Friday, October 17, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 53, Open Forum

Goulet Q&A is now available as an audio podcast! Click here  for the RSS feed to use in your podcast app of choice, or click here for a direct download.

There are so many new things coming our way very soon and I am excited to tell you all a little about them. We're launching an exclusive on the new Omas Ogiva Alba, Pilot Copper Vanishing Point 2014 LE, and Lamy Studio Wild Rubin. I also have all kinds of interesting questions this week from using writing as a de-stressor to rumors about fountain pen nibs. Enjoy!

1) Matt J.- email - (9:10)
I have made note of your particular dislike of cartridges as opposed to bottled ink. While selection & variety are surely arguments for choosing the bottle, I am curious to know if there are any technical or experiential differences to speak of. 
  • color selection and cost effectiveness are definitely the biggest reasons I love bottles
  • the ink is the same in both bottle and cartridge, so no difference there
  • some pens may flow better/worse with a cartridge instead of converter (like Pilot pens before the agitator started coming in the Con-20 converters)

2) Melissa R.- Facebook - (14:16)
So there have been a few quick-selling items recently. I'm wondering, in the history of Goulet Pens, what item has been the fastest to sell out?
  • Stormy Grey was pretty ridiculous (so was Rouge Hematite when it first came out)
  • new TWSBI pens are always kind of crazy
  • Noodler’s flex pens, back before they were available regularly
  • no doubt the Noodler’s Neponset will be gone in about 5 seconds whenever it comes in 

3) Mike M.- email - (21:29)
I have been into fountain pens and calligraphy for about a year now. I am also an engineering student and have recently caught the attention of Rhodia proposing them to develop an Engineer's Paper Pad that takes well to fountain pen inks. I would love to see this product come to life and perhaps Goulet Pens could carry it at some point! Here is the link to the blog from Rhodia.

  • I have talked to Exaclair before about custom notepads/rulings and Rhodia/CF is willing to do it
  • minimum quantities are really high
  • there’d have to be significant demand
  • go over to the RhodiaDrive post and let them know if you really want this, comment here, or keep an eye out for Mike’s post on FPN

4) Kari S.- Facebook - (23:43)
I am sort of new to the hobby (I own 3 pens now :-D) and I was wondering if there is a good fountain pen history 101 resource out there that you could tell us about?

  • FPN is a great resource for random things in Pen History sub forum
  • Richard Binder has a TON of awesome info on his site 

5) Ben K.- Facebook -(25:22) 
Which fountain pen/s would you recommend for drawing? Also, which ink would be best for this application as well?

6) Eric O.- Facebook - (28:26)
What does a $1,000 pen have to offer versus a $150 pen versus a $25 pen?
  • think of pens like vehicles
  • The $25 pen would be a moped
  • The $150 pen would be a Honda Accord
  • The $1000 pen would be a Bentley
  • all of them will get you where you need to go, but it’s a matter of ‘the finer things’
  • usually pens near $25 or so will be function over form, nib smoothness might be hit-or-miss, there just isn’t a lot of human touch on those products, manufactured with full automation
  • $150 pens will usually start coming with gold nibs, which is the biggest price jump right there, but also will have really nice fit and finish
  • $1000 pens will write great, often have some kind of unique or cool filling mechanism, be made of more exotic materials, have much  more hand craftsmanship, and often have a backstory to their theme, often limited in number
  • definitely a law of diminishing returns!

