Friday, June 27, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 37, Open Forum

I'm sorry to say that you're stuck with just me this week for Goulet Q&A. The message was sent loud and clear that you love having Rachel with me in the video, but she just couldn't work it out in her schedule to be here with me this morning. She really wanted to be, but things have been a little crazy for us as we've just switched over some logistical things for our Lamy and Pilot Nibs (see the explanation here). We also had to say goodbye to our beloved Katy Campbell this week, she's moving away to carry on the next phase of her personal life with her boyfriend and she's leaving a huge void in our customer care team! But we're also welcoming Jeremy Worley, whose bio will be up on our site soon. We're really excited about him, and he's really enjoying his first week with us. But Rachel's covering a lot in the transition.

We've launched a couple of exciting new products this week, too. Quiver pen holders (check out the video I did here) and Monteverde 36-pen cases (video review coming soon) are an expansion for us beyond the Aston leather cases that we've been carrying for years. It's nice to have a variety of different pen cases to offer to you.

This week's theme is an Open Forum, and I always enjoy the variety of questions I receive. I ended up getting so many, I could only answer about half of what I received. But I'll be saving the rest. Here are the questions for this week:

1) Martin- email (4:14):
J. Herbin Rouge Hematite seems to have gone through at least two reformulations, one to reduce the amount of gold particles and one that you announced in this week's newsletter to increase the gold again. How many versions have there been in total, what are the differences between them, and is there any way to tell which version my bottle is? 

  • 4 total versions
  • we’ve been in the dark most of the time
  • not good communication from J. Herbin
  • reformulations have been with good intentions, but are confusing everyone
  • mixed stock worldwide, no real way to know which version you have
  • differences are very subtle though

2) Zahl A- YouTube (8:48):
I have somehow gotten ink in between the two layers of my cap on my Twsbi 580. Is there anyway to get it out. (This is really annoying since it is a demonstrator)

  • insert can be removed with #2 pencil and rubber band

3) Cristhian J.- Facebook (10:09):
Why is international shipping so expensive? Seriously, why?
  • Because it’s seriously that expensive, for us
  • high initial cost, incremental costs are lower as weight it added 

4) Wei-Tsung L.- Facebook (12:09):
What's the best pen for copperplate besides dip pen? Maybe Noodler's flex pens, Pilot FA nib? Or is it a bad idea to write copperplate with fountain pen?
  • Definitely something flexible
  • Noodler’s flex pens, Pilot FA, Pilot Falcon soft nibs 

5) Dominick D.- Facebook (13:15):
Do you guys have any Sailor pens in your private collection and how do they perform compared to Pilot pens? Secondly, can you special order Sailors?
  • Brian- Sailor 1911L with music nib 
    • doesn’t write well, honestly, disappointing for the price
  • Rachel- Sailor Pro Gear Slim broad
    • was terribly scratchy and needed to be honed
    • writes okay now, but has flow issues
  • Never been impressed with Sailor pens firsthand, though I hear people saying good things about them online

6) Brian R.- Facebook (15:45):
1. What is the best way for one to contact Pilot USA to request all of the nib sizes available in Japan to be offered here?
  • not sure there is a ‘best’ way
  • LOT of logistical issues with importing special nibs, customer demand is just one factor
  • talk to Goulet, we are gaining a lot more influence with Pilot these days and are encouraging more nib offerings
2. Does snail mail have more impact than email?
  • Usually, but depends what the purpose is and who it’s going to
3. Does Nathan Tardif have an apprentice of some type? If not, is he a young fellow? Not to cause a panic run on Noodler's ink, but I really am rather curious.
  • he’s late-30’s/early-40’s
  • not aware of any apprentice
  • definitely something a lot of people ask about! 

7) Tim K. - Facebook (19:43):
You just talked about the mix free inks; what other inks are mixable? I really love the way Noodler's writes so I'd love to know if I could mix with them, and; if so, which colours would you suggest doing it with? I'm addicted to the videos by the way!
  • Most inks are mixable within the same brand
  • Try to keep inks with similar properties together
    • Baystate inks with Baystate inks
    • Pigmented with pigmented, etc
  • Mixing is all about experimentation, start in small 1-2ml batches and always mix outside the pen and let it sit for hours to see if there’s a negative reaction
  • check out FPN Inky Thoughts for threads on ink mixing 

