Archive for Artist Inspiration

Weaving a 4 Strand Braid

image

About a hundred years ago, after much teasing from my two older cousins that I couldn’t make a simple braid, my great aunt Evelyn sat me down on her bed with a bag of shoestring licorice and proceeded to teach me how to make a three strand braid. (Which I got to eat once completed.) 

While I never held much interest in knitting or crocheting, I do enjoy using different weaving techniques like braiding, twining and knotless netting in my mixed media art projects and can never walk past a yarn shop without going in. Yesterday I happened upon the gigantic sale tables of yarn at a local store called Conversational Threads in Emmaus, PA where I bought myself several skeins of pretty colors that I thought I might eventually use when I make dream catchers.

After balling up the yarn this afternoon, I was curious how these three colors might look braided together. I decided that I wanted to do a 4 strand braid but needed a refresher – so I looked to YouTube for assistance and found the following video:

This isn’t the way I remembered making them but I thought I’d give it a try and was pleasantly surprised with the results.

4 strand braid

This was made with a total of 12 strands loosely woven which resulted in the braid being flat and wide. While this was only an experiment, a braid like this could be used as a simple wrapped bracelet, necklace, belt, headband…

For all of the Dad’s out there – you’ll win super mega bonus points with your little girls if you learn to braid their hair like this.

Looking for Calligraphic Inspiration?

Biffybeans Calligraphy Folded Pen

I received an e-mail the other day from Roy M. asking if I knew of any good calligraphy blogs. As I did not, I began to Google around. I found sites which featured eye candy like Gentian Osman’s at Drawing with a Squirrel, Schin Loong’s at Open Ink Stand, and Eliza Holliday’s at  The Letterist.

Molly Suber Thorpe at Plurabelle Calligraphy has written a book entitled Modern Calligraphy and offers physical workshops. Molly Lever at  Art du Jour offers online workshops.

A Place to Flourish offers the anticipations, experiences and reflections of a calligrapher.

But I really seemed to have struck the mother load when I found this post: 40 Fantastic Calligraphy Blogs which has links from calligraphy artists around the world  - many who are are largely influenced by the cultures in which they live and work.

Does anyone else know of any good calligraphy blogs?

The image above is my own. That’s Rouge Hematite in a handmade folded pen.

 

Sketching on Rhodia Paper: What you need to know.

cednocon

In regards to Rhodia products imported into the USA, white and yellow Rhodia papers are typically 80g and ivory Rhodia paper is 90g. All of these papers are fountain pen friendly, acid free and PH neutral. For the reasons that these papers are fountain pen friendly, it also means that you may notice a slight delay with how long it takes the ink to dry. The size of the pen’s nib in combination with the type of ink may also play a factor in drying time. (Some inks dry faster than others. Humidity is also to be considered.)

When we say “fountain pen friendly” we mean that water based fountain pen inks will not feather or bleed through to the other side of the page, Note that there may be exceptions to this rule if you are using a very broad wet nib.

The 90g papers are reported to be the smoothest of the bunch with the 80g right on its heels. The yellow paper is a little different than the rest and has a slightly toothier surface.

Speaking as an artist, pens, pencils and markers all pretty much glide across the smooth white and ivory Rhodia papers. It will be a matter of personal preference whether or not this is a desirable attribute while sketching. (For what it’s worth, I’ve doodled quite extensively in my Webbies using a variety of fountain pen inks. I also enjoy using drawing pens such as Faber Castell Pitt Pens and a variety of Japanese calligraphy pens,) 

Paper colors and availability:

80g White Rhodia paper is available in the widest variety of sizes and formats: head stapled pads, (aka “Bloc Rhodia Pads”) side stapled padsspiral pads… View more on RhodiaPads.com. 

90g Ivory Rhodia paper: is available in a head stapled tablet known as the “R” Premium Pad. It is also available in the following hard covered books: Webnotebook, (Webbie), Landscape Webnotebook, Webnotepad, and the Rhodiarama

80g Yellow Rhodia paper is only available (in the US) in one 8 1/4 x 12 1/2″  head stapled tablet.

