Goulet Q&A Episode 175: Shading Inks, The Ultimate Journal, and Why Manufacturers Don’t Make Videos

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 shading inks, the ultimate journal, and why manufacturers don’t make videos!

(We’re aware of the audio issues in this week’s episode. We’re looking into the root cause of that currently, hopefully we should be issue free going forward! Thanks)

This week:
Pens/Writing – (8:35)
1) Julia M.- Facebook – (8:37)
Not sure if this has been covered before but here goes: How do you really feel about Montblancs? I know someone who only owns MBs as a status symbol. In your opinion, why has the MB has achieved such status? And is there any other pen that works as well as a status symbol yet is also a great pen? My little Platinum Preppy never fails me but status symbol, it is not
  • I own several, they’re nice! 
  • I haven’t been following them for years, I’m told the heyday was more in the 70’s/80’s (in terms of value/writing quality)
  • they’ve done a respectable job marketing, and they charge a premium for their brand recognition
  • they were very intentional about their branding, and they spend a LOT to position themselves that way
  • in terms of what most of the hardcore writing enthusiasts see valuable, the pens are too expensive, because part of what you’re paying for is the brand recognition
  • pretty much every non-pen person I know (especially in the business community) asks me if I carry Montblanc when I say I’m in the pen business
  • In terms of the general population, no, I think MB has the most brand recognition
  • there are plenty of fantastic writing alternatives, obviously
2) Karl K.- Facebook – (15:15)
You make wonderful, easy-to-follow instructional videos — as a retailer. But I have not seen many made by the actual manufacturers of their own pens, except Noodler’s. Have they conceded that retailers and pen enthusiasts might be the best instructors of their products?
  • most manufacturers are focusing on what they do best, making pens
  • I completely believe that they could benefit from shooting videos, clearly I’m very much in that camp!
  • it takes a lot of time, energy, and resources to make it happen
  • it’s not just a matter of shooting videos, but also engaging with the community that takes a huge commitment
  • it’s especially challenging for global brands
  • the traditional model has been for manufacturers to use distributors to do marketing more targeted to local areas
  • this is being challenged with the internet, and while it’s not anything THAT new, it’s still working its way through the fountain pen community
  • Truth be told, I think they’re still grasping what we’re doing, it’s quite different from the typical marketing models that they’ve been used to
  • some understand and embrace it more than others, but the ones who “get it” will continue to see growth with new fountain pen users in the future
  • if they were to embrace this type of marketing themselves, it would take a bit to gain some traction but they would really seem some impact in the community! 

3) Danielle S.- Blog – (23:14)

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.
  • the most durable version would be the raden, as the urushi is the hardest finish!
  • it’s also most expensive
  • next would be any of the shiny versions, they’re lacquered and pretty darn durable
  • the matte finishes will be the least durable, though they’ll still hold up okay

Ink – (27:51)

4) rachelcdlf- Instagram – (27:53)

Is there an ink that has as much shading color variation as Apache Sunset but isn’t in the orange family? I love how Apache Sunset is almost 3 colors depending on how much ink you lay down.
Paper – (31:22)
5) chris.percifield- Instagram – (31:24)
If you could only use one journal/notebook for all daily writing/business/school related tasks what would you choose and why? Thanks!
  • this is a tough question to answer! 
  • there are a lot of great notebooks, and the specific use you have for them could change the correct answer here
  • what I end up using most for versatility is the Leuchtturm A5 dot grid
  • it’s durable, nice paper, good sheet count, nice features, and very versatile

Troubleshooting – (34:07)


6) niewiadomski13- Instagram – (34:08)

I love a pristine looking clean nib. But I have many pens where ink gets on the surface out of the slit and then I swipe to clean, only to draw more ink out. Sigh- mechanical feature of capillary action, or just me? Also on demonstrator pens I always have ink on top of the nib where it is secured in the grip- just gotta live with that too I guess?
  • it’s called nib creep, and it’s very common with a lot of pens and ink
  • it’s kind of a given that you’re going to experience this
  • you can cut it down a little bit by diluting the ink, but it’s honestly not worth the trouble (to me) 
  • different pen/nib/ink combos will be affected more than others
  • it’s honestly easier just to embrace it!
  • for demonstrators, yeah, you’re just going to have to get used to that
  • it’s a feature, not a bug! 😉 

7) nick_conkling- Instagram – (40:18)

If I leave my pens in my car, at what temperatures would it start to be an issue? Could the ink freeze in my pen? If so will this alter the ink properties in the pen? Can inks start to have problems as they get too hot as well? Thank you!
  • I can’t tell you an exact temperature because I haven’t tested it scientifically
  • it gets pretty hot where I am in the summer, easily 100+ in the car
  • if you leave it in direct sunlight, that’s an issue
  • keep it inside a case or bag, and that helps
  • I think 100 is a pretty good threshold, but the type of pen and ink and especially the level of ink inside could be a factor
  • for freezing, that’s probably more an issue
  • freezing is not great, mainly if it freezes inside the pen (could crack/damage parts)
  • ink that freezes and thaws is okay though, as long as the expansion doesn’t damage anything
QOTW: What’s your ultimate notebook and why? – (45:41)


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 30th, 2017|Goulet Q&A|29 Comments
  • Waski the Squirrel

    I like the B5 notebook size. It’s portable and fits my hand well, but it’s still big enough to be usable.

