In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about why bladder pens have disappeared, and what makes paper “fountain pen friendly”.

This week:


1) luis_leano- Instagram (11:50)

How do you clean textured pen grips such as the ones on the TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR or the Tactile Turn Gist without leaving small specs from a microfiber cloths or paper towels in the grooves?

  • this is a fairly unique feature, and one that’s probably coming up now specifically because of the 580 ALR
  • I haven’t been using mine daily, so I haven’t see it as an issue yet
  • I’ve used other pens like Tactile Turn that were way, way more textured, even
  • q-tips are a terrible idea
  • a toothbrush actually works really well, if you’re not weird about having one on you at work

2) arianas.father- Instagram (15:27)

Was there something inherently wrong with bladder style fountain pens that lead to the industry change to either cartridge/converter, vac/power filler or piston? In all my searching it seems that bladder style filling systems went away many years ago and now only vintage pens seem to have that style filling.

  • bladders are way less common now than they used to be
  • I’d better be careful with my wording here, there are some hardcore vintage pen folks that swear by their bladders!
  • I don’t know all the deep history, so please don’t take my word as bond on this particular issue
  • it’s my understanding that part of it was convenience, the rise of cartridges were meant to combat ballpoints
  • replacing a bladder isn’t hard, but required some effort and I suspect that led to part of it, too
  • bladders are prone to some of what eyedroppers are, less stability in the ink, blobbing and leaking can happen
  • ease of manufacturing, convenience of both use and repair, all contributed


3) isabellagobrien- Instagram (24:16)

What determines “fountain pen friendly” paper? I realize it’s relative but are certain weights or smoothness better for less bleeding or feathering?

  • you determine it, each and every one of you ;)
  • there are loosely defined properties of fountain pen friendly paper, but nothing set in stone or standardized across the paper industry
  • generally, it’s smoother, more ink-resistant, feather-resistant, bleed-resistant paper that’s thick enough to resist ghosting on the backside
  • paper weight is often the only numerical designation you’ll see, in “g” (grams), “gsm” (grams per square meter), gm2 (grams per meter squared)
  • 80g is where it starts to really mean something
  • the weight doesn’t mean it’s FP-friendly on its own, and it’s not a thickness measurement either, so not all 80g paper will perform the same!
  • sadly, I see few other designations that mean much of anything on the notebooks themselves
  • if a brand claims it’s ink-resistant or FP-friendly, that’s often an indicator it’s worth investigating, but it’s still sometimes a disappointment as everyone’s standards are different
  • smoothness, ghosting, dry time, all that other stuff is pretty much unreliable on the product markings themselves, so you have to rely on retailers or reviewers who’ve actually used the stuff and have created their own method of rating the paper quality!

4) r4ch4eld- Instagram (36:38)

Is a crack in the grip section (at the feed/nib end of the section) fatal, or can the pen be rescued?

  • eh….it ain’t good!
  • fountain pens are controlled leaks, and they operate under the relationship of air and ink interchange
  • a crack in the grip section will usually mean too much air will be allowed in, or too much ink out
  • some pens are designed with an independent nib housing that pretty much isolates the working mechanics of the nib/feed from the grip itself, but you will still run into issues when inking the pen as ink will get all up in that crack
  • you can try repairing it, if it’s a cheaper plastic pen, superglue or epoxy could do it (at your own risk!)
  • if it happened under normal use conditions (wasn’t dropped or abused at all) and it’s within the retailer’s return window, you can reach out
  • could be a warranty claim, it’ll all vary based on the pen and manufacturer
  • generally a crack in the grip means you’re gonna have to address it to keep the pen functioning properly

5) @Hogunyi- Twitter (43:15)

Is there a fix for the nib not being friction fit as tight as possible? One of my jinhao has a nib that will sort of shift every now and then.

  • that’s not super uncommon with some Jinhao nibs, or any brand if you’re swapping nibs a lot or removing them constantly to clean them
  • if it’s shifting as much as I’m thinking of, it’s enough to notice but not enough to really affect the way it’s writing
  • short of swapping out the feed (which is likely not worth the trouble on an inexpensive pen like a Jinhao) it pretty much is what it is
  • with plastic housings and feeds, there’s really not a whole lot of adjustment to be done there

QOTW: What pens do you wish you could love but just don’t? (46:29)

Writing Prompt: Write a 500-word short story with a surprise twist ending. (46:52)

Write On,
Brian Goulet