I missed last week due to some technical issues with several of our cameras, but we found a workaround for this week! I cover what it was like at the 2015 DC Pen Show, how to pick the best Vanishing Point nib, what a “Zoom” nib is, and some great starter pens that aren’t always talked about. Enjoy!
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.

New/Upcoming Products – (3:13)
– Emerald of Chivor – Samples
– Edison Black RosePens/Writing – (4:38)

1) Alex S.- Facebook – (4:43)
So I’m still trying to decide what I want for my first Pilot VP, I mean which nib. I haven’t had a stub nib yet, but after hearing so much about the writing experience of a VP I’m curious which would be the better first writing experience with a pilot VP, a medium nib or the new 1.0mm stub?

  • the VP stub is really really new, and it’s actually a pretty nice stub!
  • in general though, stubs are not quite as universal as medium nibs
  • stubs are a little less forgiving when writing with them, in terms of pen rotation
  • go medium if you want to be ‘safe’, stub if you want to live a little :)
  • honestly, neither is a bad choice, and worst case you can exchange it or get a replacement nib unit and switch them out
2) Sam F.- Facebook – (7:22)
Do you have any tips for filling a piston filler from a sample vial, when the nib is too long to get the filler hole submerged in the vial?
  • there are a couple of ways around this
  • feed saturation method video
  • some pens you can remove the nib unit and fill directly into the pen with a  syringe (or even right from the vial)
  • tilting the vial can often help
  • worst case, just saturate the feed by dipping, or try in another pen
  • it’s not often there’s a pen that simply cannot be filled from a sample vial in any way
3) Jason L.- Facebook – (11:53)
In general, will the ink cartridge from ink manufacturers work with all fountain pen? Specifically, will a Diamine ink cartridge work with a Pilot Metro?
  • no, this particular combo won’t work
  • some pen manufacturers have proprietary filling mechanisms, and Pilot is one of them
  • only Pilot/Namiki cartridges/converters will fit on their pens
  • some exceptions, in the EU, Pilot calls the Metropolitan the MR, and is has a standard international fitting on it that will fit Diamine cartridges
  • we have a Cartridge/Converter Compatibility Guide for cartridges/converters on our site, not exhaustive but it covers all the pens we carry at GouletPens.com
‏4) @smadayrrek- Twitter – (15:09)
What is up with ‘zoom’ nibs?
  • they’re really only made by Sailor, that I know
  • they’re a Japanese company
  • it’s a nib that’s meant to replace the use of a brush, writing with a finer line when held at a steep angle, a broader line when held at a lower angle
  • I have no personal experience with them, and they’re not widely available
  • I wouldn’t worry about them too much, unless you do a lot of writing in characters
5) Ricky J.- Facebook – (16:48)
We hear a lot about top 5 pen lists that include Metropolitan and Safari..etc etc. What are some cheap pens that are not mentioned in the list but are top worthy? (Platinum Plaisir, J.Herbin Fountain penJinhao, Noodler’s, etc etc).
  • most popular Goulet video to date: Brian’s Top 5 Fountain Pens for Newbies– 140k views
  • Platinum Preppy
  • Pilot Varsity
  • Jinhao X750
  • Pilot Metropolitan
  • Lamy Safari
  • I still stand behind all these pens, they’re all fantastic starter pens and I explain why in the video
  • There are definitely other good pens, just not maybe as universally appealing and easy to use as these ones:
  • Platinum Plaisir, sure, same ‘guts’ as a Preppy with a nicer body, not nearly as popular
  • J. Herbin fountain pen is really pretty new, and is cartridge only so it’s not my go-to, but it could certainly work
  • Noodler’s…certainly the best intro flex pen, flex in general is not something I push for newbies because they are really diving in the deep end in terms of learning to use them well
  • Jinhao, absolutely, I put the X750 in that video, but the X450 would work well, and the 159 is huge but also works well (and now is in more colors), all take #6 (Goulet) nibs, too
  • Kaweco Classic or ICE Sport, cartridge/eyedropper only, but is loved by many
  • Pilot Parallel, great for practicing calligraphy
  • TWSBI Eco, fantastic pen for the price, is relatively new and limited availability, but great starter pen
  • Lamy Logo or Al-Star would be a great alternative to the Safari
Ink – (24:16)6) ‏@JerryTanta13- Twitter – (24:18)
What are some colorful inks (aka not black), that perform well on school quality paper and shade well?

