Archive for Editorial

Noteworthy: Kate Gladstone The Handwriting Repairwoman

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Kate Gladstone teaches and remediates handwriting for individuals/audiences in the USA and elsewhere, as CEO of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works. Kate is also Director of the World Handwriting Contest. Her preference for Rhodia (generally the dot-grid format) is on grounds of quality and Kate mostly uses it with 1.5 mm italic pens, often Lamy with a teal ink (Diamine Teal or Noodler’s Squeteague.)

RD What led you on this particular career path?

I came to this career because, at age 24, I was struggling to improve my own (then) slow, painful, illegible, and ugly handwriting — a consequence of dysfunctional education along with some neurological disorders (most of which had not yet been diagnosed) As I improved my own handwriting, people whom I knew encouraged me to teach others.

My success (teaching myself and then others) — particularly interested my father, who had experienced lifelong handwriting difficulties similar to mine: during and after his Palmer Method childhood. He was the one who most encouraged me: I formally opened Handwriting Repair (now Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works) with classes offered to hospital doctors as part of staff development and quality control initiatives — in several cases, the hospitals had been on the point of losing accreditation, and/or individual doctors had been considered at high risk of facing malpractice charges, because of the consequences of poor handwriting in healthcare.

For over a decade, until electronic prescribing became common (and brought problems of its own), healthcare practitioners composed about 2/3 of my clientele. Today, my clients are anyone from schoolchildren to teenagers — some of whom contact me on their own initiative, having found me on the Internet — to folks of any age who simply want their handwriting to work, for a change (and who therefore are willing to change it so that it will work)

Additionally, many of those aged 35 and under have discovered that they cannot read cursive — and that this has numerous personally and professionally embarrassing consequences. (Fortunately, one can learn to read cursive in about an hour, because one does not have to learn to write cursive in order to learn to read it. I have taught people as young as four to read cursive if they read print — teaching that I do either personally or through the free iPad app “Read Cursive,” on which I collaborated with the educational software company WebTeamCorp.)

Nowadays, I check every new client to see if he or she can read cursive accurately and fluently — or at all. I’d the client cannot read cursive, then I teach cursive reading along with teaching italic handwriting. (In fact, I teach cursive reading by showing how cursive derived, step by step, from simpler and more legible letter formations such as those still used in italic.)

RD Why is handwriting important to you?

Handwriting matters to me for several reasons:

/1/ It’s useful and important to have a means of making your thoughts, transactions, and communications permanent without an electric power supply. Doctors and others in New Orleans found this out the hard way during Hurricane Katrina.

Just days after the worst of the disaster was being overcome in one Florida town, their largest local hospital flew me in to give the doctors some emergency handwriting training because the hospital’s Medical Records staff couldn’t read most of the handwritten records the doctors created in the four days during which the storm had knocked out the hospital’s power system and therefore the computers.

Handwriting and disaster coalesced in another way on that trip — at the hotel where the hospital had reserved me a room during my visit. Guests arriving, including me, were not being allowed to check-in because check-in depended on electronic key-cards — which weren’t working: eventually, someone had the bright idea of going out to hunt up old, retired staffers and asking them how people had checked into the hotel before computer. The answer — the hotel’s ledger book — had been in the basement since the 1980s: under a thick layer of dust, which the retired ex-staffer fetching the book had to blow off before using to teach the other staffers how to use a handwritten ledger to check the guests in.

/2/ There is some research evidence (citations on request) that students who write by hand remember more, learn better, and think more actively about their work than students who use only keyboards. PLEASE NOTE that these gains appear in all forms of handwriting, including print-writing. This point deserves emphasis because too many promoters of cursive, when they quote the research, have quietly altered the reports’ findings to generate “scientific proof” that of a superiority for cursive. This would matter less if such documentable inaccurate statements about research were ‘t made — as they are usually made — to legislators and to other decision-makers,

/3/ A third reason that handwriting to me — at school, handwriting washouts (which I once was) are often jeered (even considered unintelligent) by peers, parents, and even teachers. No child (or adult) should be subjected to this still-permitted bigotry.

RD How can one get started to improve their writing? 

To get started on improving your own writing would be a column in itself — that subject needs and deserves more than one article. Here, though, are tips that most of us can use:

■ Cross lowercase t’s as you write them. Don’t wait to go back after the entire word is written.

