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February 29, 2012

Clairefontaine Clairing Disc Bound Notebooks

We’re big fans of disc bound notebooks and the flexibility that they allow, so we made a special effort to import from France some notebooks from the Clairefontaine Clairing collection. If you’ve never used disc bound notebooks, what makes them so special is the ability to easily add or remove pages and creatively re-order and organize your notebook pages whenever and however you want. All of the Clairefontaine Clairing notebooks that we have on hand at the moment are A4 size, and each one has a different type of rule – graph, graph with margin, lined with margin and French ruled. I think it would be fun to get a few Clairing notebooks with different kinds of rules and create my own custom notebook such as one with alternating graph and ruled pages, or even a notebook that has one section of graph paper, another section of French ruled paper and a third section of lined paper. I’d probably share one of these custom notebooks with a friend that has never used French ruled paper or experienced the smoothness of Clairefontaine paper.

Instructions come with each Clairing notebook showing the best way to insert and remove the pages. The copy below shows the wrong way to do it - taking the paper off the rings by pulling it sideways out of the notebook. This can cause the punches that hold the paper onto the rings to tear.

The next photo shows the best way to remove pages – by pulling them up and towards you, you can remove pages gently without tearing the punched side of the page.

To put a page back into the notebook just reverse what you did to pull them out – starting with either the top or bottom of the page gently push each punch back onto the plastic rings.

Ta-dah! Your notebook has been refreshed and reorganized.

We’re expecting to have an expanded selection of Clairing notebooks in our store sometime in May. Do you use disc bound notebooks? Why do you like them? Are there any other Clairefontaine Clairing notebooks you’d like to see available in our store? Please feel free to share your thoughts and requests!



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February 15, 2012

STAEDTLER Mars Draft 924 Technical Ballpoint Pen Review

According to the STAEDTLER website the purpose of the STAEDTLER Mars Draft 924 Technical Ballpoint Pen is for “professional use with rulers, triangles and templates.” However, you don’t need to be an engineer or draftsman to appreciate this pen.

The super-fine 0.2mm needle tip is much smaller than what you would normally find on most pens available in the USA. I wasn’t surprised to discover that the super-fine tip ink refills for this pen are made in Japan where good quality fine tip pens can readily be found. The waterproof oil-based ink is available in black only and the refills come in packs of two.

Since the needle tip on the STAEDTLER 924 is so fine I wondered if the ink flow could keep up with rapid note taking and I found that it didn’t skip a beat while I took notes. After four months of use I have not had any trouble with dry-starts or ink skipping, but it does occasionally leave little ink blobs behind as is typical of most ballpoint pens.

The light-weight body is slender and is made from a grey plastic that is somewhat metallic looking. The grip is non-slip and made with a comfortable grooved grey rubber. It has a stainless steel pocket clip and tip. This pen is retractable and is about 5 5/8” long with the tip extended. If you like large or heavy pens this pen probably isn’t for you. My hands are rather small so I find that it’s quite comfortable to write with.

What’s your favorite super-fine tip pen?

(Staedtler Mars Draft 924 Technical Ballpoint Pen Writing Test on Leuchtturm1917 Paper)



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February 01, 2012

R by Rhodia vs Original Rhodia Notepads

R by Rhodia notepads are relatively new on the scene and have some Writers wondering, “What’s the difference between original Rhodia pads and the R by Rhodia pads?” Using the popular Rhodia Bloc No. 12 we will endeavor to show you some of the similarities and the differences of these two well-loved notepads.

The Cover

One of the first things you’ll notice is that the original Rhodia pad cover has a glossy coating, whereas the R by Rhodia cover has a matte finish that is velvety to the touch. R by Rhodia calls this a “soft-touch” cover.

The original Rhodia front cover logo is somewhat larger than the R by Rhodia logo. R by Rhodia has an additional “R” in the lower right part of the front cover that is included in a band of contrasting color that is also on the back cover. The back of each cover has additional details about each notepad and indicates that both of them are currently made in France.

Both original Rhodia and R by Rhodia have flexible covers that are available in either bright orange or black. The difference is that when you flip over the R by Rhodia cover the underside color contrasts with the exterior – the orange cover is black on the underside and the black cover is orange on the underside. I personally really like this feature. Both covers are strategically scored so that they can easily and neatly be flipped over to the back side of the notepad.

The Binding

Both notepads are top staple-bound and have a study piece of cardboard inside the back cover to add support while you’re writing. Both of them have microperforated pages that can neatly be removed if desired.

(Original Rhodia on the left, R by Rhodia on the right)

The Paper

The paper is really the biggest difference between these two notepads. Original Rhodia has white 80g paper with violet lines (with the exception of one large notepad with yellow paper), R by Rhodia has heavier 90g ivory high grade vellum paper with subtle grey lines (if there are any lines). Since R by Rhodia has a heavier weight of paper there are less pages in each notepad – the No. 12 size has 70 sheets compared to the 80 sheets in an original Rhodia pad.

Original Rhodia comes in graph, blank, lined and lined with margin. At the time of writing this blog post R by Rhodia comes in either lined or blank. The lined version of the notepads (shown here) both have lines spaced about 7mm apart. One of the original Rhodia pads is available with a 3 hole punch. Both types of paper are made by Clairefontaine and have a smooth finish that a lot of Writers with fountain pens really love!

(In case you’re wondering, the fountain pen is a TWSBI Diamond 540)

The Size

At present, R by Rhodia comes in three different sizes: 3 3/8” x 4 3/4”, 6” x 8 1/4” and 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”. Original Rhodia pads are also available in these three sizes plus an additional nine sizes for a total of twelve different sizes.

Which notepad is best for you? That’s for you to decide. Why not mix it up and try one of each! One thing is for sure, a lot of Writers are very loyal to Rhodia! What’s your favorite Rhodia notepad?



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