I have all kinds of interesting questions this week touching on paper, ultimatum/hypotheticals, pen purchase tradeoffs, and improving handwriting. Enjoy!

1) Jacob W.- Facebook (4:30):

If you had to only use one bottle of ink for the rest of this year what would it be…this ink would have to work with all your pens different needs and wetness (And you can’t choose kon Peki)

2) @LILYWHYTELEGS- Twitter (5:56):

i saw lots more bleed through & ghosting w 100 gm/m2 Leuchtturm than Rhodia 80 gm/m2 paper. tested w same pens/inks. What gives?

  • paper weight isn’t the only factor in how well an ink performs
  • some papers (Tomoe River, Midori Light Paper, rice paper) are super thin but perform great
  • thickness affects show-through/ghosting more than anything
  • but ink bleeding is likely because of the coating
  • Rhodia has higher clay content


3) Ben O’Kane- YouTube (9:00):
Am I better off buying a Lamy 2000/ Pilot Custom 74 or a TWSBI 580AL, 2 Ahabs, a Goulet stub nib and another $50ish pen? I’m a high school student who has to take lots (Seriously lots!) of notes.
  • either way you win :)
  • it really depends on your goal
  • Lamy 2000/Custom 74 you will definitely enjoy
  • given the fact you’re a student and there’s a HIGH likelihood your pens will be lost/damaged/stolen in your high school/future school I personally recommend your second option
  • TWSBI will be better than Ahab for notes, unless you have really good paper (Ahab is really wet!)
  • Personally, I didn’t buy a gold nib pen for a long time, there’s no shame in steel nibs
4) Ryan G.- Facebook (13:45):
Which brand has the smoothest out-of-the-box Asian extra-fine? I know this is subjective, and EFs are guaranteed to be less smooth than other nibs, but I’m curious anyway. I have a Pilot Falcon in EF, and I love it…but it’s certainly “toothy.”
  • Sailor has a good reputation, but I honestly just haven’t experienced that firsthand
  • Pilot E95S extra-fine
  • Pilot Vanishing Point extra-fine
  • Falcon isn’t going to be all that smooth, because of the softness

5) Sean K.- Facebook (16:23):

I’m not sure if you’ve already addressed this in a previous Q&A, but I was wondering if you could do a rundown of the different properties of ink. What causes one ink to dry faster than another? Why does one tend to clog and the other not? How much of a difference is there between one ink company’s product and another’s? Does each manufacturer’s ink has certain characteristics that are present in all their inks (e.g. I’ve heard the Noodler’s tends to have very deep and rich colors)? What are some things to avoid? What’s the best way to research inks (I would like to join the ink of the month club at some point, but I can’t right now)? Thanks!

  • check out Q&A Episode 5 and 6, all about inks
  • FP101 Bottled Ink
  • some manufacturers make all their inks similar, especially the smaller ones
  • it’s always confusing, because manufacturers don’t often advertise the properties, or only part of them
6) Bcd D.- Facebook (18:30):

I am looking to improve my penmanship, especially in cursive. I have found several resources online and attempt to practice regularly. Do you or your team have any suggestions for resources and/or exercises? What is your favorite letter/character to write?

  • I’d really love to know what you’ve found so far, everyone! Post in the comments
  • I recognize a HUGE need for this in the pen world, haven’t been able to personally fill it yet
  • Best resource I know is FPN Penmanship subforum


7) Cheetarah C.- Facebook (20:30):

My question is about the swab shop: is it correct of me to think that this is linked to your inventory list of inks you currently carry? Is there a chance that you can add them to the swabshop again for reference sake, like on an archives page?

  • yes, what we have in there is only inks that we currently stock
  • we’ve experimented with putting inks we don’t carry/are discontinued in there
  • has raised so much confusion/frustration in the past we took them down
  • there would be an opportunity to put them back up there, but would need a clear distinction that they’re not available
  • we’ll look into it
  • VERY manual process managing our Swab Shop


8) Charles C.- Facebook (24:03):

Why are there so few green pens in the $35-$75 range, yet so many great inks. I have found a few but they seem either over-the-top whimsical, or a several year old Limited edition.

