Friday, May 22, 2015

Goulet Q&A Episode 79, 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.

I'm back this week after being across the country, and I have some solid questions to answer for you. I'm here talking about customs confiscating your pens, testing for archival ink properties, coarse paper damaging nibs, and the most expensive pens I've ever broken.

QOTW: How would you like us to publish Goulet Q&A slices? Vote here!

Pens/Writing - (4:26)

1) Karissa D. -Facebook - (4:29)
How do you safely store your glass pens?
  • pen cabinet
  • the box it came in! 
  • bubblewrap works well 

2) Gary W. -Facebook - (6:07)
I'm going to be traveling to England and Europe next month and I was wondering if I should be brave enough to bring my Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M800. Do you think there's a possibility they could still be confiscated at any security gate? I really love bringing my favorite pens but I'm very apprehensive about customs and security. 

  •  I’ve honestly never traveled internationally so I haven’t been through customs
  • I would probably be less concerned with customs taking them and more concerned with them being lost, stolen or damaged on the trip
  • it’s totally your call

Ink - (8:33)

3) Daniel B. -Facebook - (8:37)
What are the best ways to test an inks characteristics as far as how permanent the ink is against various things like water, chemicals, and light? What makes an "archival" ink "archival"? (If the purpose of the archival characteristic is not covered under the first question, what way can one test an ink to determine the strength, or even presence, of this characteristic?)
  • I’m no scientist, there are folks on FPN who’ve played around more with this stuff
  • water: drip test, soaking, running under the tap
  • bleach is most common chemical, maybe oven cleaner: usually soaking
  • light…no real consistent way to do it
  • ran experiment with Jamie Grossman of HudsonValleySketches and she put them in her window for 6 months
  • archival isn’t a standardized term across the industry
  • generally it means permanent (lightfast)
  • I don’t know of any real way to test this strength other than tons of time 
4) Eric O. - Facebook - (15:30)
There are times I notice what appears to be water on the walls of my ink sample vials. It happens when I leave them laying on their sides. I also notice this on my demonstrators (TWSBI 580/platinum cool). A gentle swish seems to fix it. Is something to be concerned about?
  • that’s just condensation
  • ink is mostly water, it’s evaporating, collecting on the vial/pen, and reconstituting once you shake it up 
  • don’t even sweat it 

5) Edith N. -Facebook - (17:03)
I notice that one of Brian's favorite inks (included in one of the sample packages) is Scabiosa, an iron gall ink. I would be curious to know what pen he pairs with that ink and why.
  • It’s a low-maintenance permanent dusty purple, well-behaved and very water resistant
  • I don’t have it loyal to a single pen, and in fact it’s not necessarily a mainstay in my regular rotation these days
  • I’ve often just paired it up in my Lamy Al-Star medium, maybe other various pens from time to time 

Paper - (19:57)

6) jimmyystardust – YouTube - (20:04)
Brian, Can coarser paper from books (or any type of book paper) damage the nib on a fountain pen?
  • potentially, over a LOOOOONG time
  • paper is very, very, very slowly wearing down your nib as you write with it, and coarser paper will speed up that process
  • you might be talking about a nib that lasts 30 years only lasting 20 or something, who’s to really know
  • the one paper that’ll definitely speed up the process would be stone paper 
7) Ronnie K. - Facebook - (22:12)
So you are in a store and there are notebooks - pads - or even buying on your site and obviously you cannot try the pads out with your fountain pens - 
A. What qualities in a paper would you look for to think it is fountain pen friendly paper and would work well ?
B. When feeling a paper what do you look for ?
C. When reading about a pad, book or paper on your site what are the key buzz words ? 

