Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rhodia Bloc No 12 Paper Pad Review

Time for our first paper/pad review! You have probably heard of Rhodia before, but if you haven't, they are a French company that produces great stationery and paper pad-like items. They are known for their superior paper, great pad size configurations, and they are also eco-conscious to boot.

There's quite a few styles in their line-up, but for today we are going to look at the Rhodia Bloc No 12, my first Rhodia pad ever (notice that it is a little beat up, but still in amazingly good condition, though it's been bouncing around in my backpack for three months):

On the back we see a bunch of neat info about the pad:

The size is 3.3 x 4.7 inches, the "5 x 5" signifies that it's a squared pad (i.e. "graph paper) with 5 squares per inch (which is slimmer than standard US graph paper, usually 4 x 4 - I like the slimmer squares of the Rhodia!). "Bloc-Rhodia" is the name of their line of paper pads, and the all come with 80g paper (which is short for 80g/m^2, i.e. a square meter of this paper weighs 80 grams), in a vellum finish. All of the above is held together with a waxed, cardstock cover (making it resistant to damage from accidental water spills!) and a hefty staple through it all.

Just for fun, took some pics of the pad next to a ruler. Yup, the dimensions definitely seem to match the description:

What really makes these pads shine is that nice, smooth 80g paper:

Not only does the finish lead to a very smooth writing experience, regardless of implement, but it also is of substantial enough weight that fountain pens (unless very wet writers) don't bleed through! Yay! Standard notebooks and even journals (like the pricey ones you can get at brick and mortar bookstores) can't really handle fountain pens, so this is a huge boon. In fact, aside from Rhodia and other Clairefontaine-related manufacturers, unless you get expensive specialty paper (like Crane etc.) and bind your own pads, I don't know where you can get fountain-pen friendly notebooks or pens in the US.

Here is a writing sample:

Really, whatever you try to write with, it's always a pleasure on the Rhodias. Above, I wrote with pencil, a gel pen, a flexy fountain pen, highlighter, and a Sharpie. The only one that bled through (which is distinct from 'shadowing' which is inevitable with darker inks, unless you write on a piece of wood or something), was the Sharpie, which is notorious for this of course, being a permanent marker:

Actually there's a tiny dot or two in the line of the fountain pen writing, where it bled through. It's places where I lingered a bit longer than I should have.

Overall verdict: Rhodia pads are awesome, and while this was about 3~4 bucks, which I thought at first was pricey, it's been really great as a scratch pad, something to practice my calligraphy on in a portable fashion, and has lasted me three months and I still haven't used it all. Of course, I have other doodle pads too, which contributed to the longetivity of this one. But it's definitely a good deal for what you get, and on top of that, there's no other places you can get a similar pad with similar quality, for any price period.

By the way, the pages are perforated, but if you don't like ripping pages out (like me), the perforations are small enough and the paper strong enough that there doesn't seem to be any danger of the sheets detaching on their own. Mine feels like a regular pad of papre. Moreover, I love how the cover has score marks to neatly fold around to the back, and the perforations are lined up exatly with the top-most score line. The Rhodia is filled with little hallmarks of precise design and manufacture like this.

Finally, I'd like to share a little tip that you might find useful. I hate it when journals half-open in my backpack, and then I mash another book down into it and the pages bend. Oh, the sadness. So I took a fat-width rubber band, one that needs to be stretched a bit to fit (so that it sits snugly), and place it at the bottom of the pad, to keep it closed in the bag:

And it's worked pretty well as a cheap way to hold the pad closed! The neat thing is that you can use the same rubber band to hold the cover and top sheets back as you're writing:

That helps a lot so that you don't have to use your off hand to hold the paper back.

I bought my Rhodia from a local art store, but you can also get them at decent stationery/card/paper stores, from your local college bookstore, and also of course JetPens. Definitely worth a look if you haven't tried these pads out!

No comments:

Post a Comment