In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about highlighting over fountain pen ink, balancing work and marriage at home, and the craziest pen material he’s seen!
- Father’s Day, my kids made cards and bought me popsicle socks, sweet dad joke mug
- Conklin Omniflexes
- Colorverse/Opus 88 inks
- Edison Nouveau Premiere Summer Edition!
- Jinhao Sharks!
- Shell and Dragon coming probably next week
- Pelikan m1000 Peacock LE Maki-e
- Retro51 rollerballs
- Aurora Optima Flex in Yellow
- Visconti Homo Sapiens Bronze Swirl
- Aurora 888 Urano (seriously shorted)
- 5 new J. Herbin inks
- Opus 88 Picnic
- Pineider in Honeycomb
- Kyoto inks, and more! Lots we’re waiting on without specific word when it’s coming
1) Vasmeth- Twitter (14:44)
What in your opinion has been the most novel or surprising material used for a fountain pen? Are there any materials that you want to see more fountain pens being made from? #GouletQA
- I’ve seen some cool stuff!
- Many commercial manufacturers make some interesting materials
- Carbon fiber, ancient woods, celluloid, urushi lacquer, stuff like that
- Some of the most interesting things are coming from independent craftspersons because they don’t have to make things commercially efficient, just one-offs
- Back in my pen making days I saw all kinds of cool materials being used for pens, like antler and horn, stone, and other natural materials
- some of the most interesting I ever saw was using cast resin material, such as “worthless wood”, circuit boards, watch parts, wood or metal shavings
- By far the most surprising one I ever saw was cast resin cat turd (I kid you not), though to be fair it wasn’t on a fountain pen (though it could have easily been made into one)
- I love resin castings and unique color patterns and combinations, it’s difficult to mass produce though, which is why it’s so appealing
- wood and resin combos make my heart sing….they’re a HUGE pain to make and are not that stable in pen form, so you never really see them, but that’s what I’d love to see (for the right price, of course)
2) Jenn M.- Facebook (21:12)
I really love the shape and look of the Visconti Vertigo. It is like a ”poor man’s” Opera Master. However I haven’t heard much about it and would be curious to see it featured in a Write Now or a quick feature with your input on the writing experience on Q and A. The pen is just expensive enough that I don’t feel comfortable buying it without a little more info.
- Yes, this one came out right when our website really picked up speed! So we haven’t covered much of it so far
- It’s pricey for a steel nib, not question, makes it a “brainer”, what I call “not-a-no-brainer”
- The resins used are reminiscent of some of the Visconti Opera models they were known for maybe 10 years ago, a little before my time with Visconti
- These resins are a little more ubiquitous today with companies like Edison, Monteverde, and others, but Visconti was one of the earlier brands to make a lot of outstanding vibrant resins
- The faceting is interesting- tapering squared circle
- Cartridge converter, which I don’t mind, very easy to clean (and for this pen that’s what I like, changing inks a lot)
- the nib is the most unique thing, it’s a new design
- has a combination of steel and gold, so it writes like steel
- anyone who remembers the Delta Fusion there was some eyebrow raising around the science of how those metals affect ink flow, Delta claimed it improved flow
- I don’t think Visconti’s making a firm claims on that, but I’m sure the conversation around it will be found around the internet
- I don’t have scientific evidence to say if gold and steel together affect flow
- what I can say is this nib writes really well, flow is smooth, nib is stiff and not springy but is very smooth writing
- They call it the Precision Touch (to fit in with their DreamTouch and SmartTouch)
- It’s a very solid-feeling pen, and will be a reliable writer because there aren’t a lot of parts to it, cap is straightforward, and it’s not as big and heavy as the Opera Master
- It’s pricey, but if it is in your price range, I do think it’s worth considering because it’s a well-made pen
- We’re looking to do a full review of this pen soon, Andi and I are working on that over the next few weeks as we learn our new equipment and test out a new video setup we’re experimenting with
3) narundil- Instagram (31:30)
How can i tell the difference between a fast drying wet ink and a slow drying dry ink? GPC rocks!
