Goulet Q&A Episode 173: Practicing Handwriting, Ultrasonic Cleaners, and Good & Bad Pen Habits!

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.

In this episode, I talk about practicing handwriting, ultrasonic cleaners, and good & bad pen habits!

This week:

  • anniversary of our miscarriage
  • Preschool graduation
  • kids finishing school

New/Upcoming Products: – (6:13)
Pens/Writing – (8:21)

1) Evan C.- Facebook – (8:23)

I just got started in writing with fountain pens. What is a good habit to have and what is a bad habit to have?
  • welcome! 
  • Good habit: regular pen cleaning/maintenance
  • Bad habit: leaving your pen uncapped for long periods
2) Bryce G.- YouTube/mel.the.maker Instagram – (10:56)
i was wondering if there was a sort of case i could purchase to store ink bottles on the go, as every pen case i seem to find doesn’t have the room for ink, if not any tips for storing ink would be helpful. What about cleaning supplies?

3) thev1k1ng- Instagram – (18:39)

What are your thoughts on the use of ultrasonic cleaners for fountain pens? Especially, can they have any negative side effects on fountain pen materials? Do they affect piston or vacuum mechanisms? Destroy finish? Remove nib platings? Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience!
  • they are really helpful when you are trying to revive a pen
  • especially when ink has dried up inside it and made it unusable
  • generally speaking, I haven’t heard of them causing any negative side effects
  • It can sometimes cause ink to get behind the piston seal if you soak the entire thing, but that doesn’t really cause a lot of harm
  • you really don’t need to be concerned about it hurting anything, they clean fine jewelry in them so you’re going to be okay
  • just follow general common sense rules about soaking pens (like not soaking casein in water for long times, or not soaking aluminum in ammonia, etc)
4) the_bowtieguy- Instagram – (23:40)
When You, Rachel, and the rest of the team first got into fountain pens, did any of you find yourselves practicing your hand writing? Both my best friend (who got me into fountain pens) and I occasionally find ourselves just practicing the alphabet to get specific letters to look just right. I was wondering if we were alone on this or not. Love what You and the crew do, please keep up the phenomenal work.
  • most definitely! That’s very normal
  • I personally had to look up how to even write in cursive again, because I’d forgotten certain letters
  • many people will find inspiration writing with a fountain pen and want to improve their handwriting better than it’s ever been
  • some even go on to learn specific fonts like Spencerian or Copperplate
Ink – (26:45)
5) niewiadomski13- Instagram – (26:47)
Favorite ink feature and why? Sheen? Shimmer? Shading?
  • shading! That’s always been my big draw to ink
  • I do appreciate sheen and shimmer, sure, but I’d give all those up for a good shader any day of the week
  • water resistance can be really appealing to a lot of times, so I want to give an honorable mention there
6) rmiskovsky- Instagram – (28:16)
Best ink for writing letters to a deployed spouse?? Specifically, I’m hoping for something that’s a little unusual, but still very readable. Archival would be nice too.
  • My personal favorite story was hearing of a couple that wrote to each other in Blue Ghost to keep their letters private
  • Aside from that, I think that you could really go with anything, though I’d encourage something permanent/water resistant so it holds up under any conditions
  • Noodler’s has a lot of these, and even some that are military-themed like Noodler’s Lexington Gray, Air Corp Blue Black, and 54th Massachusetts

Troubleshooting – (31:05)

7) Chris F.- Email – (31:08)

With my general clumsiness and lack of fine motor skills, I always seem to drop my beloved fountain pens. They plummet to the earth nib-down every time. What recourse do I have for damaging nibs in this way? Do you recommend different strategies (e.g. repair versus replacement) for different nib types (e.g. steel versus gold)? How does one repair nibs?
  • ouch, this is always tough to hear about
  • definitely consider pens with swappable nibs, like Lamy
  • Steel vs gold can make a difference, steel nibs are tougher and might survive a fall better
  • steel nib are cheaper though, and may not be worth the investment in repairing if there’s severe damage
  • both steel and gold can be repaired by a pro, their prices will vary with the severity of the damage
  • Expect to pay somewhere around $50 with shipping and whatnot for a repair
  • How exactly it’s done is with a lot of experience, it’s not super easy work to do

Business – (35:56)

8) logan_teague- Instagram – (35:59) 

What do you do with the empty bottles left over from taking ink samples? Do you recycle or do something else?
  • We try to repurpose as many of them as possible!
  • we sell them as empty ink bottles whenever we can, demand doesn’t always equal supply though
  • we have given some to our team for personal use, even as wedding centerpieces!
  • if we can’t reuse them, we recycle them


QOTW: Where is the most interesting place you have ever taken a fountain pen?- (39:18)

Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T14:03:26+00:00 June 16th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|34 Comments
  • David L.