  • I agree, and can’t really give you a great answer
  • basically, green pens don’t sell well
  • manufacturers don’t make them because they don’t sell


9) Brandon M.- Facebook (25:40):
Brian, what is your all time favorite pen? Maybe not one you use a lot, but one you always love using.
  • c’mon, I bet a bunch already know this ;)
  • my favorite pen was my first gold-nib pen, and though I like a lot of others now, this one is my favorite now more for its history with me than anything else
10) Aaron D.- Facebook (29:03):

Hello Brian, thanks for doing Q&A. It has been very helpful and nice to listen to your feedback on people’s question. 
I own two TWSBI’s. A 580 and a Vac 700. The medium nib on my 580 does not match the line width on the Vac 700 medium nib. Is this a TWSBI thing?

  • These pens use two different size nibs (#5 on 580 and #6 on Vac-700)
  • Even though they’re same brand, the nibs vary between these two pens
  • Check out the Nib Nook, I did writing samples of both
  • 580 medium is wetter than 700 medium, so it appears
11) Cotter S.- Facebook (31:31):

Hey! I bought a Lamy Studio pen and a while back the cap stopped clasping to the pen (there is no more audible click sound to signify it is secured and it falls right off if the pen is not pointing up). Is there anyway to fix? This was my favorite pen and I haven’t been able to use it since I can’t close it securely anymore.

12) Mayra Ruiz- YouTube (34:00):
Which blue, green, or orange inks perform better on cheaper paper like loose leaf or mead paper?
  • most important thing will be the pen/nib (finer the better)
  • expect that with just about any inks, you will have bleed through enough so that you can only use one side of the page
  • this is one reason upgrading paper actually ends up being much more reasonable than the cost would make it seem
  • Blue: all Pilot Iroshizuku inks, stay away from the more permanent blues, less saturated colors tend to do better
  • green: same general rules as blues
  • orange: same general rule as blues, have had good experience with most oranges, but color tends to get really washed out on cheap paper
13) Michael C.- InkNouveau (38:13):
At what point should I refill my Pilot Metropolitan? I can usually tell a page or two before the pen runs out of ink that it’s running low. I usually just apply a bit more pressure and continue writing until it’s completely out of ink. Is this OK? Or should I refill before it’s completely out?

  • this is tough with pens like the Metropolitan where you can’t see the ink level
  • when you have to press harder is a sign you should refill, as long as pen is acting ’normal’
  • you’ll find after a few weeks of regular use about how long you need to go in between fillings
  • best to get on a regular schedule before you start to run out, if you can (i.e. fill every Sunday night before you start school/work)
  • good to keep a backup pen! or spare ink sample of your ink if not near your bottle
  • ideally, don’t write with more pressure on a regular basis, or the nib will bend over time and write a lot wetter, making your pen run out faster!
  • honestly though, it’s a $15 pen and you don’t have to be too paranoid about it
    • but it’s good to practice good pen use with a less expensive pen rather than wear out a gold nib pen!


14) James Hart- Ink Nouveau (43:25):

Do you have any ink & pen suggestions for editors, proofreaders & professional writers? A lot of us have to make annotations on cheap printer paper that often feathers and bleeds with wet nibs. Is this something that can be avoided with the right pen/ink combo?

15) @LILYWHYTELEGS- Twitter (45:28):

my 7-year old wants to know how to wash ink off his little fingers. He used lots soap & H2O and we ended up with bubble flood.

  • I can totally see that happening!
  • my 4yo son does the same kind of thing
  • shampoo, hand sanitizer
  • there are other cleaners out there like Ink Nix and Re-du-ran (never used them personally), but not sure how safe they’d be for kids
  • honestly, just wash as best you can, let it be


That’s all for this week, thanks to everyone who asked questions whether I answered them or not. Be sure to check out old Q&A episodes here. Have a great week!
Question of the Week: What resources or methods have you found so far to help you improve your handwriting?
Write On,
Brian Goulet