- is there a difference? 😉 It’s subjective of course
- In my view, a fast drying wet ink is what I’d call most “fast dry” inks like the Noodler’s Bernanke, or maybe the De Atramentis Document inks
- Ink comes out generously, line it broad and dark, but the ink absorbs into the paper quickly and doesn’t smear right away
- slow drying dry ink might be more like some of the heavy shimmering inks, one that is very saturated in color, doesn’t gush out of the pen, but sits on the page for a while and smears after it’s sat there a while
- they might have trouble in finer nibs
- many of the dry writing inks I’m thinking of right now aren’t necessarily slow drying too, these may be a little more rare, I feel like most of the properties that cause pens to write dry also help them dry faster on the page…
4) crystal.morrissey- Instagram (34:51)
I am super new to fountain pens. I have a Lamy Safari (1 month) and Pilot metropolitan (3 days) I use Leuchtturm 1917 to bullet journal in daily and as much as I LOVE these pens I’m losing my mind with ink bleeding and trying to find a highlighter I can use with them- as much as I’m excited to slowly dive in and learn I need a short term solution…I’ve already tried dry highlighters…what’s the next best step? Waterproof ink? Any recommendations?Thanks!!!
- Waterproof ink will definitely help, especially Platinum Carbon Black or the other Pigmented inks and De Atramentis Document inks, iron gall inks work well too, I hear
- Noodler’s permanent inks may be hit or miss as they can take longer to be fully permanent, but I head success with Heart of Darkness, Liberty’s Elysium, Lexington Gray, even Baystate Blue
- You’re essentially ink washing at this point
- I’ve heard of highlighter pencils, Faber-Castell has some (we don’t carry them)
- Highlight under the word instead of over it (better for photocopies anyway)
- Highlight first then write over it (if you know what you’re trying to highlight, like in a bullet journal)
- Truth be told, I haven’t done a ton of experimentation here, but there’s a good Goulet Nation thread about it here.
5) hypurrtext- Instagram (40:42)
I know you guys do special orders for things you could carry but don’t keep in stock, but I’ve never heard you talk about how to go about special ordering or what all information you’d need to special order products. What’s the process and pricing (is it about 20% off of MSRP like the ones you do stock or is it full MSRP) on special orders? And is there anywhere you know to find US product catalogs with marked suggested retail prices? I’ve found the list of pens Platinum carries in the US on one of their sites, for instance, but it doesn’t include prices.
- We HAVE done special orders before, but we don’t offer them consistently
- Right now we’re in more of a holding pattern on them
- The truth is, they’re always complicated and kind of a rough customer experience, because stocking issues are so inconsistent
- Especially if it’s something we don’t regularly carry, we have no idea what the stock availability is for any given product
- We always have to verify if it’s something we even CAN get, which is tough because half the time an inquiring customer wants to know what their options are, so we have to inquire about a variety of related items, which we sometimes know little about
- By the time we see if it’s even available, we then quote out a price, which can vary but we usually try to keep it in line with what we’d charge if we carried it regularly, which varies by brand and product type
- Once we get a commitment, we put the order then, then it’s a waiting game to see if we even get it
- If we do, we have to make sure it’s the right thing, as sometimes it’s not…mistakes happen, and it seems that no good deed goes unpunished with special orders…it attracts the weirdest of mistakes
- If it ALL works out, a couple of weeks later we get it in and a customer’s happy, assuming it’s actually to their expectations (which it may or may not be, because it’s all based on expectations they got from somewhere else, not us)
- Then if they return it, what do we do with it?
- If everything works out perfectly, it’s a great offering, but it’s much more rare than regular for things to work out perfectly
- We may strategically offer special orders, but it’s something we’ve definitely leaned away from in recent years and I can’t promise we’ll bring it back with any regularity, unfortunately!
