Goulet Q&A Episode 174: Becoming A Nibmeister, Showcasing All Premieres, and Using Fountain Pens On Cheap Paper


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.

In this episode, I talk about how to become a nibmeister, showing ALL the Premieres, and tips for using fountain pens on cheap paper!

This week:
  • very crazy, very busy last week personally
  • low-key Father’s day, was nice
  • Summer has begun (for Northern Hemisphere!)
  • toured my local Amazon Distribution Center


New/Upcoming Products – (3:11)
Pens/Writing – (7:58)

1) joe.robs- Instagram – (8:02)

I am fifteen and am extremely interested in fountain pens. I have decided that I would like to take a step further into fountainpendom and become a nib smith or nibmeister (someone who grinds nibs or does nib work on pens, I don’t know the proper name for them). I was wondering how can I take this step and how would I learn. Thanks, Joe.
  • nibmeister is a fairly appropriate term, the most commonly I’ve heard used any way
  • there’s no official training/protocol for it these days
  • it’s a true “trade” craft, so learning it from someone that already does it would be most ideal
  • there are really only a handful of individuals who do it, and they’re tough to get a hold of because they’re so busy
  • the best way to do it is to teach yourself, quite honestly
  • there are some videos out there where people do tuning and grinding, watch as much as you can
  • scour the internet
  • get your hands on as many junk nibs as possible, play with them!
  • you’ll want a good loupe, micromesh, and a grinding wheel setup of some kind (dremel with diamond wheel is probably easiest to come by)
  • if there are any pen shows near you ever, go and see if you can plant yourself by a nibmeister and watch what they do
  • sometimes there are training classes at pen shows, like Richard Binder’s class at DC
  • if this is something you REALLY want to do, you’re going to have to make it happen, it will not be handed to you on a silver platter
  • you’re 15, you’re very young, and most people who would be your potential clients will find your age to be a barrier, so just mentally prepare yourself for that
  • in order to make up for that fact, you will need to become exceedingly excellent at your craft
  • learn everything you can, find every book that even mentions a nib and memorize it, practice and learn everything you can in all the free time you have
  • if you even have moderate talent, you can at least pay a good portion of your way through school doing it
  • if you’re good and practice a ton, you can probably make a career of it…go get it

2) Athena- Email – (21:12)

With summer coming up and a new Edison Nouveau Premier due, I was wondering if you could do a round down of all the Edison Nouveau Premieres (regulars and special editions). In the past I could not picture myself spending $150 for a pen. Now that I have could to appreciate their value, I have missed out on many (Fire Ball, Cobalt and the Arctic Currents). Then, I found out there was a matte black that was sold as a regular edition. How I wish I had come into the fountain pen scene earlier. 
  • Let’s look at all the pens!

3) James- Email – (36:25)

What does the feeder tube do, and why might it play a role in controlling ink flow?
  • it assists in the capillary action of the ink
  • ink can have a tendency to hang up at the end of the converter, so the feeder tube will assist in drawing the ink from inside the converter through to the feed
  • without it, the pen could have a tendency to dry up with certain inks that don’t flow as freely

4) perogata- Instagram – (38:26)

The way we talk about nib feedback is rather one-dimensional. There seem to be other qualities to feedback than the “magnitude”. How can we better classify feedback, and describe the difference between e.g. a Platinum 3776 and an ill-tuned IPG nib pen? Maybe we can borrow inspiration from the photography community, where they have invented all kinds of terms to explain good versus bad bokeh types?
  • There are some terms I commonly associate with feedback (which is admittedly a very general term)
  • Smooth/buttery/glassy- a highly polished nib will glide across the page, and any of these terms could be used to describe what that feels like
  • Toothy- this is generally where nibs such as Platinum 3776 14k nibs, Kara Kustoms Titanium, and Aurora Ipsilon fall. It doesn’t cut the paper, it just feels “grabby” evenly in all directions
  • Scratchy- this is where something feels “wrong”, especially if it’s worse in one direction than another. It may cut the paper you’re writing on, gathering up paper fibers into the slit of the nib
  • We could probably come up with something more granular, like the “x out of 10” ranking that’s often used to describe wetness/flow

