and Nib Creaper flex pens and they all work really well when I prime them to start.

  4. Brian - I know Franklin-Christoph has their own eshop. But as it a US company with a historic link to the famous Franklin so you may want to check out their pens and notebooks. I believe there are still Franklins in the business. Not as old as Faber-Castel. But interesting.

  5. I was already a fan of Goulet Pens, and what you said about loyalty just blew my mind. I am now a loyal fan. Thank you for running this wonderful business.

  6. Waski, thanks for sharing your experiences. Edward Tufte is fantastic! I attended one of his courses and it changed the way I look at presenting data and visual displays (I spent over 40 years in R&D, should have taken one of his courses years ago). I think he would like of the Goulet Pens web site for its efficiency. I agree with you about reducing graphics to remove all items not needed. Too bad dot paper is not more universal. For anyone who wants cheap dot paper, it is easy to print dots as faint or bold as you want onto printer paper using a computer. Just make a template file with the spacing you like, shade the dots a color or shade (40% gray should be a good starting point) and print as many copies as you need. Get a 3-hole punch and you can make dot notebook paper!

  7. Waski_the_SquirrelJune 15, 2014 at 6:34 PM

    Good idea. I programmed my graph paper using LaTeX and the TiKZ package. I'll bet I could program dot paper the same way....

  8. My customer loyalty was earned by the packaging for my order. When a company goes beyond for me, then I go beyond for them by purchasing everything I need from them if they have it. Add to that that the Goulet prices are the same, the website is great, and I learned how to use a Fountain Pen from the videos and articles on the site.

  9. Love your videos and all the tools at GP -- can't overstate how helpful those are. They - along with my sense that you run your business according to values I want to support (good products, good value, good treatment of your team) -- definitely secured my loyalty.

    Question for next week: I'm thinking about getting a Platinum 3776 as my first nice FP. (I use Safari and Metro now.) Two questions: What nib size would be closest to a Metropolitan F? How smoothly does the 3776 write -- is this going to feel like a big enough step up to justify the cost? FWIW, I mostly take notes intermittently, rather than write full paragraphs or pages.

  10. For John B and note taking w/o a desktop/tabletop: a)Carry a small piece of masonite, or light plywood, to make your own hard surface. Size depends on seat spacing, of course; don't want to intrude on the person's space next to you. B) If your fingers are moving too far down the pen's barrel (ie. choking), get a rubber tube (or triangle tube) sold for kids who have trouble holding a pencil. Slit the tube so it will go around your pen's barrel. The larger grip formed may help you keep your fingers in place. I use one of the tubes on the Noodler Creeper since the barrel is too small for my fingers. Hope this helps.

  11. Thanks for the help, Stephanie! Vintage pens really aren't my wheelhouse, so I love when I'm able to get help answering these types of questions.

  12. I'm wondering what your ink level was like in this pen? The reason I wonder is because eyedropper converted pens can definitely write wetter if the ink level is low and there's a lot of air in the ink chamber. Your hand heats up the pen body, which heats the air in the pen, which increases the pressure in the ink chamber, which forces ink out. Sometimes it can blob or 'burp' out of the pen, or if it's not that forceful it will just cause the ink to write wetter than normal. More ink would cause more feathering. I'm betting this is what's happening to you here.

  13. Good point. I don't know if Devon was doing that, but it's worth trying if not.

  14. I don't think they retail their stuff through anyone else. The only FC stuff I've ever seen at a non-FC retailer is custom/exclusive designs for that specific retailer.

  15. Thanks, Flávio! I appreciate your loyalty and will do my best to live up to it :) It's definitely not the most conventional view, especially in e-commerce today, but it's really a long-term view of building loyalty. This is the approach we've taken since day one at Goulet, and it's paid off immensely so far. We plan to keep it up, even as pressures build to cut corners to just try to 'buy' loyalty like so many companies think they can do. Bottom line is, people are loyal to people, not discounts. If I engage with you as a person and show that my business is personal, then I'm earning your loyalty as I'm genuinely benefiting you.

  16. Yeah, I mean if they were open to the idea I'd be interested, but looking at some of the verbiage they have on their site, it seems like they're not too into the traditional wholesale/retail business model. I get where they're coming from in some ways, but I do think they're missing out on some of the advantages of going this route. To each his own, though!

  17. Edward Tufte, eh? I'll definitely have to check him out. And solid point about the blank paper, this has been an awesome trick that I discovered early on in my FP quest.

  18. Great point! Get yourself some high quality laser paper and you're all set.

  19. David, that's great to hear! We definitely have a pretty distinct "Goulet packing method" here, of which I'm proud to say I developed years ago in my garage! My team does an awesome job living up to this method (and it's been slightly tweaked and improved over the years) to this day. Every person on our team takes pride in the way they pack, so much so that they each have a card with their signature on it owning up to their work, and asking for feedback about how you liked it. You'd actually be amazed how many people go out of their way to thank the folks on our team for the work they do packing their orders up, and my team LOVES getting that feedback.

  20. Good question J OC, I'll talk about that next week. I'm really glad to hear you say that shared values are an important part of your loyalty, that is fuel for my soul :) I absolutely can't wait to share with you what we've defined as our company values here soon, oh, it's gonna be so good! :)

  21. Thanks Brooks! I was really kind of lost on this one, but John seemed to need some help so much! Maybe he's able to glean some good stuff here, I appreciate your taking the time to share.

  22. For Srah S: Most definitely check the sub forum for fountain pen restoration on FPN (Fountin Pen Network). They are are a very welcoming group and will be delighted, no doubt, to share their knowledge with you!

  23. I wanted to thank you for your Laser paper recommendation. I am editing my book right now and the 24lb HP laser paper is perfect. I am using a Lamy Medium nib safari with J. Herbin Rouge Hematite for editing and there is no ghosting, no bleed through and no noticeable spread or feathering. Amazing advice as always.


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