6) dcgaryg- Instagram (47:16)
Are there any pens you first disliked that grew on you over time? I really didn’t like my TWSBI 580 when I first got it. Then, months later I picked it up again and appreciated it. Now it’s a daily carry.
- TWSBI Eco’s cap, I still don’t love it the most but I love the body so much I don’t care, I use it a lot
- I didn’t love the Lamy Safari at first, but it’s REALLY grown on me, especially with the matte finishes they’ve done recently
- Traveler’s Pen, it’s not that I disliked it but I was very ambivalent because pocket pens aren’t usually my thing, but I freaking love it
- Lamy Lady, I thought it looked ridiculous and now it’s one of my most unique and beloved pens
- Truth be told, I am a pretty excitable person and I end up genuinely liking way too many pens, so there’s not often a lot I really dislike!
7) Denise D.- Facebook (53:34)
I’m curious as a small family business owner, do you ever find yourself taking about work at home and/or other times that are usually reserved for non business talk? Does it ever seem like’the Camera & your thoughts about work are always On’? How do you keep yourself from seeing something beautiful and NOT thinking “wow, that’d be an awesome ink color!” Or, “Goulet should market their own brand of…”. What are your thoughts about Paper & Pen (&ink too) leaking into Private time & (family) Playtime?”
- I’ve been working with my wife for 10+ years now, and we have two kids
- Work and kids are pretty much what we have going on in our lives, so that’s pretty much what we talk about!
- We joke about the fact that we see the world in terms of pen and ink, especially colors
- We totally talk about paint and fabric colors by ink color name as if it’s completely normal, like we’re speaking in code
- We’re both very driven, creative, and we share our work together so it comes up a lot in our personal life
- But we do recognize that sometimes we’re just done talking about that, and we’ll focus on our kids, their interests, our parenting techniques, other family members, etc
- It’s really just a matter of communicating and finding a balance you’re comfortable with
- No one can tell you what that is for you, you have to discover it and keep that open dialog
- Rachel and I lean heavy on the work talk, but that’s what we love and we enjoy sharing every minute together possible, that’s just us
- You shouldn’t feel like it’s right or wrong to do the same, you gotta do you!
QOTW: Do you ever find yourself referring to things in the “real” world in terms of pen or ink? Any good stories around that? (59:32)
Writing Prompt: Write a thank you note to a member of your family or a close friend for something they did in the last week that meant a lot to you. (59:55)
What goes better with a hot summer day than something cool and calming to beat the heat? Goulet Pens is excited to announce our latest exclusive seasonal collaboration with the Edison Pen Co., the Edison Nouveau Premiere Tequila Sunrise. This striking orange pen is the 20th edition of this wonderful fountain pen partnership. If you’re looking for a new concoction to quench your thirst for fun and smooth writing, the Tequila Sunrise Premiere is the perfect ingredient.
Take one part gorgeous gradient resin that ranges from orange to red, two parts panache and style, and a splash of handcrafted uniqueness, and you’ve got yourself a gorgeous pen. Each Nouveau Premiere is handcrafted by the skillful members of the Edison Pen Co. team in Milan, OH. The unique flecked appearance and variations in color means each Tequila Sunrise pen will be different from the next and no two will be exactly the same. Check out Brian’s interview with Brian Gray of Edison Pen Co. here to learn more about their wonderful shop and company. The Tequila Sunrise pens are crafted from resin, making them ideal for an eyedropper conversion. Here is a helpful video to take you step by step through the eyedropper conversion process. The Nouveau Premiere can hold a 4.15ml of ink when eyedropper converted. The included Standard International converter also offers a 1.21ml capacity if you’re not ready to dive into eyedropper pens. This pen also accepts standard international cartridges.
The Edison Nouveau Premiere uses a #6 nib and you can pick it up with an Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, or 1.1mm Stub nib size. The smooth writing Edison steel replacement nibs are also available in EF, F, M, B, 1.1mm, and 1.5mm Stub sizes for $25. You can also upgrade to an 18kt gold nib for an additional $150. Not sure how to go about swapping nibs? Check out Brian’s video!