■ Simplify the downstrokes of letters, by keeping them as free from curves as you can, and using only about a 5-degree to 15-degree slant to the right (too much slant causes poor legibility). A slight right slant is easier to read, in a left-to-right alphabet like ours, than a slight left slant.

■ Eliminate loops wherever possible. Simply retrace your initial stroke on ascenders, or lift the pen without looping on descenders. (Most adults who write fast but legibly normally eliminate some or many loops and joiners in their handwriting.)

■ Join letters with straight lines, not curves. For example, join o to n with a straight, short horizontal line.

■ Be aware of the research on speed and legibility, Current research (citations on request) show that the highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting belong to those whose writing is print-like and semi-joined: joining only where the joins are structurally easiest and least accident-prone.

■ Use very simple, even “print-like,” formations of letters, even when they are capitals and/or are joined. Remember, capitals form only 2% of ordinary prose text (they should not receive 50+% of the elaboration and effort)

■ Most people should position the paper so that its center is in front of the writing-arm’s shoulder. To keep it in place, and move it as needed after a few words, use your non-writing hand — perhaps with a paperweight or a stress ball.

■ Even if you do nothing else as you write, quietly ask yourself — for a split-second, as you finish each letter or numeral, “Did I make this letter well — unambiguously legible — and was it easy to do so without risking accidents in the handwriting?” If you can honestly answer YES to both halves of the question, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit faster. However, if you must honestly answer “No” for both parts, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit slower. This — even if just for a few minutes a day — is a powerful means of developing legibility and speed in your handwriting, and an equally powerful means of developing your ability to perceive and evaluate these features of your own handwriting.

Please visit Kate on the web at:Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works.

Read Cursive app is specially designed to help children (and others) learn letters, sentences, words, and stories in different and interesting style. In short, this app will help the users get familiar with cursive handwriting that is going to help them learn even difficult handwriting faster.

Rhodia Product Chief Visit

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I heard yesterday that the Rhodia product chief may pay a visit to the U.S. in early March to talk about product development.

I would like to share with her product ideas suggested by Rhodia fans and retailers. Can you please let us know via a comment on this blog post what new or enhanced product you would like Rhodia to offer.  Knowing the type of use you have in mind would also be helpful.

Thanks so much for your suggestions and support.


The Art of Journaling: To Glue or Not to Glue


What do you do with the things you’ve placed inside the pocket of your journal? Do they stay inside the pocket, or do you in some way adhere them to a blank page? I usually don’t glue things in the journals I use for daily writing, but I do use a lot of glue in what I call my “Inspiration Books” where interesting images are cut from magazines and advertisements and are then arranged by color, subject or what have you. Some people call such books, “Glue Books”

Do you have a favorite adhesive? My favorite has been the Yes! paste. A little goes a long way and things stay affixed and flat. I typically apply it with a small brush that has been dipped in a small amount of water,

Want some tips on choosing the right adhesive? Check out these links: 

Glue and the Xyron Machine and Other Sticky Stuff: Sticking Things into Your Journal at Roz Wound Up

All About Adhesive at Scrapbooking 101

Want to learn more about gluebooks? 

Find a book. Find some glue. Find some things to glue. Glue with reckless abandon!

From How Discovering Gluebooks Changed My Life at Go Make Something

Glue-Booking at The Art Journal Community

Exaclair’s 2015 Catalog

Exaclair 2015 Catalog Cover (3)

We have a slew of new products from France this year. New Rhodia products in the catalog include –

-Rhodia Pocket Notepad – dot grid, handy flap cover

-80th Anniversary Gift Set

-Rhodia Ice Notepads – ruled and grid – No. 11, No. 12, No. 13, No. 16 and No. 18 sizes

-Rhodia Pencil Case – orange & black

-Top Spiral Dot Grid Pads – No. 16 & No. 18 in both orange & black

See them all here.


Tuesday Talk Back: Keeping it in, or tearing it out?


Today’s Talk Back subject: Do you keep all of the pages intact in your notebooks/tablets or are you ok with removing them?

In a perfect world I’d like to keep everything intact in all my tablets, spiral notebooks and bound journals. Why? Because in my mind, there is something both powerful and rewarding about seeing a tablet or book filled with ideas representational of a specific period in time.

In reality, my only rule is to keep bound books intact and sometimes spiral notebooks fall into that category, sometimes not. Tablets on the other hand, are regularly cannibalized for whatever task at hand.

