March 13, 2013

New Rhodiactive Professional Business Collection - Meeting Book Review

(Large A4 Size Rhodiactive Meeting Book 90)

This year Rhodia introduces us to the Rhodiactive Business Collection: a new line of notebooks and notepads with a professional and contemporary look. They are designed to help you stay organized and efficient in the business world. So far, the Meeting Book 90 is the only part of this collection available in the USA.

Rhodia already has a Classic Meeting Book, so how is the new Rhodiactive Meeting Book different? The most outstanding difference is the paper – it contains premium 90g extra white paper that has superior opacity and strength. This means that you can write on both sides of the page without having significant issues with ink showing through or bleeding through the paper. If you are not already familiar with Rhodia paper, it is well known for having a smooth satin finish for effortless writing. It is also acid-free, pH neutral and PEFC certified. Besides helping you look classy and organized during business meetings, the Rhodiactive Meeting Book allows you to bring along your fountain pen!

(Rhodia Meeting Book with an Omas Arte Italiana Cruise Fountain Pen)

The cover of the Rhodiactive Meeting Book is also new – it is made of a sturdy, black 100% recycled polypropylene with a little bit of a linear texture to it. In comparison, Rhodia’s Classic Meeting Book has a waterproof coated cardstock cover that is available in both orange and black.

All of the Rhodia Meeting Books have the same pre-printed page layout with sections for Date, Notes and Action. This format is based on the Cornell note-taking system developed by Walter Paulk, a professor that worked at Cornell University. The “Date” and lined area at the top of each page are used to record the date, title or theme of a meeting or lecture and perhaps a brief summary. The large “Notes” area is for taking paraphrased notes during the meeting, and the smaller “Action” column is for key words and for your “to-do list.” If you are taking notes during a class, the “Action” column can be used to write questions relevant to the notes that can be used later while studying.

Interestingly, the number of lines on each page of the medium size Meeting Book and the large size Meeting Book are the same. The medium size page is just a shrunken version of the larger page – the medium size notebook having a line spacing of approximately 5.5mm and the large notebook with an 8mm line spacing.

Each page is micro-perforated near the wire spiral so that it can be cleanly removed from the notebook. Once the paper is removed from the large Meeting Book the page is A4 size – about 8.25” x 11.75”. The overall size of the large Meeting Book including the spiral is larger – about 9.25” x 11.75”. The medium Meeting Book is about 6.75” x 8.25” including the spiral and once the page is removed it is A5 size - about 5.75” x 8.25”. Both sizes of notebook contain 80 sheets/160 pages and the black double wire spiral is designed to prevent snagging.

(Rhodia Meeting Book with a Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen)

The Rhodia Meeting Book is definitely a useful tool for those that take notes during business meetings or classes. Have you used a Rhodia Meeting Book for taking notes? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

February 27, 2013

Clairefontaine Classic 3-Hole Punch Notebook Review

(Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook)

Clairefontaine notebooks are well known for their exceptional paper quality. Even if you feel that these notebooks don’t look like much from the outside, it’s what is on the inside that really counts when it comes to your writing experience.

The 90g paper inside these notebooks boasts an exceptionally smooth satin finish and is bright white thanks to the calcium carbonate used in the manufacturing process. Clairefontaine manufactures their own paper from pulp and wood by-products from forests certified by PEFC to be sustainably managed. Clairefontaine is committed to minimizing their impact on the environment so their paper is chlorine-free, acid-free, pH neutral and is printed with natural inks.

Many writers who use fountain pens loyally use Clairefontaine paper because they feel that it is ideal for their writing needs! This fabulous paper eliminates or reduces troubles with ink that may feather or bleed through other types of paper and you can write on both sides of the page. The smoothness of the paper makes writing a dream! You can check out the performance of this paper by taking a look at the scanned writing samples below.

(Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook paper fits inside a standard American 3-ring binder)

There are a few features that make the Clairefontaine Classic Notebook with the 3-hole punch stand out from other Clairefontaine notebooks. Since Clairefontaine is a European brand, most of their notebooks and paper products are metric sizes and might be a little different than what we are used to here in the USA. The Classic 3-hole punch notebook is standard American letter size – 8 1/2” x 11”. The 3-hole punch is sized to fit American 3-ring binders perfectly so you don’t need a special European binder to use this paper. Each page is microperforated so it can cleanly and easily be removed from the wire binding. In addition, most large size side wire bound or side staple bound Clairefontaine notebooks contain 48 or 50 sheets of paper. The Classic 3-hole punch notebook contains a generous 90 sheets of paper so it can carry you through a lot of note taking.

(Clairefontaine 90g paper writing test - front)

(Clairefontaine 90g paper writing test - back)

Clairefontaine Classic 3-hole punch notebook features include:

  • Ultra-smooth bright white 90g Clairefontaine paper
  • Excellent performance with fountain pens
  • 3 hole punched to fit standard American 3-ring binders
  • Each page is microperforated so it can cleanly be removed from the notebook
  • Lined with margin – lines are spaced 8mm apart
  • Acid-free, pH neutral, PEFC certified paper
  • Contains 90 sheets
  • Laminated heavy stock cover
  • Variety of abstract cover designs and colors changes over time
  • Side double wire spiral binding
  • Standard American letter size: 8 1/2” x 11”

If the Clairefontaine 3-hole punch notebook is just what you are looking for and you want to stock up, Writer’s Bloc offers an additional discount for a set of 5 notebooks.

Do you use Clairefontaine notebooks too? Why would you recommend them to other writers?

October 24, 2012

Writersblok Woodpecker Notebook Review

(Woodpecker Notebook - White Oak cover)

How often in our daily lives do we write on a piece of paper without stopping to think of the many trees that the paper came from? I admit I do this all the time. Woodpecker Notebooks designed by Tale and brought to us by Writersblok, provide a striking visual connection between the paper notebook and the majestic trees that made its existence possible. Tale’s desire was to show appreciation for what trees have done for us and to reflect the beauty of nature by incorporating the features of an actual tree into the design of the notebook.

(Actual oak tree – photo courtesy of Tale)

(Front cover scan of the White Oak notebook)

The first thing I noticed about the Woodpecker notebook is the realistic cover design that looks like the bark of one of five different species of trees: White Oak, Pine Tree, Ginkgo, Platanus and White Birch. The cover material is a coated heavy stock that is flexible and is embossed with the texture of tree bark, giving it a smooth, yet textured feel. The actual bark design is very realistic and incorporates small details such as moss, cracks, crevices and tiny bits of peeling bark. The inside of the cover is a light beige color that clearly shows the embossing and has a subtle white woodpecker logo inside the front and a tiny bit of white print inside the back.

(Even though this notebook is still in the shrink wrap you can see the embossed bark texture on the cover - photo courtesy of Tale)

The paper inside the Woodpecker notebook looks like freshly cut wood with a subtle wood grain and a few knots scattered here and there. It is a cream, or a very pale brown color, and if the paper is lined, the lines are also a matching brown color. The paper is tree-friendly as it is made from FSC certificated woods and 30% recycled paper pulp. I could not find any information on what weight this paper is, I would guess somewhere around 80gsm. The notebook is thread bound to prevent the 96 pages from falling out. Once you break in the larger notebook it lays flat pretty well. I haven’t tested the small notebook yet to see if it does the same. Writersblok has both lined and unlined versions of this notebook and has 2 sizes available: 6" x 8.25” and also 3.5" x 5.5”.

(Paper inside the lined Woodpecker notebook - photo courtesy of Tale)

I found that the Woodpecker paper works well with some fountain pens and some inks, but not with all fountain pens and inks. A couple of the inks feathered a tiny little bit and those same inks bled through the paper a bit too. It could be that the ink flow was more generous with those particular fountain pens. It generally seems to work well with both rollerball and gel pens. Take a look at the writing sample below and see for yourself.

Writersblok gives back to the community - 2% of sales from Writersblok goes to literacy programs around the USA. One of the places they support is 826NYC in New York City, a non-profit organization helping students ages 6-18 with creative and expository writing skills and helping teachers inspire their students to write.

(White Oak, Pine Tree, Ginkgo, Platanus and White Birch - photo courtesy of Tale)

(Writing test - front)

(Writing test - back)


August 01, 2012

Rhodia Pad Holder Review

Rhodia Pad Holders are like classy dinner jackets for your Rhodia notepad! Over the past couple of years Rhodia has expanded their selection of orange and black pad holders to fit 8 different sizes of Rhodia pads. If you’re a fan of Rhodia’s iconic super-smooth graph paper, you may be wondering if one of these pad holders with pen loop should be adorning the top of your desk.

The Rhodia pad holder is made of a lightly grained leather-like material with an embossed Rhodia logo on the front cover. The cover is stitched together around the edges with matching thread and the exterior comes in either bright orange or classic black. The cover material is quite durable and is an attractive way to protect your Rhodia pad especially if you like to toss it in your purse or carry it in a pocket or briefcase.

The interior of the pad holder is black and has 2 pockets. One pocket is designed to hold the back cardboard cover of your Rhodia pad and the front cover too - if you flip the front cover back behind the notepad it will hold it out of the way. The other pocket is there to hold business cards, notes, receipts or whatever you want to save or keep handy.

The cover itself is flexible, so if you’re looking for a stiff-as-a-board cover with firm support this is not it. However, the cover definitely does add some support to your Rhodia notepad while you are writing.

Originally, Rhodia pad holders did not have a pen loop, but this is now a standard feature on all of the newest covers. The pen loop seems to be made out of the same material as the cover so it is not stretchy like an elastic is. This loop must have been designed specifically to hold the triangular Rhodia pencil since it fits perfectly, so perhaps this should be called a pencil loop instead. A slim pen such as the Pentel Slicci gel pen will also fit in this pencil loop. It’s a practical feature if you need to have a writing instrument on hand at all times.

Are you using a Rhodia Pad Holder? What size do you use and what particular writing instrument do you keep in the pencil loop?