Every pen needs the perfect ink! Here are our suggestions for a good coordinating ink color!
You can find the Edison Nouveau Premiere Tequila Sunrise at GouletPens.com for $169, only available for a limited time. Check out the product page for additional product specs and information.
The Goulet Pen Company Team
Once upon a midnight dreary… or in this case, a Thursday cheery, because there’s another fantastic Thursday Things assortment for you to enjoy! Today, we’re celebrating the one-time Richmond resident, Edgar Allan Poe, with a spooky good assortment of dark and mysterious pens, inks, and accessories fit for the master of the macabre himself. If you want to pen some dark and frightening prose for yourself, you are sure to find inspiration for your task in these products. Take wing and have a look at Thursday Things: Edgar Allan Poe. It’s sure to leave you “raven” about some exciting new products to add to your wishlist.
Featured products from left to right:
- Visconti Rembrandt Fountain Pen- Twilight– $185MSRP, Log in for our best price
- Karas Kustoms Fountain K- Black– $80
- J. Herbin Brass Letter Script Seal with Handle– $25
- Lamy Safari Fountain Pen- All Black– $29.60
- De Atramentis Edgar Allan Poe (35ml bottle)– $12.95
- Platinum Balance Fountain Pen- Black– $43.20
- Girologio Pen 24-Case- Brown– $49.99
- Platinum Desk Fountain Pen– $12
- Monteverde Raven Noir (30ml bottle)– $8
- Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen- Red Nights, Omniflex Nib– $52
Which author would you like to see a Thursday Things tribute to?
The Goulet Pen Company Team
**WINNER: Congrats to Daniel B. (Entered on Instagram). Check back next week for another awesome Monday Matchup Giveaway**
Hi there, fountain pen fans, Whitney here. This week, I’m excited to bring you my pairing of Diamine Blue Velvet and the LAMY Accent in Rubber. Read on to hear about what inspired this piece and how I felt about this pen and ink.
My inspiration for this piece came from the fact that it’s Ray Lamontagne’s birthday. He came out with a new album this year and this matchup is a set of lyrics from one of his new songs. I thought I’d try to mix it up a little bit from the usual watercolor-portrait-with-scripty-quote routine, so I set out to make something where the words were the primary artistic portion of work. Because Lamontagne’s new album has a distinctly 60s/70s folk/rock vibe, I looked into fonts typical for print media during that time period. I then ~painstakingly~ hand drew the letters as I saw them on the screen. Once finished, I took a little paintbrush and applied some water to the larger letters to add a little more structure to them. I also added a faint watercolor edge.
This was the most mentally draining Monday Matchup I’ve done, and I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new. There are obviously official tools intended for making these fonts, so doing it freehand is a somewhat silly and taxing endeavor. It gave me another helping of appreciation for typography and a desire to do it with the types of writing utensils that are actually designed for that kind of mark-making.
The Lamy nib was an EF, which is a nib I’m very used to because I have it on my CP1. The rubber grip on the Accent was nice, especially because I was working on very tedious and specific letters. As for the aesthetics, I’m not a huge fan of the Accent pens, but I’m not bothered too greatly by them. Diamine Blue Velvet is a nice little ink. It’s a slightly more indigo – leaning blue with a little bit of a reddish sheen in places. I wouldn’t have thought to choose this ink, but I thought it was rather nice. It responded to water nicely too. I was able to pick up some lines with the water and blend them into a light blue. This pair would be fine for anything. It’s an extra fine, so broad writers beware. It would be good for notetaking or other artistic projects.
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, June 18, 2018, at 12 pm EDT until Tuesday, June 19, 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.
Goulet Q&A Episode 214: Pens Reflecting Personalities, Fine Stub Nibs, and Paper Brian Refuses To Use!
