Friday, April 3, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 73, 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.

Welcome to Episode 73 of Goulet Q&A! I'm talking about some new video projects, groovin' with the new media team, and working on launching some fun new products. I'm answering questions on how nib sizes affect how pens write, the first Goulet pen ever purchased, ways to prime a hard starting eyedropper. I'm also demonstrating with a new specialty pen that you can make yourself! Get ready for the show...

If you're interested in the pattern for the knitted pen featured in this video, be sure to check it out here!

Pens/Writing- (5:32)

1) Matt L.- Facebook- (5:32)
Out of all the nibs you have ever tried which is your favorite? 

2) Chris R.- Facebook- (8:25)  
What gives a nib its number size and what does the size tell us about the writing experience. I was looking at the m1000 and thinking that is a lot of extra expensive material.
  • # size correlates to the mm distance of the nib from the two curved parts at the base of the nib
  • the higher the number, the bigger the nib
  • the size nib doesn’t necessarily mean it will write better or worse, purely by that designation
  • Other factors that matter with a nib’s size:
    • springiness
    • flow (feed design)
    • smoothness of grind
    • how well it’s tuned
    • material the nib is made of
    • shape of the nib (especially the wings)
    • length of the slit

3) Sue M.- Facebook- (12:25)
Does the length of the nib make a difference in the writing experience? I've noticed that I have one nib that is much longer than the others, and that pen is especially tiring to write with for any length of time. 
  • length of nib doesn’t necessarily mean anything, except that it’s usually on a bigger pen
  • the bigger (really the heavier) the pen, the more tiring it is to write with

4) Vlad Yarotsky- YouTube- (15:36)  
What are you thoughts on ink rollers (ink balls)? Why so little of them are made? Does any of manufacturers offer different ball sizes? Exchangeable tip assemblies in case it will wear out (Noodler's had those, what about others)? What inks are not suitable for them? Why did Kaweco discontinued this type of pens? Are there fiber tipped fineliners of the same kind?" 
  • I think they’re okay, they don’t really scratch my itch though
  • best inks are usually lubricated ones, so Noodler’s Eel series, Monteverde, Pilot Iroshizuku, De Atramentis
  • benefits: 
    • get to use your lovely fountain pen ink
    • won’t dry out nearly as quickly as a fountain pen when left ‘open’
    • better for carbon copy paper
  • drawbacks: 
    • don’t write as smoothly as a fountain pen
    • can leak/get inky just like a fountain pen
    • same wear and tear as a regular rollerball/replace tips
    • usually much more expensive than regular rollerballs
    • very few models to choose from
    • replacement tips are often expensive
    • limited tip size options

Ink- (21:13)

5) Edith N.- Facebook- (21:17)
If a highly saturated ink has the tendency to dry in the nib and cause flow problems, even when a pen is used daily and capped when not in use, does it make sense to try to dilute the ink with distilled water, or is the tendency to dry in the nib unrelated to the concentration of dye?
  • It’s very correlated to the amount of dye in the ink!
  • yes, diluting will definitely help in this way
  • Noodler’s in particular will help, Nathan Tardif makes his ink so that it will work well diluted, part of his ‘value’ of the ink he makes
  • start with diluting 10%, shouldn’t see much of a difference in ink saturation but will help flow

6) Kurt G.- Facebook- (25:50)
Are certain types of inks a bad idea depending on the nib size? I've found that some waterproof inks tend to clog my fine and extra-fine nibs. 
  • Not necessarily the waterproofness that affects it, but more the dye concentration
  • could be other factors at play, like feed design, paper absorbency, etc
  • Diluting might help, but really just experimentation is required to find the right combo


7) Emily W.- Facebook
What are some fountain pen friendly envelopes in larger sizes such as A6/A7/A9 perhaps? Just something larger than the typical A4/A5 or business envelopes.  I am thinking something that will fit greeting cards, invitations, etc. 
  • Envelopes have different size ratings than paper does (check out this page here)
  • European paper (like what we have for our stationery) is A4, A5, etc
  • Corresponding envelopes are C-rated, A5 size is roughly C6 (bi-fold), A4 size is kind of in-between C6 and C5 (trifold)
  • bad news, I don’t have anything bigger, or really different at all than these nor do I know where to get them
Personal- (34:12)