90g White Rhodia paper is only available in one product in the USA: The Rhodia Meeting Book 90. 

Image courtesy of cednocon on Instagram

 

Permission to Doodle

butch_gordon

Are you a doodler?

By allowing yourself to be creative in a way that is not dependent on any particular outcome, you can focus on the process itself and simply appreciate your hand moving the pen across the surface of the paper.

The next time you find yourself waiting at the doctor’s office, the DMV, or when picking up your children after school, I’d like challenge you to reach for a paper and pencil and allow yourself to doodle. If this is something you don’t normally do, I think you might be surprised at how calming and meditative the process may be.

Image courtesy of butch_gordon on Instagram

 

Rhodia Flip Animation Book

Tiny Rhodia and Pencils

Little Rhodia pads are perfect for flip animation, don’t you think? The N° 10 is 2×3″ and  the Nº 11 is 3×4″. The graph ruling helps the artist guide the drawing from one page to the next. 

The first flip book appeared in September, 1868, when it was patented by John Barnes Linnett under the name kineograph (“moving picture”). A flip book is a book with a series of pictures that vary gradually from one page to the next, so that when the pages are turned rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion or some other change. (Per Wiki)

Want to make your own flip book? Instructions can be found on Wired how-to. 

This video above is courtesy of Rob MacKay. Visit Rob’s blog here, or find him on Instagram via roberthfx5000. (If you are unable to see the embedded video, click here to watch it: Flip Animation)

 

The Sharpened Pencil

jdee

While I probably own at least half a dozen manual pencil sharpeners, I am always misplacing them. When I do find one, it’s usually the one that consistently chews the point off my pencil requiring me to re-sharpen them again and again leaving me with half the pencil I started with. I have a really awesome electric sharpener in my studio but I always seem to forget my pencils at home. I also have an older battery-operated unit which doesn’t seem to have the gusto (chewing power) that it once had which probably should be retired.

Do you have a favorite tried and true pencil sharpener? What brand? I may be looking for a new one… (I keep eyeballing those retro glass sharpeners by Alvin- especially the red one.)

Image courtesy of jdee on Instagram

More Plain Paper?

puww

We’ve received several requests for plain paged notebooks. Most recently, this message from a Turkish university student and self-proclaimed “stationery nerd”:

“We university students love and buy and use plain paged notebooks, buy most companies do not have paper as qualified as yours. We want to use Rhodia’s quality papered notebooks, and we want them to be plain paged please.”

We’ve also heard specific requests for spiral bound plain paged books – which is one product I’d swipe up in a heartbeat.

Are you a fan of unruled paper? Do you use it primarily for writing, sketching, or a combination of both?

Image courtesy of puww on Instagram.

 

Writing Wild

cheryl-strayed-wild

Have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed? I just finished it last night – literally only a few days after I’d started it because I couldn’t put it down. The book is Cheryl’s story of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail – a 2650 mile trail that runs from Mexico to Canada. It found it riveting because of all the completely amazing things she did wrong which could have gotten her killed over, and over, and over again as she chose to tackle this monumental journey with close to zero experience. She also did it alone.

During and after my read of Wild, I started wondering how she was able to recall such detail about her experiences on the trail. She passingly mentioned having a sketchbook in her backpack but never mentioned writing in it. A quick visit to the FAQ on her website explains:

“I kept a particularly detailed one (journal) on my PCT hike, which I noted passingly in WILD. My journal was enormously helpful to me as I wrote the book, often providing me with details I’d have forgotten. I also researched facts and consulted others about their recollection and interpretation of some of the events I wrote about in WILD, but, like any memoir, WILD is based primarily on memory. I re-conjured moments, conversations, feelings, landscapes, and the people I met as I remembered them from my own point of view.”

I think about the dedication it must have took to detail her trip. Through the sweltering heat, the bitter cold, while hungry, exhausted and in pain, she still managed to write about it.

 

The Humble Eraser

Pencil eraser

Did you know that different kinds of erasers exist for different purposes? Or that one might work better than another?

