Friday, November 7, 2014

Goulet Q&A Episode 56, 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.

The last week has been really crazy. I announced that the new GouletPens.com is coming, we have a slew of pen pens coming in like the Delta Unicas, Omas Ogiva Albas, Noodler's Neponsets and Stipula Splashes. We're also launching Thanksgiveaway and a Monteverde ink deal. It's a lot! And while I shot the Q&A before the Noodler's Neponset release, it's since passed and I can say we sold out in 25 minutes. Yowza!

So here are this week's questions:
1) Dane Miles- YouTube - (10:19)
Question on the Delta Unica: what's the big deal about celluloid? Is there something "better" about it?
  • made from cell walls of wood fibers
  • used before modern plastics were developed
  • very expensive, dangerous, time consuming to make
  • takes 1-2 years to cure
  • Pros:
    • not as brittle as acrylic
    • warm to the touch
    • absorbs oils in your hand
    • better grip
    • less hand fatigue
    • resists scratches and cracks
    • looks nice
  • Cons:
    • expensive
    • flammable/toxic to manufacture
    • more prone to staining (don’t eyedropper convert)

2) Mitchell C.- Facebook - (
I just started getting into fountain pens and I was wondering if it is possible to fill a standard international converter by just dipping the converter in the ink bottle instead of dipping the entire tip of the pen in the ink bottle?
  • absolutely!  

3) Matthew M.- Facebook - (23:38)
I am choosing between a Lamy 2000 and a 14 kt Lamy Studio Wild Rubin. I know they have different fill mechanisms, but as far as writing will they be similar?
  • check out Nib Nook
  • nibs are pretty similar, studio broad nib is noticeably wetter
  • line width is similar, but the feel of the pens is very different
  • Lamy 2000 nibs are stiffer, have finer sweet spot, less forgiving on rotation in hand
  • 14k Studio nibs are springy

4) Marcus P.- Facebook - (27:20)
I have no idea how it happened, but there is a tiny amount of ink trapped above the piston in my converter (Lamy Z24)... Is this a common occurrence, and how does someone deal with this issue when it happens? I can't find an easy way to disassemble this particular converter, but maybe I'm not using enough force…
  • it just happens, with all kinds of converters
  • some you can take apart easily, some are tougher
  • The Lamy converters are tougher but it can be done
  • I have yet to do a video on this! But sbrebrown has here 

5) Dwelyn D.- Facebook - (29:24)
Holy Moly! I got your pen tuning kit in the mail today and worked with the mylar paper on the nibs. I don't know if its a placebo effect but, the nib writes so smoooooooooothly! I wanted to ask another question, is it normal to experience minor feedback after nib smoothing (particularly with the mylar paper). Also, how would you define a glass smooth nib? I mean, i need your insight and depending on what you you guys say i might continue smoothing this nib or just stop at this sweet spot!
  • it’s important to check alignment before smoothing
  • mylar is more for fine polishing, micromesh is more abrasive
  • you can psych yourself out when nib smoothing
  • it’s definitely possible to ‘overdo it’ trying to get it unrealistically smooth
  • paper is a big factor, so is ink
  • smooth it, but realize there will be a point where it won’t improve any more

6) Ben C.- Facebook – (34:05)
I'm really curious to find out when you'll start carrying the Nock Co. products. I realize that I could buy them direct right now, but I'd rather support 2 businesses with my money rather than just 1. So, any tentative dates? Can't wait to see the Q&A! Write on!
  • we’ve been in touch with Brad Dowdy about Nock
  • they’ve been really successful with it, which is good to see!
  • he’s been working on building up inventory and setting up his own supply chain
  • he hasn’t given me a firm date for when he’ll be ready, it’s unclear at this point if he’ll be selling through retailers in 2014
  • I appreciate your loyalty! But in your own best interest, I’d buy direct from him if I were you unless you’re really not in a rush 

7) Pastor Chuck S.- Facebook – (37:08)
I would love to hear your thoughts on business calendars/planners that are fountain pen friendly. I can live with ghosting, but the bleed through is a real problem
  • not my area of expertise, honestly
  • most experience with Rhodia weekly planner
  • Midori also has one that’s decent
  • Quo Vadis has a HUGE range, their site is here 
  • Filofax has a lot, too
  • paper used in planners is usually thinner, less coating
  • the emphasis is on quick dry-time, to keep from imprinting on other page
  • stick to finest nibs possible, and less absorbent inks (X-feather, HOD)

8) Linda T.- Facebook – (40:27)
Christmas card season approaches! Inks that contain a metallic fleck, irridescence, shimmer, or shine! Silver (not just grey), gold (not just yellow), red, and green!