8) Carlos Q.- Facebook (22:22):
How can you effectively clean a feed and a nib that accidentally has been smeared with silicone grease?
  • yikes! Try to avoid this
  • chemicals won’t clean it, you have to physically remove it (wipe/scrub) 

9) Rachel S.- Facebook (23:17):
Can Kaweco AL Sports be converted to eyedropper?
  • technically yes, but it’s a bad idea because ink will react with the aluminum of the pen body 

10) Antoinette S.- Facebook (24:07):
How long do nibs typically last and are there any signs/things to watch for that let you know you need a new nib? I know none of my pens are old enough to need new nibs at this point, but I have a few pens that I use a lot more frequently than the others and I'm curious.
  • Really depends on the nib (tipping especially)
  • untipped nibs will last a few years, maybe more depending on quality
  • tipped nibs will last decades, or longer
  • they’re hard to wear out with normal use, but dropping them or using too much writing pressure can bend them 

11) Alexander F.- Facebook (25:43):
1. Why don’t you just fill up one Pilot Varsity with a $3 value (probably less for you) with every ink on stock/samples so you can have instant-fountainpen-writing samples at any time?
  • the pens come preloaded with ink, it would take tremendous time to clean them out and refill each one
  • not just pen cost, but ink cost, and time 
  • The ink wouldn’t keep in the pens for more than a month or two
2. Is there any ink extremely unlikely to feather on cheap paper?
3. Have you ever considered doing xxl-inkdrops with like 10 inks/month, because with the current concept i'm probably paying a lot more postage on the international shipping than on the inks themselves.
  • Not something we’re capable of doing right now, managing essentially two different ink drops
  • postage is a significant part of the cost, but would cost even more with more ink vials/heavier package
  • just not practical

12) Pearl B.- Facebook (30:25):
I would like to know which brands of notebooks you carry have a table of contents or indexing feature in them.
  • pretty much just Leuchtturm hard cover journals 

13) Lauren M.- Facebook (31:45):
I have ink pooling on the medium nib of my Lamy Studio. Can I fix this or do I have to purchase a new nib? (Assuming the problem solely lies with the nib) (Pic on Facebook)
  • that’s nib creep! Check out FP101 Terminology
  • it’s as much the ink, not necessarily the pen or nib
  • highly saturated inks creep worse, because dye is dry so lubricants are added to counteract
  • the additional lubricants cause the nib creep
  • You could dilute the ink to lessen the effect, but it will dry the flow a bit 

14) Linda T.- Facebook (34:14):
Do you find that there's a correlation between how much an ink sticks to the side of the plastic sample vials and the shading it gets on paper? The J. Herbin ink here shades less than either of the other two, for example.
  • no really, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation 

15) Heath C.- Facebook (35:56):
As a fountain pen first/only company what is the thinking on when to use other writing devices or why not to use others? I'm FP first/only for the most part but have a soft spot for pencils and a utility spot for other pens at times.
  • The earliest days of GouletPens.com were hand-making pens, rollerballs only
  • fountain pens were where we initially saw success, not just because of the pens but the community of people that use them 
  • first year in the fountain pen world we didn’t even sell pens! just paper and ink
  • it would seem natural to explore other writing instruments as time goes on
  • we do carry TWSBI pencils and have talked about others
  • Palomino Blackwings are something we’ve talked about for 4 years
  • selective rollerball pens are something we’ve talked about
  • this has been something we’ve discussed a lot with our company mission/vision/purpose/values we’ve just finalized
  • we must first understand ‘why’ we would expand, and what we could offer to the community by doing so
  • not just trying to ‘sell stuff'

16) Richard S.- Facebook (47:32):
Having a dickens of a time figuring out inks that are "safe" for Lamy 2000. The company says to only use Lamy inks, but I find them too dry. What are your comments. Maybe my pen needs to be fixed.
  • Pretty much every pen company says to use their inks, don’t worry about it, it’s a CYA move on their part
  • You can honestly use whatever fountain pen ink you want, especially in this pen
  • Have fun!