7) Jack T.- Facebook - (34:42)
Hi Brian--although I've been into the whole fp thing for some years, it's only recently I've noticed how often I turn to my pens/inks/paper for de-stressing purposes--do you think or hear much about the applied psychology of writing with fountain pens…?
  • I do think about it, actually
  • the thing I love most about fountain pens is that no one has to use them, they use them because they want to
  • the very fact I’m in business shows that there is clearly some psychological benefit to using these things or else no one would (unless they were crazy, which we may be)
  • I’ve read articles on how writing things down improves your memory, increases synapses in your brain, all that kind of stuff, sure
  • can’t recall any literature I’ve read on writing and stress-relief, but I know it’s true, it works cuz I do it
  • there’s an initial stress of learning to get comfortable with your handwriting and learning to use a fountain pen, but once past that, it is a stress-reliever
8) Kevin L.- Facebook - (43:09)
Is there any going back to a pen from your past once it leaves your collection no matter how it left?
  • I haven’t yet had a pen ‘leave’ my collection!
  • I’m a bit of a hoarder, but for good reason! I always want pens for my vids
  • I’ve had products I’ve dropped from my store then carried again, though (Kaweco is one) 

9) Alex S.- Facebook -(45:58)
How do you rectify a misbehaved ink? I have Noodlers Bad Blue Heron and no matter what pen i put it in, the nib creep is so bad that it leaks all over the section. I've tried diluting the ink with a small amount of water and it still has leaky issues. I know it's not the pen as I've had this ink in other pens and other inks in this particular pen (Noodlers Ahab) and other inks don't leak. Any advice is appreciated!
  • I don’t think it’s that something is wrong with the pen, but the pen/ink combo
  • this is a really wet/creeping ink, and the particular pen you have it in seems to be a bad combo
  • the Ahab is also a REALLY wet pen, so you’re dealing with two super-wet things here

10) Matt S.- Facebook - (48:39)
Is there a good way to prime a Platinum Preppy eye dropper fill, that will make it easier to get more stubborn inks like Noodler’s Rome Burning to start flowing smoothly? Or should I be resigned to never getting a clean 'comparison' writing sample for this ink?
  • ink it up, let it sit for a minute or two
  • you can hold the pen like you’re writing with it, bang your hand on the desk to force ink down
  • use a paper towel to wick ink through the feed
  • some inks just take a while to get moving, but usually are okay once a flow is established 

11) Ben W.- Facebook- (51:51)
Something that initially kept me away from fountain pens was a rumor I had heard about once you use a pen, the nib is forever altered. What this meant, was that if someone else used your pen, it would ruin the nib. Could you address this and possibly where this idea originated? Thank you.
  • I’ve definitely heard this!
  • It’s total bunk, in my opinion
  • I think it’s something that people say when they don’t want to share their pen, which is fine for them
  • some people honestly don’t know how to write with a fountain pen and will screw up your nib if you let them, you have to coach them
  • the idea that the way one person writes could affect a nib (with normal use) in something as short as a person’s signature is just ridiculous, these nibs are made of METAL for crying out loud 

12) Whitney B.- Facebook- (57:36)
How does using a gold nib make the writing so much smoother when there is some other alloy used as the tipping material? I know it works, I just don't understand how.
  • tipping quality does vary, and supposedly more expensive gold nibs will have a ‘better’ tipping alloy
  • more time/hand work is given for more expensive (gold) nibs
  • the main smoothness felt has to do with the softness of the gold metal over stainless steel
    • the gold acts sort of like a shock absorber on your car, smoothing out the inconsistencies as you write
  • newbies might not notice the difference, but experienced writers probably will 

Make sure to just ask me any questions what you want in the comments below and I'll try to add it in. Be sure to check out old Q&A's you've missed here, and have a great week!

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Question for a future Q&A: What is your favorite demonstrator pen, and why? Follow up: What is your favorite under-$100 demonstrator pen?

  2. Waski_the_SquirrelOctober 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM

    That's pretty nifty that you set up Q&A as a podcast. I have no idea what's involved, but I think people will enjoy it. I can see myself using it when I drive. I live in North Dakota, so when I drive, it's always a long trip. Podcasts help pass the time!

  3. I have a pen+ink issue that's been bothering me for a while, but I can't seem to figure out how to search the usual helpful places to see if it's been answered before. I had sort of given up on figuring it out, but it happened again today, so here it is:

    Inks: red-based - Diamine Brilliant Red, Private Reserve Plum, possibly Diamine Bilberry (it's hard to tell because it's so dark!), De Atramentis Apple Blossom (pink formula), Iroshizuku Tsutsuji, and a few other pinks I've used over the last year but don't remember which specific ones.