5) kuyaxdr- Instagram – (43:52)

What are some tips for using FPs on cheap, everyday paper?
  • this is a really popular question, because especially in the US, we don’t have great FP paper as a standard in most places
  • “cheap” paper will be more absorbent, often feather and bleed more
  • because of the absorbency, it will almost always spread more, making your lines appear broader than they do on more ink-resistant paper
  • go with as fine a nib as you can stand, ideally EF or F, Japanese nibs in this size will generally be ground a little finer
  • go with pens that don’t gush ink, especially be conscious when using flex nibs
  • steel nibs will often put down a little less ink that gold nibs, because gold is softer and will put more ink down with pressure 
  • try not to write with a lot of pressure, that puts down more ink
  • some ink will perform better than others on cheap paper, and you often need to sample it to see how it does perform (this is where ink reviews can help a lot)
  • be prepared to only use one side of the page, because of bleed through
  • this is where you can almost always cost-justify nicer paper, because you can actually use it on both sides!
Troubleshooting – (51:52)
6) Lesley S.- Blog – (51:53)
how do you know when you are running out of ink? One of my worst fears is running out of ink when I am in the middle of a meeting or somewhere else when I am taking notes. What are the signs that ink is low, especially where you can’t see how full your pen is?
  • it depends on the pen
  • if it’s truly running out, it will usually start to run dry, lines will be weak, color will lighten, flow will start to break/hard start
  • cartridge/converter pens are easy, a quite open up and look into the pen body will tell you what’s going on
  • some piston/vacuum pens have ink windows, that tells you there
  • if you have a sealed body (usually piston, could be eyedropper too, lever or cresent) with no ink window, that’s when it’s tough to tell
  • one trick is to turn your piston pen upside down, and screw the piston down so it squeezes out the air (have a paper towel handy) and see if it’s all air, or if ink’s coming out
  • Depending how far down the piston goes, will tell you how much ink is in there
  • eyedropper you can turn it upside down, open it up and look down in there
  • lever or crescent, similar to the piston pen but requires a little more finesse to keep from blobbing the ink everywhere
  • my favorite solution? Keep a backup pen with you in case you run out!
Business – (1:01:55)
7) sarahabetz- Instagram – (1:01:56)
Is it a job requirement for Goulet employees to like fountain pens? Or can they *gasp* prefer ball point?
  • haha, no it’s not a job requirement, though it is often a consequence of working here
  • not everyone here becomes a complete pen fanatic, though there’s a very high proportion
  • most of our team uses them on a regular basis, or at least really appreciates and gets excited about new ones that come out
  • we seldom hire anyone with previous pen experience (just the odds), though it can help if they’ve used them before
  • we do provide pens to everyone when they start work here, we want them to experience it themselves if nothing else, so they can appreciate what we have going on here

QOTW: What’s your favorite summertime ink? – (1:04:33)


Thanks so much for joining us this week! You can catch up on any old Q&A videos you missed here.

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-10-11T14:03:25+00:00 June 23rd, 2017|Goulet Q&A|31 Comments
  • David L.

    How much for your Cobalt Nouveau Premiere?

    • Tom Johnson

      Watch out David, you may start a bidding war!!

      • David L.

        Tom, I’m getting desparate. If I have to, so be it. 🙂

    • jane pilecki

      If you go to the Edison Pen Co site, you can ask if you can have one made. But the price will likely be $250 as it would be a custom pen.

      • David L.

        Jane, that’s what’s stopping me. Also, I don’t think that you can get a custom Nouveau Premiere. I’ll definitly see about it sometime. Thanks!

  • jane pilecki

    I haven’t finished the entire video. But the Edison Nouveau Premiere Fall 2016 is called “Autumn Embers”! I have all the seasonals plus some others. I love this pointy ends, the size of the pen, the colors, the quality. It’s just a wonderful pen. And my Delphinium should arrive Monday or Tuesday. It’s funny, I was lying in bed late last night thinking “I wonder when the new Premier will come out.” I got up this morning, went to the computer. opened GPC and there it was !!! Beautiful choice. And I love the wedding pictures in the pictures on the pen site. Keep making this pen style! It’s fabulous.
    28 minutes later: QOTW: I don’t have a particular ink I go to for summer, but I tend to use less saturated inks as well as more blues. I cannot seem to get enough of them right now! Oh, and Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise.