    For pure writing, I love the Kokuyo Campus notebooks.

    But, for note taking and mixed drawing and writing I’ve fallen in love with the Cognitive Surplus notebooks. They are fountain pen friendly, have beautiful covers, and come with one page lined and the facing page either blank or grid. Flexibility!

    • Shaavazul

      I’ve wanted to try the Kokuyo Campus notebooks, but I don’t want paper that’s too toothy. How does the paper feel to you?

      • Waski the Squirrel

        I don’t mind a bit of tooth, but it’s not too bad. It’s not smooth like Apica, but ok. There are also several grades of Kokyo paper, some of which are very smooth.

  • Lesley Schultz

    QOTW: That is so hard! For me the ultimate notebook depends on its purpose. For my lesson planning for school- Leuchtturm Master Slim in Dot Grid is the ultimate notebook. Plenty of space for planning, logs and notes for an entire school year, fits wonderfully in my laptop bag that I drag to my 4 different classrooms every day. For Personal Life/Journaling- Travelers Notebooks, Fits in my purse, has that rustic quality, and yet still offers plenty of freedom for expression. Then I usually use several of the Soft Cover Leuchtturm notebooks for making curriculum notes/single topic work things I am working on during a year. Of course in dot grid. Now if I can just decide on what pens I want to try and ink colors for my planning notebook, I’d be set.

    So question for the community. When you were starting out how did you go about finding the right pens for you? Did you try one of all of the economical ones? Did you like one so much that you generally stuck with it? Just curious on how the process went for everyone.

    • David L.

      Lesley, I just bought a pen and ink. I knew nothing about this kind of thing. No GPC, no brands (other than Montblanc), nothing. The pen I selected is not unlike the Daiso pens sold by the GPC. I bought it from A**z*n, not sure if I should put out the whole name or not ;). The brand was FreeCode, made out of rosewood, and it had no model name, so I call it the FreeCode Rosewood. After I got a Kaweco sport (third pen I believe) I tended to reach for it more often than the others, and I still do!

    • Shaavazul

      For pens, I pretty much go by looks.
      My first pen, Lamy Vista, I picked just because it was a recommended starter pen. Then I wanted to try another inexpensive pen that was a different as I could afford from the Vista. I picked a Jinhao x750. Piecing the experience from each pen I realized I really like lighter pens, broader nibs, and demonstrators. And that’s generally what I stick to. Though I do have some on my wishlist that don’t have those qualities.

    • Tom Johnson

      When I started out with fountain pens I had just flushed out my 1965 Sheaffer Lifetime gold nib pen (30 years since I last used it) and started using it. A 1996 issue of Pen World inspired me. I loved using it so much and looked for other fountain pens. My search for pens back then was limited to the ads in Pen World and catalogs from several store/mail order places. Almost no information: tiny low quality photos, a sentence or two of sketchy details. No reviews at all. I bought a Kaweco Sport (by Diplomat) and a Sheaffer Prelude by mail order. A Parker Vector from a drugstore. Later when I could visit web sites it was just as frustrating. The same tiny inch sized low quality photo on the computer screen (2 if I was lucky), a brief description with little information, no reviews. I bought a Vanishing Point that way, then a Monteverde, several Kaweco Sports, some Preppies, finally my Waterman Carene. One $100 pen that I would not have ever bought had information like Goulet provides been available to me (later sold for $50). I bought a Lamy Al-Star after I wrote with a co-worker’s and loved the way it wrote.

      Except for the Kaweco (which was $7.50 then), the Parker, and the Lamy, I did not explore the economical pens. Even the Preppies were used at work as highlighters and marking pens.

      Then I found Goulet Pens, the fog cleared out of my life, the sun rose in the sky – wonderful photos, videos, technical details, reviews – you know the drill. My pen world changed forever!! I do not buy from any one else today. Great question Lesley. Funny, one of those same mail order/on-line stores still has immensely sparse information about the pens they sell, along with the same tiny low quality photo, and no technical details. This store has been in business for many decades and has not changed at all (except to put the same sparse catalog information onto their web pages).

    • Lesley Schultz

      Great Answers All! I loved good paper first, i’ve been using Leuchtturms and Clairefontaines since college where they were available in the college bookstore. Online shopping was in its infancy when I was in college during the early part of this century.