  • paper thickness is not a guarantee but it’s usually an indicator (80g+)
  • any type of language that says ink resistant, no bleed, etc
  • it’s essentially a crapshoot if it’s a brand you know nothing about and there’s no indication on it
  • some notebooks don’t even source consistent paper, so they could vary from one to another depending on how they source out their paper
  • this matters more with fountain pen ink than rollerballs and ballpoints which are much more popular in general
  • smoothness is often a good sign, though not a guarantee
  • really brand name is the biggest thing, and the reason I personally believe in online is because you can see real-time reviews and have way more information at your fingertips than in a store
  • fountain pen people tend to be pretty loyal to their brands when it comes to paper

8) Steve K. -Facebook - (30:49)
Any possibility to do a quick visual comparison of the Midori Traveler's Passport notebook and the Filofax Personal notebook? Or, at least could you talk about the size / paper comparison between 
the two?

  • they’re fairly similar in size
  • you’ll get more pages in the Filofax 
  • the Midori is more durable and rugged
  • there’s clearly a price difference
  • both good notebooks, I love and use both

Personal - (33:31)

9) GRA DON - YouTube
Request: pls recommend 2 to 3 reference books on fountain one can add to personal library.
  • I couldn’t tell you one
  • everything I’ve learned has been online or in person
  • FPN has some resources but I haven’t found any “you have to read this book to start out” things
  • any recommendations?
10) Ana B. - YouTube - (35:59)
If you were elected President of the United States which fountain pen would you use to sign your name on your Swearing-In ceremony and why?
  • Edison Nouveau Premiere- made in America! 

11) Vlad Y. - YouTube - (37:58)
Brian, what were the most expensive pens you ever a) bought, b) got as a gift, c) sold, d) presented, e) lost, f) broke?
  • a) Stipula DaVinci (700ish)
  • b) Mont-Blanc 149 BB
  • c) Platinum 3776 Karakusa (1200)
  • d) huh?
  • e) I don’t currently have any ‘known’ lost pens, never anything significant
  • f) nothing more than a Preppy, I have just never busted my pens

12) 林理谙 -Facebook - (42:30)
Personal question to Brian or any member of the the team: If you could right now decide how long you will live (anywhere from 1 hour to all eternity), how long would you live and why?
  • what a mindfreak question! 
  • I don’t want to know when I will die, that would seriously wig me out
  • gun to my head though…I’d say around 80, that seems about right to me

Business - (46:54)

13) @thepenpenchant - Twitter - (47:02)
Why does @PilotPenUSA not carry all of the color and nib options that Pilot Japan offers? I'd like to get a Custom 92 in grey.
  • no doubt it has to do with import costs and logistics of stocking and promoting so many different SKU’s
  • they clearly have some kind of method to their madness, I would love nothing more than to have access to everything!!
  • sometimes t could be stock issues, maybe some pens are exclusive to Japan or not made in quantities to ship outside the country
  • I wish I had definitive answers, I’m left to speculation

Troubleshooting - (54:36)

14) Charles D. -Facebook - (54:42)
I  just filled my Nib Creaper from a mostly-full bottle of Apache Sunset; got a color that was very off, and -- on inspection -- discovered that I had apparently failed to adequately clean the pen on last use and had fungal issues in the tank. Using a dip pen to test the bottle, it appears to be fine at this point -- but do I need to worry about having infected the rest of my supply of this ink (and keep other pens away from this bottle)? Is there any preventative care available at this point, or do I need to hope that the antifungals in the bottle are strong enough to prevent a larger issue?
  • mold is weird, and it really freaks people out
  • if you had it in your pen, you most certainly exposed your Apache to it
  • hardcore enthusiasts will tell you to throw it out, I would normally be inclined to agree but it’s really your call
  • Noodler’s does use some pretty legit biocides, it’s RARE I ever hear of a mold issue in a Noodler’s ink
  • chances are what contamination you had won’t survive in the Apache, but you’re definitely taking that risk so be aware 
  • if you use cheap pens it’s probably okay and worth the risk, but expensive pens…it’s safer just to toss the ink and get a new one
15) Jean-Michaël B. -Facebook - (1:00:00)
I recently bought a Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen, along with some of your ink samples. I wanted to try them out with my Ahab converted to an eyedropper, but I noticed that it had quite a bit of blotting and flooding, though it was more periodic than constant. Considering the fact that an ink sample only has about 2 milliliters, and that the eyedropper contains up to 6 milliliters, do you think that this ~4 milliliters of air pushing down on the ink in the feed could cause my blotting and flooding? I switched to the piston coming with it and the problem went away, but I want to know if this blotting I experienced was normal, that is if I am completely unable to use my Ahab in eyedropper mode.
  • I’m glad you mentioned that you put the piston on and it worked just fine
  • I greatly suspect the blotting you experienced was because of the relatively low volume of ink in a very large ink chamber 
  • when eyedroppers get low, the possibility of blotting goes way up, due to the heat of your hand increasing the pressure in the pen
  • doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the eyedropper? Yeah kinda, but you’ll only get about 1.7ml or so in the piston, you can get 6ml in the eyedropper
  • even if you only use the eyedropper to half-full, it’s still almost twice the ink capacity of the piston

