Friday, March 27, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 72, 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 broke Instagram records, introduced our Edison Nouveau Premiere seasonal edition, and are preparing to launch a ton of new products. I'll be answering questions on Omas pens, ink cartridges, and notebooks for lefties. It's a rainy day here at Goulet HQ, perfect for curling up with a cup of tea and to spend some time relaxing with me. Get cozy...

Product Updates- (1:04)

Pens/Writing- (5:20)

1) Kerry Adams @smadayrrek-Twitter - (5:24)

What's the best way to get non FP users into the way of life without overwhelming them with all the options? 
  • let them trying your pens! 
  • Don’t worry them with info about cleaning/filling, etc
  • just get them to experience the benefits (smooth writing, fun ink colors) first
  • show them FP101 videos

2) davekorbiger- YouTube - (7:54)
Hi Brian what's the best way to store spare nibs?
  • ink sample vials in small plastic baggie or something soft to protect it in the bottom
  • earring/ring box
  • other options?

3) Peaches O.- Facebook - (10:09)
Will there be more Omas offered at Goulet? Thoughts on the Omas 360 Mezzo?
  • we’re open to it, sure, but we’re pacing ourselves
  • launched with Ogiva Alba LE, all gone now
  • many Omas pens aren’t available but for a couple of months
  • I still need to investigate what’s available ongoing to see if we’d carry anything ‘regularly'

4) Lisa G.- Facebook - (13:06)
Which pens are best for lefties, are there lefty specific pens or nibs? I see some kids pens like pelikano jr sold in LH version but rarely regular pens sold this way. Reason to ask is that as a righty I don't know what to look at for my lefty son.
  • I’m with ya! I’m a righty and don’t know from personal experience what makes some pens better for lefties than others
  • (my understanding) lefty pens are ground to be smoother on the ‘push’ stroke, though I hear mixed things from lefties about whether this really makes a difference
  • Lefty underwriters have it easiest, can write with most anything
  • overwriters have it toughest, may want to consider retraining your hand position (I know, that’s not easy)
  • Teach your son to write as an underwriter, and give him a smooth-writing medium nib, pretty much any brand (Lamy is good)

Ink - (18:33)

5) Jonathan B.- Facebook - (18:38)

There are some who will not use Noodler's inks in pens above a certain price. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have a price threshold for Noodler's inks?
  • use your personal judgment here
  • Noodler’s inks vary a lot in property from one to another, so read reviews of each specific ink
  • many generalize the whole brand as being ‘unsafe’, falsely
  • For me, it’s not so much about the price, but more about how easily the pen comes apart, for certain inks (and not just Noodler’s)
  • I save the more stubborn inks for pens that are easy to clean and take apart
  • no, I don’t have a price threshold

Business - (22:54)

6) Aditya S.- Facebook - (23:00)

For Edison production line, is there any chance that you will ever offer seasonal editions? I really like the materials chosen for the ENP seasonal editions but it's just too thin for extended use and I would love to see something in the other pens such as the Collier or the Herald.
  • We’ve talked with Brian Gray about this, and I think he might be open to it
  • We have been staying pretty busy as it is with seasonal Premieres
  • I could definitely see doing the Collier, I’ll ask!

7) Bianca M.- Facebook - (25:00)
I miss the "themed" Q&As, a week about paper, a week about flex nibs, a week about bound notebooks and so on. I can understand why you moved away from brands as weekly topics...but do you have any plans to bring back themes?
  • I don’t know if I see doing whole themed Q&A’s again, unless I did a composite of older Q&A questions
  • It’s a big gamble to claim a theme without knowing what questions will come in

8) Pavel V.- Facebook - (27:21) 
What cartridge has the largest ink capacity? I mean which company does make the cartridges with largest ink capacity... I need a load of ink and cartridges are safe variant for me.

Paper - (29:39)

9) Landon G.- Facebook - (29:43)

Hey Brian, love what you do! I'm left handed, and am having trouble finding a good notebook with paper that isn't super ink resistant but also not super absorbent. I suffer from ink smearing as you'd guess, but like 90 g cotton paper. Is there an alternative?