    Pens: Monteverde Artista Crystal, Pilot Metropolitan, Platinum Cool

    Issue: Sometimes, there is a distinct gold sheen on my writing that shifts the color to orange - it's definitely a metallic gold when fresh or on good paper. This happens in pens that have been thoroughly cleaned or which have ONLY used pink/red inks, so it's not residue from another ink. It usually shows up when I haven't written anything recently, but by "recently" I mean "within the last hour or so", so it's not like the pens are sitting overnight unused, but it does also happen first thing in the morning.

    I'm pretty sure Tsutsuji isn't supposed to have the gold sheen it has in this photo:

    (Note the top line of writing is very golden on the Rhodia paper, but that is *definitely* Tsutsuji! So is the second line of writing, where you can see it shift to the normal magenta.)

    Do you (or anyone) have any clue what could be causing it?

  4. A couple of comments. First on the possibility of someone damaging your nib if they use your pen - this was definitely the conventional wisdom across my school, and all our teachers (we all had to write with FPs, and no, this wasn't the 1930s, only the 1980s!). I believed it until I got back into FPs a couple of years ago. I now think (but have no evidence for this) that perhaps it came from the use of more flexible gold nibs in the early part of the 20th century. These could have been damaged by a heavy hand - someone that didn't know that pen's characteristics, and how much you could push it, or by someone used to a pen with a nib like a nail (such as some people would have had to use to make copies through carbon papers). So I can see that there may once have been some validity to the argument, I really don't think there is now. And this has been a revelation to me - I actively encourage people to try my pens now, and it stimulates good conversations and perhaps shares some appreciation for the art of writing, and the beauty of ink.

    And on that last point, and in response to * keri *. I have several of the inks you say you see sheens with. I think it's one of the best features of these inks. I love it. I hadn't noticed a difference when I hadn't been using the pen for a while, but I can offer a thought. I believe the sheen is due to the recrystallisation of the dissolved ink dyes as the line of ink on the paper dries out. With good quality (non absorbent) paper there's time for this to happen before all the ink is absorbed into the paper. As the dyes become more concentrated in the ink line perhaps some crystals form, which then settle on the surface of the dried ink line. The new colours you see are a nano-scale effect of the crystal structure causing iridescence. Perhaps you see this more often with a pen that hasn't been used for a while because the ink in the nib and feed is becoming a bit more concentrated by drying out. Just a thought.

  5. In your intro you mentioned the new Omas has an ebonite feed. Is this somewhat common or unique to this model? I remember you mentioned some materials that shouldn't be flushed with the Goulet cleaning solution. Was ebonite one of those materials? Could you refresh me on the ones that should be not be cleaned with solutions?

    Thank you!!

  6. Podcasts, nice! I travel a lot so podcasts often work better for me as I listen to them in the air. Looking forward to the Neponset. Interesting history to that name and very curious as to the color options.

  7. Loved the video. I like hearing the stories of how a successful business came about. Now I'm going to have to look into adding a Monteverde pen to my collection!

  8. Yay, podcasts! I've been listening to all your Q&A's as a drive, now its even easier :)

  9. #7, Jack T. -Great question! I have found the same thing as you. While I used fountains at work for the last 16 years of my career, they were used as tools in the job: taking notes, writing notes, signing documents (Noodler's Black). I did not use them for much else. Now retired, I find it very relaxing (and very stress relieving) to use fountain pens for pleasure. I spend a little time practicing my cursive writing, a bit of calligraphy study, writing letters to friends and family, my journal, scheduling and making notes in my Midori Traveler's Notebook, making logs of pens and inks, studying different pen, nib, and ink combinations on different papers. Sitting at a table in the proper writing position and using fountain pens to write with carefully and unhurriedly has turned out to be a relaxing pleasure. I have recently started using something I never had before: a desk pen. An early 60's Sheaffer Snorkel pen that was my brother-in-law's. Sitting at a desk or table, reaching across for the desk pen, and writing with it is so rewarding, I wish I had used one at work years ago. Such a simple thing throws you into another world and it just feels so doggone right. I know that writing with a fountain pen is highly stress relieving and akin to meditation. Typing on a keyboard or speaking into a device does not come close.

