Goulet Q&A Episode 226: Pilot’s 100th Anniversary Pens, Pens Improving Handwriting, and If Brian Had To Start Over!
In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about Pilot’s 100th anniversary pens, why fountain pens improve your handwriting, and what if he had to start all over!
- Pilot 100th Anniversary
- 7 Gods pen set, limited to 25 worldwide
- $48,000 for the set, 7 Namiki Emperor pens, mix of Maki-e and Chinkin, urushi box, mini bottles of ink
- Ink, only part of the 7 Gods of Good Fortune set, not individually right now
- Emperor Fuji, $9,600, 100 pens worldwide
- Fuji and Meiji-Maru that is Yukari size, $1,600, 800 pens worldwide
- 7 Gods individual pens in limited qty next March
- 7-pack of 15ml mini ink sets at $100/ea
- 50ml bottles at $30/ea
- Rachel and I are traveling to Italy through next week, follow me at @Brian.Goulet on Instagram to see what we do
- Visiting Florence, Naples, Positano and Capri with Yafa, touring Stipula, Pineider, Nettuno
- mix of business and pleasure, looking to get a feel for the Italian culture
- no Q&A next week, but we do have video content planned!
- Drew will hang out with all our Customer Care team in Write Now, we’ll complete the Left Out series on Friday
- Stipula Ventidue Tocco Ferro Blue
- Diplomat Aero Blue
- Monteverde Monza 3 Set
- Jinhao Gold/Red Dragon
- Platinum Procyon (trickling in)
- TWSBI Eco Transparent Blue (probably gone)
- Coming soon:
1) @NanaLovesJesus2- Twitter (16:33)
If I’m using a dry ink with a medium nib, could I improve the flow by changing to a fine nib?
- improve it? no, usually fine nibs are putting down less ink so it’d actually feel drier, you’d want to go broader to improve flow
- dry ink will be dry in any nib size, so the wetter writing the pen, the more the ink flow will feel improved
2) @Realbestboy- Twitter (18:52)
Why is it that when i use fountain pens i have great handwriting but when i use ballpoints it is unpleasant to look at?
- because ballpoints are sticks of nonsense, that’s why
- seriously though, it’s most likely because you’re changing your grip and probably pressing harder, which tightens up your muscles and causes you to write with more finger muscles instead of hand and wrist muscles
- your finger muscles are good for fine movement, but they get tired and thus sloppy
- that’s also why your hand cramps more with ballpoints
- fountain pens (should) write under their own weight, promote more compound muscle movement in the fingers, hand, wrist, even elbow
- the larger the muscles, the less tired you get, and the nicer your handwriting looks, though usually with practice because it takes more work to develop those fine movements in your muscle memory of your large muscles
3) instaraxx- Instagram (24:41)
What’s the most common reason that a fountain pen will leak?
- when there’s a pressure imbalance between air and ink, it leaks
- As Richard Binder says, fountain pens are really just a controlled leak
- there could be a number of causes, like changes in temperature (hot car to A/C building), pen being jostled around in transit, change in altitude, barometric pressure changes
- it’s honestly hard for me to say the most common cause, because it really varies so much based on circumstances and the surrounding environment
- I think the environment the pen is kept in probably has the biggest impact, if I had to sum it up
4) Aadarsh- YouTube (31:41)
Challenge for Brian: you have lost all of your fountain pen stuff, what do you buy with 500 dollars. You don’t get free samples for ink. You can keep all your knowledge.