17) Jessica B.- Facebook (48:55):
What's the likelihood of you guys getting ahold of Akkerman ink? I gotta have one of those bottles but I don't want to jump through all the hoops there are right now.
  • likelihood is approximately 0%
  • Akkerman is a retailer like us, and only sells their stuff direct, from what I understand
  • start jumping if you want it 

18) George A.- Facebook (50:00):
The nib and feed in my noodlers ahab seem to get stuck every time I try and put them in. Has this happened before? Even if i push them in just under half an inch they get stuck. Is there a way to fix this?
  • You have to put them in the right orientation, there’s a subtle slot they fit in
  • the opening on the pen is not perfectly round, but more like an oval
  • putting it in the wrong orientation will jam it 

19) Soo Lee- Ink Nouveau (51:38):
Any thoughts on using "expensive" fountain pens in daily life, particularly outside home? Most of my best pens are used as desk pens, and I find myself reluctant to use them when I'm out and about. (This might be even worse because I generally work from home.) Of course, expensive is a relative term, because I'm sure lots of non-fp people think paying $15 for a Pilot Metropolitan is ridiculous. 

  • this is different for everyone
  • many people can’t imagine spending anything significant on a pen, even $15 for a Metro like you said
  • other people carry around $1000 Namiki LE pens as their daily writers
  • it’s really an individual thing
  • personally, I carry more based on what I am enjoying writing with at the moment than necessarily what the pen is worth
  • i do keep a close eye on where my pens are at all times though

20) Craig W.- Ink Nouveau (53:51):
I know how much you love your Pilot Custom 74 and Pilot has a ton of pens/nibs that don't make it outside of Japan. If you were going to Japan what would make it onto your wish list; brands, pens, nibs, ink or paper? 

  • would love to try a bunch of the crazy Pilot nibs (FA, SU, MU)
  • Sailor has a bunch of crazy ones, too
  • Tomoe River paper

21) Meg- Ink Nouveau (55:43):
I'm pretty new to the fountain pen world and now that I've got some "cheaper" pens in my arsenal I'll be ready soon to add a more expensive pen to my repertoire. I know I want a gold nib, and I'm looking at the Lamy 2000, the Pilot Vanishing Point, and the Pilot Custom 74 but I am having a hard time deciding between the three. I really love my Pilot Metropolitan so am leaning towards one of the Pilots so far, but the timeless design of the 2000 really draws me as well. I have a Lamy Safari and do like it though I find it a bit big. Any suggestions to help my choice?
  • Safari is big? all of these will be bigger in diameter than it
  • If the Safari is too long, then maybe stick with the VP, or plan to use the Lamy 2000 or Custom 74 unposted
  • I personally have and use all three, none of them is a bad choice! 
  • The VP has convenience with the click
  • The Lamy 2000 has durability and ink capacity
  • The Custom 74 is most conventional and writes like a dream

Next week's Q&A will fall right on 4th of July! I'll still post it, but it'll just be another low-key Open Forum. I already have good questions leftover from this week, but feel free to ask away and I'll add to them. Don't worry about me though, I'll be taking Friday off. I record Q&A's on Thursday and little will need to be done by me on Friday to actually publish the video :) Be sure to check out any previously missed Q&A's here, and have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Is there a particular reason that you don't carry more Parker pens? I love Parker and it would be great to be able to get my high...erm...pens, while still supporting you guys

  2. Shawna Eddy KissellJune 27, 2014 at 7:40 PM

    This is probably of limited interest to anyone else, but I have an Aurora XF point and it seems to have difficulty feeding and a bit scratchy with different inks. Are there particular inks that are better in small nib pens than others, and how do you tell which would be good? I had the best luck with D'Atramentis William Shakespeare so far.

  3. Carlos QuiñonesJune 27, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    Thank you for answering my question... I do not have any problems with the silicone grease on the feed and nib... I was just cleaning my pens and the thought just crossed my mind and I thought it was a good question for your Q&A... Good idea on using a toothbrush if this happens to anybody!! Thank you so much for the work that you, your family and your team do... I love the way you explain things... Love all your videos!!! Thank you!!!

  4. I like the idea of a full service fine writing pen shop. I'd start with non-fps pens from your current mfgs like Lamy, Pilot, etc. and maybe a few unique ones that are known to perform well in this market. Maybe Retro 51s, Rotring? I'm not dying for the change but I do think it would be nice for many people.

  5. Thanks for answering my question! Here's another, in the unlikely event you'll need some for next week:

    We all know you're a modern pen guy, but you've mentioned in earlier blog posts and videos that you've dipped your toes in the vintage side of the pool. Do you have any personal insights or stories that you'd be willing to share?