Troubleshooting - (32:05)

10) Ty W.- Facebook - (32:10)

What makes J.Herbin write great in my Sheaffer 100, but Private Preserve skips a lot? More broadly, what makes one ink company different from another in terms of how they write?
  • sometimes different inks perform differently in some pens, hard to know why
  • Herbin is less saturated
  • The saturation matters a lot
  • make sure your pen is cleaned out between inkings
  • paper could make a difference, as well as nib size

11) Po L.- Facebook - (36:22)
If I inked up a large capacity pen, which means I will not use up the ink in a short period, do I still need to clean my pen regularly?

  • it's never a bad idea
  • clean out at least once a month, even if using the same ink
  • clean out every time you change ink colors
  • when ink sits in a pen for a longtime, the water can evaporate and a more concentrated ink is left, which flows harder
  • use your judgement, if it's still writing well, then you're okay
  • if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

QOTW: What are your thoughts on ink cartridges? Love em? Hate em? - (41:15)

Write On,
The Goulet Pen Company Team


  1. QOTW: Not a fan of cartridges. Big issue with cartridges is ink selection and cost. I enjoy the experience of cleaning out the pen and inking it up, so I'm a converter/piston fill kind of user. Though if I get a pen for black ink use, I may use a cartridge for that.

    Thanks for answering my question. I tried a few different inks from J.Herbin and Private reserve so I noticed a pattern. Noodles I found to be fairly simular. For time factor I don't have the opportunity to dilute the ink. Given what you said,J.Herbin seems to be the best choice for my set up and (bad) writing style.

    Have a great week!

  2. Eva Yaa AsantewaaMarch 27, 2015 at 3:33 PM

    Pilot cartridges are really good to fill because they take almost all the ink from a typical sample vial. Currently, I'm enjoying using refilled Pilot cartridges now with my trusty Pilot Metropolitan (Diamine Wild Strawberry) and Pilot Kakuno (J Herbin Rose Cycamen) pens. The short international cartridges are very convenient but sometimes disappoint when they get down to the last little level of ink.

  3. Haha! I'm facing the same struggle. That orange one is so great!

  4. I had to google that one... what a beauty! The black clip looks fantastic with the red. :)

  5. It's a great idea... we'll have to think on it! :)

  6. Glad you enjoyed it, Greg! :)

  7. I actually love ink cartridges, but I use them up, then take the empty cartridges and fill them with my favorite inks. VERY easy to clean out and change colors, using an ink syringe. Gotta tell the truth though - I've even gone so far as to empty full cartridges just so I can do this (GASP!). But otherwise, I do prefer bottled ink. I had to buy some Lamy Copperorange cartridges recently because you were out of the bottle (I was impatient and couldn't wait because I also bought a Copperorange FP) but I'll be ordering the bottle as soon as you get more (if you don't run out by the time I get to your web site haha.

  8. QOTW: I have used ink cartridges since I started using fountain pens at work in 1997. But, because I am frugal, I refilled my empty Parker and Sheaffer cartridges from a bottle of Quink ink from the beginning. Why? So much cheaper, one tenth the cost or even less; and, I can use my ink of choice. Later, when I discovered Noodler's Black in 2009, I rinsed out my empty cartridges, flushed my pens, and used that in all my cartridges; it became even more important to me.

    I use converters in a couple of pens, but primarily use cartridges in nearly all of my pens. Easy to see the ink remaining in many cartridges. Sheaffer, Parker, Pilot, Waterman, Platinum cartridges hold more ink than their converters. Most cartridges can be refilled dozens to hundreds of times. Pilot cartridges have ridges that make the ink level of even the most viscous inks easy to see quickly. I can fill a Pilot cartridge with a pipette, the opening is large. I use an ink syringe for the others. Platinum cartridges have a metal sphere sealing the end. It remains in the converter and helps keep the ink mixed (J. Herbin Rouge Hematite fans note!) and breaks up any flow problems from ink surface tension.

    Easier to clean out a cartridge than a converter, can be done quickly under a tap.