    Brian, I am so sorry to hear what happened. Your family will be in my prayers. If you want, I can try to have a Mass offered for you and Rachel, as I too am Catholic. QOTW: It would have been the Lincoln Memorial or the Vietnam Wall if it wasn’t for one simple fact: I forgot my pen!!!!!!!! While packing, it was somehow left at the house, don’t ask how. That was the first time I went out-of-state after getting a fountain pen. Question 4: I practice for better handwriting daily. Question 5: Shading was one feature that drew me into fountain pens. That would be my choice. Though sheening sometimes grabs me… Wonderful video. Thank you!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Oh man! I hate when I leave without my pens. I recently bought another Varsity just so I can keep it in my purse and always have a fountain pen on me. I can’t stand to write with anything else anymore!

      • David L.

        You and I both. I thought of a similar solution of getting a Jinhao and some Diamine cartridges to put in my Mil-surp backpack for travel.

  • Lisa Vierra

    As an adult, I had my Waterman Phileas, appropriately, when I climbed the spire of The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Oxford. If you are in Oxford, you must make this climb. It’s a bit harrowing, but one of the most gorgeous panoramas in all of Europe. Because I never go anywhere without a pen and journal, I also had one in the labor room when I had my children. As a child my family traveled all over Europe. My father was with NATO. My mother always had us carry a fountain pen, drawing pencils and journal/sketchbook, thus I have carried pens to the Parthenon, Neuschweinstein (probably mangled spelling) Pompeii, and, yes, spelunking in the caves of Cuma near our home outside of Naples, Italy. As well as up to the top of Vesuvius and into the crater of the sulphuric volcano near our home. In other words, my pens and “I’ve been everywhere, man.” A We are looked forward to seeing Lisbon soon, but I can’t take all my pens! Probably take the Phileas and a Lamy.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5da2815afa2c75ded1d7cd576d31bb3b2534fae700e58c2faf5b688ee0a1fae3.jpg

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Quite the adventures!

  • Tom Johnson

    Q #3 – I bought an ultrasonic cleaner over 3 years ago to clean out pens which had dried ink from a couple of years to some old pens that might have had several decades of old ink in it. I put lukewarm water with a few drops of Dawn dishwashing detergent in the cleaner with a dash of ammonia. Cleaning took from a few minutes to multiple sessions over several days. Works great. I only put the grip section and/or the nib and feed in the ultrasonic. I sold the vintage pens to restorers for parts after cleaning.

    For routine pen cleaning, like Brian, I never need it at all for the pens I use. Once the pens were cleaned out, I either use them or store them. However, it does a magnificent job cleaning eyeglasses, getting the lenses sparkling and removing all the oils from the frame, nose pieces, hinges, etc. Same with watch bands. Note: Ultrasonic cleaners do not polish. Many reviewers of ultrasonic cleaners are upset that their jewelry was not shined up or their silverware did not sparkle. Cleaning is not polishing!

    Q #4 – When I got back into fountain pen passion, I loved to write with them, and that included practicing and improving my penmanship. I modified some letters I did not like (the capital G I was taught, changed to look like the “G” in Goulet’s logo). I also find that practicing writing is relaxing and stress relieving. And, some 60 years after learning penmanship, my writing is better than it has ever been in my life. I recommend the Clairefontaine French ruled notebook for this.

    QOTW – I cannot think of any exotic place I have taken my pens. For over 14 years I used them at work, in a nuclear manufacturing plant, and that is interesting in itself. But that is about it. Another great Q&A Brian, one of my Friday highlights.

  • Michele Harvey

    Sending big, big hugs and love out to Brian & Rachel.

  • Deb Giuffre

    Brian and Rachel… so sorry for your loss. You were absolutely right on with your advice for offering condolences. I suffered two miscarriages and heard it all from “it wasn’t meant to be” to “at least you have your son.” People feel so awkward in searching for the right words, they often say the wrong ones. A hug and an “I’m here for you” goes a long way.