Rhodia Pad Holders are currently available in these sizes:

3.5” x 4.5” (fits Bloc No. 11)
3.75” x 5.25” (fits Bloc No. 12)
3” x 8.25” (fits Bloc No. 8)
4.5” x 6.25“ (fits Bloc No. 13)
5.75” x 5.75” (fits Bloc No. 148)
6” x 8.75” (fits Bloc No. 16)
8.25” x 11.75” (fits Bloc No. 18)
8.25” x 8.25” (fits Bloc No. 210)


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!


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?


January 18, 2012

Fabrica Pocket-in-a-Pocket Notepad Review

I really love the creative design of the Fabrica Pocket-in-a-Pocket notepads by Yukihiro Kaneuchi of Japan. They have several unique features derived from the fashion industry that makes them both fun and memorable.

These notepads are pocket-size in a very literal sense: not only are they shaped like a pocket, they are sized to fit perfectly inside a classic men’s shirt pocket. They also are a great fit for the back pocket on a pair of jeans. Women’s fashion tends to have a greater number of variables, but I’m guessing the Pocket-in-a-Pocket notebook would also fit into some women’s pockets too. The size of the notepad is about 4” x 4.5” and it is less than 0.25” thick so you can check to see if it’ll fit your own favorite pockets.

The white paper inside the Pocket-in-a-Pocket notepad is quite interesting. Each of the notepads in the set of 3 has a unique page texture that imitates the textures of weaves found in fabric. I’m no fashion expert so pardon my descriptions – one notepad’s paper has a herringbone texture, another has a check pattern and the third has a diagonal texture that looks like gabardine to me. Even though the paper has texture, it is subtle and I felt that it did not interfere with my writing. It’s really hard to show the texture in a photo, but if you click on the photo above, enlarge it and then squint you might be able to make out the checkered pattern inside the aqua blue notebook.

(Writing Test - Front)

(Writing Test - Back)

From this writing test, it’s fairly obvious that this is not the notebook to use with fountain pens unless you only plan on using one side of the page. A fair amount of the fountain pen ink bled through the paper. It works well with both ballpoint and gel pens and the texture of the paper does not interfere with their performance. The texture of the paper makes me think it would be interesting to try some pencil sketches in these.

The Fabrica Pocket-in-a-Pocket notepads come in a set of 3, with one set featuring the Cool colors shown in the photo above, and the other set featuring Warm colors. It has a flexible cardboard cover with a subtle embossed Fabrica logo, is top stitch-bound and has 52 pages. What a great gift for the man in your life!

Have you tried any of Fabrica’s innovative products? If so, what is your favorite?


December 21, 2011

Introducing R by Rhodia

R by Rhodia was a new addition to the Rhodia family of notebooks in 2011. What features do these new Rhodia notebooks have to offer?

The paper inside R by Rhodia notebooks is an ivory colored high grade vellum paper. It is made by Clairefontaine and as expected it has that luxuriously smooth finish that is so wonderful to write on. From what I can see, the paper is either the same or very similar to the paper inside the Rhodia Webnotebook. The paper is PEFC Certified so we know it comes from sustainably managed forests and only uses water-based, non-toxic inks. It is 90g and most writers will agree that it works very well with fountain pens.

R by Rhodia notepads have a “soft touch” cover which is coated with a matte finish. It’s a little hard to explain what the “soft touch” finish is exactly – it’s not hard and slippery feeling, but instead feels soft to the touch and gives you a little bit of extra grip. When you flip one of the orange covers over, the reverse side is matte black and when you flip one of the black covers over, the reverse side is matte orange.

There is a piece of stiff cardboard inside the back cover to add support while you’re writing or sketching. The front of the cover is thoughtfully scored so that you can neatly fold it back over the top of your notepad. Each page is microperforated so that you can easily and cleanly remove pages when you want to.

At the time of writing this post, R by Rhodia is only available in the top staple-bound format and comes in three sizes: 3 3/8” x 4 3/4”, 6” x 8 1/4” and 8 1/4” x 11 3/4”. The covers come in either orange or black and the 70 sheets of paper are either blank or lined. We can’t help but feel that the large size notepad’s beautiful ivory colored paper would be great coupled with a fountain pen for use as stationery!

This paper performed well with all of the pens I tried, and I would have to say it performed exceptionally well with fountain pens! Fountain pen ink takes a little while to dry on this smooth finish paper, so because I’m a lefty I smeared the ink a little bit. There was little if any ink feathering, ink bleeding through or ink showing through the paper (except for the Sharpie pen). A very fine quality paper indeed!

(R by Rhodia Ink Test - Front)

(R by Rhodia Ink Test - Back)

Have you tried R by Rhodia yet? What do you think of these premium Rhodia notepads?


December 14, 2011

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are a writer that uses fountain pens you may have noticed that not all paper is created equal. The performance of your fountain pen may be spectacular on some paper, but less than desirable on others. How do you determine what paper is fountain pen friendly – that will give you the performance you want with your fountain pens? 

The answer to this question is kind of like the answer to the question, “What is a comfortable pair of shoes?” Everyone has their own opinions and not all of them are the same, but there are some similarities in the answers. If you ask the question, “What is the most comfortable pair of shoes in your closet?”, then the answers will vary even more!

Many opinions of what fountain pen friendly paper is will include the following (but not necessarily limited to these things or in this order of importance):

1) The fountain pen ink does not bleed through the paper excessively.

2) The ink is not overly visible from the back side of the page.

3) The ink does not feather or has minimal feathering on the paper.

4) And for the lefties of the world I will add the ink must dry within a reasonable amount of time on the paper! In fact, this personally is my highest priority, otherwise I cannot use the paper with a fountain pen. I’m hoping the use of fast-drying ink will expand my fountain pen friendly paper selection.

If you ask the question, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”, you’re likely to get a variety of different answers! Each fountain pen nib, each brand of ink, each color of ink and the paper in each notebook or journal will interact differently when used with each other. The equation pen + paper + ink = good/bad results changes each time you change a component of the equation. This is why in our online store we cannot say for certain which paper is fountain pen friendly and which is not. There are brands of paper that in general are known for good performance with fountain pens, but within a brand there may be several types and grades of paper, some of which may not be so fountain pen friendly.

There are many online reviews of various paper products that can be very helpful in making your choices. The Writer’s Bloc blog has a number of reviews with writing tests showing the performance of a limited number of fountain pen inks on specific paper and notebooks. Before purchasing your journal or notebook, why not do a search on our blog or use any search engine to find some reviews? From our own experience, experimenting yourself with pens, ink and paper will help you to find what you personally like the best.

So I must ask, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”


December 07, 2011

Does Fast-Drying Fountain Pen Ink Feather?

I’m a lefty, and unless I use just the right fountain pen, ink and paper combinations I have trouble with smearing ink all over the paper with my hand. I’ve been thinking of getting some fast-drying fountain pen ink to see if this will allow me to expand my regularly used paper selection. Online reviews of this type of ink sometimes mention that whatever changes are made to the formula of this ink to make it dry more quickly also cause more problems with feathering. Since Noodler’s Bernanke Black and Bernanke Blue just arrived in our shop I thought I’d do a very quick test of this ink on several types of paper to see the results. For this test I used both a J. Herbin glass pen which laid down a ton of ink with the Bernanke inks (the bold and broad writing) and a Platinum Preppy fountain pen with a fine nib. Here are some scans of the results:

Clairefontaine French Ruled Paper - the gold standard. Under a magnifying glass I could see an eensy bit of feathering using a Platinum Preppy fine nib fountain pen, but unmagnified it looks fine. Not shown in this scan, the plentiful ink flowing from the glass pen did cause feathering.

Rhodia grid paper. The abundant flow of ink from the glass pen feathered some, but the Preppy pen writing looked just as good as on the Clairefontaine French ruled paper.

Compendium Live Inspired “Her Words” paper. Same results as the Rhodia paper – the broad line with lots of ink has a bit of feathering, the writing from the fine nib looks good.

Exacompta Basics Forum Journal with blank paper. Bernanke inks behave quite well on this paper, even the broad line from the glass pen had only a little feathering (there is some bleed through, but that is typical of this paper – perhaps this reduces the feathering?).

Leuchtturm1917 blank paper. Some feathering with both the broad and fine tip pens.

Myndology Luna Note paper. More feathering with the broad tip glass pen, less feathering with the fine nib.

Office Max generic top-stapled notepad paper. I imagined that this paper would perform the worst, but it’s actually not too bad. The broad tip glass pen feathered some, but the fine nib is pretty good.

Rhodia Webnotebook lined paper. Under magnification I could see a tiny bit of feathering with the black, but without magnification it looks great! I have not been able to use the Rhodia Webnotebook with a fountain pen because ink usually takes too long to dry on this paper and I smear it. In this test I tried smearing the ink immediately after I wrote with it – probably within one second or less – and the results were pretty good. Bernanke fast-drying ink definitely reduces the smear factor!

My conclusion so far is that fast-drying fountain pen ink does seem to feather more than regular ink, however, I will probably do very well using Noodler’s Bernanke ink with a fine nib fountain pen. It also made me wonder – do the Noodler’s Bernanke inks would work well in dry-writing pens? Does anyone know?

Do you use fast-drying fountain pen ink? What results have you had with feathering? Do you have any favorite fast-drying ink, paper and pen combinations you’d like to share?


November 23, 2011

Myndology Bare Memo Pad Review

Myndology Bare notebooks were created with the welfare of the environment in mind. The folded 100lb laser-cut cardstock cover is made with 100% recycled paper and can be used repeatedly with Myndology paper refills. The cover colors reflect soothing colors of nature such as sand, pine and clay. The front cover has little laser-cut arrows pointing in random directions along with a Myndology logo in one corner. The back cover is plain.

Rather than being discarded when the notebook is used up, the 5/8” honey-colored plastic discs are meant to be reused over and over again with Bare paper refills. The discs, covers and paper of all Myndology notebooks are conveniently interchangeable. As we’ve mentioned in previous Myndology blog posts, the disc binding system makes it very easy to add, remove or reorganize your notebook pages.

Hydro-electric power is used to manufacture Myndology Bare paper in the USA. The cream colored paper is 70lb Text (104gsm), 100% recycled and is made using a chlorine-free production process.

