Friday, February 20, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 67, 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.

This week we faced a mail holiday, a rare southern snow day, and an email glitch. But the roads and gremlins are now clear. And we're excited to answer your questions and tease some cool new pens and notebooks in the latest installment of "Goulet Q&A." 

Pens/Writing: - (5:57)

1) Samantha W.- Facebook - (6:00)
I'm looking to branch out into a clear demonstrator under $55. It seems like that generally means the Ahab, the Konrad, the TWSBI Diamond 580, or the Lamy Vista. Which would you pick and why? And what did I leave out? (And how can I search for demonstrators on the GPC website?!)

2) Hector Laureano- Blog - (13:47)
I'm currently living in Boston and we've had quite the winter, seven feet of snow and wind chills hitting -25. I usually like to carry a pen on my person but these cold temps have had me second guessing doing so. I walk one mile to and from work and am curious if a pen and its ink exposed to these temps for this length of time could be bad for the pen. 
  • that’s pushing it!
  • keep the pen close to your chest, body heat will keep it okay
  • use Noodler’s Polar inks

3) Michael P.- email - (17:06)
As a college student I managed to break my pilot metropolitan, Jinhao x450 and one safari. To be fair I only broke the clip on the metropolitan and it still writes. The Safari is inoperable and the I broke the Jinhao's cap so it doesn't really stay capped. Is there any other durable pens I can try?
  • these are some of the more affordable and durable pens
  • spending more doesn’t really mean more durable, you’ll have to figure out a way to take better care of them, or just keep buying these lower cost ones and replace them as needed

4) Jonathan D.-Facebook - (19:15)
I read on FPN among other places that a true stub nib has tipping material left, as opposed to an italic that has none. Are there any brands you're aware of that offer a stub nib WITH tipping material, not just the stainless the rest of the nib is made of?
  • stub/italic doesn’t have anything to do with whether there’s tipping material or not
  • it’s more about the way it’s ground
  • stub-rounded corners, (cursive) italic- slightly sharper corners, (crisp) italic- very sharp corners
  • Check out FP101 Nib Sizes and Grinds

5) Winnie U.-Facebook - (24:41)
My husband and I will be attending the Long Island Pen Show in March. Any tips for novice pen show people?
  • check out who will be there ahead of time, get there early if you want any nib grinding done (they book up quick!)
  • check out FPN for any previous years’ walkthroughs and discussions about who else will be at the show, meet ups
  • go with a plan, and a budget in mind
  • plan to ‘do a lap’ first, spending no more than a minute at any table, make note of where you want to come back
  • early in the event = more product options, later in the event = better deals 
  • take pictures!

6) Stephanie P.-Facebook - (30:59)
Where would you point a collector looking for discontinued pens? Are you guys able to track them down for special order?
  • eBay/FPN
  • We can’t get any old stuff any more than you can

7) Daniel D.-Facebook - (32:49)
Can Brian give some tips on pen hold/nib positioning for optimal line variation when using a stub or italic nib?
  • 45 degrees from paper, 45 degrees from writing line, watch for over-rotation
  • experiment a bit with angles, different nibs are ground differently, some experimentation will be in order

Paper: - (37:13)

8) Jane B.-Facebook - (37:16)
I am DYING to hear more about the filofax notebooks soon to be offered...more details PLEASE!!!
  • removable pages
  • pretty okay paper, not the best but satisfactory
  • dividers, ruler
  • multiple colors, two sizes
  • lined, graph, blank

Ink: - (43:32)

9) Aaron D.-Facebook - (42:36)
What is the difference between the noodlers black inks?

10) Kathie M.-Facebook - (54:04\6)
For those interested in playing around with ink mixing, are there any huge no no's to be aware of?
  • mix in small batches
  • mix separately and let sit for several hours before putting in a pen
  • don’t mix Baystates with non-Baystates
  • check FPN for recipes and tips

QOTW: If you could go back and visit your past self on the first day you discovered fountain pens, what would tell yourself knowing what you know now?