  10. keri, I recently noticed that something I had written with Diamine Oxblood showed the same sheen when the light was right. I think it was on good paper like Clairefontaine or Rhodia, a non-absorptive paper. When I cleaned it out of a Kaweco Sport where it had dried in the feed, it was much more crusty and clotted than other inks. I suspect it is highly saturated and that Adrian's assessment above is right on about what is happening, it has nothing to do with the pen, but with the ink's characteristics. However, I like the effect, it give a greater level of dimension to the ink in my opinion and makes it much more interesting. I would love to hear Brian's and others' responses to this observation.

  11. For 52 episodes I have been wondering what your office looks like! Maybe give us a detailed tour next time?

  12. Thanks so much for the outstanding, high-quality resources! A few things for future Q&A's:

    I have a Jinhao x750, and after I fill it, it leaks a little from between the rubber grip and the chrome trim piece that's at the nib end of the grip. I've ended up with ink on my hand more than once, and it took me a while to figure out what was happening (I'm usually very clean when I fill my pens). There's no visible gap, but when I flush the pen, water gets out through there too. Is this a broader problem? Anything I can do to stop it?

    I found your video comparing the ink capacities of the various Pilot converters very helpful, and I would love to see you expand it to include other brands' converters. For example, I'm wondering how much more capacity I would have if I replaced the Jinhao converter with an international standard; how my Pilot converters compare to Platinum and Lamy converters; and how much of an increase in ink capacity I would get from one of the piston fillers you sell over the cartridge converter pens I have now.

    Does the little bit of flex in the Platinum Balance's nib give it some of the softer / shock-absorbing feel of a gold nib?

    I know you and a lot of other people love Noodler's Black, but whenever I switch from one of my Diamine inks (Jet Black, for example) to Noodler's Black, the pen feels less smooth and the line it puts down has more jagged edges (I don't use Rhodia-quality paper, but I do use the good HP LaserJet paper your staff recommended to me). Am I doing something wrong? Am I just spoiled by Diamine's non-waterproof inks?

  13. Stephanie, here is what Brian says about using pen flush: "Don't soak aluminum or casein pens in the Flush" http://www.gouletpens.com/Goulet_Pen_Flush_8oz_p/gpc-penflush08.htm . I'm sure ebonite is fine with pen flush, but maybe he'll confirm this. I used pen flush on a Noodler's Ebonite Konrad when it was new with no problems at all. I almost always flush out a new pen with it to remove any residual machining oils and residue. In fact, I think Noodler's recommends this to remove the oils from their machined ebonite feeds, which are more porous than plastic feeds. Ebonite is hard rubber and rubber is used with ammonia solutions in labs all the time.

  14. Here is what Brian says about Noodler's flex pens with ebonite feeds: "Due to the residual machining oils used
    when cutting the feeds for these pens, we highly encourage you to give
    the pen a good flush before use. We recommend any of the following
    options: distilled water, water with a touch of dish soap, a
    pre-packaged pen flush, or a solution of 10% clear ammonia to water.
    This should resolve most ink flow issues!" Note that Brian even recommends a 10% solution which is household ammonia. http://www.gouletpens.com/Noodlers_Dixie_10_Ripple_Konrad_Ebonite_Flex_Pen_p/n14053.htm

  15. Thanks Tom! This refresher is much appreciated.

  16. Thanks for the informative and entertaining videos, Brian. I'm learning so much!

    I was thrilled to see that the Goulet Q&A is now available as a podcast, but I've noticed that a few of the file names are mixed up. For example, the podcast labeled "22, Open Forum" is actually "26, Nathan Tardif Interview."

