Friday, February 6, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 65, 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.

Happy February! Valentine's Day is almost upon us, and our media team has whipped up some great content written from the heart. We've got a few new things cooking over here, from website bug fixes to a wrinkle with this very Q&A. So while I may be a bit under the weather, I've got lots of good news to carry me through the coughing and sniffling. Alright, it's go time...

New Products: - (10:49)

1) Lori P.- Facebook - (11:09)

When will the Lamy Orange Al-star arrive?
  • early March! Same with Al-Star Black
  • (vid will be out on CopperOrange sometime soon)
  • check it out...

2) Sam S.- Facebook - (13:36)
Any information on when the TWSBI Mini-Vac will come to market? Even a year guess would be appreciated. 
  • 2015! …probably

Pens/Writing: - (15:34)

3) Lori Arrowood-YouTube - (15:42)
Hey Brian, I am considering buying a Pilot Custom 74 from you, based on your love for it and my great experience with my Pilot Metropolitan. I have a Medium nib in my Metro, and love that size. When I looked at the Nib Nook and compared the steel M of the Metro to the gold M of the 74, I noticed the 74 is slightly thicker. I'm assuming that's because it's a gold nib and is softer; so would I be better off getting a Fine nib in the 74 to get the same line as a Medium on the Metro?
  • gold nib is softer and will write broader with a heavy hand
  • if writing light, a medium would be okay
  • if using even moderate pressure, go ahead and get the fine
  • I actually just picked up a fine Custom 74 for myself, so now I have both! 

4) Donnie K.- Facebook - (20:49)
What italic nib is the best balance of usability for everyday writing and noticeable flair? I believe mine is a 1.8mm but sometimes I wonder if it's not too big for daily use in note taking.

5) Martin L.- Facebook -(22:53)
What are your favourite letters to write in cursive? Also do you have any favourites while writing in block letters.
  • HATE uppercase Q’s
  • Love uppercase L’s, D’s, J’s
  • I don’t ever write in block (uppercase print), but write exclusively in print with ballpoint and rollerballs (weird)

6) Danielle F.- Facebook - (25:47)
Which pen would you recommend for a left handed 10 year old beginner?

Ink: - (28:09)

7) CorwynCelesil -YouTube - (28:19)
Is there any danger in having ink all over your fingers? As, for instance, licking peanut butter off of Diamine Grape-stained fingers, which has certainly never happened to me, no indeed. :P Are fountain pen inks toxic in any way?
  • I definitely don’t recommend that you do this, it’s not helping anything
  • can’t say that’s it’s for sure hurting anything, there are laws about what chemicals can/can’t be used in ink
  • they are not non-toxic, so you should probably try to avoid consuming them in any capacity! 

8) DrewsheBag- YouTube - (30:30)
Any good suggestions for a quick drying permanent ink?

9) Flavio- Blog - (31:33)
Brian, I have a question about Noodlers Black (aka "bulletproof") - I don't know if you've already answered this earlier; if so, i'm sorry...
It's a simple doubt: do you know how permanent it is, not on paper, but on fabric (say, on a cotton shirt)?
It seems the perfect ink for day-to-day use at work, but I tend to periodically stain my clothes (and hands, and whatever is around me!). Regular inks disappear when I wash them, even with regular detergent. I'm afraid a permanent ink will result in permanent stains.
Have you ever tested this? Have anyone?
  • Noodler’s is cellulose-reactive, will stain cotton, wood, anything natural (has cell fibers)
  • clothes may have chemical treatments to resist the stain so wash it out quickly and it might not set in 

10) Sam F.- Facebook - (34:14)
Which Noodler's blue black ink would you consider the best i.e. has the best mix of properties, flows the best, least feathering, etc?

Business: - (34:30)

11) random_task- YouTube - (35:28)
I'm glad to hear that your business has been growing. That seems to imply that even as technology advances on tablets and "phlablets" (large smart phones) and these devices are getting better at recognizing handwriting and acting as virtual notebooks, there is a strong movement to go back to pen and paper and sort of rediscover this medium. As much as I try some of the tablet apps that try to emulate pen/paper, I still keep going back. Any thoughts on the general trends that you are seeing on your end? Thanks.
  • some people look at writing with a fountain pen as a utility for writing things down, which is true
  • but that’s not the whole point
  • there’s another element to it, the tactile feel of the nib on paper, the flow of ink, shading, etc
  • colors displayed on a computer monitor literally can’t display all that your eyes are capable of seeing
  • seeing color in ‘real life’ is just different, and that’s the main draw for most fountain pen users

Troubleshooting: - (42:16)