      Recently got into the fountain pen, but to a certain extent I am overwhelmed by the choices. I am going to start on the inexpensive side of the scale, but I know eventually I will spring for something over $100. Part of what made me unafraid to take the jump were the great videos that the Goulets have done, and of course now that I have a couple, the vastly improved writing experience.

      • Tom Johnson

        Leslie, when you narrow your choices of $100+ pens down, look on the Bottom Shelf for a while. Some of my favorite gold nib pens have been on there at great prices, Pilot E95F and Platinum 3776 Century to name two. Never had a problem with Goulet’s Bottom Shelf items.

      • Uniotter

        Tom’s suggestion of the Bottom Shelf is a good one. I’ve bought several items that way, and only one was not exactly how I expected it to be. It’s a good way to buy the more expensive pens at a great value price.

        When starting out I bought whatever intrigued me, but I did stay with the more inexpensive ones for quite a while. Some of them I still love (Pilot Metropolitan, TWBI, Sheaffer Prelude), and some I’ve moved on from. The Goulet site is an invaluable resource, and so are forums like Fountain Pen Network.

        I think you should identify what’s important to you — in nib size or smoothness, filling mechanism, body material, style or appearance, diameter or weight, etc. — and then narrow down your choices based on that. Certainly some popular pens are not for everyone (for example, the Lamy style is just not for me, but I understand why so many love them), but the sheer variety out there means you’re bound to find a few that are perfect for you.

  • Thudthwacker

    Hm. Of *existing* notebooks, the notebooks I use most often are the Tomoe River TN inserts (both the Midori blank one, and the Goulet grid in garish green =). I wish the latter had as many pages as the former, but alas. Now, if we’re *dreaming*, I’d really love a 200+-page A5-sized Tomoe River insert, 6mm rule, which would fit in the A5 TN I’ve been considering getting; and also a similar insert with a 5mm grid. The former is for freeform journaling, the latter for my bullet journal.

  • Lisa Vierra

    Still working on the notebook thing. I, too, prefer the A5, and I have tiny hands. My favorite notebooks for style and paper are Apica. If they made a hard covered Apica with dot grid, I would be one happy notebook owner. I do use them for notetaking when reading and at meetings were lined aren’t obtrusive. Still, one of my favorite quotations from the Spanish poet Jimenez is, “if they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” I have been using the Leuchttrum A5 for the last year. Wasn’t crazy about the ghosting and some inks really spread on it. For instance, Diamine Denim in my Franklin-Christoph stock medium – not a good combo with Leuchttrum. So! On the way from Goulet, and I hope arriving today is an orange Web. I wish there were more color options. Will give that a go. I do carry a pocket size Moleskine with something like a watercolor paper. I can use watercolor in it and love it for artsy stuf in it, but not good for all around purposes. Below is my Leuchttrum. Can fit a fair number of stickers on the A5. And help with Goulet marketing! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3ace93909f106025734fed141ec28c57abd119fae85fcda9031731086b1d0935.jpg

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Hope you enjoy the Webbie, Lisa!

  • David L.

    Future Q&A question: Brian, you recently showed all of the successful Nouveau Premieres. Would you mind now going over the “failed” Nouveau Premieres, such as the “Banana Stand?” Also, if one could be the next seasonal Premiere, which would you choose?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Hahaha I will pass that along, David.

  • Shaavazul

    My go to notebook is the A5 for grid Leuchtturm. I just love their paper! And the price is pretty good for me. I just wish they had a version with no table of contents. It sounds silly since that’s a signature feature of their products, but sometimes I just want a plain notebook (with slightly wider ruling).

  • Tom Johnson

    Another great Q&A, some super questions. Q #7- a closed car in the summer sun can easily get well above 150 F inside. I would not leave any pen in a closed car in the summer. If you feel you have too, I would get a small cooler and put my pens in it to slow down the rate that they heat up. Eventually the pens will reach the car temperature, so this would only buy you some hours at best.

    QOTW – My notebooks are chosen for specific needs. My Travelers Passport chosen for every day carry, with planner, lined & blank inserts, zippered pouch, and several other accessories. I use Clairefontaine notebooks (spiral and other bound) for things like recipes, pen & ink logs. Rhodia dot, lined, & graph pads (love the perforated pages) for quick notes, pen club meetings. Several Apica and Goulet notebooks (for ink tests, cars, Nook Sinclair, etc.). My journal is not in a notebook, but in a large leather bound Italian book with heavy lined pages. But, if ultimate means the one I use the most and would not want to give up, it would be my Travelers (Midori) Passport notebook as it is with me constantly.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      The cooler is a really good idea, Tom. The car gets sooooo hot!

  • David L.

    QOTW: I have only used Rhodia thus far. I looked into a Traveler’s Notebook, but the price is a little daunting. A5 is typically what I opt for, but I will be getting a B5 soon.