One of my favorite things about this paper is that is works great with fountain pens! Whenever I think of writing with a fountain pen on recycled paper I usually think of the common problems of ink feathering and bleed through, but instead this paper is very good quality and it is a delight to write on! Minus the Sharpie pen, I experienced no ink bleed through and very little show through. Here are scans of my writing test:

The Myndology Bare Memo pad includes 60 sheets of recycled paper and is approximately 3” x 4” in size. It is also available in a larger 6.5” x 8.5” journal size. Blank paper refills are available for both sizes and college ruled refills are also available for the Bare Journal.

What are your favorite earth-friendly notebooks? 


November 02, 2011

Myndology Sync Disc Bound Journal Review

Myndology’s disc binding system creatively allows their notebooks and journals to function like wirebound notebooks that have the added flexibility of a 3-ring binder. You can easily remove, reorganize and add pages and they are refillable.

Myndology Sync notebooks and journals feature brightly colored polypropylene covers and matching discs. These covers and discs are interchangeable with other Myndology notebooks and are very durable so they can be reused again and again with Myndology refills. The Sync cover is transparent with a tiny bit of texture which allows you to see through to the contents of the first and last page of your notebook.

(Myndology Sync Journal – inside the front cover)

The journal comes with a white heavy-weight page in the front that on one side is covered with silver print dots interspersed with the words “good thinking”.

(Myndology Sync Journal – inside the front cover page 2)

The other side of this page is silver print with white action words such as “write it”, “add to it”, “an idea”, “pull it out… put it back” etc. This page can be removed or you can leave it in the journal to add a decorative geometric dot appearance to the front cover.

(Close-up of the Sync Journal disc binding)

The cover and each page of the Sync Journal is punched with a T-shaped or mushroom-shaped punch to comfortably fit each of the discs. To remove pages from this disc-bound journal, you simply pull the page gently from the top towards you (do not pull from the side of the page out). To add pages to the journal, line up the page you want to add with the discs and gently push down where each disc is. It’s hard to describe it with words, so here is a link to a short video you can watch courtesy of Myndology.

The white paper inside the Myndology Sync Journal has lots of credentials beside the fact that it is made in the USA: 70lb text, 96brt, SFI Certified, FSC Certified, and elementally chlorine free. In case you are more familiar with metric paper weight, 70lb text translates into 104gsm. The paper is college ruled with margin, and the grey lines are spaced about 3/8” or 7mm apart. None of the lines go all the way to the edge of the page. There is a space at the top of each page for a date or running header and the lower right corner of each page says either “good thinking” or “Myndology”.

(Myndology Sync Journal college ruled paper)

Is the paper fountain pen friendly? Some ink bled through the paper and there was a slight bit of feathering, so take a look at the writing samples and decide for yourselves. (The paper in Myndology Bare notebooks and journals works very well with fountain pens – we’ll talk about that in a future post.)

(Myndology Sync Journal writing test – front)

(Myndology Sync Journal writing test – back)

Myndology created all of their disc bound notebooks to have interchangeable parts – covers, discs and paper – so that you can mix and match if you want. For example, I added a couple of reminders to this journal: one came from a Luna Note pad and the other came from a Bare Memo pad. The notes can easily be removed later when I’m done with these tasks.

(Sync Journal with pages from Luna Note pad and Bare Memo pad)

The Myndology Sync Journal comes with 60 sheets of paper and paper refills or folders+tabs can be purchased separately. Paper refills for the journal come with 60 sheets and are available in ruled, blank or graph formats. The journal page size is about 6.5” x 8.5” and the eight discs are about 5/8” in diameter. Myndology Sync notebooks also come in letter, index and note sizes.


October 19, 2011

Introduction to Myndology

While teaching English in Japan, the creator of the company now known as Myndology noticed that the Japanese students learning English used flashcards bound together by a ring. He decided to use this method of ring-bound flashcards himself to learn Japanese and became addicted to this flexible method of organization.

After returning to the USA, a friend’s cat-related study card disaster made him remember those ring-bound flashcards from Japan. He realized that American students could benefit greatly from a similar system of flashcards and started a company called Mindbinders run out of his parent’s garage in Wisconsin.

Eventually this company changed its name to Myndology, and also attained the rights to distribute a very cool line of notebooks from Belgium called Atoma. These notebooks are disc bound – another system of binding that creatively allows pages to be removed, reorganized and added with flexibility and freedom. They even sell a punch that allows you to make your own disc bound notebooks!

Myndology paper is 100% manufactured in the USA and 100% of the assembly is done in the USA. Only the standard Disc Bound Covers and discs are imported from Belgium.

The goal of Myndology is: “to make stationery that helps you create, study and do whatever it is you want to do. … The tagline ‘good thinking’ says it all. Cleverly simple solutions to making the best stationery products in the world.”

New to Writer’s Bloc are Myndology disc bound journals, notebooks, memo pads and index cards. If you’ve never tried a disc bound notebook and are wondering how it works, here’s a brief video from Myndology that will help you visualize how flexible these notebooks really are.


September 28, 2011

Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine

(Artwork by Marilyn Robertson)

Starting out as an art teacher in the U.K, artist Marilyn Robertson has become a household name with work that can be recognized by many worldwide. For Marilyn Robertson, experimentation is the key to her success. Her career as an artist began as an art teacher, her career as a business woman began by selling hand-painted greeting cards at craft fairs and then through her own business Paper Kite.

Marilyn not only ventured into the field of freelance design but also textile design, expanding her artistic talents to knit wear and lingerie. Marilyn's greeting card designs have now been critically acclaimed and published worldwide by some of the world's largest greeting card publishers in the U.S, England and Germany. Marilyn's work has been featured internationally on greeting cards, textiles, stationary, ceramics, and knit kits! Still Marilyn's greatest claim to fame is her art paintings. With her trademark style Marilyn creates coveted paintings that join harmony, dramatic colors and the delicate fluidity of life.

(Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson)

This year Clairefontaine and designer Marilyn Robertson came together to put a whole new meaning to the term "Feline Fancy." Implementing her trademark style, Robertson and Clairefontaine put the luxurious life of cats on paper. Clairefontaine "Catitudes" notebooks feature Robertson's cover designs and include 90g acid-free Clairefontaine paper. These notebooks are simple, sophisticated and are a perfect gift for cat lovers!

Click here to learn more about Marilyn Robertson

(Catitudes Notebooks by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine)


September 14, 2011

Introducing Fabrica

The Benetton Group, which is well-known for their popular clothing line United Colors of Benetton, is responsible for the existence of the “creativity laboratory” called Fabrica. This communication research center was created in 1994 for the purpose of offering young people from around the world an opportunity for creative growth and multicultural interchange.

As explained on the Benetton Group website, young artists are offered this opportunity:

Fabrica invites young artists/designers to its centre, offering them a one-year study grant and providing them with a professional training opportunity and a wealth of resources and relations. The young resident artists develop cultural and social communication projects in the areas of design, visual communication, photography, interaction, video, music and publishing under the guidance of experts.

If this doesn’t sound exciting enough, the Fabrica “studio” artists use to develop their innovative projects at is located in Italy, near Venice, in Villa Pastega Manera. Tadao Ando is responsible for restoring and enlarging the ancient villa that was built in the seventeenth century. I think I would be quite inspired if my office looked like this:

(Fabrica’s ancient villa – restored by Tadao Ando. Photo by Francesco Radino)

The design of the library at Fabrica is also noteworthy – it resembles a spiral driven into the ground and is illuminated from above. It holds over 5,000 volumes on graphic design, photography, industrial design, art, topics related to visual communication and much more. I would like to do all my research in such a library! Take a look at this library on the Fabrica website.

Writer’s Bloc now has a selection of Fabrica products related to writing that were created by artists in this beautiful Italian laboratory. It’ll be interesting to see what these inspired Fabrica artists create in the future!

August 31, 2011

Exacompta Paper Chart

Exacompta makes planners, journals, sketchbooks and index cards with a variety of high quality papers. Some of the paper is a little different than the usual Clairefontaine and Rhodia paper that many of you may be used to using. For example, some of their planners such as the popular Journal 21 and Space 24 weekly agenda contain a light green tinted paper. Other planners such as the Daily Pocket diary contain light-weight but sturdy ivory paper to help make them as compact as possible. The Basics Journal and Sketchbook both contain 100g paper that is 25% cotton with a laid finish. Exacompta Index Cards are made from a 205g stock in soft pastel colors and they work beautifully with a fountain pen! You can check out Exaclair's Exacompta paper chart to get some insight into the specific paper used in each product.

Forum Journals / Refills 64 gWhite paper, 365 daily undated, blank, graph, cloth bound
Club Journals / Refills64 gWhite paper, 365 daily undated, blank, graph
Pocket Journal55 gIvory, gold edged paper, ruled, cloth bound
Basics Journal100 gOff-white, gold edged paper, cloth bound
Basics Sketchbook100 gLaid finish, 25% cotton, off-white paper, blank, silver edged, cloth bound
Index Cards / Bristol Cards205 gGraph, subtle pastel colors - yellow, pink, green, blue
Visual Weekly Agenda90 gGreen-tinted paper
Space 24 Weekly Agenda   90 gGreen-tinted paper
Journal 21 Daily Agenda72 gGreen-tinted paper
Space 1755 gIvory Paper
Daily Pocket55 gIvory Paper


August 17, 2011

Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris

Established in 1998, Les Cakes de Bertrand is a inspiring story of humble beginnings and unpredictable business ventures. Dietician and avid cook, Didier Bertrand, began selling his signature savory cakes in the Port Royal Food Market in Paris, France in 1997. Not long after that, Bertrand met French designer Adolphe Besnard and the two joined forces to create what is today Les Cakes de Bertrand. The two opened a cake shop in Paris selling Bertrand's savory cakes and chocolate bars. What set them apart? The packaging. Inspired by Besnard's grandmother's collection of old postcards, each creation was wrapped in eloquently designed packaging that would soon become the defining look of Les Cakes de Bertrand. Known for is modern design with a vintage flair, Les Cakes de Bertrand flourished.