9) Eric O.- Facebook - (44:46)
J. Herbin Stormy Grey 1670. The hard part is finding some! Brian, when's the next shipment??????
  • tell me about it!!!!
  • we’re doing everything we can to get more, but we are well-stocked on samples 

10) Patrick D.- Facebook - (48:35)
Do you know of any pens that come from the factory with oblique nibs? ...does Goulet offer (or custom order) any?
  • Very few, mostly high-end pens
  • Pelikan SoĆ¼vrans
  • Omas has a couple
  • Lamy 2000 in Europe (not available in US) 

11) Noah L.- Facebook - (52:29)
After a year of Edison Nouveau Premiere special editions, how is it going? Which ENP SE of 2014 was the best seller? What can we expect for 2015? Any hints or teasers for the future?
  • 3 models so far, each has outsold the previous versions
  • Autumn Harvest will be tough to beat, impossible actually!
  • We’re getting to the point where we’re buying out all of the stock of a given color, we will run out of Autumn Harvest prematurely
  • We know we’re not going to be able to make as many of the Winter 2014 as we did Autumn Harvest
  • No hints, it’s a surprise! 

Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it. Thanks so much for continuing to ask questions, and I'm sorry to all those whose questions I couldn't answer today. Be sure to check here if you have any old Q&A's that you missed. Have a great rest of the week!

QOTW: What’s the one video that you’re most dying for me to make? 

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Quick note on the celluloid. It was originally used for photographic film backing, and there were many noted fires where entire sets of films were lost due to fire. There's actually a big movement now to get these old celluloid-film movies transferred over to more modern acrylic backed film or digitized. The problem comes in the manufacturing process, where there is trace contamination by nitro-cellulose. Nitrocellulose is what magician's flash paper is made from (or gun-cotton if you've heard of that). It can be kinda crazy.

  2. AOTW: More ink brand overviews like you did for R&K, with the little series of tests on Rhodia paper and quick comments on each ink's most remarkable properties. For big brands like Diamine and Noodlers, I would divide them up into color categories. I found the one on R&K ink HUGELY informative and helpful in deciding which colors I want to try.

  3. That's interesting information about celluloid. Do you have any tips on identifying other vintage materials?

  4. Hi Brian! I would really like to have a video on adjusting ebonite feeds. The heat setting video was great. On another video you go into placement. I'm interested in adjusting/cutting for increased flow. I really like how simple and easy to follow your vidoes are. There are so many videos on maintenance and how to's that I watch over and over. Whenever I need help I reference your videos and I've never been lost. There has never been a part where I was like, What just happened? How did that end up over there? What did I miss? I know you'd be able to put together a killer vid.

    Any helpful sites or good sources of information would be appreciated as well.

  5. One more thing to watch out for when filling a converter directly from a bottle/sample - give yourself a little room/headspace in the converter. I've tried filling to maximum capacity and when I put the converter in the pen, ink splashed out from the feed connecting to the converter. YMMV with different pens.

  6. Ditto on the ebonite feed adjustment.

  7. Create a video showing a customer calling in asking a question about a pen, placing an order, the order being processed, the item being shipped, arriving at the customer's door and finally being opened on Christmas day. Include video of your staff in the process.

  8. Great vid, Brian. I found the information about celluloid fascinating, and now I'm bummed I didn't get a Delta when I had the chance! But it's good to have a more knowledgeable appreciation now of the price.