  • Scott Rogers

    QotW: Diamine Marine is an ink I reach for in summer but rarely use in the cooler months. Nothing deliberate on my part about this, but thinking about the question that’s the one ink I realize that I’m more likely to use in summer. Way more inks seem to be cooler-season inks to me; pretty much all my purples, browns, and burgundies are fall/winter inks for me.

  • Lesley Schultz

    Brian- thanks for answering my pen/inkquestion with all the details I could want. I am working with a pilot metropolitan currently, and I just flushed and cleaned it to put a new color in with the con 50 converter. I was using the squeeze converter. I am trying to decide on my next pen, I’m a teacher so I always have more than one writing utensil anyway, though my sister just might behead me if I get another one. QOTW: I am still searching for my signature ink/pen combo but I have only been at this a couple of weeks. I love purple, so with my latest order I got some different samples to try.

  • David L.

    QOTW: My summertime ink would probably be Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise. If that can be classified as a summertime ink. I just emptied my sample of it and now will get a bottle, not in my current Goulet order, but in the next. Question #2: Such amazing pens! The Red Ebonite one is very nice (so is Cobalt, but I really did not need to mention that). I’m thinking of having a custom Edison made in it. Probably a Herald Grande. I have no clue as to what any before Unicorn Barf are. That was when I discovered the Nouveau Premiere. Actually, you showed the green one in your video on the Conklin Duragraph, and the video for the red one was listed under a Q&A video once or twice. Other than that, I am clueless. I asked a friend if he heard anything about the new Nouveau Premiere yesterday morning. He responded saying that he knew nothing. After he left, he sent me a text (CALL ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s what phones are for!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) saying that he saw the new Premiere. I looked it up (it was around one in the evening here where I live) and saw the beautiful pen.

    • David L.

      I forgot about Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Habanero!

  • Hannah

    I just started trying to do ink washes and so found my collection of ink samples that I’d ordered a year ago. I had no idea that I had Stormy Grey!! I suppose I wasn’t in to the shimmer thing when I ordered it, but now I just ordered some of the new Nemosine ink samples. Right now, my go-to is a blend of Diamine Sherwood Forest and Oxford Blue – dark with great shading and some red sheen on Clairefontaine paper. During the school year, I typically just stick with Noodler’s Red-Black and Diamine Oxford Blue, but I’m really glad about Inksamplooza to finally try out different ink brands

  • David L.

    Future Q&A question: I am looking for some good pens and notebooks for backpacking. Do you have any recommendations?

    • Tom Johnson

      David, I used to go backpacking (before I got into fountain pens). My recommendation is the Platinum Plaisir. A metal cap and barrel, the grip is the reliable Platinum Preppy. Light, tough, and you can carry several Preppy pens to replace the whole grip/nib section easily. So you can have EF, F, and M fountain pens, highlighter tip, and felt marking tip – each can be put in your Plaisir. The Preppies would be spare parts or switchable nibs. The Plaisir/Preppy pens are super reliable. You cannot make an eyedropper out of the Preppy – alloy barrel not designed for ink, may corrode. Looking forward to seeing Brian’s suggestions.

    • jane pilecki

      I might recommend the Kaweco Sport. You can either eyedropper it, or just carry a bunch of cartridges with you. It’s a pocket pen, so it can be really handy. If you want to clip it on your Field Notes, get a clip. They are nice and sturdy. And it’s an inexpensive pen.

      • Kathy

        Just don’t get on airplane with a half full eyedroppered pen….yes, this is the voice of experience!

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Here is a video Brian did a few years ago, David, that may help you (and probably make you laugh at the intro!). http://blog.gouletpens.com/2015/06/travel-pens-backpacking-edition.html

      • Tom Johnson

        Lydia, you are a lifesaver, I’d totally forgotten all about that video.

      • David L.