QOTW:  We have a TON of Q&A slices ready to publish, should we do them in huge batches at once or trickle them out like one a day? - (1:06:00)

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. 2) England is off the coast of Europe and mainland Europe is referred to as "The Continent" in Britain, so that is probably why he differentiated the two.
    As a person who travels to Europe and Asia all the time, I have never had a problem with TSA or any other security office and my fountain pens. However, I rarely travel with my m800 for the reasons that Brian said. I'm too scared that it will be stolen or left behind while living out of hotel rooms.

  2. For storing the glass pen you could look into a cheap clamshell necklace case (usually under $2 on eBay) - just check the measurements but they are nice and sturdy and even have elastic loops sometimes to keep your pen snug.

  3. One point about mold -- sometimes it's mold and sometimes it's a chemical reaction sludge (they call it SIB on Fountain Pen Network -- stuff in bottle). I have had it happen with Apache in the past. I've also had it come up with some Pelikan inks. It seems to be some kind of unforeseen interaction between two kinds (brands) of ink.

    Noodler's ink is cheap, so just tossing it & getting another bottle makes the most sense, but to be honest I've had good luck straining the gunk out of the bottle and keeping an eye on it. I haven't had the problem for years, maybe because now I'm pretty fussy about cleaning my pens super thoroughly before changing ink brands.

    I also use a toothpick to fish around for anything mysterious in the bottle if I haven't opened it for awhile. I have some ooooooold bottles of ink.

  4. (If it's definitely mold, I personally would toss it.)

  5. QOTW: Well if you are subscribed to a channel you can just go to Manage subscriptions on the left hand side of your Youtube page. This will bring up all the subscriptions you are subscribed to. It will show each channel - go the the far right of the channel you are looking for, there will be a check mark and the word subscribed. Next to it is a little star thing, click on that and it will bring up a box. It will give you two options. One says: 'send me updates', which you can check, and 'show only uploads in feed'. So if you want to get all the emails about Goulet, just hit send me updates, if you want them in your feed, hit that box. If you want both, check check. Or if you don't want it in your emails or feed, hit nothing. And of course you can do this with any of the channels you are subscribed to.

    Anyway I hope that helps.

    I don't care either way, I like it just how it is but if you change it that's fine, but don't do another channel, it'll just diffuse everything and if I have to go to multiple sources or channels to try and find something, it might make me have to put on my cranky pants.That being said, I'll follow wherever you point to.

    Another great Q&A Brian. Have a great weekend Goulet's & Team Goulet!

  6. On traveling with pens: Ditto on not taking most favorite or expensive pen. Never had a problem. I always take one fewer than I "need" for excuse to scope out local pen scene. Some brands and models are country exclusive or super difficult to find in the States.

    On paper: Ditto the brand loyalty with a caveat. I was Moleskine lover before they became hugely hipster popular. Since they are ubiquitous now, I have found the quality of the paper has declined. The key is to find what you like and keep a supply on hand. Now my favorite notebook is the Rhodia web notebooks and the Rhodiarama. Of course Clairefontaine is great, too.

  7. On traveling with pens: Ditto on not taking most favorite or expensive pen. Never had a problem. I always take one fewer than I "need" for excuse to scope out local pen scene. Some brands and models are country exclusive or super difficult to find in the States.

