In this Goulet Q&A episode, Brian talks about aluminum nibs, blindfolded pen tests, and how we part ways with brands. Enjoy!

This week:

 

Pens/Writing

1) nitnelav1994- Instagram (22:25)

When people talk about “tuning” a fountain pen, what does that mean?

  • This refers to the nib, and means a couple of different things
  • One purpose of “tuning” is to allow the nib to write smoothly, it has to do with the feel on the page as you write
  • the other has to do with ink flow, consistency and wetness
  • reshaping the nib is generally referred more as “grinding”, which falls into repair or customization, generally a step beyond “tuning”
  • tuning is a term the community uses in a couple of different ways, either referring to getting a nib to work well when it doesn’t, or just adjusting it to meet a personal preference, such as writing smoother or wetter
  • this is something that at the simplest levels can be done by anyone, but more complexity is added the more specific you try to get

2) frijoldelsol- Instagram (25:50)

Why aren’t there any aluminum nibs? There seems to be a large number of aluminum alloys but no aluminum nibs.

  • aluminum has about the same bending strength as gold, significantly less than steel, so that could possibly work
  • aluminum won’t rust but corrodes in particular with salt, which is a component of ink
  • corrosion hugely increased with basic or acidic contact, which many inks are
  • this is the exact reason why you don’t want to eyedropper convert pens with aluminum-lined bodies inside
  • more difficult to weld, so likely would have more issues keeping the bond with the tipping material
  • Vintage pen experts may know of some pen companies that tried aluminum nibs (surely this was something tried in the past) but there’s a reason you don’t see them around, I’m willing to bet

3) angkevinli- Instagram (31:05)

If you were blindfolded, could you tell the difference in writing between a gold and steel nib?

  • that’s a fun question! I don’t know, surely with some pens, but maybe not with others
  • some gold nibs are rather stiff, like Platinum, Lamy 2000, etc
  • some steel nibs are softer, Omniflex, Diplomat Magnum
  • I’m sure I could likely tell the difference far more than your average person, but I’ve never tried this so I honestly don’t know how I’d do!
  • This sounds like a fun idea to try, I’ll think on it some more and maybe test it with Drew in Write Now 🙂

Ink

4) @mchapman18- Twitter  (33:01)

Do you feel that the ink market has become over saturated? I feel like there’s been an explosion in manufacturers and special editions since I first started paying attention. This is good for the consumer but are people buying enough ink for retailers and manufactures to profit?

  • It definitely has exploded in the last several years
  • We’ve increased our offering a lot (and dropped a lot, too)
  • existing brands have increased their lines
  • new companies have come on the scene
  • pen companies with existing lines have come out with whole new ones (Lamy Crystal, Pilot Iroshizuku, Pelikan Edelstein)
  • more companies are doing ink with LE/SE pens
  • more special edition inks in general
  • shimmer inks, sheening inks
  • this has been something really over the last 20 years that’s grown so much, really ramping up in the last 5 years
  • it’s great to see, but yes, I would say certainly we’re starting to hit some walls, similar colors cannibalizing each other, entire lines losing marketshare, it’s becoming much more competitive
  • it’s supply and demand, I do think there’s enough room for everyone right now (especially globally), but certain markets will surely do better or worse for some brands

5) akorb1987- Instagram (38:44)

Are Diamine InkVent Calendar inks going to be on sale individually?

  • good question, I don’t know yet
  • certainly if there are colors that really rise to the top, they’d consider it, so keep that feedback flowing!
  • what should we vie for?

Paper

6) unjuanequis- Instagram (40:14)

Can paper lose its coating? I have some Fabriano pads that feather a lot, unlike previous pads, same line

  • I’m sure it can somehow, but I don’t really hear of this regularly
  • sometimes hand oils or other environmental factors can obscure the coating impacting how the ink is absorbed
  • more likely, you’re dealing with batch variation from pad to pad, that is much more common
  • I don’t know anything about Fabriano’s production process, or how consistent they are
  • I do know that consistency of paper is most noticeable with fountain pen ink, and is an issue with many notebook brands who aren’t absolutely adamant about the paper’s consistency

Personal

7) andrej.rusakov- Instagram (43:54)

How’s it going?!

  • good, I’m really good. Pretty busy, but I like that. Trying to manage my stress, balance a lot of priorities, but I’m just super grateful for everything I have and get to do. Thanks for asking

Business

8) journaltimesimagination- Instagram (44:28)

When you guys stop selling a brand, do you sell it until you run out or do you get rid of it in other ways?

  • it can depend on the circumstance:
    • the manufacturer changes their distribution strategy, stops retail and wants to sell direct, or drops their pen line altogether
    • the manufacturer goes out of business
    • it’s a poor seller for us and there’s not enough customer interest to support the brand in our store, so we drop it
    • it’s an okay seller and there is demand, but the logistics are so challenging we just can’t justify it
  • there are a couple of different ways we could go about it all
  • we are authorized retailers for all our brands, so we always want to be on good graces with our brands, even on the way out
  • most of the time we’ll just sell through what we have until we run out, offering as much support as we can, and not making a big stink about it out of respect for the brand’s impact
  • we’ll offer for the brand to buy back our stock if we have enough to justify those logistics, so we don’t sit on it forever or flood the market with discounted product
  • if they don’t want it back, we’ll try to move it along with a clearance price discount, but then ongoing support/returns aren’t feasible on our end
  • we haven’t tried anything much more creative than that, like selling to another retailer directly or dumping it on a marketplace under a different identity
  • we want to stay on the up and up, try to be graceful on the way out with any brand we are parting ties with
  • this industry is small, and you never know when a brand you’ve part ways with could come back around

QOTW: What are your thoughts on the current state of ink offerings? Is it oversaturated? Where are there gaps in ink offerings? (51:50)

Write On,
Brian Goulet