I am most effective when I am able to work visually – which means sometimes spreading 53 individual pages out on the floor (or taping them to a wall) so I can get a better sense of how things fit together. These sheets can often be found clipped together and somewhat embarrassingly stored in gallon sized zip-lock freezer bags. (Though they are not stored in the freezer.) 

What works for you? In or out?

Tuesday Talk Back: What are you writing?

Rhodia Unlimited

Pencil or pen in your hand, we know there are words making their way onto the page in one form or another, every day in every way.

What are you writing?

In your Webbie: Do you keep a diary noting daily events? A journal filled with personal reflections? A notebook filled with favorite quotes? A sketch diary? A dream journal next to the bed to document your nocturnal travels?

Is your No. 8 almost empty from jotting down shopping lists for trips to the local farmers market? Lists of wines to buy again stuck behind a magnet on the refrigerator? Notes to UPS to leave the package with a neighbor?

Do you use the Unlimited notebook you keep in the glove box to keep track of the business mileage on your car? To record rare bird sightings at the local conservatory? Write down books read, books to read?

Are you taking full advantage of the 16×12″ No. 38 by sketching out your dream house? New garden? Mind mapping a new business idea to start a pay-what-you-can-afford restaurant?

Maybe you use a No. 18 yellow legal pad to take notes at meetings? Brainstorm new project ideas over a brown bag lunch? Or maybe you are reworking your resume or drafting a cover letter for that job you really want?

Using the No. 16 to write a bio for that online dating service? A new poem for tomorrow night’s spoken word event? For sketching the old woman sleeping on the subway? Crafting a new menu for the week?

All this and more… What are you writing?

Tuesday Talk Back: Do you THINK better on paper?


“Writing is thinking on paper, or talking to someone on paper. If you can think clearly, or if you can talk to someone about the things you know and care about, you can write – with confidence and enjoyment.”  – William Zinsser

In Saturday’s interview with Ian Hedley, he mentioned being able to think better on paper. Do you agree?

As a visual person by nature, words on a screen can often feel very one-dimensional to me. When I put pencil to paper, I can doodle in the margins, circle great ideas, cross out the not so good ones, and rearrange a series of papers on the floor to see which part of a project should come first, next, etc.

“Sketchbooks are not about being a good artist, they’re about being a good thinker.” – Jason Santa Maria

Good Ideas Grow on Paper:  “Great designers have one thing in common: their design process is centred on ideas; ideas that are more often than not developed on paper.”

The Magic of Thinking Paper 

“you slow yourself down so you can consider each thought” 

Doris Plumb uses a writing process that involves writing quickly in a journal, without thinking, so students’ ideas come out fast.

Noteworthy: Interview with Ian Hedley, UK Teacher and Blogger from Pens! Paper! Pencils!


My name’s Ian Hedley, I’ve been teaching since 1993 and I still haven’t got the hang of it. The schools I’ve worked in have tended to be in the parts of nice towns that people don’t live in if they can afford to live in nicer parts of the nice town. Lots of wonderful students, of course. I’ve taught a lot of subjects and some of them I’ve taught well(ish). The less said about my brief stint as a PE teacher the better though. I’m just glad no-one died.

RD: I can see from your Instagram images that your choice of pens, paper, & pencils are important to you when you sketch. Do they have equal value to you as a teacher? Do you do any lesson planning on paper? Any favorite Rhodia/Clairefontaine products for teacher related tasks?

Ian: I’m a headteacher these days and so don’t do as much actual teaching as I used to. I do make sure my students have access to something better than a nameless ballpoint, though, and they do appreciate it. I do plan my lessons on paper, using a printed template I came up with. Although computers are central to my work, I think better on paper.

I use a Rhodia No.16 plain notepad every day, for taking my own notes in meetings. A meeting is made a lot more interesting with a good pen on great paper.

RD: What prompted you to begin sketching? How long have you been doing it, and what advice do you have to others who would like to start?

Ian: I don’t remember when I started sketching, it was something I always did as a child. As a young teenager I used to take myself off to the river and sit and draw. As I got older I drew posters for rock discos and the band I was in but then I stopped for something like twenty years. Then, a couple of years ago, I developed a new interest in pens, pencils and paper (actually, I rekindled an old interest) and began sketching again because I wanted more ways to use them. The tools drove the act to start with but at some point I just became hooked. Now I have to draw every day. If I don’t, I get twitchy. I’m addicted.