  • Eric H

    QOTW: As an Aide with the Georgia Senate (state not country), the Senator I was working for needed some co-sponsors on a few resolutions he was sponsoring. Dutifully, I went around the chamber before things got going for the day to get signatures. The only black pen I had on me was my Pilot Metropolitan. Consequently, there were a few confused looks by members who had never used a fountain pen, and one stern warning from another that I shouldn’t let anyone else use my fountain pen.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Wow! What a neat story! I’m sure that’s not something you will ever forget!

  • Brian, with respect to Noodler’s, even Lex Grey is not reliable in terms of waterproof for the deployed letter. The ONLY inks I’ve found that I’ve tested on every paper and had them remain waterproof are Platinum Carbon cartridges, and the De Atramentis Documents (not tried all colors but most.)

    • Tom Johnson

      Noodler’s bulletproof inks achieve their property in a different way than any other inks. The dyes chemically bond with the cellulose fibers in the paper, and this does not happen in just a few minutes. Once the bond happens they are totally resistant to water, acetone, bleaches, and most chemicals. You cannot wash over these inks with water or water color soon after the ink is applied, it has to wait for a few minutes to several hours before it reaches full water resistance. Plus, some papers, like water color paper, have a water resistant coating that probably interferes with this bonding, prolonging the time it takes the ink to “set”.

      Attached is a photo of two pieces of Rhoda No 16 Dotpad paper with a number of Noodler’s inks drawn, some with different size nibs. Platinum Carbon Black, Diamine Oxblood, Emerald of Chivor, and Lamy Dark Lilac are also included. Some days later, the left piece was submerged in warm water for 10 minutes. While submerged it was rubbed all over the surface with a finger scrubbing the ink. Notice none of the “fully bulletproof” Noodler’s inks showed any fading, including Lexington Gray, which is fully bulletproof. The “partially bulletproof” inks lost their “non-bulletproof” dye components, and are faded. Lamy and Diamine inks are totally gone. There is a faint ghost of EOC left. Platinum Carbon Black was as resistant as the bulletproof inks. It is one of my favorite inks too.

      The sheet of paper to the right in the photo was not soaked in water. I have performed a similar test with Noodler’s Black after only 5 minutes dry time, and there was no fading or smearing at all under water. So, depending on the paper, it may only take several minutes to achieve full water resistance.

      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7e8851d233f4a5a173e30814229c20513de49ef88b824d2318feb43eb32ae1ed.jpg

      • Tom Johnson

        Whoops! Mistake

      • Lydia At Goulet Pens

        This is great, Tom! Thanks!

  • I wrote to you both not long back through goulet. I am so sorry for your loss and am glad you talk openly about it. When I miscarried it was such a taboo subject. I have never understood why it would be taboo.

  • Also, I have great books on subjects like lettering on the Internet Archive (also music, architecture, etc.) many of which are downloadable: https://archive.org/details/@iampeth

  • Charles Duffy

    The bulb syringe is not *that* indestructible, unfortunately — mine fell apart at the seams.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/35435d3d1f2b6c592126a29d8398ae1733c64aadfecdfc5a9e6baa0d74c68dc4.jpg

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      That has happened to me before too, Charles. If you squeeze the sides of the syringe, that can happen. You have to cradle the bulb between your middle and pointed finger and use your thumb to push the water out from the bulb syringe.

      • Tom Johnson

        Wow, thanks for that. I’ve seen Brian squeeze his bulb syringe that way, but I’ve been squeezing from the sides. Time to change. Thanks, Lydia.

  • Lesley Schultz

    Question for next week and sorry if this has been answered before on Q and A. I am very new to fountain pens (so far I love it!), but how do you know when you are running out of ink? One of my worst fears is running out of ink when I am in the middle of a meeting or somewhere else when I am taking notes. What are the signs that ink is low, especially where you can’t see how full your pen is?

    • Tom Johnson

      I’m not sure there is an answer to this very frustrating problem, we’ll see what Brian comes up with. My pens usually just start skipping then stop suddenly. This is one reason for the popularity of clear fountain pens, or pens with a visible reservoir. There is a piston fill pen that holds a small reservoir for an ink emergency. Brian discussed this recently, but I don’t remember which pen.