In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about pens reflecting personalities, his favorite pen we’ve never sold, and what paper he’ll never use!
- we launched a new website
- team is getting new bearings, we appreciate grace and patience!
- Got in Stipula Passaportos, finally!
- Pelikan m205 demo
- Lamy 2000 BB, OB, OBB
- Visconti Torpedo
- Conklin Omniflexes coming really soon
- GPC nibs on Monteverde Regatta LE Northern Lights, MV Nebula, Conklin Nozac Israel
- new flex pen video, tried to be very comprehensive
- Starting a cool contest with Getaway, Ultimate UnpluggedWriter’s Retreat! Pilot VP, Traveler’s Notebook, 3 night Getaway tiny cabin rental outside Boston, NYC, DC, $600 transportation, $500 Lo & Sons Catalina Deluxe Weekender Bag, $158 Signature Reads Book Curation, $240 General Assembly credit towards classes on digital marketing
1) Josef B- Facebook (12:30)
Hi Brian, I love all your Goulet #6 Steel Nibs, especially the stub nibs. I am looking for something with less width than the 1.1 stub nib for my daily writing. Maybe something like 0.7. Do you have a recommendation for me? Thank You
- yeah, there’s a real shortage of sub-1.1mm stubs out there!
- Nemosine has .6 and .8, and they’re decent nibs, #6 even and you can swap them
- we don’t have any Goulet ones
- Pilot Hand Lettering sets, have sub 1.1mm Plumixes and you can swap those nibs onto other pens like the Metropolitan, Prera, Kakuno
- I don’t have any others! And no others easily come to mind, honestly 🙁
2) @djpappas- Twitter (16:40)
Do you believe the material used to make a feed influences ink flow? It seems as though a more flexible material – for example, ebonite – would produce a more generous ink flow. And if it does matter, why isn’t it a characteristic you include for each model?
- it can, yes
- it’s not the only factor, all else equal ebonite will flow better ink than plastic, but some modern feeds are quite reliable even as plastic
- the feed design still makes a big difference, and that can vary from pen to pen
- Really, it’s just plastic and ebonite as your options
- ebonite’s not necessarily more flexible, or at least that doesn’t make the difference here for flow
- ebonite is hygroscopic, so it assists in capillary action
- ebonite can be heat set to the individual feed easier than plastic
- we try to advertise it when a pen has it, but we haven’t always been consistent here
- we don’t have it as a filter on our site, but it’s something we can consider, I’d love feedback on that
- Aurora gold nib pens have ebonite feeds
- Noodler’s pens have ebonite feeds
- Namiki does
- Omas did
- that’s it, on our site
- if they have it these days, it’s usually pretty well advertised because it’s so rare
3) justus.castillo- Instagram (21:01)
Do you find that the tastes of pens and inks go with your team members’ personalities?
- it’s all over the map!
- some of us here stick to colors and styles that very much speak to other aspects of our outward reflections of ourselves (the way we dress, etc)
- others, use their pens or ink to be more expressive or professional than they might portray otherwise
- after having met a LOT of pen people, I’ve really never met two who are identical in their tastes, which is part of the joy of this whole endeavor!
4) cushing.ethan- Instagram (24:22)
What is your favorite pen that has never been sold on your site.
- I have a few I’ve talked about before, and this may well change from time to time
- right now I’m quite smitten with Conid, the design and engineering is pretty dang cool
- I have a Conid Minimalistica that I love
- there are other crazy LE pens and stuff that I could shout out, but I have really only seen pictures of most of them, the Conid I have and really like
5) oogleatluxury- Instagram (26:38)
I’m planning on making a custom leather sleeve with a magnetic closure for my fiance’s favorite/brand new pen – his Pilot Custom 823. Will the magnetism hurt any mechanisms in the pen?
