In this episode, I talk about the Platinum Procyon, applied patinas on metal pens, and resources and assets that got Goulet Pens off the ground. Enjoy!

This week:

Pens/Writing

1) @Aeronaute- Twitter 

Most vacuum fillers have a valve that seals, isolating the ink in the reservoir from the feed, which makes them great for airplanes. The Visconti double reservoir pens clearly do. It’s unclear if the single reservoir pens (e.g. the Bronze Age Homo Sapiens) do this? Can you say?

  • not every brand distinguishes if there’s a double or single reservoir, that’s kind of a Visconti thing
  • but no, my experience with the Bronze Age HS is that it doesn’t seal off the ink chamber, so you don’t see that same benefit as you would with the double-reservoir
  • on the plus side, you don’t ever have to unscrew the filler knob to write with it
  • I’ve flown with the HS before and a little ink might get on the nib, in the cap, but it’s nothing a quick tissue swipe in a hotel bathroom can’t fix easily

2) bitethehandd- Instagram 

Forgive me if this has been covered in another Q&A, but I’m eager to know your thoughts on the Platinum Procyon! I’ve been looking for a “next level” pen in the 40-100 $ price range that performs well, isn’t too traditional or “cigar”-looking in appearance, and of course writes reliably. Thanks so much to you and the whole Goulet team!

  • I would say the Procyon would fit your criteria here!
  • on the light side, not a heavy pen
  • seals well, writes reliably, nibs ground on the finer side
  • easy to fill with filler hole closer to the tip than most pens
  • posts securely
  • $66 MSRP ($52.60 at Goulet), converter not included ($8)
  • all around very solid pen choice if you’re looking for a next-level pen

3) suluboyayolculugu- Instagram

Does reverse writing damage the pen in any way? Is it sustainable to write reverse for long periods?

  • yes and no….with light pressure it can write just fine, but with heavy pressure it could be an issue
  • pens aren’t designed specifically to be written with upside down for extended periods, so they’re not always ground smooth on the top of the tip
  • you can write with it upside down for long periods, but it may not be quite as enjoyable a writing experience or flow the ink as smoothly over time
  • you can smooth out the nib in reverse position with micromesh if you desire (at your own risk)
  • it’s really up to you, it won’t hurt to try as long as you keep a pretty light-medium touch, see how you like it

4) Bryson B- Facebook 

With raw metal pens is there a way to safely speed up and or intensify the patina process besides just normal use? Thanks for all you do for our community!

  • the short answer is yes, and it gets way more complicated from there
  • it depends on the metal, as different ones will patina/oxidize/reach to different things
  • there isn’t a lot of info about doing this specifically in the pen world, but if you have a pen in solid brass, copper, silver, whatever, the rules should apply the same to whatever the bare metal is in your research
  • I first started learning about this from artist/craftsman David J. Marks, he has a DVD on gilding/patination that’s pretty amazing
  • you can get different colors, effects, based on the chemicals used to apple a patina (also called distressing) and the interaction with a specific metal
  • for example, copper: ammonium sulfide = blue-black, cupric nitrate = blue-green, ferric nitrate = yellow-brown
  • you can use different materials like cheesecloth, string, leaves, etc to apply chemicals to distress in a specific pattern, too
  • you can put the pen in a bag with chemicals to get a more even coverage, if you do that, take out the nib/feed/other parts as much as you’re able, try to just patina the specific metal
  • if you want to experiment with this, maybe try off a pen first, you can really have a blast
  • it’ll still patina over time, any applied patina you may want to seal with lacquer if you really like it and want it to keep

5) Savannah S- Facebook

Do you have a pen you keep in your car? I want to keep a Kakuno or something in mine, but then I’m afraid something unexpected will happen. If it’s not an eyedropper pen should it be fine?

  • I keep a Pilot G2 in my car, because it withstands the cold of Virginia winters and heat of Virginia summers
  • I always keep a fountain pen in my pocket so or in my backpack, so I haven’t felt a compelling need to keep one in my car
  • others that have, Platinum Preppy, Pilot Varsity do pretty well
  • something with a good sealing cap is pretty key, because it’s less temperature and humidity controlled then a building, and will endure more extremes
  • eyedropper is not really ideal, a C/C is the best way to go, or a vacuum with a shutoff valve but those aren’t cheap

Ink

6) @SomiAnimations- Twitter 

In unfortunate circumstances, my water bottle leaked in my bag and got my notes wet. I was able to salvage the situation but are there water resistant fountain pen inks you can recommend?

  • yikes! This is good as an example for when waterproof ink would be handy, since I get asked that sometimes, “why would anyone need permanent ink?”
  • we have in our menu (top navigation on desktop, hamburger on mobile) a sub-navigation of ink classified as water resistant
  • currently we have 202 different options there, though that includes bottled, cartridge, samples (103 bottles, for example)
  • we have to drill into specific ink colors to get to just how water resistant they are, and that’s where we’ve tried to do ink reviews with water tests (as secondary images on the product page), we don’t have all of them
  • in the product reviews, water resistance is something people rate, and if there are a decent number of reviews that can be fairly accurate
  • we have no definitive scientific way to say to what degree they’re water resistant, and it can vary with paper, too
  • Platinum Carbon Black/Pigmented Blue, Namiki Blue, Noodler’s Black, Noodler’s Eternal series, De Atramentis Document inks are some of the best, a great place to start

7) Justin G- Facebook

Would there be a way to indicate certain ink properties in an ink’s technical specifications section like spread and bleedthrough, or would that be too complicated to try to set up?

