Goulet Q&A Episode 192: How To Hold A Pen, Grey Inks, and Making Advanced Pen Videos

In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about how to hold a pen, what’s up with grey inks, and advanced pen videos.

This week:


1) ammshorb- Instagram (18:41)
I’ve heard you can use the TWSBI mini nib units on the classic, is this true?

  • yes and no
  • you can remove the nib from the grip and swap it, yes
  • the feed is delicate, so be cautious
  • the nibs themselves are the same size
  • it’s a “hack” to be able to swap them, and technically you can
  • TWSBI wouldn’t love me saying you can do that, because you’ll likely go to them if you break something, so take that disclaimer with it

2) Dawn L- Facebook (23:45)
Which pen brands need a modified bulb syringe to clean/flush the pen?

3) aboutthatbook- Instagram (29:57)
Hi! I’m new in fountain pens and I’m coming from the dip pen hobby. I was wondering if there’s a right way to hold the fountain pen (like dip pens). Btw, love the videos and the blog. I’m learning so much, so thank you!

  • there’s no one perfect way to hold it, everyone has a different style
  • generally speaking, holding the pen at about a 45 degree angle with a three-finger grip, writing with little pressure
  • place the heel of your hand on the paper, and use a combination of wrist and arm movement to make your letters
  • the most important thing is to not over-rotate the pen, and don’t write with hard pressure

4) timeheldmegreen- Instagram (36:13)
Is the Invincia a good pen? I’ve seen mixed reviews and hubby wants one for Christmas

  • it’s good for some, less so for others
  • I’ve always been a fan, it tends to be more of a big-handers pen, a gentleman’s pen if you will
  • being completely honest, some people don’t like the slick grip, and the nibs can run a little dry
  • Yafa has a good warranty, we’ll totally back it up, but it’s just kind of how these pens are
  • if it’s for casual writing and more of a desk pen, and your husband likes it, then go for it
  • it’s been Monteverde’s mainstay pen for probably 10+ years now

5) m_moulvi- Instagram (39:26)
Will the new Lamy Aion nibs be available for separate purchase?

  • not at this point
  • I wouldn’t suspect so, it’s a lot of extra distribution globally for a slight aesthetic
  • they will swap with standard Lamy nibs
  • I’ll ask in Germany!

6) Christopher F- Facebook (41:09)
I’m thankful that you took the time to do your Fountain pens for newbies, next level and gold nib videos, as they were contributing factors for me getting into the hobby. I’m curious though, would you be willing to do an Advanced level video?

  • awesome! glad you love them
  • most definitely, I would have to think about what that looks like
  • what “advanced” pen knowledge would you like?
  • we’ve definitely talked about redoing Fountain Pen 101, that will happen
  • Andi’s here and we’re already talking about it

7) Lindsey B- Facebook (47:10)
What is up with Grey inks? I’m a recent fountain pen addict and I’ve noticed a ton of varying levels of grey inks. Is this a color bought by artists or do people actually want that look as they write? I would think people would want to shift away from a graphite kind of look since they are using a pen unless they are doing art. Thanks for your videos. I’ve binged probably a good 90% of them.

  • haha, right?
  • Grey inks have ebbed and flowed in popularity
  • part of the appeal is they’re understated, more subtle
  • nice grey inks will shade, that’s a lot of it
  • some will look close to graphite, true, and some people really like that because they like the look of pencil but like writing with a pen better
  • the honest truth is I don’t 100% know, I like grey inks, don’t end up using them a whole ton
  • Earl Grey was chosen by the Fountain Pens subreddit as the color they wanted, Diamine opened it up to other retailers like us, it’s been popular!
  • It might be worth trying some samples of it if you’re curious
  • Diamine Earl Grey, Diamine Graphite, Noodler’s Lexington Gray, J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey, Noodler’s El Lawrence
QOTW: What pen do you most regret not acquiring when you had the chance? (53:57)

Write On,
Brian Goulet

2017-12-01T16:36:15+00:00 December 1st, 2017|Goulet Q&A|20 Comments
  • Jane Reed Wilson

    Great video! Hope you are having a great time in Germany! I’d like to respond to the Grey ink question – I am an artist, and I wanted a grey ink for drawing that would look like graphite or pencil. There is a softness that I like about that. I am using Kaweco Smokey Grey (you didn’t mention, but do sell) in a Kaweco Skyline Sport Grey pen. I carry that and my sketchbook with me in my purse. Looking forward to trying the other grey inks you mention. – Jane W

    • _s_s_miles

      As an artist, you might try (or may have already) Melancholic Gray by Bungubox (aka Bung Box in the US, a specialty line of Sailor Jentle). I’m fairly sure GPs doesn’t carry it, but’s it’s a gorgeously shading grey that can be laid down in a broad spectrum of light to dark, and washes well too.

      • Jane Reed Wilson

        Thank you – I have not tried Melancholic Gray, but will keep an eye out for it! I love shading.

        • Robin Mosenfelder

          I think Anderson’s pens carries Sailor inks..bought 2 bottles when I was in Appleton, WI

  • Tom Johnson

    Great video and good info this week Brian. QOTW: the pen I most regret not getting is the 2015 Winter Nouveau Premiere Majestic Pine. I was looking back at some of the old blog postings and saw the announcement for that pen. At the time I had not bought an Edison pen, but had been following you for over 2 years, but that flake green is just magnificent. I’ll always regret not getting that pen. Over a year ago I had regretted not getting one of the ebonite Nouveau Premiere pens before, then I got the last Winter’s edition – Arctic Currents ebonite and love it. So, here’s hoping next week’s Winter Edition will surpass my love of Majestic Pines!