  • by school quality, I’m going to assume you mean absorbent and generally terrible paper, at least that’s mostly what we have in the US because it’s not a ‘fountain pen’ culture, especially for schools
  • you basically won’t get shading on this type of paper
  • you’re really just going to be fighting for not having terrible bleed through and feathering
  • going with as fine a nib as you can stand will be helpful here
  • my go-to’s for good ink on bad paper are Noodler’s Heart of Darkness and X-feather, both of those are black though
  • I haven’t found most other colors to be as good as these on bad paper
  • Conventional inks like Waterman, Sheaffer, Pelikan seem to do fairly well
  • Pilot Iroshizuku do well, but are pricey for most students
  • I’m open to feedback from the community on this one!
7) Anne C.- Facebook – (28:03)
Can I mix Dostoyevsky with any other Noodler’s ink (I’m thinking Heart of Darkness)? Secondly, I’m looking at the Noodler’s comparison chart on your website: what are your thoughts on mixing Noodler’s inks that are labeled “No” for every category, with inks that are labeled “Yes” for many categories? Lastly, can I safely mix all Noodler’s inks with Diamine‘s? (I’m dreaming of a black-red dragon…) smile emoticon (excluding the Baystates from this conversation)
  • the only big no-no is mixing Baystates with non-Baystates, as far as Noodler’s goes
  • You can mix inks with varying properties, as long as you realize you are diluting whatever those properties are by how much of the final ink contains those properties
  • mixing Noodler’s Black (bulletproof) with Noodler’s Purple (conventional), the black portion of the ink will be the only part that remains if you wash it away, the purple will disappear
  • You can play around with it, that can be really fun!
  • mix in small batches (a couple ml at a time) and always outside of the pen first, let sit for several hours to see if you get crazy reactions
  • check out FPN Ink Recipies subforum
Business – (33:11)8) Gary W.- Facebook – (33:16)
Will we get to see more of Rachel in the video blogs and Q&A’s in the future? I always enjoy hearing about the business aspects of Goulet Pen Company and pen products from a woman’s point of view.

  • Rachel is definitely the ‘special sauce’ behind the inner workings of GouletPens.com!
  • I love her and love doing videos with her, and she is really great on video
  • her time is very split here and it’s tough for us to coordinate shooting a lot together
  • she’s also actually rather introverted, and doesn’t enjoy hearing herself talk as much as I do :)
  • She’ll continue to pop in here and there, but not much more than she does now
  • where we’re doing a lot more together is on Periscope, it’s much more informal and she can just add things in here and there
  • follow us there if you want to see more of her
9) Brad M.- Facebook – (37:08)
Almost every time I place an order, I also order a “Surprise Me” random ink sample, and I’m always delighted that I never receive an ink that I’ve previously ordered. I’ve ordered a fair number of sample packages and individual samples, so it seems a little surprising. When issuing a random sample, do you check it against the customer’s order history and make sure to send something new? Or have I just been lucky? Just curious!
  • as much as I’d like to say we take that much consideration into it, you’re just getting lucky :)
  • We do prepare the “random” samples ahead of time just for that purpose, and we are conscientious of pulling something interesting/different in that particular order
  • we do not look up your past history and try to pull something different, I’m sorry to say, that would be kind of a logistical challenge
  • maybe in the future we can build in something like that just to make sure you’re getting something new every time!
  • with close to 600 colors, odds are good you’re getting something new anyway!
10) Mikey M.- Facebook – (39:49)
Did you make any new business connections at the DC pen show?
  • sure did! talked a lot with Brian and Andrea Gray of Edison pens (before and during the show)
  • certainly we want to continue to cook up new stuff with them
  • spent good FaceTime with Brad Dowdy and Jeff of Nock pen cases
  • they’re not yet ready to ramp up to wholesaling through retailers but are working hard on getting there, we talked a lot with them
  • we made good contact with Visconti and the cat’s out of the bag there, we will be carrying Visconti really soon
  • our initial order is in, we’ll be starting out with the Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Homo Sapiens, all inks, and traveling inkwell
  • also happy to take special orders on all other Visconti pens, we can get the full line, email Rachel at specialorders@gouletpens.com
  • the Divina really has my eye, but we’re pacing ourselves!
  • got to talk to other reps like Yafa (Monteverde, Conklin, Delta, Stipula)
  • spent some time watching Richard Binder grind nibs for about 2 hours
  • lots of connections with other bloggers like Pen Habit, Leighpod, NoPenIntended, Dan Smith, Cary of Fountain Pen Day, and several others, Instagram fans (Man and Tan)
11) Kevin L.- Facebook – (56:38)
Are there any plans to add some basic handwriting tips to your continuing fountain pen education and information mission?
  • loose plans, yes, but nothing specific yet
  • honestly, I’m not coming from a background of having a lot of knowledge in this area
  • I’ve had loose aspirations to learn to improve my handwriting, but haven’t made it a “SMART” goal yet, the runnings of my business and life in general have taken priority for me
  • I’m certainly open to it and recognize the opportunity for someone in my position in the fountain pen world to be able to help teach handwriting, I will likely need to link up with someone who’s already an expert in this area rather than learn it from scratch myself, it’s just too much to learn
Troubleshooting – (1:00:53)12) Christina A.- Facebook – (1:00:58)
I let a friend try out my Lamy Safari (medium nib), but neglected to watch her… She held it straight up and perhaps at a sideways angle and probably used a fair bit of pressure. I’ve been having trouble with this nib being scratchy since then, and I think I’m not making it up – I have two Safaris with M nibs and only one of them writes that way. Any idea what happened or how to fix it?

  • ahhhh yes, this is pretty common
  • coming from ballpoints/rollerballs, it’s very typical to write at a high angle and use too much pressure
  • fountain pens are meant to be held lower (45 degrees) and write with only the weight of the pen
  • probably, they bent the nib or threw the tines out of alignment
  • depending on how severe they wrote with it, it could be an easy fix, or not
  • check out my video “Goulet Loupe Tutorial”, I show how to inspect and align tines there
  • worst case, a new Lamy nib is $13 so it’s not a total loss, and you can always bill your friend (jk, or maybe not!)

QOTW: What’s the one thing you would go back and tell yourself on your first day using a fountain pen? 
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