8) Karissa D.-Facebook- (34:17)
I go to your videos when I need don't know something.  Where do you get your information from when you don’t know something about fountain pens or fountain pen adjacent?
  • fantastic question
  • depends on what I’m trying to figure out
  • best bet: get my hands on it
  • for official info, through distributors or manufacturers
  • for product use/preference info, social platforms, customers, FPN, or trusted bloggers like Stephen Brown, Azizah, Matt Armstrong, Liz Steele (document inks), several others I’ll reference from time to time and I can’t name them all here
9) Ted S.- Facebook- (42:43)
Where are you in your reading of the Bible, and what do you think of it? 
  • very personal project, something I really just felt I needed to do for my own understanding
  • I finished on March 12, started on Jan. 4, 68 days total
  • Word of Promise app, audio Bible w/ text
  • VERY fast, i realize
  • 50,000ft view of the whole thing, my goal was to get a broad view of the whole thing and experience the whole story
  • I’m a big fan, understand a lot of how various pieces fit together now
  • “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”
  • reading is one thing, understanding is another, especially with this
  • I look forward to circling back and diving deeper
Business- (50:04)

10) Samuel S.- Facebook- (50:10)
From what I gather you guys carried some Kaweco pens, then stopped carrying them and then started carrying them again a few pens at a time. So far, though, its all Sports. What about Kaweco's other pens that would fit the Goulet Pen Co. niche? 
  •  context: we used to carry them through an old US distributor that had very limited stock 
  • we had to special order just about everything but medium nibs, the logistics we’re working out so we stopped
  • changed distributorship, they have more options now so we carry more
  • other pens aren’t yet imported into the US regularly, we’ll have to pace ourselves 
  • high minimums for special orders, long wait times
11) Kerry A. - Facebook- (53:50)
What kinds of things do you and your team think about when you are conferring carrying a new brand or product?
  • I feel like I answered this, but Margaret couldn't find it in the last dozen or so (thanks for checking!)
  • Lots of factors. Are customers asking for it? Is there a hole to be filled or would we just be like any other company carrying a commodity? Is the product any good (get it in our hands). Does it excite us? Is there a values alignment with us and the manufacturer / distributor? Is it practical and economical for us to carry? Is it unique and of good value? Can we handle it right now?
12) Matthew Flick @inkywrist - Twitter- (1:03:00)
What was the first pen ordered from the Goulet Pen Company?
  • A Goulet one, actually! Depends on if you consider Goulet in the former life (making pens) vs. retailing other companies' pens. Started out with Goulet rollerball pens, sold 900ish of those before getting into fountain pens. Getting into fountain pens in November of 2009, I had several rollerball pens I'd already made, and just converted them to fountain pens.
  • First commercial FP would have either been the Pelican Script or Platinum Preppy.

Troubleshooting- (1:07:20)

13) Jane Pilecki @PileckiJane- Twitter- (1:07:26)
Why does my Lamy 2000 squeak when writing? I have an Edison and a Pelikan that do as well.

  • That’s so weird! Quite uncommon with all these brands, actually
  • something about the nib grind, it’s causing the tines to resonate which causes a squeak
  • I’ve had this happen, mylar paper knocks it out, sometimes brown paper bag can do it too
  • some inks can make it better/worse too

14) Ben Wilson @wilsonbt34- Twitter- (1:10:20)
I have a couple of eyedroppers that are really hard starters, is there anyway to prime the feed somehow? 

  • First, check to make sure your ink level is good 
  • several ways:
    • dip the nib back into your ink
    • dip the nib into a bit of water
    • wick it through with a tissue or paper towel
    • hold it high in your hand and tap your hand on a desk (watch for splatter!)

QOTW: Where do you go for fountain pen info when you can’t find it at GouletPens?

Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A's that you missed.