    On paper: Ditto the brand loyalty with a caveat. I was Moleskine lover before they became hugely hipster popular. Since they are ubiquitous now, I have found the quality of the paper has declined. The key is to find what you like and keep a supply on hand. Now my favorite notebook is the Rhodia web notebooks and the Rhodiarama. Of course Clairefontaine is great, too.

  8. Giovanni's RoombaMay 22, 2015 at 4:27 PM

    Gary, I don't know how risk-averse you are, but I travel all the time with a clutch of fountain pens and have never had the slightest trouble — not with security, and not with the leakage that some people worry about. I don't have any really expensive pens, mind you, and that might make me think twice (the most expensive is about $75), but I've flown in or to to Japan, the US, Canada, the UK, and Europe in the last few years with my fistful of pens, and security has never done anything but ignore them.

  9. Love your transcripts, have never listened to more than a minute of your vids.

  10. Love your transcripts, have never listened to more than a minute of your vids.

  11. #3, Daniel B. - If you test an ink for archival grade water resistance, let the ink dry for a few hours or overnight before performing the test. Noodler's Bulletproof inks chemically bond with cellulose fiber, and this takes a reasonable time to occur. It is good to do a drip test soon after the ink is dry, to evaluate the effects of a spill, but don't conclude from such a test that an ink is not waterproof. For serious experimenters, you can buy ultraviolet cabinets to expose inks to very high levels of UV to simulate long term UV exposure. Antique glass collectors use these to accelerate color change in clear glass bottles to make them look like they had been exposed to sunlight for many decades (the old glass with the color change is worth more to collectors).

  12. #6, Jimmystardust - I was flushing out my sister's nearly 60 year old Sheaffer 14k F nib pen for her and noticed it felt scratchy when I wrote with it. Under my Goulet loupe, the iridium alloy tip was worn a little flat and at the angle that matched the way she held her pen during more than 50 years of writing with it. It had conformed to her handwriting style, not mine, it feels fine to her. Most of the tip was still there, and that pen had traveled over many miles of paper, and is still writing great. She used it for years when she taught school and for a lot of writing in offices, etc. as her only fountain pen. You might worry in 100 years of heavy usage with a fountain pen. Cardboard is ultra abrasive, I would never write on a cardboard box with a fountain pen!

  13. For the next Q&A: After SBREBrown had Libery's Elysium turn the latex diaphram of his Edison Menlo to goo, someone on the GPC Twitter account said they'd ask Nathan about it. Has there been any word on the safety of Libery's Elysium in pens with latex sacs or diaphrams?

  14. I have a bottle of Private Reserve Avocado ink, but most internet resources say it's actually spelled "Avacado". Did I get fake ink?

  15. Mine says Avocado on the box and on the bottle as well, but I got mine from Goulet, so I'm sure you're safe that its not fake. And if it is fake, its a damn great fake ink! It's my favorite green. What's funny is that on my Order History on Goulet that I just looked up, its spelled 'Avacado' - and the actual picture of the ink bottle on GouletPens.com the spelling on the bottle is spelled 'Avacado'. Private Reserve is an American company so I always thought it weird that in SBRE Brown's review of it it is spelled Avacado.

    If you got it from Goulet's, I'm sure you are good to go.

    (on Private Reserve's website its spelled Avacado and I have a pack of cartridges too that are spelled Avacado)

    And hey, if you love the ink, which I do, I don't care if its fake.

  16. For Q&A: From my limited understanding of how fountain pens work (i.e. capillary action drawing out ink from pen to paper) I find the following situation surprising, and would appreciate any insight you might have. I typically use the excellent Rhodia dot pad paper, and have experienced this with a wide variety of pens and inks.