- this is an interesting question, because I started out when $500 was inconceivable to me for pen stuff in my personal collection
- I have to completely suspend reality to answer this, because just with the pen knowledge and people that I know in the industry, if I love all my pen stuff, I could definitely get a lot of stuff back for promotional consideration
- Let me remove myself as a retailer/vlogger in order to answer this more in what I imagine is the spirit of your question, just for my own personal use
- I love my Homo Sapiens but that would be out, too expensive
- Lamy 2000 is a great pen, I use it daily, that’d be a pick in EF. $160 gone
- TWSBI Eco in both broad and fine, $58
- Pilot Metropolitan fine, $18.50
- Aston Slip, $14
- Traveler’s Notebook with some Goulet notebooks, $100ish
- Leuchtturm Some Lines a Day $27
- Rhodia No. 16 pads, $20ish
- Jacques Herbin Emerald of Chivor $28
- Noodler’s Black $12.50
- Robert Oster Blue Water Ice $17
- Diamine Marine $15
- $30ish tax + shipping, brings me right to $500
5) @kpspera1- Twitter (38:26)
Has Brian ever named, or considered naming, one of his pens?
- Not really, I’ve never been real big into naming inanimate objects, personally
- I tend to call all my pens by their formal brand/model names, just because I am referring to pens all day long
- I do have a couple of nicknames, though, just a couple
- Diplomat Aero is my “Space Blimp” (affectionate name)
- Pilot Plumix “Squid Pen”
- Jinhao Gold Dragon I call “Ancient Chinese Secret” (Arrested Development reference)
- Edison Premiere prototype “Banana Stand”
- Premiere “Unicorn Barf” (I didn’t come up with that though!)
- They’re all pretty obvious and related to characteristics of the pens
- I don’t have any named like people or pets, sorry!
6) @dxhurst- Twitter (42:40)
If you had to start all over again, what would you do differently as a pure online retailer?
- The simple answer is I couldn’t really have done much differently bc I did my best with what I knew!
- But to make the question more interesting, let’s pretend that if I knew what I know now, but had to go back and start where I was
- I would have gotten into fountain pens sooner, in college, and likely skipped pen making all together and just done nib work
- Would have focused more on the paid site of marketing, I had no money really, but there were low-hanging fruit opportunities I passed up out of ignorance or pride
- I’ve really changed my tune a bit on the paid ad stuff, I used to be somewhat prideful about not doing any paid ads
- I swung the pendulum so far towards organic and engagement so that I wouldn’t be a sleazy marketer, but there’s a way to walk the line in an upstanding way
- I would have defined mission and values from the very beginning, and focused on fit and hiring much more early on
- I would have gotten more help on the media/production side of things sooner
QOTW: Do you have any names for your pens? (55:23)
Writing Prompt: What would be your dream vacation if you could go anywhere? (55:37)
It’s not challenge to see why a good stationery helps improve your writing game. But if you’re puzzled as to which pen or notebook to pick, you need to sneak a peek at this Thursday Things assortment. Finding the right tools for you can be a few rounds of trial and error, but finding the perfect fit is like everything matching up perfectly in line. Thursday Things: Rubik’s Cube features some of our favorite nifty notebooks and playful pens with a lovely pop of color and quality construction. Our own Brian Goulet is a fan of challenges and solving of these colorful cubes. If you too like decoding a good mystery, task yourself with tackling the quest for the perfect pen and notebook. You just might achieve sweet victory in the end.
Featured products from left to right:
- Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Hardcover- Royal Blue– $19.95
- Rhodia Classic Side Staplebound Notebook – Ice White, Lined– $3.75
- Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Hardcover- Fresh Green– $19.95
- Rhodia Classic Side Staplebound Notebook- Ice White, Graph– $3.75
- Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Hardcover- Lemon– $19.95
- Opus 88 Fantasia Fountain Pen- Green– $125
- Opus 88 Fantasia Fountain Pen- Red– $125
- Opus 88 Koloro Fountain Pen- Blue– $93
- Opus 88 Koloro Fountain Pen- Orange– $93
- Opus 88 Fantasia Fountain Pen- Black– $125
- Opus 88 Picnic Fountain Pen- Green– $99
- Rhodia Rhodiarama Medium A5 Webnotebook- Poppy Red– $19.95
- Clairefontaine Classic Clothbound Notebook- Blank (5.91 x 8.27)– $9.50
- Rhodia Goalbook- Sapphire, Dot Grid (5.5 x 8.3)– $25.95
- Leuchtturm1917 Medium A5 Hardcover- Orange– $19.95
What is your favorite puzzle game?