    I wish more pens would take the standard international cartridges, they are so long! Bottom Line: I love ink cartridges, but only to refill. I too have emptied a new cartridge just to fill it with bottled ink!! (No haunting from my Scottish ancestors so far).

    If I used a cartridge pen at school or work and worried about running out, I would top off the cartridge every night with an ink syringe. And/or, carry a second pen to switch to.

  9. Question 5: I do not think Noodler's inks pose any threat to any pen, modern or vintage, no matter the filling system. Many of his inks are pH neutral and will not corrode any nib or metal components. I used Noodler's Black (very highly saturated) in a couple of pens for two or more years without ever cleaning the pens out. I just refilled their cartridges when they ran out. These pens went one or two weeks without writing at times, I just continued using them without cleaning or flushing. Never had a problem. If the nib dried during those two weeks, I removed the cartridge, touched the tip to the ink in the cartridge, let it wick into the feed, and it started right away.

    I think because Nathan Tardiff has unique views on inks and what they should be, some felt some kind of threat. His inks are wonderful and much cheaper than many greatly inferior inks. He uses the cheapest industrial bottles and fills them to the top so customers get every drop they paid for. The concept of bulletproof/eternal ink is unique to Nathan, and I have to admit appeals to me. I use my many Noodler's bulletproof or partially bulletproof inks for 90% of my writing. No problems from $3 Preppy's to $200+ Sheaffer (vintage and new) and Waterman. I immediately filled my Omas Ogiva Alba with El Lawrence, no problems.

    I did let Kung Te-Cheng dry up in a Preppy fountain pen and a Preppy marking pen. They sat for two or more years in a drawer before I decided to see if I could clean out the gunk (when I discovered Brian's videos). It took a lot of soaking, flushing out the captured feed with an ink syringe, repeated soaking. I used an ultrasonic cleaner to help. Got both pens totally cleaned of the gunk. No harm done at all except a light stain to the plastic barrel. Many inks stain plastic, this is not unique to Noodler's. Most Noodler's inks do not stain.

    Nathan Tardiff is very knowledgeable and experienced with fine vintage pens and he loves them. He would not make an ink harmful to any pen. I know (as do thousands of Noodler's users all over the planet) that this caution is a lot of sound and fury that signifies nothing.

  10. RE: Storing extra nibs.

    I LOVE pens that can easily swap out their nibs--like the TWSBIs, in whose case you can do this easily at any time (great for drawing!) and put the "dirty" nib in one of their fabulous vials, where it will stay moist until you get home to rinse the nib.

    It is precisely these wonderful vials that made me see how perfect it would be to store them right along with my pens in Goulet ink sample racks. I just categorize them by size, just as I do my pen collection. Works great!

  11. QOTW: I think cartridges are how many folk get into fountain pens at the start (less scary). I know I messed about with cartridges before taking a deep breath and buying a convertor and a bottle of ink (Waterman Havana Brown, which I still had until my last move - fab colour, loved that ink!) The only issue I had, and still have, with cartridges, was that when buying I'd have to buy a whole packet of the things, where very often I'd be happier with a pack of 5 or 6 different colours rather than 5 or 6 of the same colour (cartridges are the original ink samples!) If you allowed us to pick and mix, I reckon I'd never buy cartridges anywhere else, Brian, because nowhere else lets you do that! Although I can imagine that'd be a tremendous faff. I bought a whole load of different Kaweco packs when I got my ICE Sport and there are a few colours that I'll probably ending up not using up. :/

  12. Wow Cathy! This is awesome. One of the best ideas I've ever seen.

    I too love those wonderful TWSBI nib vials.

    Is that a green Alba I see lurking on the left? Looks like mine, but it can't be, mine is in an Aston pen case downstairs. At least it was an hour ago.

  13. I use an Altoids tin container to store cartridges and other FP paraphernalia. Guess you could have one for keeping Nibs specifically. I keep it in my desk not really for traveling.

  14. Brian,

    Another great Q&A!

    Oooo I dig the Compilation theme idea, where you take questions and answers from Q&A past of like theme and put them into a single video.