    Q# 2: one way around using a bulb syringe on the pens you mentioned without cutting one off is to cut the back end of an empty cartridge off, then insert the tip of the syringe into the modified cartridge in the pen. This works well with Sheaffer cartridges.

    Q# 7: I love Lexington Gray, but it is lighter than I like in some pens. I plan to add a tiny bit of Noodler’s Black to it for use in fine nib or drier writing pens. Maybe 5% or so. I love the way it looks in my broader and wetter writing pens, a charcoal gray. And El Lawrence does look like old motor oil, I love it. Well behaved, shows some green fluorescence under UV, and is office safe. I always have a pen or three inked with El Lawrence.

    Have a great trip to Germany and Lamy, looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back.

  • jane pilecki

    QOTW: my local pen store had an OMAS 360 Arco brow3n that I saw, handled and realized ti was the most comfortable and gorgeous pen I had ever seen. I kept thinking I might buy it. But the price was over $1200. Still a good price for that pen. But I had trouble justifying that much money for a pen. And if my mother ever found out, she would be so disappointed in me. (I am 59 years old, but I know my mother is usually right about things. I could not afford it.)) Then, when I thought I was ready to purchase it, OMAS went out of business. I went to the pen store, and it was gone. Someone who could afford it bought it. I’m sorry, on one hand, that I didn’t buy it. It was the perfect pen. But on the other hand, I really could not afford it. But, I would love to have any OMAS 360 in the larger size. It is a brilliant pen.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Oh man! That must have been a bit heartbreaking. I’ve had experiences like that, but I always tell myself it wasn’t meant to be and clearly it just means that I had to leave room for something else more fitting to happen.

  • Larina

    Thanks for another great Q&A! For next week, or just in general, I was wondering, are there any companies that offer unconditional lifetime guarantees with their pens, specifically for gold-nibbed pens under $500?

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      I will pass this question along 🙂

  • kevin-landon@comcast.net

    The pen I regret not purchasing when I had the chance was the special edition 2006 of the Lamy Safari that was a French Blue color with a Red Clip. It now sells for so much above its MSRP, from $120 on the low end to around $600 on the high end.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      That does sound very nice. So sad that it’s so expensive now.

  • pepperpath

    QOTW: Edison Herald (the red one) I have the other two and Edison Hudson. Also the Delta pen with the special orange resin or celluloid that you sold a few years ago. Safe journey!

  • _s_s_miles

    Have fun in Heidelberg! I was actually in that area just last week on a performance/lecture/demonstration tour of universities & conservatories on new techniques of combining Braille & trad. notation in teaching music to the blind. I’ve moved on to Munich & Salzburg, & leave for Vienna in a few hours. (It’s a tough life, I know…)

    3) By the way, did you know the proffered 30° forward slant in penmanship you mentioned was actually first seen in music notehead notation, BEFORE in appeared in handwriting? It’s done to give the musician a sense of impetus, of pushing forward through the phrase.

    6) I’d love to see some adv. vids on nib grinding and repair!! Especially as YOU are also learning – that would be awesome.

    7) I love grey inks because of a) the shading, b) I stick to ivory or cream papers and I think the grey just looks better than black on the off-whites, and c) I LOVE the Japanese tradition of using grey ink when writing letters of condolence or deep sadness, emulating the writers tears washing out the black ink as they write – it is beautiful imagery and reminds me of why the tradition of non-electronic correspondence MUST be preserved.

    QOTW) The Visconti Red Divina Oversize LE. I couldn’t QUITE afford it, and when I could… poof, all gone.
    [pssst – hey, Brian: I just so happen to posses an Omas 360 turquoise demonstrator, IF you’d be interested in a swap of some sort…wink-wink, nudge-nudge 😏🖋]


    Brian, I hope you have a blast in Germany especially at Lamy.

    In response to the QOTW I have three pens that I regret not being able to get. Both are Edison Nouveau Premiers. Fall 2015 Midnight Thunder and Fall 2016 Autumn Embers. One of them I had signed up for the alert and never received it so I just outright missed out on the pen and it sold out quickly. Well actually both of them sold out rather quickly. Seems to be a regular occurrence with the Fall editions. I was able to get this years on the first run and out of the four I have it is my favorite. The third pen I missed out on was the Visconti Homo Sapiens London Fog. I
    thought that it was a really sharp pen and I was ready to raise the bar on my pen collection but at that time my wallet was not.

    Keep up the awesome work Goulet Team.

    • Lydia At Goulet Pens

      Those Premieres can be so elusive when they are a popular color. I’m sorry for the technical difficulties with the email notifications.

  • Melinda Smith

    QOTW: I regret not picking up the Pilot VP Twilight, the Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma, and if I can’t save up enough $ for it, the Visconti Luna.

    Have a great time in Germany!

  • David L.

    Great Q&A! This comment may be too late to be noticed, but I’ll make it anyway.

    QOTW: The Cobalt Nouveau Premiere. I had been thinking of getting one for a few months and then when I went to buy it, it was gone! I was baffled by this oddity. Now I sit regretting that I hesitated.

  • Yolande Webster

    The Nock Sinclair Spa Blue/Lime Green pen case looks like it was made for tween girls.

  • Cindy

    Hope you had fun in Germany Brian! I wish I had purchased a Twilight VP. Like your example, I did not realize how much I would love vanishing points! I also wish I would have purchased the Edison premiere Bonfire. I purchased another pen from you instead & am not as fond of it. It is a case where I wish I could have held first. (I am a very tactile person and it is not as smooth as I would have hoped. It writes great – I love Pilots & it is a Stargazer but the pen body is not very smooth with lots of bands, ends, rings etc). The patterns in the bonfire looked amazing! Plus there are a couple of Viscontis that are WAY out of my price range!