From Pencil Talk: Erasers: The Pink Pearl, the Staedtler Mars plastic, and others

From A Penchant for Paper: The Great Eraser Review: Pentel Hi-Polymer, Staedtler Mars Plastic, and Staples Brand Erasers

From Toad Hollow Studio: The Best Erasers for Graphite Pencil Drawing

From Lung Sketching Scrolls: The Pencil Eraser Comparison Review that never Was

From About.Com Chemistry: How Do Pencil Erasers Work?

 

Vision Board Video Follow Up

Stephanie Smith Vision Board

Back in December, I wrote a post about how I’d been interviewed in my art studio by a local television lifestyle program called “Save the Kales!” The segment was about using Vision Boards as a tool to being about a desired situation. Simple to create, the primary component is intention followed by collaging images and words that support your goal.

You can watch the clip on YouTube at this link.  (Filmed in one take, I was a bit nervous.) 

Rhodia Journal Swap

Journal Swap Art

In 2012 we created the first ever Rhodia Journal Swap. The idea was simple - 12 people in the US sending Rhodia Webnotebooks from one person to the next, each adding content as they go and sharing some of their completed pages on a group Tumblr blog.

Despite everyone’s best intentions to participate in a fun and ongoing project, life occasionally took precedence over participation. The initial momentum began to waver several months into this year long project and would eventually slow to a crawl as people were receiving books faster then they could create content – ultimately keeping the swap from progressing as scheduled and leaving some people without books to create in for months on end.

Some of the positive feedback we heard from participants? 

  • What I liked: the writings, artwork, etc. from the contributors were amazing. …  I loved sharing stories with them, discovering their blogs  etc.
  • I loved the writings and art in my book. The swappers chosen were all talented and interesting individuals.
  • I’ve met (virtually) several new people… at least three I now communicate with regularly. New friends are always nice!
  • I loved the creative outlet it provided and the inspiration that came from seeing other people’s contributions.
  • The best part of the swap was seeing the work on the tumblr blog,

Areas of opportunity for future swaps? 

  • Clearer instructions on how to contribute to the Tumblr blog
  • A shared spreadsheet for tracking the books.
  • A Facebook group for communicating between participants. 
  • Less pages to work on at a time. 

Stephanie’s ideas for a future swap: 

  • Having several “micro groups” swapping concurrently. Perhaps 4-5 groups of 3 people each, with the potential of adding at least one international group.
  • Using a different Exaclair product with less pages – 6×8″ Clairefontaine Crok books are one option. (Blank pages which can hold up to a variety of art mediums)
  • Clearer instructions for posting content to Tumblr
  • Implementing a Facebook group for participants to communicate.

Do you have any additional suggestions which might improve this concept? We’d love to hear from you. 

Image above from swap participant Lou (Trillium) McCallister.

 

 

What ink properties are most important to you?

Rose Cyclamen

In Tuesday’s blog post, I asked what colors you would most like to see added to J Herbin’s “Jewel of Inks” line. Several of you, (me included) suggested more saturated versions of existing colors which made me wonder… If J. Herbin offered highly pigmented inks, (somewhere between this line and the 1670 Anniversary inks) what particular characteristics do you think would need to remain the same for them to still be uniquely Herbin inks?

What is it specifically about J. Herbin inks that you like? The flow? The shading? The smell?

My Name is Andrea and I doodle

Andrea is doodling on a large blank Webbie. To follow her 2014 daily doodle project, please go to http://biggaydragon.tumblr.com.

Thank you, Andrea!

tumblr_mzcjq23L711rof762o1_500

Friends don’t let friends let the ink dry up in their fountain pens

Cleaning Fountain Pens

The other day I spent an epic amount of time flushing the dried up ink from my fountain pens. How can you avoid havingthishappen to you? Here’s a few suggestions:

1. USE THEM! 2013 was my year of the pencil which is why my fountain pens were neglected.

2. Have 1 pen that requires minimal maintenance.If you aren’t using your pens as often, try using just one.The ink in my Sailor 1911 seems to never dry out. The pen itself and its convertor are easy to clean.

3. If you are not using your pens, take the time clean them out and store them. Thankfully, this time only half of my pens required cleaning. Perhaps a calendar reminder is in order?

