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.

Thanks for joining me for another great episode of Goulet Q&A! I’m back from vacation and showing off the exciting new Pilot Metropolitan colors. I’m answering questions on nib grinders, Midori paper, and what kind of boss I am. Get ready- it’s a good one!New/Upcoming Products- (1:12)

  • just got back from the Homestead
  • new Pilot Metropolitan colors revealed!
  • Pilot VP stub nibs came in, people are enjoying them
  • back-to-school is happening, we’re doing some shopping for Joseph
  • DC pen show next week
  • Brian and Andrea Gray are visiting us for the first time next thursday!
Pens/Writing – (7:28)
1) Joshua T.- Facebook – (7:35)
Brian, do you use the terms stub and italic interchangeably. I noticed that with the new VP stub, which in your video you term stub, but when you try to order it on the site it is a “1.1 italic.” (correction, it says 1.0mm italic) Several sites make a distinction (Binder, Masuyama). What gives?

  • they are actually separate terms, but companies use them interchangeably
  • check out FP101 Nib Sizes and Grinds vid
  • really, no one is making a (crisp) italic, everyone is making stubs
  • most fountain pen makers call them italics and we had to standardize something on our site, so we went with the term italic
  • it’s confusing, I know, and it always will be as companies aren’t using standard terms
2) @annmeyer- Twitter – (11:50)
I would love to see a video of refilling TWSBI 580 with syringe. I have a heck of a time opening the top of pen.

  • I don’t know which end you’re calling the top, but don’t try to syringe fill from the back end (by removing the piston), you’ll spurt out ink!
  • fill from the grip end, remove the grip and just squirt it in there
3) Shubhranshu D.- Facebook – (14:48)
I’m considering getting a special grind done to move beyond the standard nibs/ stubs and cursive italics. While John Mottishaw,  Richard Binder and one or two others are really well known names… could you suggest who else I should consider as well before deciding.

4) Deborah H.- Facebook – (18:00)
As someone new to the fountain pen world, what is a cheap way to try different size nibs? I’ve experimented with F/EF/M but I’m still interested in trying the italic, flex and stub nibs. Is there any way to do that without spending a fortune?

5) Alyssa S.- Facebook – (21:51)
Do you have any recommendations for a pen in a lower price bracket (maybe ~$100-ish or less) that I can use at school that can give me a similar writing experience to the VP nibs I love? (paraphrased question)

  • a sub-$100 pen will basically put you in steel nibs, which won’t entirely feel like the 18k VP nibs
  • a pen I always recommend for students is the Pilot Metropolitan, $15, writes great
  • Goulet nibs, write well and can fit on some cheaper pens like the Noodler’s Ahab/Konrad and Jinhao pens
6) Jay Đ.- Facebook – (25:45)
Based off your experience, would you say that Japanese nibs are ground to have a little more feedback feel when writing than European pens? I prefer a glassy smooth feeling when I’m writing, and although I love my Pilot Custom Heritage 912, I can’t help but lean more towards my Lamy 2000, if only because it’s so much smoother.

  • it really depends on the company
  • 3 main Japanese companies (that are imported to the US, anyway)
  • Platinum– yes, definitely are ground with more feedback
  • Sailor- they’re a mystery to me, I have heard some say their nibs are amazingly smooth, I haven’t seen that for myself
  • Pilot– usually have very smooth nibs
Paper – (30:30)

7) @matthewamoser- Twitter – (30:33)
How is the Midori thin paper (#013) for fountain pens? I heard it is Tomoe River paper. Can you confirm or deny that?

  • I can’t confirm if it’s actually Tomoé River paper, but it sure is similar
Business – (32:12)
8) Jo B.- Facebook – (32:18)
Do you make videos for the processes and procedures within GPC?  I imagine your operations manual being a series of internal video links on how to pack and ship, fill ink samples, process orders and other fun tasks. Please Say it is so.

  • sadly no, no Brian Goulet internal training videos
  • all training here is pretty hands-on, more interactive than just watching a video
  • watching videos is definitely a part of new team member training, especially for customer care and community coordinators
9) Stan S.- Facebook – (35:22)
Brian, you always speak of your early pen turning days, when you went to business workshops and used your fountain pens, what was the reaction and questions from your fellow participants?

  • I was definitely known as the “pen guy”, which wasn’t weird because there was a pen turning club in my local woodworking supplier (Woodcraft)
  • I wasn’t into fountain pens until very late into my craft, once I was transitioning out of the clubs and stuff
  • basically, most woodworker/pen turners are just as ignorant of fountain pens as the general population so I got the same kind of reactions you get from people who see you write with your pens every day
‏10) @BlauerCharon- Twitter – (38:44)
Why is not the whole product range (from Pilot) available, not in the US and neither in the EU… I don’t understand it… :(

  • great question, I have no idea!
  • the range is extensive, and a lot of the times the differences between some of the models are really subtle
  • I’m told the fountain pen culture in Japan is WAY more brick and mortar than online
  • they may not be that aware that people all over the world see pens that are only available in some markets
  • I’m sure they have their reasons, but their catalog is definitely confusing, even for a retailer like me
11) Gary W.- Facebook – (43:28)
I am dying to know what kind of boss you are.  I know you said once that you are all a team and you have no employees, but as a manager, someone has to be the leader, the boss, and the coordinator.  So, my question is if you were your own employee, what would you think of you?

  • haha yikes :)
  • we don’t like to use the word employees around here, we’re team members
  • we definitely have distinct leadership though, and I’m ultimately accountable for whatever goes on
  • it sounds weird, but I do actually work for myself
  • I’m a limited resource, and I daily have to manage myself and my own time just like I have to manage everything else that goes on around here
  • what am I like? I’m surely frustrating, because I’m a pretty classic over-explainer and naturally gravitate to doing things myself rather than delegating
  • conciseness is not a gift of mine, if these Q&A’s haven’t already proved that
  • I work like a dog and have pretty high expectations, that can be intimidating but I always extend grace and trust as my default
  • I really care about my team and what we’re doing for the fountain pen community and our individual customers
  • E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber put it well: Entrepreneur – Manager – Technician
  • I’m about 70% Entrepreneur, 30% technician, and not a Manager at all, so I have to staff around my own weaknesses in this area
  • I’m a dreamer and a builder, but not a maintainer and sustainer
  • If I worked for me, I would probably wonder what’s going on in my head.
Troubleshooting – (53:12)

12) @JerryTanta13- Twitter – (53:17)
What pens are bulb syringe “compatible”? I have a pilot metropolitan, lamy safari, and twsbi 580?

  • basically all cartridge/converter pens (including your Metro and Safari)
  • any piston that disassembles (TWSBI, Noodler’s, etc)
  • really the only ones that aren’t are mechanisms that you can’t easily take apart, like some pistons, lever-fillers, etc
  • that’s why I freaking love the bulb syringe!!
13) Brent F.- Facebook – (58:18)
I have 3 Lamy pens and 4 Lamy steel nibs: the F, M, and B nibs are great, but my black EF is scratch city! I’ve used it with several inks, cleaned it a bunch and the tines appear aligned. You’ve mentioned in the past that the Lamy EF nibs sometimes have issues, but would some mylar paper help this?
  • EF nibs are more hand-ground than other Lamy nibs, it’s not easy work
  • part of it is that EF nibs are just going to feel more scratchy anyway, as the tip is finer
  • micro-mesh (maybe mylar) would almost certainly help in your situation here
QOTW:  What should I ask/show/do with Brian and Andrea Gray while they’re here next Thursday? – (1:02:10)Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A’s that you missed.

Write On,
Brian Goulet