That’s the best advice I could give to anyone who wants to draw, too. Draw every day. It doesn’t matter what. I don’t have any special talent, I just love to do it and the more I’ve drawn the better I’ve got. I hope I can keep getting better because I’m a long way from being as good as I’d like to be.


I think when you’re not as good at something as you’d like to be, you can either give up or you can try even harder to get better. If you want to draw, keep trying harder and you will get there. Anyone who can see and can hold a pencil can draw.

RD: Which are your favorite Rhodia/Clairefontaine products and why, and what are your favorite pens/inks/pencils?


Ian: The Rhodia No. 16 notepad is my favourite notepad. The paper is wonderful with fountain pens. The white paper lights up inks and there’s never any feathering or bleeding. Because it tears away easily, I can scan my notes into the computer as I make them. This is important in my work.


I love the GraF it sketchbook. The paper is great with pencils and ink and, again, it tears out easily. All the Clairefontaine sketchbooks I’ve tried have been excellent. A nice fine grain and a bright white colour.

I love J. Herbin inks, too. They do delicate colours so well. Vert Olive and Ambre de Bermanie are beautiful. And I can’t let a discussion of Rhodia products go by without mentioning the Webnotebook. The best notebook is its kind: fantastic paper, great binding, practical cover. (I just wish it was available with pure white paper.)


As far as non-Rhodia/Clairefontaine products are concerned, my favourite sketching pencils are Tombow Mono 100s and for writing I’m enjoying the General’s Cedar Pointe. My favourite inks seem to change every week, I’m very fickle. As for favourite pens, I love demonstrators and brass pens. My current favourites are the Kaweco Liliput, Pilot Custom 74 and Platinum #3776 Sai.


Find Ian on the web via his Twitter account @ian_hedley and on Instagram under user name banana_moon. Ian also blogs at Pens! Paper! Pencils! where he reviews a variety of stationery products, and offers additional images of his amazing art. A few of Ian’s Exaclair related reviews include:

Rhodia pencil review

Rhodia Webnotebook (A5, lined) notebook review

Rhodia No. 16 Block Notepad review

Clairefontaine GraF it 90g sketchbook review

The Art of Journaling: New Journal for a New Year


There’s nothing like a new journal for a new year. Was one of your holiday gifts a new journal? Need help getting started? Here’s a few ideas on how to use it: 

You can use it as a personal diary, which would include entries arranged by date, reporting on what has happened over the course of a day, week, etc. A personal diary might include personal experiences, and/or thoughts or feelings. It may also include comments on current events outside your direct experience

You can use it as a commonplace book- essentially a handwritten scrapbook filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, proverbs, prayers, etc. Commonplace books are useful as an aid in remembering useful concepts or facts, and each book becomes unique to its owners particular interests.

You could use your new journal as an urban sketchbook – one where you practice drawing on location in cities, towns and villages you live in or travel to. (Take a look at the Urban Sketchers Flickr Pool for inspiration.)


The purple journal shown above is a Rhodiarama Webbie. These notebooks are available in two sizes: Large 5 ½ x 8 ¾ ” & Pocket 3 ½ x 5 ½ ” and in 15 colors: Black, Chocolate, Taupe, Beige, Anise, Turquoise, Sapphire, Iris, Purple, Lilac, Raspberry, Poppy, Tangerine, Orange & Yellow

2015 Rhodia Drive Redesign

orange sports car

We have started a redesign of Rhodia Drive to make the latest posts easier to choose and read, especially by mobile viewers. Suggestions are welcome for other changes you would like us to consider.  We plan to have the blog redesign done and implemented by the end of January at the latest.

All the plans for 2015 aren’t complete, but we intend to continue with weekly Paper Project samplings; go back to monthly raffles of new Rhodia products; increase interviews with fans and experts; add video reviews; and perhaps even develop a fun, customized Rhodia pad just for Rhodia Drive participants and fans.

Thank you for all your support and enthusiasm.  Your good ideas, thoughtful comments and constructive criticism drives us.

All the best in 2015!





Tuesday Talk Back: New Year’s Resolutions- Yes or No?


Did you know that ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of each new year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts?

Tell us your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions. Do you make them? Typically keep them? This time each year, I make what I call a Manifestation List. On this list, I include a variety of situations I wish to manifest- from the kind of person I want to be, (compassionate, mindful, disciplined) to more goal specific desires. (Write successful grant proposals, attend more online classes.) 