The Goulet Pen Company Team
Eyedropper conversion for fountain pens is something that is talked about often in the pen community but can be hard to learn for new fountain pen users. The term might be confusing, and manufacturers often don’t advertise this capability on their pens, so it’s usually more experienced pen users that get to enjoy this pen capability. We wanted to make eyedropper fountain pens less mysterious and teach you how to do your own eyedropper conversions!
The ‘eyedropper’ term dates back over 100 years well before self filling pen mechanisms were invented. The first fountain pens were just an empty body that you filled with a medicine-style eyedropper. Now, modern pens usually have some other filling mechanism like a cartridge/converter or piston, but it can still be the primary filling method for some pens like the Opus 88 Koloro.
There are several benefits to converting your fountain pen into an eyedropper:
- Simple, uncomplicated
- Large ink capacity
- Translucent or demonstrator pens you can see the ink sloshing around, looks cool
- Cost effective
There are drawbacks as well. So consider these before eyedropper converting:
- More involved filling- you need some kind of eyedropper/accessory in order to fill your pen
- Can leak/burp more, especially when the ink level gets lower or when you’re changing altitudes
- Always treat it as if they could leak, especially when transporting it
- Move involved pen cleaning/harder to change inks
There’s a bunch of fountain pens that can be converted, but some of our favorites include:
- Platinum Preppy – Under $5 pen, let’s you avoid buying the converter that’s more than the pen!
- Noodler’s Ahab – Increased ink capacity (over 6ml!) helps keep the flex nib flowing
- Edison – Next level pen that makes higher ink capacity better for EDC
- Kaweco Sport – Doesn’t take a full size converter, eyedropper helps in practicality
- Opus 88 Demonstrator – Designed to be eyedropper
Looking for more options? Check out this faceted search on GouletPens.com for all of our current eyedropper offerings. If you’re wondering if one of your favorite pens can be converted, be sure there are no metal internal parts and has a solid body without holes. Metal components are usually not corrosion resistant (like stainless steel) so it can degrade when submerged with ink.
There’s a few things you need to begin eyedroppering your fountain pen. Check out these helpful steps:
- Have your pen cleaned out and ready along with a bottle of ink
- To convert, you’ll also need silicone grease at a minimum but also o-rings (ideally), and ink syringe and paper towel. Platinum Preppy O-rings works with most pens (10mm diameter by 1mm thick)
- Take the pen apart between the grip and body. Remove the cartridge or converter
- Dab a tiny amount of silicone grease on your finger, toothpick, or q-tip
- Spread silicone grease on the threads between the grip and body
- Fill the pen body with ink up to the threads, but not quite the top
- Screw grip back onto body
- Set the pen aside to allow the ink to work through the feed, or ‘shake it down’ through if needed to use now.
Now you’re ready to write! Eyedropper pens can be a lot of fun, but they’re not for everyone. They’re not hassle free so you’ll always want to handle them with care. Be aware of any leaking or burping issues!
The Goulet Pen Company Team
**WINNER: Congrats to Jessica (@pens.and.puppers on Instagram). Check back next week for another awesome Monday Matchup Giveaway**
Hi! Susan back again, bringing you the Diplomat Traveller Flame and Monteverde Copper Noir ink. I’m psyched for a chance to write a bit more with a Diplomat, as a new line my experience thus far has been limited. The Monteverde inks never disappoint, and hey, I just love getting to hang out with you guys!
