In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about highlighting over fountain pen ink, balancing work and marriage at home, and the craziest pen material he’s seen!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) Vasmeth- Twitter (14:44)

What in your opinion has been the most novel or surprising material used for a fountain pen? Are there any materials that you want to see more fountain pens being made from? #GouletQA

  • I’ve seen some cool stuff!
  • Many commercial manufacturers make some interesting materials
  • Carbon fiber, ancient woods, celluloid, urushi lacquer, stuff like that
  • Some of the most interesting things are coming from independent craftspersons because they don’t have to make things commercially efficient, just one-offs
  • Back in my pen making days I saw all kinds of cool materials being used for pens, like antler and horn, stone, and other natural materials
  • some of the most interesting I ever saw was using cast resin material, such as “worthless wood”, circuit boards, watch parts, wood or metal shavings
  • By far the most surprising one I ever saw was cast resin cat turd (I kid you not), though to be fair it wasn’t on a fountain pen (though it could have easily been made into one)
  • I love resin castings and unique color patterns and combinations, it’s difficult to mass produce though, which is why it’s so appealing
  • wood and resin combos make my heart sing….they’re a HUGE pain to make and are not that stable in pen form, so you never really see them, but that’s what I’d love to see (for the right price, of course)

2) Jenn M.- Facebook (21:12)

I really love the shape and look of the Visconti Vertigo. It is like a ”poor man’s” Opera Master. However I haven’t heard much about it and would be curious to see it featured in a Write Now or a quick feature with your input on the writing experience on Q and A. The pen is just expensive enough that I don’t feel comfortable buying it without a little more info.

  • Yes, this one came out right when our website really picked up speed! So we haven’t covered much of it so far
  • It’s pricey for a steel nib, not question, makes it a “brainer”, what I call “not-a-no-brainer”
  • The resins used are reminiscent of some of the Visconti Opera models they were known for maybe 10 years ago, a little before my time with Visconti
  • These resins are a little more ubiquitous today with companies like Edison, Monteverde, and others, but Visconti was one of the earlier brands to make a lot of outstanding vibrant resins
  • The faceting is interesting- tapering squared circle
  • Cartridge converter, which I don’t mind, very easy to clean (and for this pen that’s what I like, changing inks a lot)
  • the nib is the most unique thing, it’s a new design
  • has a combination of steel and gold, so it writes like steel
  • anyone who remembers the Delta Fusion there was some eyebrow raising around the science of how those metals affect ink flow, Delta claimed it improved flow
  • I don’t think Visconti’s making a firm claims on that, but I’m sure the conversation around it will be found around the internet
  • I don’t have scientific evidence to say if gold and steel together affect flow
  • what I can say is this nib writes really well, flow is smooth, nib is stiff and not springy but is very smooth writing
  • They call it the Precision Touch (to fit in with their DreamTouch and SmartTouch)
  • It’s a very solid-feeling pen, and will be a reliable writer because there aren’t a lot of parts to it, cap is straightforward, and it’s not as big and heavy as the Opera Master
  • It’s pricey, but if it is in your price range, I do think it’s worth considering because it’s a well-made pen
  • We’re looking to do a full review of this pen soon, Andi and I are working on that over the next few weeks as we learn our new equipment and test out a new video setup we’re experimenting with

Ink

3) narundil- Instagram (31:30)

How can i tell the difference between a fast drying wet ink and a slow drying dry ink? GPC rocks!

  • is there a difference? 😉 It’s subjective of course
  • In my view, a fast drying wet ink is what I’d call most “fast dry” inks like the Noodler’s Bernanke, or maybe the De Atramentis Document inks
  • Ink comes out generously, line it broad and dark, but the ink absorbs into the paper quickly and doesn’t smear right away
  • slow drying dry ink might be more like some of the heavy shimmering inks,  one that is very saturated in color, doesn’t gush out of the pen, but sits on the page for a while and smears after it’s sat there a while
  • they might have trouble in finer nibs
  • many of the dry writing inks I’m thinking of right now aren’t necessarily slow drying too, these may be a little more rare, I feel like most of the properties that cause pens to write dry also help them dry faster on the page…

4) crystal.morrissey- Instagram (34:51)

I am super new to fountain pens. I have a Lamy Safari (1 month) and Pilot metropolitan (3 days) I use Leuchtturm 1917 to bullet journal in daily and as much as I LOVE these pens I’m losing my mind with ink bleeding and trying to find a highlighter I can use with them- as much as I’m excited to slowly dive in and learn I need a short term solution…I’ve already tried dry highlighters…what’s the next best step? Waterproof ink? Any recommendations?Thanks!!!