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Notebook - Eloise)

As the company began to grow Les Cakes de Bertrand entered into a new realm of retail, accessories! A delightful yet shocking surprise, Bertrand and Besnard ventured in to the fashion world. The signature Les Cakes de Bertrand designs were placed on handbags, wallets, pins, jewelry, soaps, perfumes, clothing, and handheld mirrors. Recently, Les Cakes de Bertrand partnered with the famed Clairefontaine to create a line of special limited edition products! Some of the notebooks and a correspondence set from the limited edition line can be found at Writer's Bloc.

Les Cakes de Bertrand no longer sells cakes, but now has several boutiques in France that showcase their beautiful accessories. Their boutiques in themselves are a masterpiece, perfectly furnished with unique furniture and trinkets that make the store warm and inviting. If I ever have the opportunity to visit France, a stop at Les Cakes de Bertrand is a must!

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand Paris Correspondence Set)

(Information gathered from: Les Cakes de Bertrand and Retro To Go)

August 10, 2011

Clairefontaine Courants d'Arts Limited Edition Notebooks

Clairefontaine Courants d'Arts collection of limited edition notebooks were created to honor three distinct styles of modern art: Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art. Although the artwork on the covers is not attributed to any artists in particular, it is easy to see that it strongly reflects masterpieces from Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock. Being a fan of modern art I was immediately drawn to the Courants d'Arts notebooks, and a brief review of art history on enhanced my appreciation of these major influences in modern art.

(Clairefontaine Courants d'Arts Pop Art Notebook)

With its bold bright colors and graphics the Courants d'Arts Pop Art Notebook was the first one to catch my eye (maybe I’ve been seeing a few too many movies recently). Pop Art originated in Great Britain and the USA in the 1950’s and employs aspects of mass culture, such as advertising, comic books and mundane cultural objects. Roy Lichtenstein became well known for incorporating elements of comic book art into such popular works such as Whaam! (1963) and Drowning Girl (1963). My favorite bit of information about him from Wikipedia is this story about his work Look Mickey (1961): “This piece came from a challenge from one of his sons, who pointed to a Mickey Mouse comic book and said; ‘I bet you can't paint as good as that, eh, Dad?’ In the same year he produced six other works with recognizable characters from gum wrappers and cartoons.” Kids!

(Clairefontaine Courants d'Arts Abstract Expressionism Notebook)

Abstract Expressionism was an American post–World War II art movement. Jackson Pollock is a well-known influential artist of this movement. He moved away from the tradition of painting on an easel and instead dripped and poured paint onto a canvas on the floor. This method made him feel as if he could literally be in the painting as he was working on it. Eventually Pollock discontinued using names as titles for his paintings and started numbering them instead. This way those viewing them would not have any preconceived ideas of what they were supposed to be looking for and could enjoy the artwork as pure painting.

(Clairefontaine Courants d'Arts Cubisme Notebook)

Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque who were living in Montmartre, Paris at the time. Wikipedia describes cubist artists this way: “they represented all the surfaces of depicted objects in a single picture plane, as if the objects had all their faces visible at the same time. This new kind of depiction revolutionized the way in which objects could be visualized in painting and art.” Cubism was particularly influential between 1907 and 1919 and was inspired by the boldness and simplicity of African, Micronesian and Native American art. Famous examples of cubist paintings include Pablo Picasso's Le guitariste (1910) and Violin and Candlestick (1910) by Georges Braque.

If you've had the opportunity to visit one of the many influential art galleries and museums around the world, no doubt you have seen abundant examples of these three influential styles of modern art. What is your favorite? What kind of artwork would you like to see featured on future Clairefontaine limited edition notebooks?

June 29, 2011

Get Organized with Multiple Subject Notebooks

(Clairefontaine Twinbook)

There are times when a good multiple subject notebook is a real asset to keeping well organized. At one time I was simultaneously working on a bathroom remodel, ideas for a website project and collecting information for a trip. Lots of note taking was happening, especially while shopping for bathroom fixtures, paints, etc. To keep my notes organized I used a medium sized notebook with 4 different sections marked by different paper colors. Rather than having multiple little slips of paper with random notes being misplaced never to be found again, this notebook helped me to keep things together and organized.

(Rhodia Bloc No. 120 Rainbow Pad)

Multiple subject notebooks have a multitude of purposes – taking notes for simultaneous projects, jotting down recipes under different categories, recording passwords (yeah, I know they aren’t supposed to be on paper), keeping track of notes taken during regular meetings with different people, writing down addresses and phone numbers, or even for a to-do list book where goals are organized into subjects such as school, family, work and personal life.  In school you can use them to put notes on related subjects into one book or to divide textbook notes from lecture notes. Having a multiple subject notebook can cut down on weight and confusion. I’m sure you can think of many other ways you can use these notebooks to help you stay organized and have everything you need in one book.

(Clairefontaine Large Multiple Subject Notebook)

Some multiple subject notebooks simply use tabs to divide the notebook into different sections. The Clairefontaine Twinbook is a good example of this. The right edges of the pages are cut to create two tabs so that the notebook is divided into two sections. A more complex series of tabs are cut into the large Clairefontaine A-Z notebook with a tab for each letter of the alphabet. Another notebook with tabs is the Clairefontaine multiple subject notebook. The large size has four tabbed sections, medium size has twelve tabbed sections and the small pocket size has eight tabbed sections.

(Rhodia 4 Color Book)

Other multiple subject notebooks use multiple page colors to distinguish different sections. The pages in the Rhodia 4 Color Book each have a band of bold color on the right and left edges to break the notebook up into four clearly marked sections. Rhodia also has the top stapled rainbow notepad with four different pastel colors of graph paper. I think the king of notebooks with multiple page colors has to be the Clairefontaine multiple subject notebook. As I already mentioned above, not only does it have the sections divided by index tabs it also has them distinguished by different pastel colors!

(Clairefontaine A4 French ruled paper for binders)

You can get Clairefontaine binder paper in packs with four different pastel colors of either graph or French ruled paper for free style organizing in a binder. Exacompta graph index cards are not notebooks but they are worth mentioning because they come in packs of four pastel colors plus white to create index card organization. These would have been quite useful for me in high school for a particular English class where we were required to use index cards to jot down facts (and their source) that might be used for essays. Any index cards with facts that we decided not to use in the actual essay were discarded, but the facts we included in the essay were saved and then the index cards were organized in the order the facts appeared in the essay. It made creating footnotes much easier (not that I appreciated this much at the time).

(Clairefontaine Basics Notebook with Pockets)

If you need to have organized notes while at the same time collecting receipts, notes or other pieces of paper, there’s a Clairefontaine notebook with pocket dividers! The three dividers each have pockets on both sides and divy up the notebook’s 60 sheets into four sections of 15 sheets each.

Do you use multiple subject notebooks? What’s your favorite? What do you use them for?

(Exacompta Index Cards)


June 08, 2011

Best Sellers from Clairefontaine

New to Clairefontaine notepads and not sure where to start? Here is a list of our best selling Clairefontaine products that can help guide you to your perfect notebook!

Of the plethora of Clairefontaine notepads we carry at Writer’s Bloc, the #1 best seller is the large Clairefontaine wire-bound French ruled notebook. Even though French ruled paper is used daily by students in France and elsewhere, it is not widely available in the USA and many people have never heard of it. It has a unique line/grid system that can be used to format essays and practice handwriting and calligraphy. You can learn more about it here: What is French Ruled Paper? Clairefontaine French ruled paper can be found in both large and medium size wire-bound notebooks as well as in other styles of notebooks.

The Clairefontaine Multiple Subject medium size notebook is another one of our best sellers. In addition to sections of pages being defined by different colors of paper, tabs cut into the pages also help keep you and your work organized. The high quality graph paper is ideal for writing and drawing and is great for students, artists and anyone looking for a great organizing tool! Also available in large and small sizes.

If you are looking for a pocket-sized notebook try our best selling small staple-bound Clairefontaine notebook. These little gems are ideal for those who like to keep a notebook with them at all times since they are conveniently sized and will slip right into your pocket or purse. These notebooks also make for great party favors, throw them into goody bags or prize baskets and give your guests the gift of quality paper! Available individually or in a set of 10.

Another one of our best selling Clairefontaine notebooks is the classic Clairefontaine Basics cloth-bound large lined notebook. This notebook has a sewn binding so it opens flat, pages do not fall out, and there is no spiral wire to get in the way when you write! An added bonus is an elastic to keep the notebook securely closed. Available with Red, Black, Tan or Green covers.

What's your favorite Clairefontaine notebook?


March 23, 2011

Mouse Pad Notepads

If you're like me, your office area looks like it's been attacked by sticky notes riddled with reminders, things to do, things not to do, phone numbers, and appointments. More often than not these sticky notes lose their “stickiness” and end up on the floor or behind the desk. Thankfully I’ve found a great way to eliminate the problem of rouge sticky notes - multi-functioning mouse pads! Mouse pads that also serve as notepads are great organizing tools that hold all your notes, reminders, contacts, and appointments in one place. Think about it this way, the area around your mouse is usually clear and maybe the one clutter free area on your desk. Mouse pads that also serve as notepads eliminate the problem of searching for a clean sticky note or piece of scrap paper. Your mouse pad/notepad is easily accessible and will never mysteriously lose itself behind your desk.

The Rhodia Mouse Pad is complete with 30 sheets of 80g graph paper and has a nonskid backing. The nonskid backing helps keep the pad in place as you use your mouse or write a note. The extremely smooth paper provides a great surface for your mouse and for your pen, pencil or fountain pen! The pad is held together on the bottom and left edge which prevents the paper from scrunching as you move your mouse.

The Bob’s Your Uncle Swiss mouse pad/notepad is a playful mouse pad resembling Swiss cheese. Their Surf mouse pad/notepad has the word "Surf" emblazoned boldly across the top in a font resembling something you might see in a Hawaiian surf shop. These mouse pads include 50 sheets of sturdy paper attained from responsibly managed forests.

The Bob’s Your Uncle 8-Days-A-Week mouse pad/notepad is the ultimate organizing tool. This notepad allows you to plan each day of the week. Each day is broken up by a.m., p.m. and evening. Quickly jot down appointments, soccer practices, due dates, and events and have them at hand at all times. The 8-Days-A-Week mouse pad includes spaces for Monday thru Sunday and another for “Someday.” Includes 52 sheets of paper, one for each week of the year.