    Count me in on one of those who was really grateful to get an ink sample of Stormy Gray. As soon as I saw you had samples still, I realized what you must've done to make that available to more people, and I really appreciate that! I bought a few so I could share it. :)

    Regarding QOTW: I'd love to see an updated "About Us/Welcome to Goulet Pens" video.

  9. Yes I like this idea a lot - Brian you can do this without giving away too much about the scale and volume of your business to curious competitors.

  10. Kevin from indianpens/fountain pen revolution has done this exact one but of course we still want to see Brian G do it too.

  11. Apparently certain cleaning compounds used on Bakelite (occasionally used in vintage pens but a bit brittle) will temporarily turn it a pinkish colour identifying it as genuine Bakelite - have only seen this done on pale colours not sure if still works on black for example.

  12. I believe the first (unsuccessful) incarnation of celluloid was the result of a competition to find an affordable replacement for elephant ivory in billiard balls. Spherical wooden balls were dipped in the "celluloid" - a bit like a toffee apple but thenhad the unfortunate habit of catching alight while in use.

  13. Thank you for your informative videos!
    #QOTW I´d love to see a comparison of how the different fountain pens with flexible nibs
    (or not officially flex but somewhat flexible nibs) compare in writing. How hard do you have to press down, how fast can you write with them but still get some line variation.

  14. Some of the earliest billiard balls were made of solid celluloid. Back then they did not know how to control the degree of nitridation of the cellulose as they learned later. Some of these all-celluloid balls exploded when they fell onto a hard floor. All celluloid is flammable, having oxygen inside the molecules, so it does not need air to burn. Many fires happened in film storage rooms (x-ray and motion picture) due to the extreme flammability of thin films of celluloid. Men used to wear stiff celluloid collars with their shirts. It was the first modern plastic material replacing bone and ivory. In the past 40 years dolls have been imported into the US from time to time with celluloid faces and had to be recalled because of their flammability. Lacquer is (or has been until recent times) celluloid dissolved in alcohol.

  15. That would be cool to see! Might even make a great video :) Adding it to our Q&A list.

  16. Seems like a well liked, idea Henry ;) Creative and I like that!

  17. Good tip! Thanks for sharing with us your experience — definitely helpful.

  18. Great question, Spenser! I'm adding this to our list for questions this upcoming week. Curious to hear what Brian thinks.

  19. That does sound kinda crazy. Never knew!

  20. What I should have mentioned in my suggestion is that the customer is... Santa Claus. I imagine that he needs lots of paper, at least two different colors of ink and a fountain pen that write very smoothly.

  21. Hey Brian,

    I have a question about my TWSBI Diamond 580. A couple days ago, I noticed some condensation forming in the clear section right between where the ink is and the nib, as well as right above the piston. Is this normal? Thanks! Love your videos.

  22. Natalie, I carry a TWSBI Mini in my pocket most of the time and there is often some condensation in mine. I think we see it because of the very clear cap and grip section. Never had a problem, they seal air tight as far as I can tell, I just think it is a sign that it is sealed well and the humidity is high, which is what you want to prevent ink from drying out in the nib and feed. I bet this happens when you are holding the pen in your hand or it is being exposed to cooler temperatures. Brian, what are your thoughts? Have others seen this too?

  23. I would love to see a video on disassembling converters...Pilot falcon. Pilot Custom 74, Lamy, Edison, etc...and which converters cannot be taken apart. Thanks!

    (i like Pilot Iro Syo-ro as a soft "Christmas" green)

  24. We've had the video of you explaining your favorite inks, would it be possible to get similar videos from others on the staff like Alex? I know those are available as packages, but I would like to hear similar explanations on why certain ones were chosen like in the video you did.

  25. Brian, I just received a Tomoe River Paper Standard journal. From what I tested on prior samples,the paper is outstanding for fountain pens. Do you have any suggestions for inks that would work nicely with this particular paper? I'm sure just about anything would work, but I would appreciate any suggestions. As a pastor, I do a great deal of writing, so I am looking for something that will look nice, is easy to work with, and for posterity purposes is long lasting (that would be an added bonus). I am a beginning fountain pen lover, and as of now my pen of choice is the TWSBI Diamond 580. Thanks for all you do for the pen and ink community.


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