    Question #7: As Tom said, a car can very easilly surpass 150°F. Especially where I live. Thus, I just bring my pens in with me when I leave the car.

  • MP

    I use a Leuchtturm A5 as well. I love the huge page count and color options and the paper is decent. I’m looking forward to my Hippo Noto arriving and giving that a whirl.

  • Mary Bucklew

    QOTW: My ‘Go-to” is an A5 Rhodiarama hard cover, lined, w/ wild and crazy zebra endpapers. I wish more people (like GPC) carried a full line of the Rhodiarama and their new larger “Heritage” collection. I own an A5 hardcover Leuchtturm (too much ghosting with FPs), Nanami’s The Writer, and the Cafe Writer, The Hobonichi and others, but my default is always the Rhodiarama (or Webbie, when I can’t find the color I like.) I do wish Rhodia did a numbered version, with TOC, but the trade-off for me stops when paper bleeds or ghosts. Deal breaker.

  • Uniotter

    QOTW: I don’t have one perfect notebook, it all depends on the purpose. For traveling I use the Goulet Notebook w/ 52gsm Tomoe River Paper – A5, Dot Grid (5.83 x 8.27) or the Clairefontaine Classic Staplebound Notebook – Lined (3.54 x 5.51). Both are lightweight (especially the Goulet…awesome) and fit in my backpack nicely. For writing down quotes I have a hardcover Tomoe River (one Goulet doesn’t carry). And for general scribbling or writing notes I like Rhodia’s No. 13 Notepad – Ice White, Lined (4.13 x 5.83).

  • effika

    My ultimate notebook is something Japanese B6-sized, about 100-150 pages, with sewn signatures, using fountain-pen friendly paper with a dot grid. B6 fits really well in all my bag pockets! I started bullet journaling with a no-name notebook I’d picked up at Barnes & Noble years ago– and it was perfect! I looked to replace it with something similar in size, and there isn’t much. I found the Stalogy Editor series, and it checks most of the boxes. I couldn’t stand the glued binding, though, so I went to the favorite LT1917. The 1917 is a bit large for my needs, but it has everything else.

    Of course, if it’s a notebook I’m using as a journal, give me something composition-book sized with lines at 7mm or so, with fountain-pen friendly paper. I often use something A5-sized as it’s easier to find notebooks with Tomoe River paper. I don’t mind cheap composition books from Office Depot, but every now and then I need to treat myself with Tomoe River!

  • Aidan Cutlan

    I have a camel Midori TN in passport size as my wallet. Zip pocket and grid insert. Perfect, and always handy for notes.

    In my jacket pocket I have the bigger TN in black, though I don’t use it much. And I make art books out of photographs and Moleskine Japanese style notebooks

  • Suzanne Jachim

    As with many of the others, I don’t really have a perfect notebook but will share some of my favorites: My Traveler’s full sized notebook, I love the refill of the thinner sheets. I write mostly with broad nibbed pens (Lamy Dialog 3), and the ink does not bleed through, there is a bit of ghosting, but no bleeding.
    2–Leuchtturm1917 white lines. I use this to track craft (knitting and lampworking) projects details. Good solid hard backed notebook, not too heavy, and since I add pictures to this one, very flexible.
    3– last one is the apica paper from Japan. Very happy with these notebooks, been using them for years. They have a premium notebooks, 96 pages, paper is somewhere between 24 and 28 lb, heavy slick paper. makes ink look spectacular, very slight ghosting with darker inks in my broad nibbed pens. I use these for school notebooks for lecture notes and research.

    I love the videos, and recommend you to all my friends when they are looking for writing instruments and paper, and ink.
    Suzanne
    Seattle WA

  • Mont Blanc sells these great nib cleaner things for $10 a pack (.http://www.montblanc.com/en-us/collection/refills/writing-accessories/110681-Nib-Cleaner-8-units-per-pack.html)

    They’re little nib-shaped pockets of felt or similar material and you slip the nib in, gently press and pull the nib out and — voila! — pristine nib. I also get a bit OCD about nib creep so I relate to that question. For people like us it’s worth the cost.

    Of course, if another company, say an online pen retailer in the U.S., sold a similar product I’d much prefer to buy it from them (hint, hint, nudge nudge). 😉

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      I will definitely pass that idea along for consideration 🙂

  • QOTW: I am a bit strange in that I prefer a bit of toothiness in my paper. I enjoy the light scratching sound writing a letter or journaling makes.

    Unfortunately, for me a spiral binding is a must, so I am constantly hunting down the elusive mid-size spiral Apica notebooks. The Mnemosynes are nice but the aeathetic of the cover is sooooo boring and blah.

    So for me, the search continues…

  • Yolande Webster

    FYI: There was some annoying sound static in this video.