How do you use your mouse pad/notepad?

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March 09, 2011

Live Inspired “Her Words” Composition Notebook Review

Compendium’s “Her Words” composition notebooks are adorned with elegant illustrations and poetry by Monique Duval, inspiring you to explore, imagine and create.

I’ve been using the “She decided to free herself...” version of this notebook that has this inspirational hand-written poetry on the front cover: “She decided to free herself, dance into the wind, create a new language. And birds fluttered around her, writing “yes” in the sky”. The cover illustration consists of an old fashioned bird cage with silhouettes of many birds flying free in the sky above it. Also written on the bottom of the back cover beside an illustration of two feathers is: “It is here where she must begin to tell her story.”

The “Her Words” notebook has a laminated cover that is somewhat flexible and it is glue bound with color-coordinated book tape on the spine. Inside the front cover is this additional inspiration: “This is a space for dream words, love words, made up words, flying words, fall down and get up words. Get to know the sound of your own inner voice. Be creative. Be generous. Be bold.”

The regular size version of the composition notebook is 7” x 10” and there is also a mini version that is 4” x 5.5”. Both sizes contain 60 lined pages that are ivory color and seem to be about 80gsm. There are margins around the entire page with the largest being at the top and second largest at the bottom. The lines are spaced approximately 7mm apart and in my notebook they are a pale green color. Once every several pages there is a page with a small illustration in the bottom right corner – in this instance it is green feathers, but other versions of the notebook have pictures of a bird, a high-heeled shoe, a bicycle, a ladybug, cherries, a key and oak leaves with acorns.

In my opinion this paper has slightly above average performance with fountain pens, with the biggest issue being some ink bleed through. I find I can write on both sides of each page without any problem when I am using a fountain pen with a fine nib. One thing that I really like about it as a left-handed writer is that fountain pen ink dries quite quickly on this paper reducing greatly the chance of smearing any ink. In fact, while flipping through all my notes I couldn’t find any smears! Take a look at the writing sample and judge for yourself:

“Her Words” composition notebooks come in a variety of cover colors and designs, each with a different inspirational poetry excerpt on the front cover. These make great gifts for yourself or a creative friend! Do you use any inspirational notebooks? What is your favorite?

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March 02, 2011

WRITERSBLOK Bamboo Notebook Review

WRITERSBLOK Bamboo notebooks from Kikkerland contain paper that is made from 100% sustainable bamboo pulp. Bamboo grows much faster than trees, reaching maturity in about 3 to 7 years. A percentage of sales from WRITERSBLOK goes to literacy-related programs around the United States. For example, they support 826NYC, a non-profit organization in New York City that helps students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and also helps teachers inspire their students to write.

WRITERSBLOK Bamboo notebooks have a flexible, laminated cover that comes in several different colors depending on the size of notebook you buy: lime green, yellow, bright red, black and white. The cover is lightly textured and is plain except for a small, embossed WRITERSBLOK logo on the bottom of the back cover. Four different sizes are available: mini (2.5” x 4”), small (3.25” x 5”), medium (5.5” x 8.25”) and large (7.5” x 10.25”).

Bamboo notebooks have a stitched binding that prevents the pages from falling out and helps the notebook to open flat. If you need to remove a page, the last 8 sheets in the notebook are perforated for easy removal. The corners are rounded and it has plain, ivory color end sheets that are thicker than the paper inside.

The Bamboo notebook contains 96 pages of ivory color, 80g paper and it is available in both blank and ruled versions. The lines are light grey and are spaced about 6mm apart. Both lined and blank versions of the notebook have a tiny grey WRITERSBLOK logo on the bottom of the right page.

This is the first notebook I’ve ever owned with bamboo paper and so I wondered how it would hold up to fountain pens. This particular 80g bamboo paper does have some ink show through, bleed through and some subtle feathering so it might not be your first choice if you like to use a fountain pen and both sides of each page. Here’s a writing sample showing both the front and back of the page:

What’s your favorite WRITERSBLOK notebook? Have you had any experience with bamboo paper? We’d love to hear from you!

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February 16, 2011

Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper and Fountain Pens

Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper is made especially for printing or copying documents containing color images and makes it possible to obtain great color prints without using expensive glossy photo paper. How does it work when it is paired with fountain pens?

We have been using this paper a lot recently for making some fountain pen ink samples and wanted to share the results. In general, this paper works great with fountain pens, and as is typical of Clairefontaine paper, has little to no feathering, bleed through or show through of fountain pen ink. It would be great for use in a personal book binding project if you want to end up with a book that is fountain pen friendly.

This paper probably has a special coating on it that makes it especially good for color printing. When we used a cotton swab to put a heavy application of ink on the paper, every once in awhile this coating produced some interesting results with a few very specific kinds/colors of ink. At times there were a few tiny spots that seemed to repel the fountain pen ink slightly, resulting in some random small spots where the ink appeared to be a lighter color. Other times, the wide swab of ink on the page would not stay evenly distributed, with ink pooling up in some areas. In the past we experienced similar results with other high quality laser/ink jet printer paper and fountain pen ink. While these things did not happen very often, this paper may not be the best choice if you are planning to use a watercolor or ink wash on the paper. When we wrote with fountain pens we did not notice these problems at all.

Here are some writing samples showing both the front and back of the page:

Clairefontaine DCP Digital Color Printing Paper is available in the USA in packages of 100 sheets of A4 size white, 100g (27lb), acid-free, archival quality paper. Have you used this paper for any writing or book binding projects? What is your experience using it with fountain pens?

December 29, 2010

LEUCHTTURM1917 Dot Grid Medium Notebook Review

Leuchtturm is based in Germany and has been producing quality stationery products since 1917. This family-run company has the motto “details make all the difference.” Let’s see what details the LEUCHTTURM1917 medium dot grid notebook includes.

The first thing I noticed about this notebook that distinguishes it from many other similar notebooks is that the pages are numbered, 1 through 249. To make it easy to find your notes there 3 pages in the front with a blank table of contents that includes a column to jot down the page number and another column to make a note of the “topic”. This is a really handy feature to have if you need to refer to specific things in your notes in the future after you’ve forgotten where everything is.

The binding of the LEUCHTTURM1917 dot grid notebook is thread-bound, which means that it will open flat and the pages will not fall out. If you need to tear out a page, there are 8 perforated sheets in the back that can easily be removed.

The slim hard cover is made with a synthetic, very lightly textured material that comes in five colors: Lilac, Lime, Caramel, Pure White and Turquoise. The cover is plain except for a small embossed “LEUCHTTURM1917” on the bottom of the back cover. An elastic attached to the back cover wraps around the front cover to keep your journal closed. Inside the back cover there is an expandable pocket for keeping notes, receipts, programs etc. Inside the front cover is a space for writing your name and address.

The LEUCHTTURM1917 dot grid notebook includes some labels for the cover so that you can identify the contents of your notebook. There are three labels for the spine (approx. 3/8” x 7 1/2” each), two ruled labels and one blank label for the front cover (approx. 1 7/8” x 2 3/8” each). There is a matching ribbon bookmark to help you find your place. The size of the medium notebook is approximately 5 3/4” x 8 1/4” and it is about 3/4” thick.

The paper is ivory color with a light grey 5mm x 5mm dot grid pattern that doesn’t quite go to the edge of the page. It is acid-free, 80g and is called “ink-proof paper” that can be used with your fountain pen. I tested it with several fountain pens and found it has better quality paper than the LEUCHTTURM1917 notebooks of a few years ago, but it is not as good as Clairefontaine or Rhodia paper for use with fountain pens. There was a little bit of feathering, a little bit of bleed through, but mostly the problem was with show through on the back side of the page. 80g paper makes it possible to have 249 pages in a nice compact size, but it might be better to have fewer pages and thicker paper. I was able to use both sides of the page as long as I carefully selected the ink color and nib size that I used. This journal is probably not the best choice if you want to write on both sides of the page with a fountain pen. However, there are plenty of other features to like about the LEUCHTTURM1917 dot grid notebook!

What is your favorite LEUCHTTURM1917 stationery?

NOTE: Since this article was published, Leuchtturm has discontinued the turquoise cover on the dot grid notebook but is still making it with a black cover.

October 27, 2010

Clairefontaine Trophee Paper

Technically, Clairefontaine Trophee Paper is a high quality paper made for copiers, laser printers and ink jet printers. However, because it is available in many pleasing colors, I wondered if I could use this with my fountain pens as stationery too.

I really like purple, so I chose the color lilac to give it a try. Trophee paper does not have the same super-smooth surface as regular 90g Clairefontaine writing paper. Even though it is different, I found it to be a nice quality surface for handwriting.

This paper is 80g so I wondered if some fountain pen ink might show through to the other side and I am really happy that it didn’t! None of the fountain pens and inks that I tried feathered or bled through the paper, but the Sharpie pen bled through the paper as it usually does. The Noodler’s Nightshade ink took awhile to dry on this paper so I ended up smearing it slightly.

Writer’s Bloc has imported this A4 size paper in three different colors: ivory, pearl grey and lilac.

I’m happy to have the lilac color Trophee paper for using my fountain pens to write an occasional note to friends or family. What’s your favorite color of paper for writing notes and letters?

October 20, 2010

Minilabo Owls Small Notebook Review

Right before I was leaving on a trip, the Minilabo Owl Small Notebook arrived in our office. This was the perfect pocket-size notebook to take with me for notes and it had such an adorable 70’s-vibe owls graphic on the cover that I couldn’t resist!

Minilabo small notebooks feature 64 pages of white paper with gray lines. The paper is FSC certified, which means that it comes from responsibly managed forests. I am unsure of the exact weight of the paper – it seems somewhere in-between the 64g paper in my Rhodia Weekly Notebook and the 80g paper in my Rhodia notepad. The lines are spaced almost 7mm apart and they do not completely go to the edges of each page. This little notebook is staple bound with two staples. It is approximately 4” x 5 7/8” in size.

The cardboard cover is laminated with a matte finish on the outside and a glossy finish on the inside. The whimsical owls on the front cover seem to be created with and surrounded by a collage of decorative papers. The design carries over to the back cover with a crescent moon. The pattern inside the cover matches the background design of the tree.