12) Aaron R.- Facebook - (42:29)
In an earlier video you had teased us about you posting a video showing how to clean the ink from the grip section of a Pilot Custom 74. Well, we're waiting, haha! Maybe you can shed some more light on the subject in this weeks video.
  • Dangit, you called me out on that
  • Was planning to do a big video on that, but hit a problem that kept me from being able to do it
  • Damaged a new Custom 74 in the process of prepping for the vid, now it’s a new personal pen!
  • Show quick demo with my old pen

13) Anita C.- Facebook - (46:29)
I have a Pilot Metropolitan (fine) that writes brilliant when freshly inked, but when I leave it for awhile, the ink will not flow. Sometimes it helps to prime it but it almost seems to have gone dry. I am using the converter it came with. Would I be better to use a con-50 or is this just a problem with the pen?
  • pens dry out more in the wintertime (lower relative humidity)
  • ink could be a factor, some dry out more than others
  • Metropolitan does dry out, it’s not as well-sealing as a Platinum Preppy or Custom 74/823 (it’s about middle-of-the-road)
  • could not be getting a full filling, make sure to squeeze several times, leave it in the ink for 5+ seconds after unsqueezing
  • keep your ink bottle handy, if pen dries up, try squeezing the converter so that it forces all the ink out into the bottle (to see if it’s dry)
  • could be ink hanging up in the back of the converter (tap hand on desk w/pen) 

14) Mary B.- Facebook - (50:08)
How do I clean the insides of a translucent pen stained by ink?
  • definitely tougher with some inks than others
  • which specific inks will vary, as the specific pen in question will be a factor/type of plastic used
  • in general, reds/pinks/purples stain the most
  • cleaning with a Pen Flush can help
  • physically scrubbing it with a q-tip often helps, too
  • some inks (Baystate specifically) clean better with bleach (10% bleach to 90% water) better
  • bottom line: it’s work to keep a demo pen perfect, if you want to change inks a LOT, be ready to clean a LOT

15) Jonathan D.- Facebook - (51:42)
Do you notice the Lamy 2000 fine to be a bit drier? I only have used Lamy Black in my pen since I've gotten it. My only other black ink is Noodler's x-feather. Will using the x-feather in my 2000 make cleaning a pain?
  • Lamy 2000 it’s necessarily a dry pen, try cleaning it out regularly
  • Lamy Black isn’t a gushing ink, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road for wetness
  • X-feather is a slightly thicker ink and is permanent, so you want to be diligent cleaning it
  • I haven’t had major issues or heard of major issues with it over other inks
  • cleaning the 2000 is slightly a pain just because it’s a piston-filler, with any ink

16) Mary B.- Facbeook - (53:06)
I have a shiny new Jinhao with a shiny new Noodler's flex nib installed (my first pen tinkering!). I am having no success whatsoever with the flex writing, though, and wonder whether this is a problem for lefties such as myself in general, or is it just me (makes sad face). Thanks for your thoughts!
  • you have two things working against you here
  • lefties in general have a harder time with flex, not that it’s impossible, but a lot harder
  • the Jinhao feed isn’t designed to keep up with a flex nib, a Noodler’s pen has a much larger ink channel in the feed to keep up with the demand of a flex nib

17) Ty W.- Faceboook - (55:33)
What causes skips? My Sheaffer 100 writes great, but then suddenly nothing then it's fine again. I cleaned out the pen, and freshly inked it up (Private Reserve purple Mojo) and it still occurs. Normally I'm writing on Rhodia Webbook.
  • Gosh, could be a lot of things! 
  • Low on ink
  • over-rotation in the hand
  • improper nib grind (baby’s bottom)
  • gunk in the feed/tines (floss with brass)
  • ink dried up in pen (clean it/refill)
  • ink compatibility (some just don’t work as well is some pens as others, try switching inks)

QOTW: What if anything would you like to see me do to enhance Q&A? 

Write on,
Brian Goulet


  1. Love the new format! Makes it easier to watch when busy so I can watch in sections.

    Ideas to possibly add:
    1) 5 min or less newbie or forgetful section. Aka 1st Friday of month tip on maintaining your pens. Getting used to FP pen world I get forgetful. 'Oh, yeah, I haven't flushed the pen in a long time.'
    2) A panel Q&A would be sweet where you ask the questions of other FP stars.
    3) I appreciate the more laid back not too rehearsed feel. I'd keep that.

  2. Play to your strengths, Brian. You are personable and passionate about your business and products. I've tuned in to hear you talk and tell.