My inspiration for artwork is almost always the same, I can’t draw to save my life so what can I trace or what is so easy even I can do it. As you can see, even getting two eyebrows to match is a challenge. For this, I had to find that low level of skill to go with my fine tuned sense of the bizarre. Enter the late, great Frank Zappa! We all have “THOSE” stories don’t we? Stories from our youth that we look back on with a big smile and a sigh but if our own kids did it today, we’d be either livid or frantic. This probably falls under the frantic category. Picture it, 1972, my first rock and roll concert, Princeton, N.J. Cheech and Chong opened for, yup, you got it, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Did my mother know where I was? Of course not, I was in 7th grade for Pete’s sake! There were like 10 or 12 of us all feeling one third oh so grown up, one third terrified, and one third just trying to blend in and not look like the deer in the headlights we felt like, because upon getting to the concert we realized “It’s all big kids.”
Creating the piece was simple. All I really used was the Diplomat and the Monteverde ink. If I were to do this piece again, I’d ask Drew to draw a computer with eyebrows for me! After the computer was done, I wrote the quote in around it.
This pen was interesting. You guys know me, I’m a stub and cursive italic girl, but this medium nib wasn’t bad at all! It’s a smooth writer, and very light weight. For a steel nib, it has a tad of bounce to it. Although I don’t post my pens, when I did post this, I felt very little difference. It really is light as air. For all the folks I speak with who share my arthritis, or if you have any reason to need a light pen with a smooth touch. This is a good one for you to think about. If you like slender pens, this is a good one to look at. The flower on the nib and top finial is really a nice touch too. As I said, this is a slender pen, the body has 10mm diameter. For me personally, that’s a bit skinny for me, these sausage fingers like a big wider pen. This pen is good for whatever you want to use it for. With the narrow body I can see it being comfortable in a pocket, easy to carry around, the clip is nice and strong so it can go on a notebook too.
The ink is fabulous! The shading isn’t outrageous but subtle, elegant. It dried very fast, (attention my lefty friends). I think I see this great color for the coming autumn. (Although this summer girl hates to admit it.) Monteverde has a whole Noir series, and now I must try them all! This is an ink that can be professional and not be black or black/blue or blue/black, for you jazzy professionals! I can also see this looking gorgeous on cream paper! Bullet journalers (is that a word, journalers?) may want something that dries a tad quicker, if they journal faster than a speeding bullet. (Sorry had to to do it, it was right there.)
You could win this pen and ink! In an effort to make entering Monday Matchup a little easier, we’ve done away with the Rafflecopter widget and will be randomly selecting a winner from a randomly chosen platform each week. The entries methods will still be the same: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a blog comment, but you’ll no longer have to complete your entry through Rafflecopter.
How to enter Monday Matchup Giveaway:
- Match a pen and ink together. They don’t have to match in color, any fountain pen, and ink works.
- You can choose to enter only one way or submit up to 4 different entries if you’d like. Feel free to use the same picture for all 4 entries.
- Here’s how to enter:
The contest is open Monday, September 17, 2018, at 12 pm EDT until Tuesday, September 18, 2018, at 12 pm EDT. One winner will be randomly selected and announced tomorrow once the contest closes. The winner must live in a country that Goulet Pens currently ships to. Click here to see the Official Contest Rules.
In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about how fountain pens should write when tuned properly, how nibs are modified to have flex added, and whether or not videos have been important for the growth of Goulet Pens!
- Hurricane Florence
- Write Now on TWSBI GO and Retro 51
- Retro 51 Cioppino, Dino Fossil, and Vega
- Restock and expansion of Clairefontaine Aquarelle
- Aurora Optima Red Flex
- Visconti Ocean Breeze
- Montegrappa Elmo Rossi Cilegia is gone!
- Coming soon:
1) Gillian B.- Facebook (10:43)
If different pen companies both use the same 3rd party nib, e.g. a Jowo #6, how much is it customized for the particular pen brand, and is that done by Jowo or the pen company or the distributor or ?? How much and what types of variation are possible or common?