4. Get to know your inks. Some inks require greater effort to flush.

5. Find someone to maintain your pens for you. Has anyone started a service to flush pens yet? Someone should. (I could have asked my studio assistant to do this for me ::smacks head:: D’oh!)

Get the Lead Out

Pentel Lead Graphite

Q: If pencil leads have actually been graphite since the mid 1500s (when graphite was discovered to leave a darker mark than lead) why are they still called leads?

A: Because when graphite was discovered, it was initially thought to be a darker form of carbon and named Plumbargo. (The Latin word for lead isplumbum.)The name graphite (“writing stone”) was coined by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789. He attempted to clear the confusion of what molybdena, plumbago and blacklead actually are after Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1778 proved that there are at least three different minerals.

While lead has hasn’t been used for writing since antiquity, lead poisoning from pencils was not uncommon because until the middle of the 1950s, the paint used for the outer coating may have contained high concentrations of lead which could be ingested if a person were to chew on the pencil. (I was admitedly a juniorhigh school pencil chewer…)

If you use mechanical pencils, do you have a favorite lead? I prefer the Pentel Hi-Polymers shown above.

More interesting pencil history can be found hereand here.

(Details on lead and graphite from Wikipedia)

Subscribe to Rhodia Drive

Enter your email address:

  

Delivered by FeedBurner

Rhodia Drive on Facebook

Search Rhodia Drive

Find Rhodia to Buy

rhodiapads.com

Local retailers and full Rhodia product lines available in the US can be found at rhodiapads.com

Check out the Rhodia Journal Swap

Rhodia Journal Swap

Visit the Rhodia Journal Swap on Tumblr

In Your Bag

Will you show us yours? Send us a photo of Rhodia in your bag to: stephanie at rhodiadrive.com so I can add it to the page.  ... Read on »

Rhodia Customization Module

Visit our customization module at Exaclair.com

Grab Your Camera and Show us Where You Buy Your Rhodia!

Target? Dick Blick? Borders? Art Brown? We want you to show us where you buy your Rhodia... The next time you are out and about,  snap us a picture of where you buy your Rhodia products so we can assemble an online gallery of local retailers. To... Read on »

Favorite Pens

Will you show us yours? Send us a photo of your favorite pen: stephanie@rhodiadrive.com so I can add it to the page. ... Read on »

David Allen of GTD on Rhodia

David Allen is a productivity consultant who is best known as the creator of the time management method known as “Getting Things Done”. David comments on the Rhodia Meeting Book: “I love this Rhodia pad. First, the paper stands... Read on »

Chef Hosea Rosenberg on Rhodia

Season 5 (Bravo Network) Top Chef Hosea Rosenberg, originally from Taos, New Mexico, was always good at math. After graduating 3rd in his class at Taos High School, he moved to Boulder, CO to study at the University of Colorado. His dream... Read on »

Download the Life Noted App

Life Noted App

Visit the App Store on your iOS 7 device to download Life Noted

Would you like to be a guest blogger on Rhodia Drive?

If so, contact me via e-mail at stephanie at rhodiadrive dot com with your proposed subject matter. We are looking for posts ranging in length from 100-500 words. Photos to accompany the article are a welcome bonus. If you have been reading... Read on »

Journaling Blogs

Other Sites of Interest

Archives

Exaclair Themed Videos

Rhodia Classic Pad Showcase

PanPastel and Rhodia

Rhodia Fashion Show

Tom Bihn loves Rhodia

Clairefontaine Basics - Life. Unplugged

InkNouveau.com Clairefontaine vs. Rhodia

Alberto Lung reviews the Rhodia Pencil

Testing a vintage Mabie Swan fountain pen with a lot of flex - on a Rhodia Pad

Click here to read the story behind this video.


About

Rhodia Drive is a blog about Rhodia notebooks and the people who use them. It’s a place where devotees of this “French orange notebook” contribute ideas, experiences and links on the latest tools, events and general notebook-related news.

Rhodia Drive attracts creative people passionate about their Rhodia. Designers and artists, writers and pen collectors, thinkers and free spirits—anyone who loves notebooks—come together on Rhodia Drive.