  6. Carlos, it is a great question! Whenever I use silicone on my finger I wipe it off vigorously with a paper towel at once, in fear that I will touch a nib or feed later (and toss the paper towel so I won't wipe off anything with it later). There are no safe solvents for silicone! Though I might first scrub with soap so any small blobs will be flushed away. Use absorbent material: cotton, tissues, paper towels, pipe cleaners and wipe and scrub often to get it all off.

  7. Jessica B, I had to look up the Akkerman bottles to see what you are so impressed about, and they are fantastic! Now I want one too. They can be ordered on-line and shipped to US and UK from the Netherlands: http://www.vulpennen.nl/en/ink-and-refills/AkkInkt000.html A 60ml bottle is 15 Euros with 20 Euros for shipping! Check it out, the design is wonderful for fountain pens. But, I'll stick with TWSBI bottles for now.

  8. Thank you sir!!! I guess the best thing is to create a routine when using silicone grease... Your practice on using paper towel I think its great!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas!!!

  9. I have seen these bottles on the background in some of Dan's videos on the fpgeeks website... I was wondering what brand was this ink... Very cool bottles!!! Thanks for sharing!!

  10. Hey Brian, no worries for turning these questions down. But on the InkDrop I was thinking more of file the package up with surprise me Inks instead of managing additional colors. So basically stay within the same packaging tier or go one up and then stuff the package with random inks up to lets say 25$. Because everything that stays below 22€ in the end is free of customs in the EU and thus easy to handle and the additional inks would make the postage a lot more economical.

  11. Re: Akkerman Ink in the US--

    Vanness Pen Shop in Arkansas (https://vanness1938.com) stocks it. As far as I know this is the only US distributor. I have no idea how much they're charging for it, as they're only taking phone orders right now, but I do know their free shipping offer does not apply. To me that suggests it's not the cheapest ink in the world to stock/distribute.

    It's interesting that the ink is made by Diamine. I've got Akkerman No. 16 (Orange Top). It's the best orange I've ever used. It's a beautiful bright neon orange that somehow doesn't sear the eye at all. Whoever formulated it remembered that you need to be able to actually read it without getting afterimages burnt into your retinas. :)

    It sort of reminds me of an orange version of Noodler's Dragon's Napalm.

    A second option is pen shows. That's where I got my bottle. The last two years at the Dallas Pen Show someone has randomly shown up with a bunch of them to sell. They don't last very long at all. If you can attend a pen show you might get lucky and be able to snag one if you prowl around.

  12. Thanks for answering my questions, Brian. And thanks as always for your videos. I find they are a wonderful contribution to the fountain pen community at large.

  13. No particular reason, not a lot of folks have really asked us for them. I think they're a little more ubiquitous, which makes it harder for a boutique store like ours to do well with them.

  14. Hmm, sorry for that. A wetter ink (like your Shakespeare) will help it a lot.

  15. Ah, gotcha. Well, use the toothbrush if it does happen. I'm glad you're enjoying my vids!!

  16. Yeah, I keep paper towels on hand at all times!

  17. This would be the most logical move. Start with pens like Lamy and Pilot in rollerball versions. Retro 51 and Rotring would be tougher since we don't currently carry those brands, we'd be into setting up a whole new relationship there, and there are usually minimum purchases and whatnot to work out. Going with a brand we already carry would be much more straightforward.

  18. I'll see if I can squeeze it in there ;)

  19. It's an interesting concept, but we're limited technically with our site right now to only have one recurring program, like Ink Drop. We literally can't manage two separate programs. I'm afraid buying $25 worth of the "surprise me" ink sample might be the only option for this right now: http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Sample_Random_p/is-random.htm

  20. It's an interesting thought, for sure. The problem is that our site literally can't handle two tandem recurring programs like Ink Drop, so it'd have to be one or the other. I'm afraid the only way to achieve what you're describing here is to buy $25 worth of "surprise me" ink samples! http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Sample_Random_p/is-random.htm

  21. That's great to hear! Glad I'm still relevant :)

  22. Question for the upcoming Q&A: Why are there no smaller bottles of Noodler's Heart of Darkness? I'd like to get some of that ink, but I don't need the much larger bottle.

  23. Here are 3 urls discussing removal of Si grease. I don't have any expertise to add or comment on the poster's suggestions:

  24. Upcoming Q&A Question: I recently purchased a Jinhao X450 and replaced the original nib with an Edison extra-fine. I must have not oriented them correctly, since now, I'm unable to pull them out. The pen works perfectly fine either way, but I would like the option of changing the nib. Any tips on making the nib and feed easier to pull out?


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