- short answer: don’t sweat it
- I’ve never heard of this being an issue
- ferromagnetic metals include: iron, nickel, cobalt, some rare earth metals
- you might see a small bit of iron or nickel in a stainless steel or brass alloy used in a pen, but it’s not often going to be enough to be an issue
- some pens have magnetic caps, literally magnets in the pens! No issue
- the Custom 823 doesn’t have any magnetism to it, so you’re all good 😉
6) noctriwina- Instagram (29:37)
Looking to get into fountain pens, and I know I will “need” different nibs. Should I go for one with easily changable nibs, like a twsbi 580, which is expensive, or buy several cheaper ones with different nibs, like a twsbi eco. On one hand changable nibs sounds cheapee, but will I be bothered changing them? And maybe one pen per nib is more efficient in practice?
- this is going to be different for everyone, of course
- personally, I think if you’re just starting out, the interchangeable nib thing has some merit to it bc you can get more pen for your buck
- the biggest drawback is that you can only use one nib at a time, which really kinda stinks
- between these two specific pens, I’d personally go for more Eco’s with different nibs, and you can use multiple inked at the same time
7) @nj_ian- Twitter (33:48)
Would fountain pen enthusiasts (your typical customer) enjoy attending a Pen Show, or are these shows geared to retailers and seious collectors.
- I’ve only been to two shows, so I’m not the expert
- more or less, there are similar experiences at all the shows: drive somewhere, pay a small fee, in a hotel conference room with a bunch of vendors set up with tables of more pens than you can imagine, lots of pen nerds geeking out, very knowledgeable people there
- personally, I think everyone should attend one, if at all practical, it’s just a cool experience
- you can absolutely enjoy it if you’re at all into fountain pens
- bigger shows like DC get very overwhelming very fast
- smaller shows may have less selection but they will be slower pace and you can talk to vendors easier
- pen people generally are very helpful, there are some curmudgeons but most are friendly
- most shows have a lot of serious collectors, and there’s no better place for that, but that’s part of what trader (pre-show) days and auctions are for. Main show days are ideal for the general public
8) rhedhaering- Instagram (40:01)
Are there certain kinds of paper you definitely DON’T use with your fountain pens?
- I probably experience a little less diversity of bad paper than most, perks of my job 😉
- photo paper, not going very far there bc of the coating
- newspaper, not that I ever write on it but no thanks
- receipts, so hit or miss for me, I’d rather just not bother
- stone paper, just not a fan but some are
9) nathan_laake- Instagram (45:01)
Many people enjoy fountain pens because of the sentiment that is attached to them (signing their mortgage or marriage licenses). Is there a particular pen that you have used for milestone moments in either your personal life or during the life of your business?
- I’ve only hit a couple of milestones that have warranted signing actual paper (some have been digital)
- marriage license, but that was before I discovered fountain pens so it was signed with a $0.10 stick of nonsense
- Mortgage with Noodler’s Black in Lamy 2000
- Will with Custom 74 in Liberty’s Elysium (get a will, people)
QOTW: Do you find that your pen/ink choices match other aspects of your personality, or does it bring out another side of you? (50:52)
Writing prompt: Write about a challenge you had to overcome and what you learned from it (51:51)
One of the most exciting things about fountain pens in recent years has been the rising popularity of flexible nibs. What makes them appealing is that you can write with a varying amount of pressure to change your line width from a finer line to a broader one, giving you a lot of expression and versatility in your writing. But did you know that flex nibs have been around for decades? How about the fact that there’s a specific way you need to write with them to really get them to work properly?
As a retailer of flex nib fountain pens for the last several years, we’ve been asked a variety of really compelling questions about how they work and how to use them. Compiling knowledge from the members of our Media and Customer Care teams, online research, and speaking with manufacturers in the industry over the last several years, we’ve put together this video to try to explain everything you need to know to get the basics of flex pen use down. We hope you enjoy it!
What is flex?
- A flex nib allows you to write with a variation in line width based on the amount of pressure you apply as you write
What are some uses for flex writing?