    Is anyone else having the same issue or is it just me?

  17. Hello, Brian. Thank you for your work and information. I have bought a Noodler's Ebonite Konrad #10, a gorgeous pen by the way. I wanted to change nib of the pen, but I found that the nib and the feed were impossible to take out. I tried to use hot water, like you showed in one of your videos. It didn't work, though, as the nib and the feed were still stuck in the pen. So I went fire, which I regret, because it turned out I had burned the section of the pen. It is still practical, but it became rough to the touch. Well, that's my story, and I hope it is useful for my fellow Noodler's fans to be careful with their tinkering.
    Do you know what I can do to smooth the section and leave it as it was before?

  18. Next Q & A: Can you update us on the current status of Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses formulations? I see that you guys are out of stock of the second version (which you made a video about). Did you start receiving the newer pinkish BSAR that has been posted at FPN? DId you run out of stock, or perhaps pull it again for now?

  19. Brian, one caveat for your answer to Question #11: I loan my pens to others to try (it's part of that FPvangelist in me), but I keep the cap in hand. I loaned my Parker to a friend 50 years ago to write something short. When he finished, he tried to put the cap back on, jammed it in crooked, and ruined the nib. People see me withholding the cap and imagine I'm afraid they're going to steal the pen, but I just prefer to cap them myself.

  20. erizo1, I have used Noodler's Black on just about every paper imaginable and it feathers and bleeds through no more than any other ink I've ever used. Including Diamine inks. The nibs have ranged from EF to B to 1.5mm. I've even writing on newsprint with a M nib and no feathering or bleedthrough. Did you thoroughly clean out the Diamine first? I've done thorough pen flushes before and when I removed the nib and feed there was still old ink in the feed that did not flush out with a bulb syringe. On inkjet paper (more absorptive than laser papers) N. Black never gave jagged edges (feathering) and my nibs are as smooth with it as with any other ink. Maybe your pen is extra wet or something, but I have used Noodler's Black in some 20 different pens and no ink has behaved better than it. Make sure you shake the bottle before filling; one Amazon reviewer reported that he found Noodler's Black to be a very pale color. A commenter told him to shake up the bottle. I always shake all bottles before I fill pens. I want to see Brian's take on this problem.

  21. Finding no easy way to search for this answer... I'd like to know why fountain pens, especially the newer ones are so expensive. I know there are excellent budget pens like Noodler's and the Chinese stuff. But what makes plastic/resin pens cost nearly 500 bucks? I'm curious if the answer relates more to the market, materials, or both?

  22. Thanks, TJ. It's not feathering, it's more like not laying down a line of consistent width. I'm beginning to suspect that the Lamy Safari I have it in is just a dry pen. I put some NB in a Preppy 0.3, and that's doing fine. I'm not sure if this would explain the difference in performance of the two inks in the same pen, but in any case, I'm pretty sure it's a problem of laying down too little, rather than too much, ink.

  23. re #4 : I mostly use my Pilot falcon fine and have recently fallen in love with my Custom 74 (M) which has a very expressive line! Pilot Iroshizuku yama guri is great for soft lines and washes. I also love to use Daimine Ochre, J. Herbin Stormy Grey and Perle Noire in combination with each other and Yama Guri. Oh yes, and Ancient Copper too! (80 lb Strathmore 400 series will take a light wash)

  24. Re. Jack T's inquiry: There is significant literature on various blogsites about how using a fountain pen improves your ability to think about what you're writing about. I know personally, when I journal about an issue, it resolves, or becomes more manageable. Also, As an attorney, I spent 25 years outling a trial strategy and questions for witnesses on a computer. 18 months ago, I went to fountain pen and paper, and have found myself more relaxed and encompassing of the issues in the process.
    John Meldorf

  25. superb..v nice..good one.
    collection for men



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