How does this notebook paper hold up to fountain pens? Not too bad, but not perfect either. There was a tiny bit of feathering with some inks and the wet writing fountain pens bled through to the other side of the page. On my trip I used a fine nib fountain pen with washable blue ink and it worked fine. No feathering and no bleed through so I was able to use both sides of each page. As a lefty, I appreciate that ink dried quickly on this paper to help prevent me from smearing my writing. Take a look at the ink writing samples and see what you think. Here’s one side of the page:

And here’s the other side:

Minilabo small notebooks also come with a Rainbow or a Floral cover. I love the bird and the alien on the rainbow cover!

What’s your favorite pocket size notebook?

September 22, 2010

Limited Edition Clairefontaine Covers

In addition to being filled with the best paper in the world, many of the notebooks and journals in our Clairefontaine collection boast beautiful cover art. Some of these illustrations and designs are created by well-respected artists, but unfortunately these are often limited editions-- meaning once they're gone they're gone for good. The following collections have since been discontinued, but we still have a limited supply in stock-- just a heads up so you can stock up before they're history.


The Clairefontaine "Mlle No" collection is designed by French artist Jessica Ollivaud, whose art evokes the whimsical and ethereal, but with a modern edge. This collection includes a Large Wirebound Notebook, a Medium Wirebound Notebook, and one secured with elastic. If you're looking for a unique gift there are also Memo Pads and Magnetic Journals featuring these beautiful illustrations


Robert Le Heros is a graphic design company that designs for prestigious companies worldwide. Their design for Quo Vadis is a contemporary twist on a floral design. The only products we still have in stock from this collection are the Large Journal and Small Journal!


This may sound corny, but I imagine that if dreams could be illustrated they would reflect the Clairefontaine GraficFlow collection. The abstract elements are composed in such a way that you see familiar things in something that doesn't really make sense. Give the Magnetic Journal as a gift, and keep the wirebound notebooks for yourself (available in Large and Medium).

August 25, 2010

Choosing Your Quo Vadis Planner Based on the Paper

Quo Vadis Planners come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors, and all of them contain high-quality paper with a pleasantly smooth writing surface. If you are particular about your paper, how do you know which one contains just the right paper for you?

If you’re looking for a planner that is as light-weight and compact as possible, easy to carry around and stash discreetly in a purse or pocket, 64g or 55g paper helps to reduce size and weight. One of my favorite small planners is the Exacompta Daily Pocket Diary.

If you are a fountain pen user, Quo Vadis recommends paper that is 85g or higher, although many prefer the 90g paper. As is typical of Quo Vadis planners, there is little to no feathering or bleed-through of fountain pen ink on this paper, and the weight of 85g or higher has the added advantage of preventing most ink see-through.

Although Quo Vadis manufactures all of their paper in an environmentally responsible fashion, if you’re the type that wants to stick to recycled products, then the Quo Vadis Basic or Equology lines of planners are for you. (More Quo Vadis Basic planners are expected to be in our shop soon.)

If you’re picky about paper color, Quo Vadis gives you the choice of extra white, white, ivory and even a pale green color of paper such as found in the super-popular daily planner Journal 21.

If you love graph paper, Rhodia Weekly Planners provide a grid area along with each week’s plans for drawing and taking notes.

Quo Vadis comes to the rescue and provides us with the following informative chart on the types of paper contained in Quo Vadis planners. (We left the Quo Vadis Notebooks on the end of this list for your reference.) Which Quo Vadis Planner is your favorite?

Quo Vadis Paper Chart

Edition Weight Color
Trinote 90g extra white
Minister 90g extra white
Academic Minister 90g extra white
Prenote 90g extra white
President 90g extra white
Principal® 90g extra white
Scholar 90g extra white
Septanote 90g extra white
Note 27 90g ivory
Monthly 4 90g extra white
Quarter 90g extra white
Executive 90g extra white
Visual 90g green tint
Space 24 90g green tint
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 6 x 9 90g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 6 x 9 Academic 90g extra white
Visoplan 90g extra white
President Equology 89g white
Minister Equology 89g white
Scholar Equology 89g white
Exaplan 85g extra white
Textagenda Equology 74g white
Sapa X Equology 74g white
Journal 21 72g green tint
Business 64g extra white
Sapa X 64g extra white
Sapa X Academic 64g extra white
Notor 64g extra white
Textagenda 64g extra white
IB Traveler 64g extra white
ABP1 64g extra white
Biweek 64g extra white
University 64g extra white
Student 64g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 4 x 6 64g extra white
Rhodia Weekly Notebook 4 x 6 Academic    64g extra white
Miniweek 55g ivory
Space 17 55g ivory
Daily Pocket 55g ivory
Habana large ruled 90g extra white
Habana large blank 90g extra white
Habana pocket blank 90g extra white
Habana pocket ruled 64g extra white
Robert le heros large ruled 90g extra white
Robert le heros pocket ruled 64g extra white

August 11, 2010

Paper PDAs


In the era of i-everything, talking maps in every language imaginable, and phones that can practically beam you into space it's easy for paper and pencil to get lost in the shuffle. Yet, there is nothing quite like being able to write down plans, ideas, and inspirations with your own hand. I have yet to jump on the bandwagon of all-digital organization. I still keep a pint-sized planner namely (the Quo Vadis Business Pocket Weekly Planner) in my purse. My planner does not need to boot up and load before I can write something down, I can take it out and use it at my whimsy without worrying that the batteries will die or that a virus will erase everything off of it. I use my planner everyday to keep track of my work to-do's, my volunteer hours, and important upcoming events. I've used the lined pages in the back to jot own preliminary vacation plans and recipes I've come across. Surprisingly, I've even found uses for the U.S. and World maps in the back! Of course the entire notebook is littered with doodles, notes, and random math equations.

Here are my picks for other unique pocket paper PDAs (yes, I know that the acronym is technically  incorrect :)

I love the cover design of the Orla Kiely Small Bound Notebook and the fact that it is filled with lined, graph and blank paper! Similarly the Atomic Soda Minilabo Pocket Notebook has an adorable cover and the blank pages can be "converted" into lined or graph by using the cardboard underlay template; I also like the elastic band as it provides a little extra protection for the pages against the whirlwind that is my purse. Finally, I really like the Clairefontaine Life Unplugged Basic Staplebound Duo; these sturdy notebooks boast the motto "takes you were no laptop can go."

For those that like the added security of a flap or elastic strap you might like the small Robert Le Heros, Quo Vadis Habana and Clairefontaine Rainforest journals. I know that some people like to make sure they always have a notebook on hand (you never know when inspiration might strike!) so for those of you I would recommend taking a look at the small and pocket sized Clairefontaine notebooks we have in sets of 10.

Don't count them out because they're small, endless possibilities await within-- no batteries needed. Do you keep a pocket notebook or planner? What do you use it for?

August 04, 2010

Clairefontaine Paper Variations

Clairefontaine is well-known for making high quality paper in a large variety of sizes, styles and purposes. How do you go about deciding which kind of Clairefontaine paper is best to fit your needs? Here’s some handy information from the Exaclair website that can really help:

Clairefontaine Paper Chart

Notebooks90 gExtra white paper, except for spiral multi-subject which is a light pastel color. Ruled, ruled with margin, French ruled, graph, blank, staves (music notebook), staple bound, spiral, clothbound, hardcover
Pads90 gExtra white paper, staple bound, spiral
Triomphe Tablets90 gExtra white, blank, ruled
DCP Paper100 gBright white, blank
Graf it Sketch Pads90 gWhite
Spiral Drawing Pads120 gWhite, medium tooth surface
Spiral Sketch Pads90 gWhite, medium tooth surface
Spiral Watercolor Pads300 gWhite, cold pressed
Calligraphy Pad130 gIvory, simili Japon paper
"Fontaine" Watercolor300 g100% cotton rag, natural white, cold pressed
"Ingres" Pastel Pad130 gWhite - slight ivory tinge
Color - assorted, sand, almond, ochre, sooty black
Laid finish
Oil Pad240 gWhite - linen texture
Acrylic 360 gWhite, hot pressed
Pollen Stationery
210 g
120 g
22 colors
  All sheets and cards
  All envelopes

In addition to the difference in types of Clairefontaine paper, many people wonder how Rhodia paper compares to Clairefontaine paper. If you'd like to know the answer, the Rhodia Drive blog explains the difference between Rhodia and Clairefontaine Paper.

Cole at The Orchard gives us her take on the differences between Clairefontaine Digital Color Printing Paper, Ingres Pastel Pad, Graf it Sketchpad and the Kalligraphie Pad, as well as giving us a nice comparison of the Rhodia Webnotebook and the Quo Vadis Habana Journal.

What’s your favorite Clairefontaine paper?

April 28, 2010

Don't Be List-Less!

Do you keep lists? To-do lists, shopping lists, goals, action plans, appointments, what else do you keep lists of? Even though I have an iPhone and a lap top computer I still like to have my lists on paper. I find that the act of writing my thoughts down on paper helps me to remember things and to reorganize.

Daily to-do lists are really helpful if you’re busy like me. I like to write all of the most important to-do items at the top of my list, and write the less important tasks at the bottom. If I happen to be driving around that day I group my to-do items by location to make the most of my time and travel expenses. One of the most satisfying things about having a paper list is crossing the tasks off as they are completed! The next day I carry over any unfinished tasks to my new list.

A suggestion I recently heard but have yet to try is writing each of your to-do items on separate index cards. Then divide your index cards into two groups – the first group is for tasks you would like to get done today, the second group is for things to do tomorrow. When tomorrow comes, reorganize your index cards into the same two groups and repeat. Exacompta Index Cards would be great for this purpose since they are so wonderful to use with fountain pens. They also have a grid pattern on them so that any edge of the card can be the top.

One trick to making paper lists work is remembering to bring them with you! I often tape these lists to the door I go through when I leave in the morning so I’m sure not to forget them. Now, Bob’s Your Uncle has made this even simpler with their Handy Handle Pad. No more tape is required since this notepad hangs right on the door handle. If you’re the type that has a pretty extensive daily to-do list Bob’s Your Uncle also makes the No Tomorrow Planner Pad with generous space for appointments and other lists. Just tear off the page and go! If you like to make lists of pros and cons when making decisions there’s even a list pad for that, the Yeah…But List Pad has two columns especially for this purpose.