Write On,
Brian Goulet


  1. SBRE Brown or The Fountain Pen Network

  2. Eva Yaa AsantewaaApril 3, 2015 at 3:01 PM

    When I started all this madness, I obsessively subscribed to so many blogs, joined the FPN & Fountain Pen Geeks, joined two or three Facebook groups, eventually joined two Google+ groups and watched numerous videos. I got on the emailing list for a number of fountain pen online retailers. Now, I've narrowed things down. I happily still subscribe to your blog and videos as well as those of SBRE Brown and Azizah and Matt Armstrong. I no longer belong to any of the groups (although I maintain friendships with a few people from them). I almost never visit FPN or FPG. And my spending has settled down too. (Sorry, Brian! :-D) I am more aware of what I want from this hobby, more knowledgeable and discerning and more self-reliant. I know exactly where to go when I need information. At this point, I have more pens than I could imagine I'd have and enough ink to keep the pens happy for a long time. Did I mention I tried the eBay madness, too, for a short burst? I think that's what really got me to rein in and settle down because, despite some good experiences there, not everything turned out to be worth the bother.

  3. I ask on the Fountain Pen Network of Facebook. Very knowledgeable "friends".

  4. I like to travel, and whenever I'm going to a major city, I try to find a brick and mortar FP store. I find that the "mom and pop" stores like Bromfield Pen Shop in Boston and the Fountain Pen Store outside LA (in Monrovia) are great sources of information. Both Freds (both stores are owned by gentlemen named Fred) have been in the business since birth, as both stores have been family run businesses for more than one generation. They have extensive knowledge on products they carry, as well as vintage products and other lines. I just spent about two hours with the LA Fred and had a blast in the store. The mall fountain pen stores are hit or miss. A few months ago I was in a DC area mall, in a pen store based in that area, and the folks knew nothing about their products or FPs generally. I went upstairs to another retailer, who sells pens along with other business items, and the folks were extremely knowledgeable.

    I belong to the FPN and subscribe to SBRE Brown's videos, and learn a lot from those sources. However, I learn the most by talking to those who know far more than I do! One reason I enjoy your videos so much, Brian, is your conversational style and lack of pretension. I feel like you are answering my questions :)

  5. When I want to know more about a certain pen or ink and its use, troubleshooting, filling, etc... I go to YouTube and do a search there. Top hits are generally GouletPens, of course, but also S. Brown and Matt Armstrong... between the three of these, I generally find my answers. With this method, though, I also get good information from pen manufacturer videos and those of passionate hobbyists.

  6. That's cool, I'm glad GP comes up organically like that :) Stephen and Matt do great stuff too.

  7. Thanks for sharing Kathy. I'm glad you like my conversational style...it just works for me, and my lack of pretension probably has a lot to do with the fact I didn't know anything about fountain pens when I first started out, I was very humbled by my ignorance and that feeling is still very much on the forefront of my mind whenever I shoot a video or interact with the FP community in any way. I very much remember what it was like to know nothing (and in many non-FP areas I still do, haha!).

  8. Thanks so much for sharing Eva, and I'm really glad to hear I've 'made the cut' as you've narrowed your focus :) I totally understand where you're coming from. I'm honored that I'm still adding value to your writing experience.

  9. Hi Brian
    Congratulations on your Bible journey! I'm going one step further...I'm writing the Bible! Reformation Heritage Books has these things called Journibles that are structured journals for writing out various books of the Bible. I've finished Romans, half way through Acts, and a quarter way through John. I enjoy it and it allows me to use my fountain pens...a lot. :-) Mike

  10. Here is a link to that awesome KNITTED FOUNTAIN PEN PATTERN. It's free on Ravelry: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/the-pen-is-mightier

  11. Eva Yaa AsantewaaApril 4, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Indeed! And, funnily enough, I've just joined Pinterest and will be looking for The Goulet Pen Company there! LOL!

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this, Mike P. I remember things better when I write, so this is perfect for me. And, as you noted, a great way to use fountain pens!

  13. I go to FPN, especially when I want to compare pens that Goulet sells and those not in your listed inventory. Also, I have found some of Stephen Brown's videos very helpful--particularly those that focus on the pens themselves.

  14. Have to agree with you, Brian: after trying out many different pens, the quality and consistency of Pilot really impresses me. They are always among my favorite pens for writing. QOTW: I watch SREBROWN religiously, and many other YouTube vids. Though I don't always share their tastes, it gives me an idea of what the pens are like. Also the FPN, as you mentioned, FP Geeks, and Googling, plus various blogs.