- the short answer is it depends, and I’m not privvy to the specific details of many pen manufacturer’s specifications with the nib 3rd party manufacturers they buy from
- it’s very likely that the nib factory isn’t doing anything different with nibs that are unbranded, they’re going to be very similar (like what you might see from smaller, independent pen makers)
- for larger companies that are getting them stamped (like Montegrappa), it’s entirely possible they have a specific request from JoWo about how their nibs write, since they’re already “different” nibs anyway. I don’t know for certain this is the case, but I could see the possibility for a request like that
- Whatever JoWo may do to it, a distributor certainly could do their own things, too (with the manufacturer’s knowledge and permission, of course)
- We’re working with Yafa on getting Bock nibs in the Monteverde and Conklin pens we carry
- they’re unbranded, just like Karas Kustoms and other brands that might use Bock
- I highly doubt Bock is making them differently for these two companies, but it’s very possible the two companies could be modifying them when they receive them
- I doubt they’re doing all that much, other than inspection for quality and smoothing/adjustment when needed
- No distributor is likely to get so picky on steel nibs where they feel they need to adjust their flow to a 6/10 if they’re coming as a 7/10 from the nib manufacturer, just to be different…it’s just not practical
- most of the more serious modification you might be would be from one of the specific retailers who might offer a custom nib grind, which is really a whole other ballgame
- Richard Binder used to do this, Nibs.com and Nibsmith are the only ones I can think of that offer this regularly
- This is much more rare and often only done by retailers trying to offer an additional service for value-add or a competitive differentiator, and I’d love to do that
- it’s a boatload of work, and very impractical to do at scale (which is what I’m still trying to figure out!)
- So the long and short of it, it’s most efficient to get any nib work/modifications done as close to the manufacturer as possible, but the further down the distribution chain you go, you’ll find more potential modifications occurring
2) j_francis_imagery- Instagram (23:07)
Should a pen always write under its own weight? Or is that an unreasonable expectation?
- ideally, yes, every pen should be able to write under its own weight when properly tuned and cleaned
- does every pen do it? no, not necessarily
- sometimes, the issue is us, the users (the “general population”, moreso than us serious users)
- sometimes nibs are overpolished from the manufacturer in order for the nibs to feel smooth, especially when they’re mashed down like when people who’ve been used to ballpoints their whole life switch over to fountain pens!
- the overpolishing can lead to baby’s bottom, which feels great but can make it where the ink in the slit breaks contact with the paper unless you press down on it
- you can blame the manufacturers for this, and maybe there’s some room for that, but it’s also partly because they’re responding to how their pens are generally used and the feedback they receive
- every nib meister I know aims for this goal though, and I’m working to educate every distributor and manufacturer I can to the point that there’s too much overpolishing going on and they can probably dial it back
3) kalonwinfield- Instagram (29:46)
Why can’t I find a replacement nib for my lamy 2000? 😢😢😢
- short answer, because they aren’t able to be found (they don’t offer them apart from the pen)
- they’re having a tough time keeping up with production of the 2000’s at all right now, but even still, it’s not so much a user-swappable nib like the steel Lamy nibs
- they make them in-house, so no other brand will fit them
- you pretty much don’t have an option but to get another pen or get a custom grind
- I was in talks about getting spare nibs from them, but the conversation didn’t make it very far
- they’ve never offered them, and are hesitant to do so for many reasons, and they’d be really expensive (like $125 or so)
- still worth pursuing?
4) theaspiringpenman- Instagram (33:45)
Are you able to switch the nibs of the Montegrappa Elmo, or the Pineider Avatar with other number 6 sized nibs? What about the nib unit, is it interchangeable with other nib units? Thanks!