According to a study by the University of Scranton/Journal of Clinical Psychology, the Top Ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 were:

1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family

According to their study, the percentage of resolutions able to be maintained through the first week of the year was 75%. Past two weeks 71%, past one month 64% and past six months 46%.

In a 2007 study from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends. (from Wiki)

5 businesses that profit from New Year’s resolutions at Market Watch

49 New Year’s Resolutions Twentysomethings Should Consider at BuzzFeed

Top 10 Healthiest New Year’s Resolutions at

Show us the goods!

Pelikan 1935, Originals of their Time

Pelikan 1935, Originals of their Time

Did you receive a new fountain pen for Christmas? Bottles of Herbin ink under the tree? A stocking filled with Rhodia? Show us! We’d love to add your images to our Rhodia Fan photo pages. Simply send your images using the title of the page you are submitting as the subject line and send to, stephanie at rhodiadrive dot com and we will review for publication.

Rhodia: In Your Bag

Rhodia: On Your Desk

Rhodia: Favorite Pens

Rhodia: Favorite Pencil

Remember – the Paper Project starts back up next Monday and will be the 1st of 2015!

Image above courtesy of Randy Schaffer

Friday Link Share: December Edition


Happy Holidays! Please enjoy this month’s link selections, along with a few holiday inspired art journaling videos, and also this Book of X-Mas Pinterest Board with loads of ideas for holiday related journaling ideas.

Lightning in a Bottle: J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey is Back at Ink Nouveau

A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art

Macro Nib Shots – Photo Post at Ed Jelley

How to Better Retain Information from Books, Articles, and More at Lifehacker

The Red Corvette of Tape Dispensers at Blog – Rad and Hungry

Christmas 2014 at Fountain Pen Restoration

Vincent Van Gogh’s Notebooks at Making a Mark

A 22-Year-Old’s Diary Entries From Late January, 1974 at Thought Catalog

Review: Leather On The High Street 3 Pen Case at Gourmet Pens

Why no one should multitask — and how I finally stopped at Mashable

8 Smart Things Super-Productive People Do Each Morning at Inc.

Overthinking Pen Travel at The Pen Addict

Quick Look: Retro 51 Tornado Popper Montana Rollerball at FPQuest

J Herbin Ambre de Bermanie ink review at Pens! Paper! Pencils!

Top 10 of 2014 at A Penchant for Paper

More Stuff Around The Desk at My Supply Room

Happy Inkmas at Palimpsest

Link Love: Another Time-Sucking Rabbit Hole at The Well-Appointed Desk

Bubble Words from Daisy Yellow on Vimeo.

Wishing You A Very Blessed & Merry Christmas

Christmas-Eve-PictureMay the joy and peace of the season be with you and those who you love.

The Art of Journaling: Recording Your Family History

Landscape Webbie

I have a small immediate family but my extended family is gigantic. While I started researching my family tree over 25+ years ago, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I really began to speculate about the people themselves, and how they may have gone about their daily lives. To learn local history, I’ve Googled the names of the towns they lived in and as a result, have often discovered interesting local and regional news specific to my ancestors timelines. I’ve also taken virtual tours of these areas using Google Earth.

I’ve learned about the foods from where my ancestors grew up in Eastern Europe, then searched YouTube to find videos of native Hungarians who could show me how to properly make drop noodles for my Paprikash.

Interested in journaling about your own family history? Here are a number of articles that can help you get started: 

Journaling Your Family History Journey at The Armchair Genealogist

It is important to not only record your family history but your own reactions, thoughts and impressions of your discoveries as you make your way through your research.

Keep a Family History Journal at Your Family Legacy

Don’t confuse a journal with a research log. Logs are for the discovered facts, such as your notes from viewing a census microfilm. A journal is for the thoughts, emotions, and memories from finding the facts. Recording the location of my great-great-great grandmother’s grave in a cemetery is a fact found in a library reference book. Finding her grave was a heady, emotional experience and worthy of a journal note.

Leaving Your Enduring Legacy at Easy Family History

One hundred or two hundred years from now, your descendants can know who you are. And they may find their lives forever changed for the better because of the legacy of uplifting, faith-promoting strength you left them.

Creating a Personal Journal at

Top 10 Memory Books – Journals with Questions for Preserving Family Memories at About Parenting

Need more inspiration? Here’s a Pinterest board on record-keeping, journaling & family history.

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In Your Bag

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

Rhodia Customization Module

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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: 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 »

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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


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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.


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.