  3. Waski_the_SquirrelFebruary 6, 2015 at 4:45 PM

    I'm no good on video, so I won't comment about the videos except for one thing: sometimes close-ups help, though they greatly increase editing time. However, I have two other comments.

    1. For the 10-year-old, you have a child who, in most cases, is mature enough to handle an adult fountain pen both in terms of emotional and physical maturity. Now, I wouldn't give them anything expensive, but they don't need a special child's pen either. I think they would respond well to the bright colors of a Lamy Safari or some of the lower cost Pilot, Platinum, and Monteverde pens.

    2. I'm curious about the grip section of the Pilot 74 as well. I have a Platinum 3776 Shoji with ink in it, and if the technique is the same, I would love to clean it out!

  4. Have you ever considered a "Pen Oracle" segment/feature/blog/something dedicated to "if I like this, or have this problem, then what are good pens?"

    For example, while I can search the nib nook for how pens write, and I can search the shop for nib widths, there really isn't a good starting point for "give me the finest writers that you have". Or "I like the grip on my Pilot Metropolitan, what else is that skinny, and also has a really fine nib?" - Right now the only way to answer those questions is to flip through the nib nook *and* the pen plaza for every. single. pen. and compare across the two. A dedicated space for these questions (and repository of them) would be awesome.

    ...and there are the questions that aren't answered by those tools, like "what would be a good pen for those of us that tend to grip really close to the nib, and actually kinda slide down onto the nib itself and get ink in places where I wasn't intending to?"

  5. I have a question maybe you can get to one week.....

    I started using fountain pens about 9 months ago but have always enjoyed Moleskine notebooks (I know, big eye roll from the FP community). I had a nice collection with of both personal and work notes prior to trying fountain pens. I really love the feedback I get from the paper in my Moleskine but some times the bleed through is a little annoying, but not enough that I would quit using the notebooks. I have purchased various Rhodia products to try and the paper is too firm / slick for daily office use. Is there another brand of notebook you would recommend (6x8 size or bigger, grid or dot ruled)? Leuchttrum1917 maybe?

  6. Maybe some questions you can get to eventually?

    1) Have you ever tried Fabriano EcoQua notebooks?
    2) What would be a good pocket fountain pen (mini size, easy to carry around, etc.)?
    3) I noticed that blue-black ink has a chance of having a red sheen to it (thank you Ink Drop for the Tanzanite sample). What is the best blue-black ink (properties, ease of cleaning, flow, etc.) you can recommend with that sheen?

  7. Really like the new format, with subheadings by topic!

  8. I am still looking for an 8.5" X 11" (or close) bound notebook, with blank white pages? I love the Quo Vadis but the pages are really yellow -- ink colors are changed and muted even more than with the lesser quality Moleskine blank notebooks. All the Rhodia books I have seen have the wonderful white paper, but have lines. Or maybe I am missing something you already carry?

  9. Hey Brian,

    I just got my shipment of Platinum Preppy's and the variety of Prime Reserve Inks. I ordered them last Saturday and got them the following Wednesday. I've gotten back into FPs after missing out on them for more than 35 years (I was really into them when I was in high school back in the 70's).

    A random question about the Private Reserve ink called Vampire Red, which i bought at a local vendor (before this very first order from you)... over the past several months, it has turned from a dark burgundy-red to, no lie, a dark olive green with some brown. Ever heard of this? I am into watercolor painting and have started sketching first with the water-soluble Private Reserve Inks but I swear I have not been contaminating the Vamp Red, certainly not enough to cause a 50ml almost full bottle to go GREEN/BROWN.

    Another random question -- one of the Private Reserve inks, the Supershow Blue, seems to have a problem with hard starts, even after just a few minutes' pause in writing. I have to make several strikes to get it to start and flow properly. Any ideas?

    Also, wow it was a shocker to realize you are in Ashland VA. I've been reading/listening to you for more than a year and never put it together. I am in Phoenix now but grew up in Richmond.

    Oh you need a Z-pack or something for your cough BTW, before your kids get some kind of RSV. I'm a cardiac nurse, not peds, but gosh you sound a tad croupy...


  10. Brian, I too like the sub-headings used in this format.

    Question 5 - I also hate the uppercase Q that looks like a 2. I have done what you do for some years now. Not sure I have made the traditional Palmer Q in many decades. I also hate the Palmer uppercase G, never thought it looked good. I have gone to making my uppercase G's like the G in Goulet's logo (minus the little flourish) and it looks so much better. If I write fast I drop back into using the printed uppercase G like I've used for years.