      Some inks wet surfaces so well it can be hard to tell how much ink remains in a cartridge or clear converter. My two recommendations: 1) have a second pen ready; 2) Fill your pen every day before going to work or school. Nothing wrong with topping off a pen well before it runs out of ink. One poster said he had success going to the rest room and adding a few drops of water to the cartridge/converter to make a diluted ink from the residue. That worked to get him through an emergency.

      • David L.

        Tom, my foggy memory tells me that the pen Brian talked about was the Aurora 88.

        • Tom Johnson

          You are write David, I halfway remembered that it was one outside my price range. Great idea though.

      • ec

        Mine get paler for a few words, and then nothing. Before something important, I’d just refill them again to be on the safe side.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      I will definitely pass this question on! I usually unscrew my converter pen bodies and if I can’t see ink above where it connects to the feed, I fill them back up again. Aside from that, I would do as Tom says and fill my pens or have a second pen.

      • Lesley Schultz

        Thanks Lydia! I just know there are some pens out there that you can’t see anything no matter the type of converter. I just want to know if there are some warning signs to watch out for. As it is, I am still on ink samples right now from your starter kit so I haven’t committed to buying a bottle yet, as I am still exploring my options.

        • Lydia At Goulet Pens

          Unfortunately, in my experience, it seems to happen all at once. Haha. You’re writing just fine and then all the sudden the ink skips and sputters and then your pen is empty 🙁

  • Larina

    @rmiskovsky Regarding your question about ink for a deployed spouse, I totally second Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black. It was one of the very first inks I tried, and I completely love it. It has beautiful variation of colour (more shading than I usually see in inks that dark) and the teal is very original in my opinion, especially if your spouse isn’t very familiar with fountain pen inks. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with that one.

  • Uniotter

    Brian, my heart goes out to you and Rachel, and I send healing thoughts as you continue to mourn the loss of your child. I have discovered how tenuous something like “good health” can be — which can be taken from us without warning. Thank you for your courage and openness in sharing….it helps people feel less alone in their own difficult times.

    • ec

      Brian and Rachel, you know by now that my belief is that your little one is safe with Christ and you will see her again someday. Take comfort in that.

  • GimmeeCookiee

    QOTW: I do psychology research and was on a brand new project that uses fMRI to measure brain activation. The fMRI machine is basically a HUGE magnet, so you have to remove metal objects before entering the room. After the initial tour of the equipment, we went back to the control room for a meeting, where I was writing notes with my Lamy 2000 (you know where this is going now… 😉 After the brief meeting, we went back to the fMRI room to discuss some details about logistics etc. when suddenly there was a loud clang. Turns out, I had placed the pen in my shirt pocket after capping it (out of habit so as not to lose it) and did not realise it when entering the room. The pen flew about 10 feet, out of my pocket onto the inner wall of the machine. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and the pen survived unscathed. The amount of metal was small enough for it to be easily detached from the machine. I stick to using ball points when I’m doing fMRI research now.

    So TLDR: most ‘interesting’ place I’ve taken a fountain pen (and a very metallic pen at that) is inside the bore of an fMRI machine. oops…

  • Leslie Helms Clack

    I too have suffered miscarriages, 2 of them. I made it to 12 weeks with the last miscarriage and went in for a happy ultrasound only to discover that I had miscarried at 9 weeks, no heartbeat. It has been over a decade and I do have 2 beautiful teenagers but the loss of the 2 will forever be a part of me. I also suffer from anxiety, which led to my discovery of fountain pens and journaling. The last year was especially hard for me after totaling my car and losing my grandmother, so I started writing. My first purchase was a Jinhao from Goulet Pens, and now I’m all in. Writing and gardening are my therapy. I absolutely love you guys, your amazing attention to your customers, and I look forward to all of the videos and blogs. Keep up the great work guys. The fountain pen community rocks!

  • simonoid

    I need nemosine alpha centauri ink in my life. Is it coming soon? I hope you can do a blog post showcasing all the inks!

  • Heather Deans

    QOTW: My husband and I recently celebrated our anniversary with a trip to Washington DC. And we registered for the Library of Congress reader/researcher cards (which are free by the way). And we spent a couple of our days with our fountain pens and dot grid notebooks in the main reading room of the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress. It was a phenomenal experience. I highly recommend making the Library of Congress a stop on anyone’s trip to Washington DC.