In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about what he does with my fountain pens the most, step 1 when getting a new pen, and how we can objectively state which nibs are smooth or scratchy. Enjoy!

This week:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Weekend, etc
  • Write Nows this week with new product roundup on Monday, Goulet Grab Bag on wed, lots of fun
  • Let’s jump right into it!

Pens/Writing

1) christian.prentice93- Instagram (4:21)

What is the thing you do most with your fountain pens? Do you have a favorite activity involving your pens? (Journaling, Calligraphy, etc.)

  • With most of MY pens? Honestly, I reference them more than anything else
  • I write with them daily, but I’m not writing novels or anything, just meeting notes and stuff like that
  • I do journal, though I’ve fallen hard off that wagon recently
  • My favorite thing is just to pull them out, compare, reference, photograph, talk about them, show them in videos…I really love sharing about the pens and learning about them, that’s probably my favorite activity!

2) mindthebodynl- Instagram (8:57)

I have a Platinum 3776. I have been considering expanding my gold nibbed fountain pen collection by getting a Lamy 2000 or a Pilot VP. But later realized that getting one of these pens would not necessarily widen my collection in terms of writing experience that much perhaps, given that all three of them have relatively stiff gold nibs. What would be some options you’d recommend for a relatively affordable gold nibbed pen that has a more flexible nib than the Platinum 3776 (the Lamy 2000 and the Pilot VP)? #gouletqa

  • solid question, “deep track”
  • firstly, all the pens you mentioned here are rock solid, I’d recommend them any day of the week as they’re some of the best value and workhorse gold nib pens around
  • You can, on some of the 3776’s get soft nibs, and those are going to be a pretty different feel than the non-soft 3776
  • Shoutout to the 3776 Carnelian, dropped in price recently to $192, has a soft-fine nib
  • Lamy 14k two-tone gold nibs (basically everything but the 2000) is soft, wet, and great as an experience, you can get these on some Studio, Scala, CP1, Dialog 3, and individually and put them on any Lamy (but the 2000)
  • Pilot Custom 74, this is where it really stands apart from the VP, it’s got a spring to the nib
  • Pilot E95s, also a nice springy nib with even a little line variation
  • Pilot Falcon, the OG soft nib

3) Kimiko C- Facebook (21:22)

“What is step one when receiving a new pen? Flushing entire nib? With what? (I read there can be residual oils left on them!?) Do I then have to let it dry for 24 hours?”

  • Make sure you got the right stuff in your order
  • Give it a quick visual inspection, make sure there’s nothing damaged, not craziness going on
  • Every manufacturer will recommend cleaning the pen first
  • There are some manufacturing oils/residue/dust/swarf that happen in the making of a pen, and many many of them do clean the pens as they’re being made, but still, it’s a good idea to clean them first
  • Just flushing with water is okay, maybe add a little dish soap, then flush with clear water after to be certain if you wish
  • ink up, be patient as the feed saturates and begins flowing, assist it with a paper towel to wick ink from the nib
  • don’t tap it on the paper, you can “shake the ink down a bit”, but that can get messy
  • No, you definitely don’t need to let it dry for 24 hours, that’s something I really only recommend if you’re going to be storing the pen unused for a while (months)

4) Amy A- Facebook (34:42)

As a person fairly new to the fountain pen world, I find myself extra anxious about the cycle of filling the pen and cleaning it. Any advice on how to get over this anxiety/fear?

  • Watch our FP101 Pen Maintenance and other videos showing tips about how to do it
  • Cleaning them is one of the best ways you get to know them, how they work
  • Anytime you know something better, it demystifies it and you get more comfortable
  • Unless you do something crazy, you’re not going to hurt your pen filling and cleaning it!
  • Then just do it…they’re pens, don’t be afraid of them
  • The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll get, so you just have to sort of dive in and try it

5) Rung W- Facebook (39:13)

What are the pros and cons of heavy vs light-weighted pen? Why a person might prefer one over another?

  • They’re definitely a personal preference thing, so my pros/cons will not be set in stone, just generalizations
  • Heavier pens are good because:
    • Bigger pens are usually heavier, can be good for people with bigger hands
    • Some people associate weight with quality
    • Often made of durable materials like metal, stone, etc
  • Lighter pens are good because:
    • Less tiring for your hand when writing
    • Weighs down less in your pocket, less likely to fall out of a pen loop

Ink

6) Caroline F- Facebook (48:44)

Tell me about options for a red shimmer ink! There are a handful on Goulet and I’d love to know which one you like best.

  • The OG and my favorite is Jacques Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite, nice red/green/gold color
  • Diamine Red Lustre is up there in popularity too, red with gold shimmer
  • Diamine Wine Divine if you wanted a little more of a burgundy color, again with gold sheen
  • There are others if you go on our site, navigate to ink in the top navigation, then the sheening category, filter by reds on the left side of the page
  • These will be fun for holiday cards if you’re into that, but be aware some cardstock won’t show the shimmer so well, the more absorbent the paper, the less shimmer you see.

Troubleshooting

7) Curt A- Facebook (52:53)

I keep seeing complaints about “scratchy” nibs. It’s a term that needs some definition (and a discussion of causes) because there cannot be THAT many terrible nibs out there. What some people see as a “terrible, scratchy nib” might just be feedback to others. And of course, there’s the whole issue of writing angle and pressure.

  • yeah, this is tough! It is not a universally understood term
  • scratchy pretty much means “not as smooth as I want it to feel”, and often that can just be sort of normal feedback
  • our fingers are actually quite sensitive, I found the article A Handy Guide to Touch from Elise Hancock from Johns Hopkins Mag:
    • the human hand contains around 100,000 nerves, of 20 different types that serve different functions
    • twelve receive various touch sensations, including pressure, high and low frequency vibrations
  • I came across a multitude of scientific studies I didn’t really comprehend fully that essentially say the same thing, our fingertips are some of the most sensitive things in the animal world
  • so basically, it doesn’t take much for something to “feel” scratchy, especially with high frequency (is a scratching nib high frequency? I think so?)
  • as for exactly what point we can definitively say a nib is “too” scratchy, that’s up for debate, and not scientific, unless we’re talking about it creating some measurable degree of vibration in our hands…and that’s where my brain breaks
  • there is no perfectly smooth surface with a perfectly smooth nib, there is friction happening at some level, and scientifically, we would need to collectively agree at what point that amount of friction is causing enough vibration to cause discomfort
  • writing angle impacts it, the paper being used, writing pressure, writing speed, ink used (lubricant in it), and of course the nerve sensitivity of each individual would be wildly impactful
  • Bottom line, there is a scientific way to measure it, but I’m not qualified to do it! So until then, it will remain somewhat subjective and qualitative…

QOTW: On a scale of 1-10, 1 being really scratchy 10 being really smooth, where would you rate an acceptable level of nib smoothness for yourself? (1:06:38)

Write On,
Brian Goulet