In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about proper writing position, great inks to read back, and the one thing he’d change about fountain pens! Enjoy.

This week:

  • Apollo 11 in the news, 50th anniversary!
  • offsite planning for leadership
  • continued ink sample sales, going on the whole month, cleaning/tuning sale
  • spending some time working with our kids (bagging converters!)
  • not a whole lot in the way of product launches this week

Pens/Writing

1) Mark L.- YouTube (4:01)

Also, what’s the deal with the numbers on the friction feeds? I’ve seen what look like the same feeds on several brands of pen, with various numbers on the underside.

  • honestly? they don’t mean anything significant
  • feeds aren’t something necessarily manufactured by the company making the nibs, or the pens
  • they’re just some kind of internal indication and I don’t know what they mean, perhaps there’s a purpose but I don’t think so

2) Savannah S- Facebook (9:12)

Will you ever do another exclusive BENU Hexagon? Because the Titan is glorious and I need another one Rachel has her hands in.

  • it’s certainly on the table
  • we’d have to think about what we’d want to see, they have so much crazy cool stuff out there already!
  • any ideas?

3) @LaySouls- Twitter (14:34)

I sometimes get sore when I write. I think that I never really learnt the correct posture for writing. What would be your tips or suggestions? (I am left-handed, it probably doesn’t help…)

  • one great thing about fountain pens is that they don’t need a lot of pressure, which is what usually causes cramping
  • fountain pens should write under their own weight, so no need to press
  • 45 degree angle
  • three finger grip (optional, of course)
  • as a lefty, you might be cramping because of your hand position, especially if writing hook handed
  • underwriter is the most comfortable, but I understand that’s hard to change
  • turn the page, make the paper conform to you
  • sit up straight, keep elbow at 90 degrees
  • rest ball of your thumb on the page, use a combination of finger, wrist, and arm movement
  • the larger the muscles you’re using when you write, the less tiring (but less control, so you need more practice)
  • Michael Sull’s book Art of Cursive Penmanship has some good stuff on this

Ink

4) Isabella R.- Email (23:41)

I used to fall for really vibrant, saturated inks (and still do), but find when reading back old notes, some of the duller and softer colors like Iroshizuku Ajisai are actually more pleasant to read back than the really dark or saturated ones. Funny how tastes can change! Which inks do you think offer the best read-back?

  • This is a great point to bring up, especially with the popularity of vibrant, shimmering and high sheening ink
  • 10 years ago when I was just getting into fountain pens there were fewer options for really vibrant colors
  • I would use more subtle ink, like Herbin, and really appreciated the “read back”
  • for things like journaling and letter writing, I really do think the subtle inks are nice, especially on white paper
  • off white paper is even better for read back
  • Herbin Poussiere de Lune, Lie de The, Pilot Iroshizuku (many of them), Pelikan Edelstein, RnK Salix and Scabiosa, Noodler’s Lexington Gray
  • It’s totally a matter of personal preference, but it’s worth considering the read back when writing with stuff you may re-read!

Paper

5) Michael B- Facebook (32:34)

Can you explain how the weight of paper helps or impacts how fountain pen friendly it is. I know different inks will react differently, but I get lost when I see a sheet has so many grams. For example Rhodia paper has 80g and 90g paper, but how much does the extra 10g actually help? I am trying to understand the correlation so I can find copy paper that may be fp friendly at work.

  • this is a little confusing if you’re not neck deep in the world of paper!
  • it’s a measure of paper weight, not necessarily thickness (though there’s a correlation) or fountain pen friendliness
  • 80g is a pretty good standard if the paper’s good, 90g is better, more of a standard with fountain pens
  • what I’ve found with copy paper is (in the US), it’s tough to find anything that’s a good indicator as to how FP friendly it is advertised on the packaging
  • laser printer paper is better than inkjet paper, for sure
  • 24 LB is okay, 28-32LB is better
  • price can usually be an indicator of how good it is
  • try to get acid-free, pH-neutral if at all possible
  • HP 32lb Premium Laser is some of the best stuff I’ve bought by the ream at an office supply store, though it’s been a while for me!

Personal

6) Armando U- Facebook (42:33)

If you had the power to change one thing about all fountain pens (such as getting rid of proprietary cartridges) what would you change?

  • getting rid of proprietary cartridges is a HUGE one, for sure! That might be it for me
  • being able to fully disassemble every pen would be awesome, either without tools or with them included (that’s a very specific personal preference for me, though, not ideal for everyone)
  • having standardized nibs across brands would be really cool too, but I like having different nib styles and designs though

Business

7) Chrystalyn R- Facebook (46:11)

As I’ve been broadening my experience and exposure, I’ve realized that the sorting and filtering available for shopping on the Goulet website is WAY beyond what is available on most other sites, and really fairly unique. Comparatively, some sites really look like they haven’t been updated in design since the early 2000s. Has that been an active decision for your business, to choose to develop those additional features, and if so, why? In extension, I can easily imagine that web design actually has an impact on traffic and business, do you feel that it is an investment you’ve made that pays off in driving your business?

  • that’s great feedback to hear!
  • website work takes a lot of commitment, there’s no question
  • we’ve devoted so much time and money to the several versions of our site over the last 10 years, it would probably shock you
  • the standards change a lot, so we have to be constantly updating, bug fixing, testing, improving in order to keep it current
  • it’s been a focus and commitment for us to have a great site, mainly because it’s a part of our company’s mission “To provide fountain pen enthusiasts with the most personal online shopping experience through comprehensive education, exemplary service, and products we believe in.”
  • online shopping and exemplary service weigh heavily into the site UX
  • it is an investment that’s paid off, because it’s our sole storefront, our single sales channel, so it has to be great
  • it’s not the only thing, we do a ton of education-based marketing, great photography, customer service, excellent packaging, product offering, it all comes together to make for a great customer experience, but the site is a huge part of that
  • Rachel is a huge driver for our site, it’s her baby, she is the liaison with our web developers who we have working continually on new features for our site
  • recently we rolled out color swatches on products that have other colors available in the same model, that was all custom code for our site

QOTW: If there was one thing you could change about fountain pens, what would it be? (50:36)

Writing Prompt: Write about where you were when you watched the moon landing or some other significant global event happen in your youth? (55:49)

Write On,
Brian Goulet