    Goulet is a fantastic resource, though...and I agree about liking your natural style. When you do things like tease us about a pen "that I just happen to have right here" but can't show us, or blurt out something and realize it might be TMI or sounds silly, it just cracks me up. I like it that you're confident and secure enough to be yourself without apology. Keep doing what you're doing, and we'll keep watching!

  15. For pen or ink information that is not available on Goulet Pens or the blogs and archives, I have been soundly disappointed with the major pen sellers, you know they have large stores and put out catalogs. When I look for information on a pen on their web site I find almost nothing to help me. Just a short paragraph and one photo about one inch on my screen. No closeups of the nib, no writing samples, no specifications but the nib material and how it is filled. No "chat with us" popups. Needless to say I have not ordered from any of these companies since discovering Goulet Pens in 2012.

    If I can't get the information I'm looking for from Goulet Pens web site, chatting with one of the customer service team, an email to Goulet pens, Goulet customer reviews, or from the many many videos and product reviews, I next go to Fountain Pen Network. But, that usually entails a lot of time as I also have to look at the latest postings to see if any interest me, usually 6 or 10 do. Explore them. Then I reply to some, a very enjoyable sidetrack from my quest for information. I will do a search for what I want and go through the postings that turn up. Maybe post a question to the members.

    But, I find I don't need to this this very often as I get most of the information I need about fountain pens, ink, and paper from Brian's hundreds of videos. I have spent many many hours going through them and I will go through them again at times to refresh my memory on a specific subject. I also look on YouTube, usually SBRE Brown's videos. Now go have some haggis!

  16. Tom, it seems we often agree with each other! I am extremely disappointed with the information on the major pen sellers' websites, in their stores or in their paper catalogs. Usually there is no size info, often no nib info, no decent photos, etc. This is how I stumbled into the Goulet Pens world. Brian, your descriptions and photography are always first rate. If I have other questions I can call your knowledgeable customer service team or email them and get a prompt response. And your videos....love 'em!

    I really don't understand why someone would buy a pen online without these details, particularly more expensive pens. As Brian has noted, he understands that we cannot physically try his pens, so he offers the next best thing--lots of details! I have not been disappointed with any purchase I've made from Goulet Pens!

  17. I use the fountain pen subreddit, it's what really got me into fountain pens and convinced me to take the plunge! Otherwise I'll google it, watch video reviews or go to the FPN.

  18. that's awesome, there's a lot of activity over there! We love our Reddit crew :)

  19. thanks Mike, that's cool to know.

  20. I agree. Pilot rocks. Hhaha, I'm glad you like my natural style, I always say that I'm a terrible 'salesman'. I worked the retail floor at Radio Shack when I was 17 and I did okay for a while, but I totally don't have the type-A approach usually required in commissioned sales. The sit-in-front-of-a-camera-and-talk-to-a-friend approach I take really suits me well, so that's how I do it! I just consider myself very fortunate that people actually like me :)

  21. Thanks Tom! You're a loyal commenter here on the blog and I could argue your comments are a great source for non-Brian info ;) haha! Thanks for all the kind words, as you can imagine it takes a TON of work to do all that extra stuff, and it's not at all shocking to me that it's not something everyone does. Part of our mission statement is to "provide comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in." That's it right there.

  22. Aw, thanks Kathy! This is how I personally have felt, this info has to be there. However, it's not something that's often provided by manufacturers, so we have to do all our own pictures, measurements, Nib Nook, all that stuff. It's an incredible commitment of time, and it's hard because when we get a new product in, we might spend a total of 50 hours of our labor to prepare it for our site. That means we're a little slower to list new things sometimes, or that we might hold off carrying a new product until we have the time to devote to it.

  23. For the next Q&A: What pens are more resistant to drying out when uncapped (ie good for meetings, class notes)?

  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Hey Brian,
    Why not call the 'little pull-outs' something like "Q n A: nibs" short for niblets or the point at which communication flows (puns intended).

  26. "Tidbits - Nibbits" ... "One Offs" ... "Etc." ... "Q&A Out-Takes" ... "Q&A - Best of the Rest"

  27. Like many, I watch a lot of Stephen Brown's stuff. One thing that sets him apart from many other reviewers is his "Disassembly Line" series -- very useful if you want to know how to take a particular pen apart to clean, etc.


Don't miss anything! Subscribe to our Weekly Email Newsletter!

Disqus for Goulet Pens Blog