  • that would be great, but would be really hard to do definitively, especially because there are SO many variables (paper being a huge one)
  • if we standardized everything else (paper, writing implement, writing pressure and speed, etc) then we could probably come up with something consistent, but that’s a massive project to take on
  • we’ve considered putting it as an element in our product reviews for ink (which we could), but it would take quite a while for enough new reviews with these factors in there to accumulate, plus it’s VERY subjective so we’ve hesitated to do that
  • currently, reviews have dry time, shading, flow, water resistance, and value
  • we do get asked about it a lot, so we’ll keep thinking on it, we’re open to all ideas….

Troubleshooting

8) Kimberly R- Facebook 

I’d enjoy discussion of environmental factors, how they affect fountain pens, and some possible mitigations. I’m thinking of things like high elevation, low/high humidity extremes, very hot or cold climates, etc.

  • they do affect pens, to a degree
  • most of my understanding comes from qualitative data (hearing from others) not quantitative (scientific testing)
  • elevation, I honestly don’t know how it impacts when stationary
  • it does make a difference when ascending and the pressure changes, can force ink out of a pen (this is what happens when flying), can have a similar effect in a car when driving and going up thousands of feet
  • perhaps elevation affects flow of ink? I honestly don’t know, that’s about all I could envision it affecting
  • humidity makes a big difference in terms of your pen drying out, and dry time of ink on the page
  • more humidity = longer dry time, less ink drying in a pen
  • less humidity = shorter dry time, more ink dries in a pen
  • hot or cold, extreme heat isn’t great, but it’s more about changes in heat (really pressure caused by temperature swings) that are the issue, with pens burping/leaking
  • cold is an issue with freezing, especially pens left in cars in the cold, ink is water, it freezes
  • is barometric pressure a factor (ink flow changes with a storm coming?), maybe, but I don’t know that for sure
  • in sandy/salty environments, metal pen parts could corrode quicker (not just on pens but everything)
  • direct UV rays in any environment can cause discoloration and oxidation of pen materials, paper, ink, really everything! With prolonged exposure of course
  • That’s about all I can think of…

Business

9) cat.jeanie- Instagram

Business question: What resources and assets did you have before starting GP and what did you have to obtain (ex. Loans from banks/friends/family, equipment, etc.) in order to get the ball rolling?

  • when we started GPC in its current form we were 25, Rachel was 7 months pregnant, we had a mortgage on a house we’d bought that year, and a completely unprofitable pen making business we were transitioning over
  • the “assets” we had were a bunch of pen making equipment and supplies (which we either stored or sold at a loss), a crappy old PC that was killed by a virus a couple of months into operation, and under $3,000 in cash on which to do all our operations and purchase inventory
  • we had a personal camcorder that Rachel’s parents gifted us for the birth of our son, which we used for 5+ years in shooting our earliest videos
  • we ran everything out of our house, paid ourselves nothing, did everything ourselves, bought only enough inventory that we knew we’d sell it in 30 days or less, and reinvested everything
  • 5 months after we started selling FP stuff, while on maternity leave, Rachel quit her job, worked 10 hours remotely and we lived on that and a few thousand in savings we had
  • we didn’t eat, drive, go out, do anything recreational at all unless our parents treated, and we had zero social activities outside family at that time
  • we were 100% focused on getting Goulet Pens off the ground, it was truly make or break that first year
  • the only money we every borrowed was a little bit from my parents to place initial purchase orders for Diamine, Private Reserve, and a couple other brands over the summer of 2010, which we paid back in 3 months
  • since then, we’ve never borrowed a dime, we’ve always reinvested, established emergency funds, sinking funds, and saved saved saved
  • if we needed tables, we built them. We bought furniture at yard sales and Habitat for Humanity Restore or Goodwill. We’d hit up estate auctions, craigslist warehouse deals, etc to get things like shelving, office furniture, whatever we needed to operate
  • It wasn’t until we had probably 20 people in our company after 5 years that we would buy new furniture, because by then our team wasn’t as enamored with the $2 duct-taped desks as in the early days!
  • But we’ve always, always, always lived below our means, whatever that took, and we still do today even as our means are greater than they were in the beginning
  • when you have no choice, are driven by passion first, and don’t really care what others think, you can be very lean when starting your business!

 

QOTW: What characteristics (like ink bleedthrough or feathering) do you wish we had more clarity and distinction around on GouletPens.com? Pen specs, ink performance, paper qualities, anything? 

Writing prompt: Write out what you would do if someone gave you $1 million that could had to spend but couldn’t buy anything for yourself. 

Write On,

Brian Goulet