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. Michael P. Check the Karas Kustom INK pens... They are the only thing I know that may survive better then a Pilot Metal pen

  2. Michael P.: You could go the other route and invest in a bunch of Platinum Preppy pens, which are a few bucks each, so if you break one, you won't care that much. You can fill the cartridge with ink via a syringe. They never dry out — I've got one on my desk that's had ink in it for at least a year and a half — and they come in three nib thicknesses. (I have a bunch of the 03, which is plenty fine, and I find the 05 pretty wet: I haven't tried the 02 but I bet I'd love it.) That or a Pilot Prera, which I love, although it developed a (non-fatal) crack in the barrel because of my habit of tossing it into my satchel.

    Kathie M.: Pilot makes a set of 9 mixable inks that are SUPER FUN to play with: Goulet has a set of 5 mL each of all 9 colours, ten empty vials, and a pair of syringes. I had a ball making my own inks, and I kept a journal of all the various steps so I could reproduce them if I ever wanted more.

  3. Bryan, I love the question of the week! I would definitely tell myself to go for it, enjoy it, but maybe save some of the money I spent on a batch of inexpensive pens in a fund for the future purchase of something a little--just a little--pricier. But I really don't mind that I experimented. It was all learning at this stage, and it has been a wonderful pursuit.

  4. Michael P. - Kaweco makes a sport pen with an aluminum alloy body and threaded cap, the Kaweco AL Sport pen. http://www.gouletpens.com/kaweco-writing-instruments/c/115 I would expect this to be a very rugged pen as long as it is capped, but at $80 it might be a bit more than you want to pay. I know some people toss their pens into their pockets, clip them to their jeans pocket or waist band, dump them into their pack. I have never broken a pen in nearly 20 years of daily use. They either stayed on my desk (not an option for you), were clipped inside a shirt pocket, or sat in a protective case for transportation. You can find inexpensive nylon pen cases on line that will provide fairly good protection.

  5. I wanted to respond to your listener from Boston. I live in North Dakota and also walk to work, and -25 can be actual temperature here (we won't talk about windchill, that might scare some people). As you said, pens inside the coat will be just fine.

    However, I also carry a pen case when I leave in my bag of papers which I carry back and forth to work. I have never had a pen freeze and I suspect it's because the bag provides sufficient insulation.

    Now, I'll admit that if I leave the bag out all day, I may have issues. Luckily, I work in a nice warm classroom all day! Also, if I were using the pen to do a lot of writing outdoors, I might also have trouble. But, for ordinary walking, the listener should be fine.

  6. 100% agree with this. I think in retrospect there are pens that I would have skipped (actually probably more the medium priced ones, for me) to save up for better pens.

  7. Regarding the Noodler's blacks, I love Dark Matter and I think it's a combination of the story (probably mostly the story) but I also like that it shades from really dark gray to black. It's definitely not the truest black, but I like the character of it that is enhanced by the back story.

  8. I'm in New England. My filled pen freezes most nights and stays frozen until I slide it inside my shirt before leaving in the morning. The ink in the bottle has been frozen since about last year and stays that way unless I hold it under my armpit a while so I can fill the pen. There have never been any ill effects and the pen I currently use, an Edison, will write a bit even when frozen. Pens I have used are Lamy, Noodler, and Edison. Inks I use are Noodlers (not polar), Private Reserve, Rohrer& Klingner, and Higgins

  9. Great QOTW.
    I agree with the comments already made about "go for it" and "think more about the balance between a greater number of inexpensive pens -vs- fewer pens, but some pricier ones among them."
    One thing I am very glad I did was experiment with nibs - one of the joys of Lamy pens is that for almost all the models, you can easily exchange the nibs (and Brian has demonstrated this very well on video). I would recommend myself to do that again!
    Something I would recommend to myself that I should do is try a greater variety of size of pens. It is only relatively recently that I have discovered how much more comfortable to my hand is the Lamy Nexx compared to the Safari/Al-Star. Now I'm wondering who wants a significant collection of Safari's ...
    And another is experiment more with inks. My personal experience has been that Lamy green cartridges (and my two favourite colours are green and pirple) were not consistent in colour/flow, much happier with Monteverde green cartridges in my Lamy's so far. Haven't yet found a favourite bottled green ink - that's my next project as I have found a spectrum of purple inks with which I am very happy at the moment.