- Flourished writing
Fountain pens vs. Dip pens
- Most calligraphers and master penman will use dip nibs, they’re more flexible and allow for the greatest line variation
- Fountain pens allow a continuous ink supply, and are more practical for the ‘everyday person’ looking to use a normal pen who sometimes wants to flex
- Formal calligraphy like Spencerian and Copperplate are easiest with an offset (oblique) nib holder, with dip nibs and calligraphy ink
|Master Penman Michael Sull doing flourished calligraphy|
How is it different from stubs?
- Check out the “Fountain Pen 101: How To Use A Stub Nib” video
- Stub is ground square so the line width is thinner on the cross stroke than the down stroke
- You write consistently with your pressure, and the end result looks different than writing with flex
- Stubs are a good alternative to fancy-looking writing with less fuss than flex nibs
|Here are some examples of fountain pens with a stub nib|
What pens have flex?
- Flex is a subjective term, there is no standard for what “flex” is
- Some nibs are advertised as flexible (especially vintage ones), others are called “soft“
- Some vintage examples include Waterman, Mabie Todd, Conway Stewart, Wahl-Eversharp, and a few others
- There’s a few modern examples as well
- Noodler’s Nib Creaper, Ahab, Konrad, and Neponset
- Pilot Falcon soft nib (this one is borderline)
- Pilot Custom 912 FA (Falcon)
Soft vs. Flex
- There’s a fine line between these with no “flex police” around to say who’s right
- Flex today is usually assumed to be pretty extreme, multiple line widths extended with pressure
- Most modern pens just don’t fall into this category
- Soft is really more accurate, where there’s a slight degree of line variation (1-2 sizes up)
- Soft nibs include the Pilot Falcon, Pilot Custom 912 FA, Conklin OmniFlex, Jowo 14k flex (like Edison), Platinum soft nibs
- Most modern flex nibs are stiffer and require more pressure than vintage flex nibs
- Modern flex pens often use the same feeds as conventional nibs, which can have a hard time keeping up with the high flow of ink required with dramatic flexing
|Pilot Falcon with a soft nib|
Vintage flex nibs (especially from the 1920’s-40’s) are the best, Why don’t they make them like they used to?
- The gold alloys are different
- The machining equipment used to make flex nibs is no longer made
- It required a high degree of skilled handwork, which is somewhat of a lost art today
- Essentially, it’s far too niche for production today
Flex Pen Terminology
- Flex – nib that creates line variation with the amount of pressure you put down
- Nib – the metal writing end of a fountain pen
- Line Variation – your writing looking thicker in parts, thinner in others
- Flow – how much or little your pen provides ink to the nib
- Tines – the parts of the nib that bend when flexing
- Spread – how far apart the tines get when you flex
- Break – when the ink flow stops, especially while flexing
- Railroading – when there’s a break in the flow and the split tines draw parallel lines on the page
- Bounceback/Springback – how easily the tines return to their unflexed state
- Sprung Tines – when a nib is flexed beyond its capacity, and won’t return to its original alignment (ruined)
- Wet Noodle – an endearing term used for pens with maximum flex and minimal pressure, the best of the best
|Noodler’s Ahab (Truk Lagoon) with a flex nib|
Tips for success with Flex:
- Consider heat setting feed (Check out our how-to video here)
- Flush/clean pens first
- Take your time, practice, and don’t over flex (or you risk springing your tines)
- Wetter inks and less absorbent papers work best, avoid permanent or fast-drying inks
- Scotch tape over the nib can help
- Write slowly, especially when flexing
- Using more of your arm, not just your hand
- Flex only on the pulling motion
- Be careful about your rotation
- It’s an instrument, something that truly requires practice, so you will have to give it time
We fully realize you may have questions, so please ask away in the comments below. Feel free to share your own experience with various flex pens and ink, too, we can all learn from each other! You can also check out our shopping guide for soft/flex nib pens here.
Brian Goulet, Drew, and the Goulet Team