    Question 15 - Jonathan D. - watch Brian's video on removing the nib and feed on the Lamy 2000
    ( http://blog.gouletpens.com/2013/09/removing-lamy-2000-nib.html ). It is easy to do (don't loose the tiny grip ring) and make sure the feed channel and nib are thoroughly clean and free of any residue or burrs. You should use a good maginifier to look at the feed channel. You may need some brass shim to clean the feed groove. My 2000 is wonderfully wet with Noodler's Black ink, never has a dry start nor skips at all.

  11. Ideas for Q & A -
    1) less coughing
    2) having a Goulet staff member/guest join the podcast means Brian has to talk less, which means less coughing.
    3) also, a guest lends an other perspective which could be helpful for some listeners/readers
    4) add a feature like fountain pen tips and tricks where you feature a particular "pen of the week" as you reveal the unique aspects of the pen. Pictures are good, but video is great.

    Thanks for all you do. You guys are awesome and an indespensible resource for the pen community.

  12. My Metropolitan's cap became loose. It doesn't make the typical "click" sound no more and it doesn't hold to the barrel. It is a shame because otherwise it workshop great. Any Idea if this is a common problem with these pens and if it is fixable?

    All the best for you guys

  13. Wanted to say I like the new format, as well as your laid-back style. Maybe you can have a "Fountain pen tips" section where you can collect great tips/tricks that readers/customers send in to you? Not spend a lot of time on it, but maybe a couple of minutes to say, "This week's tip is for those who have been asking what the best way to remove ink stains is...." and mention one or two things that you've learned or heard about.

    I actually have one (tip) for that very question. I had read recently that a certain face cleaner (which I happen to use) is the best thing for any kind of stain removal when doing laundry. Supposedly it works on a variety of stains and fabrics. So recently when I spilled a bunch of Diamine Red Dragon all over my hands, I reached for it. What do you know, it worked! It's Neutrogena Face Cleaner: this one. Hope it helps some readers!

    Thanks for all you do and keep up the great work! :)

  14. "QOTW: What if anything would you like to see me do to enhance Q&A?"

    Pay more attention to questions and comments that come from the comments in the previous week's Q&A. I feel neglected. There is more to life than social media like facebook and comments in YouTube.

  15. @16) Mary B.- Facbeook - (53:06)

    I think Brian forgot to mention the Noodler's flex pens have Ebonite (hard rubber) feeds while your Jinhao pen, like most modern pens, has a plastic feed. You get much better ink flow when you have an Ebonite feed. Plus your flex nib can be "heat set" to the Ebonite feed, that will also enhance ink flow. Brian has a video on how to heat-set a Noodler's Ahab or Konrad flex nib and Ebonite feed with hot water. Do not try to heat-set your Jinhao's plastic feed! It may melt.

    Just for fun, if you have a Noodler's Ahab or Konrad Ebonite feed (you can buy them separately on the Goulet Pens site), try sticking it in your Jinhao pen. It probably won't fit, but it would be interesting to try.

    Have Fun, David

  16. @Danielle F.- Facebook - (25:47)
    I have an eleven year old left-hander, and purchased a Preppy and a Pilot Varsity. The Preppy was okay, but the Varsity is a favorite. I haven't seen any smearing issues, but what I have seen is a renewed excitement about writing with "such a cool pen!". Good luck, and glad to hear other parents are sharing the fountain pen love with their kids!

  17. I forgot to add that I have a couple of Pilot Metropolitan pens that are kid favorites as well, and seem to be holding nicely.

  18. Thanks :) So I'll just keep doing my thing ;)

  19. Good feedback, thanks! Boy the panel thing would be tough, just coordinating schedules is a nightmare. Might be worth exploring though. I'll definitely keep things laid back, no question there.

  20. Thanks for sharing, I can do more closeups as they make sense. I'm honestly not sure about the Shoji, if it's the same!

  21. Pen oracle, huh? Interesting, I'll think on that. Lots of potential there, would take a lot of work to set that up though.

  22. Gasp! Don't use the M-word around here! ;) jk. I think Leuchtturm would be a happy medium for you b/w Rhoda and Moleskine. It's literally about splitting the difference between the two. There could well be others out there too, like maybe Black n Red, Whitelines, or others that I don't sell.