    1. I'll consider giving your Lamy a home, because that was the first pen I loved and loved me back. :-)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. QOTW: I would say to myself, "No, you DON'T prefer fine and extra fine nibs. In fact, because you LOVE inks, you want to give them plenty of room to play. Nothing will make you happier than a Platinum Century 3776 demonstrator with a BROAD tip!" Who knew??

  11. I would tell myself that there are more pens out there than your father's dip pens, and you don't have to write like Thomas Jefferson to use them. I would also tell myself that inky fingers aren't the worst thing that can happen, and soap, baking soda and a scratchy pad takes most of it off anyway.

  12. I would tell myself that there are more pens out there than your father's dip pens, and you don't have to write like Thomas Jefferson to use them. I would also tell myself that inky fingers aren't the worst thing that can happen, and soap, baking soda and a scratchy pad takes most of it off anyway.

  13. Answer to QOTW: You will be broke, you will have more ink than you can ever use, you will have more fountain pens than you will know what to do with: BUT you will have written more in the last six months than at any point in the last 20 years, you will be at your creative peak, you will be content but hungry for more...you will laugh and scoff, but trust me...you will be happy and wear a silly grin pretty much every time you put nib to paper. That is all, you have been warned. Good luck.

  14. Love the QOTW! I would tell my 50 year-old self NOT to throw away those crusty old Esterbrooks and Osmiroids from college. They can be saved! Other than that, I wouldn't change anything, except maybe to have stocked up on a couple more gold nabbed pens back when they were cheaper than now.....

  15. And thanks so much for the Noodler's black ink overview. Whew.

  16. QOTW: my first contact with fountain pens was in grade school when we were being taught writing. We left pencils and went to fountain pens some 60 years ago. All I remember was a blue transparent pen with blue ink cartridges (I think it was an inexpensive Esterbrook). I don't remember the writing experience. In a year or two we were allowed to use ballpoint pens. All I remember was the terrible skipping and ink blobs they gave until Bic pens came out.

    I would tell my young self to pay more attention to that first fountain pen, notice how smooth it is, how well it writes and to ignore the ink on my fingers.

    Ten years later I got my first Sheaffer fountain pen (1965 gold nib Lifetime pen) for high school graduation but used it very little until 32 years later. If I could go back I would tell myself to use the Sheaffer all through my 7 years of college because it was so smooth and I would be able to take notes faster than I could with ballpoints. I would tell myself to buy the new Lamy 2000. Buy two, put one back unused to sell on eBay as a vintage Lamy 2000 with original box! Tell myself to buy a bunch of high end fountain pens to save as an investment.

    But, I would not have listened to myself, I had to go through a long learning process to fully discover the joys of fountain pens. Thanks Brian's videos for pulling me through the final steps to where I am now. Maybe it is because of all this that my passion for fountain pens is at an all time high. Thank you Brian and Rachel for making this happen.

  17. Thanks for the suggestion, I haven't tried an INK yet, actually!

  18. I was about to mention a Preppy, but if Michael's breaking Metros and Jinhao's, I really don't know how long a Preppy would last, they're pretty fragile by comparison! The 02 (EF) nib is amazing though!

  19. I'm glad you like the question! I think we all pretty much feel this way. Goodness knows I have a whole slew of 'cheap-o's' that I will probably never ever use again now that I know much more what I like. It was all part of the learning curve, but could be saved if I could only have time-traveled ;)

  20. This could definitely be an option, I probably should have mentioned it. It came across my mind but I ruled it out because it's cartridge-only, which in my mind just isn't practical for a college student as the budget for using ink cartridges would get pretty high with heavy use. But it's def worth a mention, thanks Tom :)

  21. Oh wow....that is way cold! Here in Virginia I was whining like a little baby along with everyone else when it got down below zero (which is really rare in VA). Props to you! I really appreciate your real-world experience with the cold temps though, it's really good to hear that.