    QOTW: Ink Cartidges...the first fountain pen I bought was my matte black Vanishing Point. When I bought it I bought a ton of boxes of the black and, yes, purple cartridges for it. BUT I also bought, the first two bottled inks I ever bought, one was Noodler's Black Swan with Australian Roses, the other was Noodler's Dragon Napalm. I was writing the first draft to a novella, and I went through one black cartridge, and then a second and then I told myself, "Self, you have these two bottles of ink here, it's time to use them." I still have those very same ton of boxes of black cartridges for my Vanishing Point (well I did use a purple cartridge in my first Metropolitan the first day I owned it), and I have the boxes of the purple still. I expect that if/when I buy a friend or two some Pilot Metro fountain pens in the near future, they'll be gifted with several, well more than several boxes of black and purple ink cartridges.

    Okay all that being said, I'm not against the idea of cartridges, but I don't really have any fountain pens that are standard international cartridge friendly, most use proprietary cartridges. But I do see some fountain pens - the Kaweco's - on the horizon that I will be purchasing that use the international, and I also noticed that more of the ink companies are coming out with cartridges. So I would not be averse to using the cartridges in an EDC fountain pen - as long as its not a basic black or blue or whatever. If cartridges start to have a much broader ink selection, then I would contemplate using them more...

    But really...half the reason I fell in love with fountain pens, well actually most the reason I fell in love fountain pens is the ink, and the actually process of inking up a pen, with a piston filler or cartridge converter. There's something primal about it, a connection to our past, something that is missing from our Modern World of Convenience. The ink cartridge is Convenient, so I have a natural inclination to not be bothered with it.

    Okay all over the map with that answer, but I hope that makes sense. Ink cartridges in more variety of inks, thumbs up, fully support it, but will I actually use them...


  15. I really dig this set up! Some, okay, a lot of sweet fountain pens. Very cool.

  16. For me, the traditional idea of FP cartridges as they were developed (as a convenient disposable alternative to bottled ink) is antithetical to everything that attracts me to fountain pens. That said, like others, I sometimes do refill cartridges and use them instead of a converter. :)

    Also whether a pen takes a standard or proprietary cartridge makes no difference to me -- I'm not worried about selection and if I do buy a converter, it's usually only a few bucks no matter the type.

  17. Re: Noodlers inks...I am new to this world of pens and have shortly acquired more than is justified. I have read up on the question of Noodlers inks and their possible detrimental affects on pens and have made a conscious decision to only use them when necessary and only in pens that I won't regret if they are adversely affected. I don't know enough about the inks from personal experience but there seems to be too much controversy for there not to be something there. Besides, with so many less controversial inks out there I really don't think there are many Noodlers that I can't find a substitute for. One though is Hunter Green which I use for my hunting journal. I wanted a waterproof green as it has a good chance of getting wet and HG seemed to be the best. However it will only be used in a Platinum Preppy, or Kaweco Sport.

    Re: Cartridges, a necessary evil sometimes, not adverse to refilling them.

    Nice idea for nib storage and recycling test vials.

  18. What he said about cartridges -- antithetical to the whole 'fountain pen' thing, but I do use them sometimes -- especially for traveling.

  19. OMG -- Cathy, this is a fantastic idea! In my current office setup, it wouldn't work because my desk faces a window and the pens would be in full sun for part of each day. But your photo has gotten me looking for a new pen siting area -- how much cooler to have them all standing there in plain sight, beckoning the writing hand.......

  20. Recoil Rot, There are no inks but Noodler's that chemically bond with cellulose making the ink fraud resistant. None. There are waterproof inks, but nothing like Noodler's bulletproof inks. I know of no other fountain pen inks that fluoresce, I think only Noodler's has that. Go to this link and check the facts on pH in fountain pen inks: http://noodlersink.com/ph-test/

    Read the customer reviews for Noodler's inks on Goulet Pens. You will not find anyone who says it has damaged their pen.

  21. Sorry, Rob, I made a typo in your name, the blog won't let me correct it. I too like a fair bit of recoil in my life! I love Hunter Green too. I should have kept journals for all my outdoor activities years ago, keep it up.