There are many shapes, sizes and styles of list pads to choose from. Behance, known for its Action Method product line, has a couple of pocket size options to help increase your productivity – the Action Runner and Action Cards. Padblocks makes magnetic list pads with birds or dogs as well as list pads decorated with cats and flowers. Rhodia has list pads in orange and black, and we even have a Googims Time is Money checklist. What’s your favorite list pad and what do you use it for?

April 21, 2010

Equation for the Perfect Writing Tools

If you are particular about what you write with like me, you may agree that the following equation, when put together just right, adds up to a great writing experience:

Pen (A) + Ink (B) + Paper (C) = The Perfect Writing Experience (YAY)!

There is no right or wrong answer to this equation since the answer will depend on the preferences and tastes of the writer.

I’m still in the process of experimenting with pens, inks and papers to see what works for me. Being a Lefty adds some additional challenges since I’m always trying to avoid a big mess of smeared ink. Much to my dismay, I’ve discovered that I am not able to use Clairefontaine’s fabulously smooth 90g white paper for everyday writing with a fountain pen. Almost all fountain pen ink dries too slowly on this paper for my style of left-handed writing and I make a huge mess. *Sniff* However, I can use this paper successfully with a fine nib Platinum Preppy fountain pen using Platinum ink cartridges, Pentel Energel or Slicci gel pens, or some other non-fountain pens and pencils. I’m in the process of testing other types of Clairefontaine paper such as the Graf it sketch pads to see if I can use it regularly with fountain pens. It seems that I need a paper that is slightly absorbent and not too coated, that still resists ink feathering and bleed-through. Right now I am loving J. Herbin Ink since it seems to have a pretty decent drying time. As regards to the pen I use, well, is it possible to have too many pens? I tend to write with whatever I’m in the mood for that particular day.

This is where I need to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell me what your perfect writing tools are. I’d love to get some valuable tips from other writers!

April 14, 2010

Dot Grid Notebooks

Dot grid paper is a fun alternative to traditional ruled or graph paper. With a dot grid any edge of the page can be “up”.  This paper is visually less cluttered than graph or ruled paper, but still provides a guide for those who like to keep their writing in a straight line. A great choice for those who like to write and doodle on the same paper! It’s nice to see the variety of choices is increasing for those who prefer dot grid paper.

Rhodia just introduced the dotPad which is a top stapled notepad available in four different sizes. The Rhodia dotPad contains white paper with pale violet dots in a 5mm x 5mm grid. This paper is super smooth and loved by fountain pen users around the world. We have a handful of these notepads available with more to follow.

The Behance Dot Grid Book is a large spiral-bound notebook filled with white paper dotted by a light grey geometric dot matrix. Behance’s other notebooks such as the Action Book and Action Pad are designed to increase productivity and organization in your life and incorporate dot grids into their designs.

Bob’s Your Uncle Pretty Vacant spiral-bound notebook offers cream colored paper with pale green dots. Gotta love the green dots! Great for doodling, sketching, drafting, or writing and made from responsibly managed forests.

WRITERSBLOK notebooks have a stitched binding, are available in small, medium and large sizes and contain cream paper with a very subtle light grey 5mm x 5mm dot grid. You can feel good using these notebooks because a percentage of sales from WRITERSBLOK goes to literacy-related programs around the USA.

Do you love dot grid paper as much as we do? What do you use your dot grid notepads for?

UPDATE: Writer's Bloc now has a webpage dedicated to Dot Grid Notebooks. Take a look and check out the latest notebooks with dot grid paper. 

February 17, 2010

What is 90 g Paper?

When paper has a weight of 90 g (or gm/m2, gsm, g/m2), this means that one sheet of this paper that is one square meter in size weighs 90 grams. Paper that is 80 g would most often be lighter and thinner than 90 g paper, paper that is 100 g would be thicker and heavier. This European measurement is approximately equal to the English measurement of 24 lb. bond/writing or 60 lb. text paper. I'm not even going to attempt to explain the complicated English method of measuring paper density, but you can read about it on Wikipedia if you wish.

Clairefontaine 90 g paper is well-known and loved by fountain pen users the world over. The weight of this paper combined with Clairefontaine's super smooth finish performs very well with fountain pen nibs and ink. There is very minimal, if any, problems with fountain pen ink on this paper such as bleeding through the paper, feathering or showing through to the other side. If you haven't already tried Clairefontaine's famous paper why not add some to your collection. Your fountain pen and your hand will thank you!

January 20, 2010

Clairefontaine and Kawaiko

While shopping in Paris I discovered that Clairefontaine has partnered with Kawaiko to create a line of cute notebooks and more that combine Japanese and French fashion. The result is a flowery, funky mix featuring four very different but very fashionable girls who are students in a school of design - Kima, Miio, Elea and Lina.

I brought home a large notebook with Clairefontaine graph paper and a picture of Lina wearing a Kimono on the front cover. You can even purchase matching Kawaiko/Clairefontaine computer bags, makeup bags, backpacks, tote bags, pencil sharpeners, waste paper baskets, agendas, notepads and more. Wouldn't it be nice to see some of these things in the USA!

If you're wondering what Harajuku inspired French fashion looks like take a look at the Kawaiko store website.

Even though most of us can only drool over the enormous variety of Clairefontaine products in France, in the USA we can still enjoy a wide selection of Clairefontaine products with the famous super smooth paper writers love.

October 28, 2009

Clairefontaine Cover Designs

It seems Clairefontaine is now printing notebooks with a new cover design that reminds me of computer graphics in the movie The Matrix. After picking up these notebooks in Paris and wondering whether or not this was an preview of what was to come in the USA, Writer's Bloc noticed a handful of one size of Clairefontaine notebooks coming in with similar cover designs. Perhaps the future line of laminated Clairefontaine covers will incorporate this style of design. We'll have to wait and see...

Clairefontaine Paris also sells notepads with colorful and durable translucent plastic covers. I grabbed a few of these notebooks in the 6 3/4" x 8 3/4" size with French ruled paper. These covers seem like they would be especially durable and resistant to creasing, great for a notebook with contents that you plan to save. In the future perhaps we'll see this line of Clairefontaine notebooks in the USA too. We'll be watching for them!

September 29, 2009

Do Students in France Really Use French Rule Paper?

French Rule Notebook at the Virgin Store

After my recent visit to Paris during the height of back to school shopping I would have to say, YES,  students in France really do commonly use French rule paper. While shopping I observed parents and students busily filling their shopping baskets with loose sheets and notebooks filled with French rule, or Séyès paper.

I found the two most common sizes of paper were A4, or 8 1/4" x 11 3/4", and 6 5/8" x 8 5/8". The smaller size of paper was even available in loose sheets and there were nice compact size binders to hold these pages as well.

Clairefontaine paper was everywhere! Just look at these stacks of Clairefontaine French rule copies doubles perforees and loose sheets! The available quantity and variety of Clairefontaine paper was definitely enough to make this USA shopper jealous! I might just have to plan a return trip to France and bring an extra suitcase.

Clairefontaine Copies Doubles Perforees and Loose Sheets

August 25, 2009

Famous Fans of Clairefontaine

Exaclair gives us some insight into famous fans of Clairefontaine paper. There's quite a list, and we know this isn't all inclusive:

Carla Bruni, Carrie Bradshaw, John Berendt, David Mamet, Claire Messud, Paul Auster, Christina Baldwin, Lillian Ross, Lyn Harris, Karine Moline, Kim France, Anne Stuart, J. Sperling Reich, Carol L. Skolnick, Susan Wiggs, Karen Traviss and Hawksley Workman all regularly use Clairefontaine paper.

In case you don't know who some of these people are, you can read about them on Exaclair's website. Many of them are well-known authors and writers who would know a quality notebook when they used one!

One of our favorite excerpts from Exaclair is the information about Susan Wiggs:

"Best selling author Susan Wiggs, in her recent novel, Passing through Paradise, devised a heroine who uses Clairefontaine tablets and peacock-blue ink. This is no surprise, since the author herself always writes her first drafts with a special fountain pen, peacock-blue ink, and, yes, Clairefontaine notebooks."

Even not-so-famous writers like ourselves have caught on to why Clairefontaine is simply the best paper in the world for writing!

Clairefontaine hard cover notebooks

July 14, 2009

Rhodia Webnotebook

Rhodia Webnotebook
The much-anticipated Rhodia Webnotebook has finally arrived in our shop and we found there is a lot to like about this new notebook! Rhodia notepads are known worldwide for their bright orange covers and smooth grid paper, and the Rhodia Webnotebook now has some new features to offer.

First of all, the paper is not white and does not have the famous Rhodia grid. Rather, it is a pleasing soft ivory color with grey lines spaced a comfortable 7mm apart. The 90g paper found in both the small and medium size Webnotebooks is made by Clairefontaine so it is super-smooth and is a very good choice for fountain pen users. When we tested it with a handful of our fountain pens we found that our ink did not bleed through the paper and the ink see-through was limited enough that you could write on both sides of the page.

The Webnotebook has an Italian leatherette hard-cover that is soft to the touch. It has a nicely embossed Rhodia logo in the center of the front cover and a matching elastic closure attached to the back cover to keep it securely closed. Inside the cover we found that the endsheets of the notebook and the back pocket matched the cover color which is nice touch. We also like the rounded corners and the matching ribbon marker to help you find your place. If you are a fountain pen user like we are here at Writer's Bloc, the Rhodia Webnotebook might just become your new favorite!

June 30, 2009

What is French Ruled Paper?

Simply put, French ruled or Séyès paper is the standard lined paper used by students in France. It is as commonly used in France as college ruled paper is used in the USA.

French ruled paper consists of an 8mm x 8mm grid, with lighter or thinner horizontal lines spaced 2mm apart inside the main grid. There is a left margin, as well as some space without the horizontal lines at the top and bottom of the page.