        Lydia, thank you! this really did help. You were right about the intro. 😉

  • Danielle Schler

    Q&A: In the spirit of the Vanishing Point special going on, which vanishing point model and finish would you consider most durable for daily use? I want one that won’t easily get scratched, nicked, or dented in my fast paced, multi tasking office. I am constantly picking up and putting down my pens and do so quickly; I just don’t have the time or attention span to be conscientious and delicate. I want to avoid the disgust with myself when I realize later my carelessness marred the finish.

    • Tom Johnson

      Danielle, great question about the finishes. I have used my first VP (Blue Carbonesque) daily since I bought it in 1999. At work for over 13 years, on my desk, in my pocket. The mechanism was clicked for untold thousands of times (sometimes just clicking it without writing). The blue finish looks like new, the rhodium trim also. No dents. You can see tiny micro scratches with an eye loupe, but alongside a brand new VP it looks just as good. Never gave me any problems. I got the copper LE VP when it came out and the burgundy Decimo last year. Both look like new. The Decimo is a daily carry for me now, in my pocket with other pens. No signs of wear. The body of these pens is brass, so it is fairly heavy. I’ve seen photos of a matte black VP where the owner removed all the matte finish after it got scratched. He had a totally brass VP that looked different, kind of industrial, and now will patina. I suspect the matte finishes may show scratches more readily than the shiny finishes. I’m looking forward to seeing what Brian knows about all the different finishes and how they hold up.

      • Danielle Schler

        Thanks Tom! I appreciate the feedback. The diy unfinished barrel sounds fantastic, though I’m not that brave. Sounds like a shiny finish would be more for me, and would love to be able to afford the galaxy finish 💕

  • Stephanie Leader

    QOTW: I’m lucky enough to call the east coast of australia home, and, after moving here from the south of New Zealand it feels like summer about 10months of the year with a month or so each of spring and autumn. My ‘go-to’ summery inks at the moment are Iroshizuku Kosumusu and Murasaki-shikabu although if i need something a little more permanant I grab my Noodlers V-Mail North African Violet. Im excited to say I last night ordered my first Edison Nouveau Premier and I searched the swab shop for some ink samples to pair it up and ordered De atramentus scented Hyacinth and Lilac, I don’t think I’ll ever have too many purple or pink ink options 🙂

  • Uniotter

    Great video, Brian, really enjoyed seeing all the Edison Premieres that have come out. Makes me realize I’m a long-time Goulet fan. 😀

    QOTW: I don’t pick inks by season, so I’ll answer that I’m looking forward to trying out one of the Robert Oster inks during your Inksamplepalooza. I was in Australia not long ago, but finding that ink there was impossible (I was in Melbourne….no outlets there), so it’s ironic I have to come back to the USA to get it. Thank goodness for Goulet! 🙂

  • Carlos Quiñones

    I noticed that gold nibs are juicier, they put more ink in the paper than steel nibs… why is this? Does the ink flow more freely on gold nibs than steel nibs? Why?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      The gold nibs are much softer than the steel nibs so the tendency for line variation and wetter lines is quite possible.

  • Joel Fritz

    My favorite cheap paper is generic filler paper. You can get huge amounts for next to nothing at back to school sales and almost all of it is reasonably fountain pen friendly. Don’t expect to use a 1.5mm italic nib but medium regular nibs and .9mm or 1.1mm italic nibs usually work well with little bleed through. Disadvantages: It has lines and holes for ring binders. Don’t expect to use it for stationery. If you need something for note taking and day to day writing it’s pretty good, better than legal tablets that cost more per sheet as a rule.

    • Shaavazul

      Where in the world do you buy your filler paper?! I’ve never had luck with standard, lined notebooks and fountain pens. But kudos to you for being lucky!

  • Michelle Morin

    Any plans to sell the Edison stock flex nibs on gouletpens.com?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Those nibs are currently only available directly from Edison. We will definitely keep it in mind if they become available for retail though 🙂

  • CorinneLitchfield

    QOTW: I recently got a bottle of Faber Castell Deep Sea Green, and while I know I’ll use it year-round, I definitely think it qualifies as a summertime ink.

  • Melinda Smith

    QOTW: I find that in the summer, I reach for those brighter turquoise blue-greens: Lamy Pacific, Diamine Marine, Private Reserve Daphne Blue, J. Herbin Vert Reseda; also Diamine Golden Sands.