  22. Waski_the_SquirrelMarch 28, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    QOTW: I don't like cartridges. However, I have a few "disposable" Chibi fountain pens which I've been using to try out my Inkdrop samples. A pipette cleans out and refills the the cartridges really easily. I don't like that option as well as a converter or built-in filler, but it works well. But, this is the only place I use cartridges. I have some mini-converters in my Goulet shopping cart, so I don't know if I'll continue using cartridges after I place my next order.


    I wanted to thank you for addressing the concerns about Noodler's. I haven't read any actual studies about Noodler's inks and pens. I've read some anecdotes and those leave a lot more variables open. It seems like latex sacs are the most common victims, but, again, I want to see controlled studies to convince me. I don't have latex pens, but I do have some expensive pens. The only pen a Noodler's ink has stained is, ironically, a Noodler's demonstrator, and that just covered up the staining from a J. Herbin ink (Rouge Hematite 1670) that was in the same pen.

    Noodler's does have some "interesting" inks that I can believe could cause damage. I keep those inks in either designated or disposable pens, and without damage so far. But, again, this is all anecdotal.

    As you suggest, I think more of the concern with Noodler's has to do with the personality, views, and outspokenness of Mr. Tardif rather than his ink.

  23. Not a problem, most miss the alteration and put down Recoil Bob, that REALLY irks me : ) .

    As I said I do use Noodlers when permanence is an issue. I can't imagine why I would need ink that fluoresces, but that's just my current view, if I ever do I know where to get it.

    However, I have had 2 different nib-meisters, both highly respected, tell me it would void any warranty, not to use it. And there is the issue of the feathering caused by the chemical agent that makes it bond. It just seems to me that there is too much discussion about it to risk using them when not needed.

  24. Thanks! I draw with my pens, so I like the paint brush effect of having them all available to me and within easy reach. Ones in front are inked up, empty ones in back. It's tempting to keep too many inked up, and I am discovering that can be a pen hygiene issue.... One of the reasons I love the Platinum 3776 Centuries is that they are made to hold ink for up to a year (or longer possibly), so they can always be at the ready.

  25. Thanks! I have been waiting for an opportune moment to share this idea. Glad to see you all are inspired by it!

  26. I have just introduced my 24-year-old son to FP's via a gift of a TWSBI mini and some extra nibs--and 3 bottles of Diamine ink, of course. (What can I say? I'm a great mom.) Anyway, I knew his engineering mind would really appreciate this aspect of the TWSBIs.

    As for the green Alba...well, ummm.... Hope you enjoyed your time with it--LOL!

  27. I love ink cartridges. When they are empty and I can fill them with an exciting ink. :)
    Re Noodlers: I want waterproof or waterresistant inks. When I write something important, I want it to last. So I am happy that there are Noodlers inks. :) (I hate my Konrad pen so I am not a Noodlers fan girly that loves everything that comes from Noodlers :) )

  28. Hello Madigan. Sorry it took me so long to reply. My drawings are no where near as good, but I'll keep trying. I even tried two golden fishes myself :) I have uploaded them here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/103372260533115501538/albums/6131442254144504353 I went for a Monday MatchUp sort of photo, so I would remenber what inks did what.. Hope you like them.

  29. Though I'm new to FPs, I really prefer the idea of converters. I am very practical and on a budget, and I love my Platinum Preppys. I also like the confidence that comes with a cheap pen, knowing that if I lose it or it falls out of my pocket, it's not the end of the world. However, I have to say that having a converter in a pen that costs have as much as the converter does, does feel a bit strange. And I find whenever I worry for a moment that I've lost my pen, I immediately think of that converter... so I might try refilling a cartridge sometime. At the very least, to chase that total fearlessness that only cheap pens can provide.

  30. Brian, I just bought a Kaweco AL Sport. I was hoping to try some different nib sizes. I've noticed that you have been expanding your Kaweco offerings, do you have plans to carry the replacement nibs for the Kaweco Sport? As far as the question of the week the Kaweco Sport is the only pen I have that I use cartridges in. I much prefer using a piston filler or a converter. But I liked the Kaweco Sport and the converter for it has lackluster reviews so I decided to just use the cartridges and maybe refill them with an ink syringe.

