My email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that I feel are worth sharing with you! I’ll be posting highlights of some of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I’m looking at getting either the Stainless steel or black Lamy Studio. What are your thoughts on grip (wondering about the bare metal vrs black on the Studios – slick?), weight and barrel size?

I’m actually much more in love with the black rubbery grip on the SS studio. The bare metal grip is okay, but it gets slippery after a while if you are like me and have really oily hands. The SS studio is heavier, but is well balanced. Both pens are pretty well balanced, both pens are just a teeny bit back heavy when posted. The one thing to look out for with the SS studio is that trim ring that holds the cap onto the grip section, it wants to unscrew over time. I actually did a video on it:

It’s not a big deal, especially once you know to look out for it. Personally, i think the finish on the SS pen is crazy cool, it looks far more impressive in person than in pictures. The barrels on the Studio is thicker in the middle (it kind of bows out), but the grip sections on both are about the same, so I doubt you’d notice too big of a difference when actually holding them. The main difference in the grip is the material, as well as the contour….the Studio tapers on the grip section to the nib, the Accent is convex, so they feel a bit different depending on where you hold them. 

I recently received an order from you which included a Private Reserve Sepia ink sample (among 4 other browns). I LOVE this colour, but after doing some research on line, there seems to be some hesitation from others about using it due to the fact that it “sticks” to the side of the tube thus leading to a concern about clogging your pen. When I went on PR’s website, they don’t list it as a current colour thus adding to the concern. I couldn’t find your full-blown review on your blog. I don’t believe you would send anything that wasn’t “safe” for our pens, but would appreciate your thoughts on this ink colour.

Clearly, we take our ink very seriously, so I appreciate your letting me know about the ink not being listed on PR’s site. The ink is new….relatively… PR’s line. It actually came out a while ago (year and a half ago?), but it looks like they never updated their site. They came out with two more colors as well, one at the same time as Sepia (Rose Rage), and another last summer (DC Super Violet). They are both missing from their list as well, but we’ve been ordering them all along and we haven’t been told they will stop them. I will let them know about the inks missing from their site….you can tell by it’s ‘homemade’ qualities that it’s not updated very often! ;) 

It’s true the ink is a little ‘clingy’, some inks are like that and it’s not just PR. J. Herbin Rouge Hematite (1670), and Diamine Pumpkin are also like this. It has to do with the chemical composition of the ink, as well as the level of saturation of the ink dyes. When the dyes reach a certain level of saturation, they begin to fall out of suspension and ‘settle out’, and this is what can cling to the bottle. Shake the ink back up and it gets the dyes back into suspension and it’s good to go. I haven’t had any serious clogging issues in my pens using Sepia, but then I also don’t use it for long periods at a time. If anything, the ink will just need to be used in the pen more regularly than other inks, and may require a bit more effort to clean, especially if the ink dries out in the pen. I can say thought that after carrying this ink for about a year at a half now, that I haven’t had complaints about it performing much different than any of the other inks we carry.

I would like to replace the nib on my Lamy (medium) with a fine one.  Lucky I have a Safari — no other pen appears to have replaceable nibs.  Or am I missing something?

Most other pens don’t have replaceable nibs, but some do. Kaweco does, as does Edison, Pilot Vanishing Points, most Pelikans (mxxx series), and TWSBI 540’s. But Lamy is the king of nib changing, and has the widest range of available nib sizes. 

About the Caran d’Ache Blue Night 30ml bottle ink, which I have heard somewhere from the FPN that there’s a “bad batch” of ink that came through with wrong color. The Thai importer of Caran d’Ache also completely discontinue importing Blue Night ink to Thailand for the very reason. Which is a shame, as I totally Love the color, and it’s excellent property. And so, does the Blue Night that is available on Gouletpens belong to the new batch or does it still belong to the troublesome batch? 

I just checked the Blue Night we have on hand and it matches what I swabbed up originally nearly two years ago. Since I’ve never had any report of a color variation from our customers in the two years we’ve been selling the ink, I can’t help but think that the issue was isolated to another part of the world and we never received any of that batch. What we have on hand appears to be exactly what it always has been.

I have one quick question. I can’t seem to find the answer online. Is the Edison nib a Bock nib? I have found the Bock nibs on the TWSBI to be better than the original and am wondering if the Edison is also a Bock.

Edison uses Jowo (prounounced Yo-vo) nibs, which are made in Germany and they rival Bock nibs. TWSBI is switching to Bock from Schmidt (another smaller German nib company), and Bexley if you’re familiar with them, just recently switched from Bock to Jowo. Both Bock and Jowo make great nibs, they are the two leading independent nib makers in the world, no question. 

When using a converter and the ink is running low, is it smart to tighten the converter so there is less space between the ink and the plunger? I always wondered about that. 

It doesn’t really matter. As long as ink is touching the back of the feed, it’ll draw through the pen. How much air is behind it doesn’t make a difference. The ink flows through the pen with capillary action, so as long as there is ink there, and it’s at the bottom of the converter (not stuck up at the top), then you’re good. The only time you need to tighten down the converter is if the pen starts to dry up a bit (like if there are air bubbles in the feed) and you want to force some ink down through to get it going again, but that’s not usually necessary. 

What is the best way to store ink?, and in particular, since I have many antique ink wells, many cast iron type from the 1800’s, which pretty much have loose lids or pewter, glass or brass, would the ink be ok for a period of time, or just dry up?  I haven’t tried it, but I would hate to pour some in a well and find it thickening over time. 

Keeping ink well sealed is pretty crucial, unless you’re going to be using it very quickly. Fountain pen ink is water based, and if left unsealed, the water will evaporate and the ink will thicken, eventually drying completely. The good thing about water-based inks though, is that if they do thicken up a bit, you can always just add water back in and get it back in shape! Distilled water is best. Also, keeping ink out of direct sunlight is key, as many ink dyes break down with UV exposure. It’s best to keep them in the boxes they come in, or in a drawer or cabinet :) 

I like a wider rule on my lined paper, so I hope it’s okay to trouble you with two questions that came up when I was browsing: Lined Rhodia Soft Touch notebooks: Any chance you know what the ruling size is? I don’t see it in the details on the product pages. Lined Rhodia top-wirebound note pads: The ruling is listed as 8 mm, and I just want to double-check with you regarding this, as all the other lined Rhodia products seem to be 7 mm.

Oh my, I didn’t realize we forgot to list the rulings on the Rhodia soft touch pads! Thank you so much for letting us know, that was a simple oversight on our part. You can imagine how we might miss something like that with over 2400 products on our site right now :P 

Anyway, all of the staple bound Rhodias (including the soft touch pads) have 7mm ruling, and all of the wire bound have 8mm. I don’t know exactly why they do them this way, but they do! 

Hopefully these posts are helpful to you! I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. I’ll be compiling this coming week’s emails into next week’s Mailbox Monday post!