- Montegrappa is now using JoWo nibs and nib housings, so yes, they should swap with other JoWo nibs/housings like Edison
- the nibs themselves can pull out and swap with most any #6 nib across brands
- Pineider gets theirs from Bock, and it’s a custom nib for them that Dante Del Vecchio designed, so I haven’t messed around too much with swapping them, I would largely say it doesn’t swap
5) this_username_isavailable- Instagram (44:32)
i often see videos nib mods of popular pens like the 3776 and other pens saying “with added flexibility” and they flex well then the stock ones. exactly what is done to a nib to get the added flexibility?
- there are several ways to “add flex” to a nib
- some require using different materials or changing the overall composition of the nib, which isn’t an aftermarket “mod”, so I won’t get into that
- let’s assume you have a nib, and want that nib to be more flexy
- there are a few techniques to achieve it, but all of them involved weakening the metal so it bends
- you can cut a deeper slit (Noodler’s)
- you can thin the tines (Aurora)
- you can cut whole portions of material from the sides (Pilot FA, JoWo flex, Pineider)
- you can thin the metal underneath (this is often done in conjunction with other techniques, especially as this one is really hard to do well!)
- as relatively complex as fountain pens themselves are, adding flex is some of the most challenging work that requires still and talent to achieve, which is part of why you don’t see it mass available
6) Simma P- Facebook (50:31)
How does one do routine cleaning of the Boston Safety Pen? I’m not talking about taking the whole thing apart for a deep cleaning after using a tough ink. Just the routine cleaning and flushing we’d do normally when changing inks.
- if it’s a routine cleaning, it’ll be a little bit of a pain but not terrible
- fill the pen with water, cover the end with your finger, shake it, dump it, repeat as many times as needed, do the same with the cap
- the pen can be completely disassembled, Nathan Tardif did a video on that himself if you want to see it all with the explanation of how/when/why/etc
- taking it apart isn’t too bad, and I’d encourage you to mess around with it as it’ll be good for you to learn how it all works
- is it practical to do that every time to change inks? No, so the shake/flush will be the way to go, with complete disassembly
7) Mike P.- Facebook (58:11)
Brian, how important a role do you think the Goulet Pen Company YouTube videos and social media presence has played in promoting the business, and creating a direct communications pipeline to potential customers?
- it’s been incredibly important, for many reasons
- it’s our largest social platform, in followers, comments, watch time
- we get so much feedback about how much everyone learns and appreciates the videos
- the thing it’s done the most is show our human side, personalities, and education
- we utilize video, pictures, audio, and written word in our company, and our team does a phenomenal job, it’s all important
- video has been a growing method of communication ever since we got into this business, and we’ll continue to focus on it as long as it’s bringing value to you!
QOTW: What do you do to entertain yourself when you lose electricity? (01:05:01)
Writing Prompt: Write about a time when someone did a random act of kindness for you. (01:05:50)
You don’t have to break the bank to get a good fountain pen. This week’s Thursday Things is solid proof! Featuring pens all priced below $30, this assortment of writing tools is low on cost and high on performance. Whether you are looking for an inexpensive pen with a little pizzazz, like the Jinhao 993 Shark pen, or a pen befitting of the boardroom, like the LAMY Safari Charcoal, you can have the ease of fountain pen writing for a cost that’s easy on your bank account. Take a look!
Featured products from left to right:
- TWSBI GO Fountain Pen- Sapphire– $18.99
- Pilot Varsity Fountain Pen- Assorted Pack– $21.25
- Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen- Mint– $25-$27
- Lamy Safari Fountain Pen- Charcoal– $29.60
- Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen- Green– $4.50
- Jinhao x450 Fountain Pen- Blue Twist– $9.90
- Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen- Black Plain– $18.50
- Kaweco Perkeo Fountain Pen- Old Chambray– $16
- Noodler’s Ahab Fountain Pen- Ahab’s Pearl– $23
- Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen- Black– $9.25
- Diplomat Magnum Fountain Pen- Grey– $20
- Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pen- Clear– $19.99
- Jinhao Shark Fountain Pen- Dark Blue– $3.95
What is your favorite budget-friendly fountain pen?
The Goulet Pen Company Team