  31. Noodler's will "... void any warranty"? I've heard that some fountain pen manufacturers will void your warranty if you use any other brand of ink than their own (not sure if that's true). Beyond that I think it's hard to reasonably make a blanket statement about a brand with so many different formulations and properties. Most I wouldn't have concern using, especially in a modern fountain pen. Noodler's black for example is cellulose reactive and I've found it well behaved and fairly easy to clean, and it's also hugely popular. For a hard to clean pen, or nice vintage, I'd stick with easier to clean inks in general. Of course everyone has their own comfort level with this stuff, and makes their own choice about "where there's smoke, there must be fire" with general internet discussion and controversial brands like Noodler's. Just my $0.02...

  32. I should have been clearer, the nib guys warned against it's use and that their work would not be warrantied if there was evidence it had been.

    My final thoughts are that there must be something here, however small, or it would not be open to discussion. I am not going to risk a $400 pen with an ink that may or may not damage it when there are dozens of other choices with no such caveats. Simple enough, not a vendetta against Noodlers, as I said I right now I use their inks in certain pens and am finding out for myself. As far as I am concerned the positive comments on the internet hold the same amount of water as negative comments on the internet.

  33. I started with cartridges then went to bottles for two reasons. First, it seemed that the ink dried up a bit faster, but more importantly, leftover cartridges end up adding needlessly to the landfill. I wish I could buy smaller bottles so I could have more ink colors, but I only use cartridges now for traveling with my Lamy, because they are my workhorse pens.
    I have had a frI end give me three noodlers flex pens, which I loved for about a week. Then all three of them started leaking. I know noodlers are the Volkswagen of pens and always need to be tuned up, but I don't know how to fix it. I think one is leaking from the nib, another from the opening where you put the ink in, and the third just seems to leak only when being held and not looked at, so i cant twll. Is there a way to find out how to fix them?

  34. I don't like cartridges--I'm a piston, eyedropper, or converter kind of gal. Cartridges limit ink choice too much for my taste, though admittedly you can do the syringe fill workaround.

  35. Ana!! I loved your art! Thanks so much for sharing. I especially loved the heart (so interesting in Apache Sunset!) and the girl with the umbrella. :)

  36. Hi Twoznek! Thanks for sharing! I'm with you on the cartridges- I have used them on occaision but prefer to stick with bottled ink most of the time. :)

  37. Hi Mary! The lack of variety in cartridges is one of the things that keeps me from using them as well. The ink syringe method does help with that issue though! :)

  38. Did you guys decide to pull the trigger on the Waterman Ombres et Lumieres collection?

  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

  40. Hello,
    I have written to Lamy in germany to tell them that I was disappointed by their new color, that they don't read fountain pens forums... and so I won't buy this new color. They answered me that the last 2014 edition was a success and so the new one will be too!

  41. I might have to-- How is it compared to Apache Sunset?

  42. The Neon Lime pen is nice, the ink is just horrible to write with.
    I am pondering getting a 1.9mm stubb just get some use out of it. But the nib is more expensive than the ink so I will probably just end up packing it away and hopefully find it again in 10 years time when it has become collectible.

  43. I just saw the pen, and got it, today. I love fountain pens, & have a convincing collection of the Lamy Safari in all 3 of its italic nibs - 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9 mm widths.The pen is a wonderful color - around dusk, (now) it almost seems to fluoresce. In bright sunlight it's like one of those reflective safety jackets. You probably couldn't lose it at midnight! Great fun. The ink is also great fun - rather like the yellow/neon green highlighter ink. It's a lot of fun to play with, but unfortunately it dries like faint highlighter ink - difficult to read. Now if it were the same color but luminouos ... there'd be an ink! But you can always get a converter and load whtever color you like. I'm wondering how to use the ink as a decorative highlight for caligraphy. It won't really do to convey a mesage - but would catch the eye as something interesting and unusual. Wild applause (as usual) for Lamy. Now if they'd do a rainbow-marble pen with a single many-colored ink, that'd be awesome.


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