  22. good point, this black shades more than inks like Black or Heart of Darkness.

  23. woah, that's crazy! You're literally the first I've ever heard from that's used a frozen pen before, thanks so much for sharing Turtle :) Very good to know, and wow, that it doesn't hurt anything, that's awesome.

  24. Agreed, Lamy's are wonderful for this. Not only to have such a wide range of nibs, but ones that swap! Very cool. When in my early days I used a Vista (first Lamy pen I ever bought, along with a Joy oddly enough) and bought several spare nibs for it.

  25. haha, love it! Yup, I latched on to broads and italics early on myself ;) I'm actually only now recently starting to really appreciate EF and F nibs, though it's not for the look of the ink, it's for the versatility on different papers. That's why I keep a full 10-pen case with a good assortment of all nibs now :)

  26. haha, love it. Would your old self even believe you? ;)

  27. Good point! I didn't even know about fountain pens back when gold nibs were cheap.

  28. You're right, they are relatively fragile (I've cracked a couple of caps), but I figure if he's going to toss them around like ball-point pens, he could get literally a dozen Preppys for the price of one Prera. (And I've handed out any number of Preppys and Pilot Petit1s because I usually have two or three on me, and if someone expresses a real interest in fountain pens, they're a good cheap gateway drug.)

    I'm DYING to try the 02, and I expect to have a couple next month, one way or another — if I don't find them in the UK when I visit in April, I'll order them from you.

  29. Now if we go back to my *original* contact with fountain pens--grade school--that's another matter. I'd tell myself to be sure to hold onto those Sheaffers, even if they didn't seem to be usable after a while (who knew about cleaning them?) and definitely keep those old pens (with the bladders and levers) someone in the family had left around but I didn't know what to do with. Oy!

  30. Haha! No. Oh he might humor me and pat me gently on the back and say, "Fountain pens? Neat, I always wondered what they were about." - He is definitely not prepared for the madness. Of course then he/I would ask, "Now you mentioned something about a time machine..." I'd wake up a few minutes later with a splitting headache and the Time Machine would be missing. But that's another story entirely.

    Thanks again Brian. You're Q&A's are always appreciated.

  31. QOTW: I first started using fountain pens (Shaeffers and Parkers) in high school and college (late '50s and early '60s) but then started traveling and fell back on cheap ballpoint pens. (FPs didn't mix well with backpack living for months on end.) The BPs were light-weight and cost me $8 for 100, and I gave them out from N Africa and S Europe to SE Asia. Thanks to my department chair in Communications, I resumed using FPs with a TWSBI two years ago; and that has blossomed into 42 pens and 29 kinds of ink. Goulet records will show more purchases than that, but the pens and inks I will not use again have made great gifts to new FP fans. No regrets for this having its own learning curve.

  32. On question 7, to Daniel D., you gave the optimal angle of 45 degrees, which is correct. For those that are having problems with maintaining that pen angle, would recommend studying italic handwriting for a while. Italic uses a religious 45 degree pen angle and the preparatory exercises show how to get your pen to that angle. And check yourself for proper pen angle.

  33. Great QOTW! I would like to think I'd tell myself to be more discriminating and save up for more expensive pens. But I think I needed to explore (and am still exploring!) a wide variety in order to appreciate which pens suit me the best. But I do wish I'd discovered the hobby before gold got so expensive. :)

  34. Hi Brian,
    my husband is looking for a black ink cartridge for his ink ball that has a short drying time. He takes notes for work in a notebook but he has to put it up quickly and stick it in his uniform pocket, and sometimes the ink smears. He needs a deep black as possible. Do you have any suggestions?

  35. Hi Brian,
    my husband is looking for a black ink cartridge for his ink ball that has a short drying time. He takes notes for work in a notebook but he has to put it up quickly and stick it in his uniform pocket, and sometimes the ink smears. He needs a deep black as possible. Do you have any suggestions?


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