  • Waterproof ink will definitely help, especially Platinum Carbon Black or the other Pigmented inks and De Atramentis Document inks, iron gall inks work well too, I hear
  • Noodler’s permanent inks may be hit or miss as they can take longer to be fully permanent, but I head success with Heart of Darkness, Liberty’s Elysium, Lexington Gray, even Baystate Blue
  • You’re essentially ink washing at this point
  • I’ve heard of highlighter pencils, Faber-Castell has some (we don’t carry them)
  • Highlight under the word instead of over it (better for photocopies anyway)
  • Highlight first then write over it (if you know what you’re trying to highlight, like in a bullet journal)
  • Truth be told, I haven’t done a ton of experimentation here, but there’s a good Goulet Nation thread about it here.

Business

5) hypurrtext- Instagram (40:42)

I know you guys do special orders for things you could carry but don’t keep in stock, but I’ve never heard you talk about how to go about special ordering or what all information you’d need to special order products. What’s the process and pricing (is it about 20% off of MSRP like the ones you do stock or is it full MSRP) on special orders? And is there anywhere you know to find US product catalogs with marked suggested retail prices? I’ve found the list of pens Platinum carries in the US on one of their sites, for instance, but it doesn’t include prices.

  • We HAVE done special orders before, but we don’t offer them consistently
  • Right now we’re in more of a holding pattern on them
  • The truth is, they’re always complicated and kind of a rough customer experience, because stocking issues are so inconsistent
  • Especially if it’s something we don’t regularly carry, we have no idea what the stock availability is for any given product
  • We always have to verify if it’s something we even CAN get, which is tough because half the time an inquiring customer wants to know what their options are, so we have to inquire about a variety of related items, which we sometimes know little about
  • By the time we see if it’s even available, we then quote out a price, which can vary but we usually try to keep it in line with what we’d charge if we carried it regularly, which varies by brand and product type
  • Once we get a commitment, we put the order then, then it’s a waiting game to see if we even get it
  • If we do, we have to make sure it’s the right thing, as sometimes it’s not…mistakes happen, and it seems that no good deed goes unpunished with special orders…it attracts the weirdest of mistakes
  • If it ALL works out, a couple of weeks later we get it in and a customer’s happy, assuming it’s actually to their expectations (which it may or may not be, because it’s all based on expectations they got from somewhere else, not us)
  • Then if they return it, what do we do with it?
  • If everything works out perfectly, it’s a great offering, but it’s much more rare than regular for things to work out perfectly
  • We may strategically offer special orders, but it’s something we’ve definitely leaned away from in recent years and I can’t promise we’ll bring it back with any regularity, unfortunately!

Personal

6) dcgaryg- Instagram (47:16)

Are there any pens you first disliked that grew on you over time? I really didn’t like my TWSBI 580 when I first got it. Then, months later I picked it up again and appreciated it. Now it’s a daily carry.

  • TWSBI Eco’s cap, I still don’t love it the most but I love the body so much I don’t care, I use it a lot
  • I didn’t love the Lamy Safari at first, but it’s REALLY grown on me, especially with the matte finishes they’ve done recently
  • Traveler’s Pen, it’s not that I disliked it but I was very ambivalent because pocket pens aren’t usually my thing, but I freaking love it
  • Lamy Lady, I thought it looked ridiculous and now it’s one of my most unique and beloved pens
  • Truth be told, I am a pretty excitable person and I end up genuinely liking way too many pens, so there’s not often a lot I really dislike!

7) Denise D.- Facebook (53:34)

I’m curious as a small family business owner, do you ever find yourself taking about work at home and/or other times that are usually reserved for non business talk? Does it ever seem like’the Camera & your thoughts about work are always On’? How do you keep yourself from seeing something beautiful and NOT thinking “wow, that’d be an awesome ink color!” Or, “Goulet should market their own brand of…”. What are your thoughts about Paper & Pen (&ink too) leaking into Private time & (family) Playtime?”

  • I’ve been working with my wife for 10+ years now, and we have two kids
  • Work and kids are pretty much what we have going on in our lives, so that’s pretty much what we talk about!
  • We joke about the fact that we see the world in terms of pen and ink, especially colors
  • We totally talk about paint and fabric colors by ink color name as if it’s completely normal, like we’re speaking in code
  • We’re both very driven, creative, and we share our work together so it comes up a lot in our personal life
  • But we do recognize that sometimes we’re just done talking about that, and we’ll focus on our kids, their interests, our parenting techniques, other family members, etc
  • It’s really just a matter of communicating and finding a balance you’re comfortable with
  • No one can tell you what that is for you, you have to discover it and keep that open dialog
  • Rachel and I lean heavy on the work talk, but that’s what we love and we enjoy sharing every minute together possible, that’s just us
  • You shouldn’t feel like it’s right or wrong to do the same, you gotta do you!

QOTW: Do you ever find yourself referring to things in the “real” world in terms of pen or ink? Any good stories around that? (59:32)

Writing Prompt: Write a thank you note to a member of your family or a close friend for something they did in the last week that meant a lot to you. (59:55)

Write On,
Brian Goulet