  23. I haven't tried Fabriano but hear good things! I know I've answered about pocket pens before, can't remember when. Pilot Stargazer, Pilot VP (not super-small, but I like it), Monteverde Poquito, Kaweco Classic Sport. Interesting question on the blue black, especially with ease of cleaning, I don't know. Typically a sheen means it'll leave a sheen on your feed, too, so there really isn't a sheen-ing ink with ease of cleaning! I personally like Diamine Majestic Blue the most, but it doesn't have great properties. It's worth the hassle for me, though :)

  24. You're not missing anything, there is a serious lack of white paper bound journals. Literally the only blank, white, A4 anything I have is this one Rhoda pad: http://www.gouletpens.com/R18000/p/R18000

  25. I've seen what you're dealing with in Vampire Red, we had a bunch of bad stock of it early on. I'm not sure if your local shop would still stand by it after this long, but it'd be worth asking. We replaced a bunch of that stuff as it was defective. They've worked the kinks out now. PR's had some issues with several of their red inks in the past. You'll want to stop using that right away.

    Just a few minutes pause, huh? If you're pausing with the cap off the pen, then that's not necessarily surprising. Depending on the pen/ink, leaving a pen uncapped for even a couple of minutes would be enough to dry out the nib (especially in areas of low humidity like Phoenix). PR is a pretty saturated ink so it's a little more prone to this than some other inks, too. Try capping your pen when not using it, see if that helps. You could also add a little distilled water to the ink (in a small test-batch, first) at about 10% dilution to help with this.

    You're from Richmond, no way! I grew up here, too, born and raised :)

    About the cough, it was honestly so much worse in the Q&A than normal, when I'm talking/projecting like this it just makes me cough for some reason...I'm getting over it now though.

  26. Thanks Tom! Haha, glad you hate the upper-Q too ;) Dumb!

  27. I have seen that with a couple of them, it's a defect. Return it to where you got it (hopefully my store, we can swap it out for ya).

  28. 1) haha, noted
    2) I'll look into that...but what if THEY cough??
    3) true, I've wrestled with this, but then it kind of gets away from the laidbackness of the Q&A...would have to be done right. Surely it could be.
    4) hmmm...that's kinda cool. I'll think on that.

    Thanks for these suggestions! Well though, I like the probing ideas.

  29. Regarding the sheening blue-black ink, I am really enjoying Private Reserve Ebony Blue. It is a bit more of a dark teal than a blue-black in my opinion, but with a wet nib there is tons of red sheen! It also has nice flow and cleans relatively easy.

  30. I saw the suggestion above as well but I would love to see hear from some other staff members. I know Rachel did a few videos and it was nice to see Brian with some additional help:)

    I have another question or topic for Q&A .... I am currently living in Japan and was delighted to see the Iroshizuku Mini Bottles (3 / 15ml bottles in a set) at my local pen store. I am able to choose any 3 that I like. I was wondering if GP could update us on availability in the US. My current cost in Japan is about $25-30 USD for 3 / 15ml bottles, so its very comparable with the big bottle. I think its a great deal to get to try 3 inks for same price as a big bottle. I know GP does the ink samples, but what about other OEM offerings in the <20ml size? I also like that the bottles will be great for travel or keeping as an EDC item.


  31. I long ago gave up on upper case cursive Q's, and just invented my own. It's a swirly version of the upper case print Q. In fact, after I took a calligraphy class about 30 years ago, my own handwriting morphed into a fusion of cursive and italic that is fast, legible and, if I do say so myself, elegant. As I have gotten older I have gotten -- I won't say 'sloppy', but let's call it 'more relaxed' with all the letters. After reading some Goblet blog thread about writing cursive in the last year or so, I sat down and tried to write an entire paragraph in strict cursive, and man, it was tough. Slow, fussy and to my eye, unnecessarily cluttered. Quite tedious to write and to reread. So I am definitely over cursive after growing up with it and using it exclusively until about age 30. Although I admire people who manage to use it easily and elegantly (my 93-year-old Aunt Irene comes to mind here), I have abandoned it and made up my own personal handwriting 'rules'.

    I do mourn the loss of cursive teaching in public schools. Or anything like good handwriting, apparently. I think good handwriting in any form is a good foundation, a good discipline and ultimately a great starting place for every child. As with any skill or art, you start with the basics and get creative from there -- not the other way around. Literacy includes hand writing, and I think it is a mistake to forsake it for mere digital keyboard pecking. There is considerable scientific evidence that physically writing by hand results in better comprehension, better retention and better memory as opposed to doing so with a digital keypad. Develop a 'good fist' and be smarter!

  32. Love your blog, I learn something every time you post. A friend gave me two noodles flex pens because they didn't work for her. One works great, the other gushes ink and is unusable. How do you fix a pen like that? I'm assuming that I need to fix a seal, but not sure how.

  33. Love your blog, I learn something every time you post. A friend gave me two noodles flex pens because they didn't work for her. One works great, the other gushes ink and is unusable. How do you fix a pen like that? I'm assuming that I need to fix a seal, but not sure how.


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