    I have noticed that while writing in cursive, if I pause for a few seconds in the middle of a word, with my nib touching the paper, I can start writing again and the word looks fine, as if I had written it without pausing. I would expect that pausing with nib on paper would cause the ink to continue to flow, and that I would have a blob (or at least a pool of ink) form on the paper, but that is not so. I don't get any blob, nor even any noticeable pooling of ink when I do this.
    More info, in case it is helpful. In case you are wondering why I pause in the middle of writing a word, the most common case is when I am transcribing Shakespeare, and I hit an unfamiliar word...I might write the first few letters of something like "Mytilene", but pause after "Myt" to check the source I am transcribing from to make sure I spell the rest of the word right. Also, I have found that in this situation, it is actually better to keep my nib on the paper as opposed to lifting the pen. If I lift the pen, the word shows evidence that I had to pause...there is some discontinuity, and also extra ink if I overlap where I stop and start. It is much preferable to keep the pen on the page as I pause, as then the word looks normal.

    I'd love it if you could show this in video, and then explain what is going on here if you have any insight! Thanks, Rich

  17. Rich, I want to see what Brian says about your well thought out observation and this question. My thoughts: capillary action may not be a "pressure" driving the ink. But, when the ink is drawn out of the tip of the nib the capillary action draws ink to replace it. If you touch the tip to a tissue the ink will continue to flow out of the pen as it is soaked up. I think most paper takes the ink onto its surface or into its fibers and basically stops the flow. Particularly Rhodia paper, which takes a while for the ink to penetrate, so the flow ceases. The nib and feed may be designed to prevent what you expected to happen. Is the contact point where you paused is darker than most of the ink line made with the pen moving? This is quite thought provoking and intriguing, thanks for posting! Brian - what is your take on this?

  18. Hi Penthoughts! I just double checked and it looks like PR changed the spelling to the correct that original spelling mistake. All of our bottles currently have "Avocado". :)

  19. Hi Mitchell! Thanks for your input on international travel! Glad to hear that TSA leaves pens alone. :)

  20. Great idea Calligraphy Nut! Thanks for sharing. :)

  21. Fantastic advice Sonia! It's great to know that with proper care, ink can last a very long time. :)

  22. Hi Kenny! Thanks for the feedback. We'll definitely keep your thoughts on another channel in mind. :)

  23. Hi Giovanni! It's great to hear that traveling with pens isn't a problem. :)

  24. Great points, Tom! :)

  25. Hi Aarom! I've passed this along to Brian. :)

  26. I love that it felt great to her but because you had different writing styles, it felt scratchy to you! It just shows how personal fountain pens are. :)

  27. I was probably wearing my cranky pants when I wrote it. You know I love Team Goulet so I'll watch however many channels you make or put them on, or keep it how it is. Have a great rest of the week Madigan, and the Goulet crew.

  28. Thank you for the kind words, Tom. It seems to me that your explanation makes sense, and is consistent with what I have experienced. I agree that tissue or paper towels draw out the ink.

    I just did a little experiment on cheap copy paper, and paused for four different periods (1, 3, 5, and 10 seconds) with 4 different pens I have inked up. (Lamy Al Star B, Pilot Stargazer M, Omas Ogiva Alba M, and a gusher, Pelikan M-1000 B). I figured the cheap paper would be more like a paper towel, but even with the cheap paper, gusher pen, and a 10 second pause, it is almost imperceptible that I paused. This is a bit of a mind-bender...when I am pausing, nib on the paper (with normal writing pressure), I imagine that Lake Apache Sunset is forming on the page. But no, I can't even see a dark spot on the line, to finally answer your question. It is a pleasingly counterintuitive result. Try it!

  29. Gary W. Asked: "I'm going to be traveling to England and Europe next month and I was wondering if I should be brave enough to bring my Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M800. Do you think there's a possibility they could still be confiscated at any security gate? I really love bringing my favorite pens but I'm very apprehensive about customs and security."

    I have a lot of international travel experience; I just got back from spending a month in the Middle East. Anyway, I usually take a couple of fountain pens with me, couple of mechanical pencils, and a couple of ball point pens. I have a Neo Critz Transformer pencil case that I use to store all my writing instruments. I tuck this in my briefcase. I have never had a problem either domestically or internationally. You will be fine. Besides, you are more likely to encounter FP users in Europe than the US.

  30. What about springing nibs? Does that count as breaking a pen?


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