This paper is useful for students to learn French cursive, and is an excellent tool for anyone to learn cursive writing, to improve their handwriting or practice calligraphy.

The vertical grid lines are useful to add a nice visual form to written essays etc. Indentations, such as at the beginning of a paragraph, can be kept consistent using these vertical lines.

Besides using this paper for regular writing and note taking, I have heard that some people use this paper to record lab results, do bookkeeping, create matrices, as well as creating grading rubrics. Others use it because they love paper with very narrow lines. I can't help but thinking that this would be good paper for creating crossword or sudoku puzzles, or maybe even for practicing Chinese or Korean writing. Whatever you want to use it for, Writer's Bloc now has an expanded line of Clairefontaine's French Ruled paper. Why not think outside the lines and give it a try to see why so many people love it!

March 24, 2009

2, Rouge Polypro Notebook

Atomic Soda Minilabo Outer Space

First of all, can I point out that the covers of the Atomic Soda Minilabo and 2 Rouge polypro (short for polypropelene) notebooks are absolutely hilarious? Look at the eyes on that little green alien! I am actually using the "Love" notebook, which states, "product necessary for love." I'm not totally sure what it means, but it's funny. Really, I fell in love with these notebooks for their covers alone.

Turns out, the cover is only the beginning of how GREAT these notebooks are. The big spiral binding is ultra durable, never snags, and very practical. I use this notebook to take notes, sometimes in places where tables are not readily available so the spiral binding and plastic cover makes writing in my lap totally comfortable. The pages of the notebook are lined on one side and blank on the other, which obviously means you can write and/or draw, but it can be used other ways too. I've been using it so that I take notes from a talk or meeting on the lined side, and then use the blank side to write down how I can apply the information to myself. It's like having a sectioned notebook, but even more convenient! Finally the paper is great. It's thick and smooth, but not too glossy, which is great for writing with any kind of pen (even the free ones from your insurance agent or school secretary). Overall I am a BIG fan of this notebook cute, funny, and totally practical, what more could a girl ask for?

March 17, 2009

"Her Words" Composition Notebook

Her Words That's The Way It Is

I have been using the Her Words notebook (part of the Live Inspired collection by Compendium) for a few weeks now, and I must say I am quite fond of it. I use it as my notebook for work so it is packed with notes and ideas written in dozens of different inks. So far the paper has performed fairly well. The only ink that has bleed through is a dark blue ink from a fountain pen that writes wet, otherwise all gel pens, dark pencils, and other inks have stayed where they were meant to be. The college ruled lines are perfect for my medium-small sized handwriting, and the narrow margins allow for maximum page use, which is important to me. Finally, I love that it is lightweight but super durable. I have thrown it in bags, backpacks, and even the backseat of my car, but the semi-hard cover has kept it from harm. In fact, it still really looks brand new! I would definitely recommend this notebook to any of my girlfriends, especially the ones that enjoy inspirational quotes and pretty designs.


March 03, 2009

Rhodia Treasure Box Winner

Thanks to all who participated in our Rhodia Treasure Box giveaway. There are many of you that love Rhodia and we appreciate all of your comments! We enjoyed reading your thoughts about which Rhodia products you use and why, as well as what your wish lists are.

The winner is Jill who posted a comment on February 10th. Congratulations Jill!

Compendium Reporter Style Notebook Review

Compendium is a Seattle-based company that has a line of inspiring, fresh and design-rich products including notebooks. I recently got my hands on the Hmm... Reporter Style Notebook and wondered how practical this notebook style would be and how suitable it would be for fountain pen use.

This notebook is 3.75” W x 5.5” H which is a nice size to fit in your purse and pocket. The elastic is snappy enough to keep the notebook securely closed and it is orange which is one of my favorite colors! The textured hard cover is a nice firm surface that allows me to write easily even when there is no desk or table nearby. The binding is sewn so the pages do not fall out and the pages open easily. As a left-handed writer I also appreciate that there are no spirals or rings or bulky binding to get in the way of my writing!

The paper is smooth and heavy weight, and in the Hmm... Notebook it is a nice ivory color with subtle pink dotted lines that are a nice guide, but aren't overpowering. On the bottom of random pages there are some inspiring and some humorous quotes such as "You're only given a spark of madness. You musn't lose it." by Robin Williams and "Ideas come from everywhere. Be open to them." by Alfred Hitchcock. For those of you that prefer blank pages, other designs of the Compendium Reporter Style Notebook are available with blank paper.

Compendium's heavy weight paper performed pretty well with fountain pens. There was no feathering and no see-through with my fountain pens, however, there was some bleed-through when I used a medium LAMY nib along with a very wet LAMY ink flow. The other fine or medium fountain pens I used with Noodlers, Platinum Preppy or Pelikan ink had no bleed-through and I could easily write smoothly on both sides of the paper.

Being left-handed I am rather particular about my pens and paper am often underwhelmed at their performance. For a long time I had no urge to try anything new since I wouldn't like it anyway. Since I've been working at Writer's Bloc I've realized there are pens and paper out there that I can actually enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed using fine tip gel pens with this notebook. The fine tips did not poke through the paper, the gel pens wrote smoothly and did not skip. I think the Pentel Slicci was my favorite pen to use in combination with Compendium's Reporter Style Notebook. Would I buy this notebook again? Yes!

February 03, 2009

Rhodia Treasure Box Giveaway!



Rhodia's original notepad design dates all the way back to the 1930's and it hasn't changed since! These lovable orange notepads have a scored folding front cover that folds neatly behind the pad and they contain environmentally friendly Clairefontaine paper. The 80g paper is super-smooth, acid-free and fountain pen friendly. Although Rhodia paper is available as graph, blank and ruled, the graph paper remains the favorite of creative people who sketch, do hand drafting and take notes.

The Rhodia Treasure Box cleverly looks just like a large Rhodia notepad. Open the cover to find 4 Rhodia graph paper notepads of various sizes and 2 triangular shaped Rhodia pencils. These make great gifts!


We want to hear from you! Leave a comment on our blog telling us (1) what Rhodia product is your personal favorite and (2) why you like it. If you've never used Rhodia, then we would appreciate knowing which Rhodia product you'd like to try first! One of you Commenters will be chosen to receive a Rhodia Treasure Box.

Comments must be received by February 28, 2009. Giveaway open to residents of the USA only. Winner will be chosen by March 7, 2009 and will be contacted by email. Giveaway is not open to employees of Writer's Bloc.


July 08, 2008

Staedtler Aquarell Pencils & Clairefontaine Sketch Pad

Ever since I heard about Staedtler's Ergosoft Aquarell Coloured Pencils I have been wanting to give them a try. These pencils have watercolor lead for dry and wet blending, providing a wide range of creative possibilities when coloring, drawing or watercoloring with water and brush. I'm not an artist, but this sounded like fun! Even though Clairefontaine makes watercolor pads, I decided to pair the pencils up with a Clairefontaine Sketch Pad because the paper has a smoother finish. For my first experiment I doodled a picture of my cat, Mulder. Here is what the picture looked like before using a wet paintbrush:

Here is what the picture looked like after using a wet paintbrush:

This was created simply by making a pencil sketch first, and then applying a small wet paintbrush. As soon as the colors got wet they seemed to "melt" and became brighter and more intense. Different color shades could easily be blended. The paper did wrinkle a bit, so the heavier weight watercolor paper might have been better, but I felt the smoother sketch pad paper might be easier for making fine pencil lines. This was a fun project and I'm looking forward to trying some different techniques. Which picture looks better? I'll let you decide....

If any of you have artwork created by Staedtler Aquarell pencils you would like to share, please email it to us at We'll share our favorites in a future blog post!


May 13, 2008

Clairefontaine's Earth Friendly Paper


Before I started working at Writer's Bloc I felt that all paper had pretty much the same impact on the environment and that the only thing we could contribute was to recycle as much as possible. Now I realize we can also make the choice to buy paper that is manufactured in ways that keep the environment in mind.

The Exaclair website mentions this about the mill where Clairefontaine paper is made: "The water is so clean when it leaves the facility local people can fish, swim and boat downstream within sight of the mill." Wow! I was impressed.

It further states: "Made only with pulp from sustainable forests, Clairefontaine paper has been certified according to recognized international standards and independent third parties such as the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and others. These certifications as ensure the protection of endangered wildlife habitats."

I also learned that Clairefontaine supplies 80% of its own energy and has won environmental awards for its clean paper making technology. All of this combined with the fact that this paper has a blissfully smooth satin finish means that I will be a Clairefontaine customer from now on!

Other websites that mention Clairefontaine: Dolce Bellezza, Absolute Write.

April 25, 2008

Le Petit Prince




Le Petit Prince, or as most of you might know it, The Little Prince, is a novella published in 1943 by French aviator Antoine de Saint Exupery. The Little Prince has been translated into over 180 languages and approximately 80 million copies have been sold which makes it one of the world's 50 best-selling books

The whimsical drawings reproduced in most versions of the book are done by Saint Exupery himself. One drawing gives us a view of The Prince on his house-sized planet, B612, which has three volcanoes (two active, and one dormant) and a rose. We also see him caring for his planet by digging up the baobab trees that are constantly trying to grow there. If the baobab trees become too many the asteroid is in danger of being split into pieces! Before travelling to earth, The Prince visits other asteroids, one of which is inhabited by a sleepless Lamplighter. The Prince shows much empathy for him as this Lamplighter must light and extinguish a lamp once a minute to keep up with his asteriod's speedy rotation.

A pilot lost in the Sahara Desert meets The Prince when he arrives on earth and creates a portrait of this young extraterrestrial with golden curly hair and princely robes. The Little Prince also meets and tames a fox who explains to The Prince that even though there are many roses, his rose is unique and special, because she is the one that he loves. In another drawing we see The Prince sitting on the ruins of a stone wall with a poisonous yellow snake at the bottom, and in case you haven't read the book we won't tell you what happens next! 

Le Petit Prince notepads and planners by Art Deco 7321 are decorated with many of these memorable drawings and are now available at our Writer's Bloc online store. If you are not yet familiar with it, why not pick up a copy of Le Petit Prince at your local library or bookstore and see for yourself why this book has such enduring popularity.