Archive for Interesting
How to Build a Time Machine
I’m a director. At miano.tv we are visual storytellers creating corporate videos, customer testimonials, television commercials, historical documentaries and more. I’ve been fortunate enough to do what I love – directing – for my entire professional career. My work has been seen across the United States and around the world.
Preserving history through documentaries is perhaps what brings me the most joy as a director. Frankly, I was never really into history. “History” was a class in school where you had to read a “history book” and then you were quizzed on what you learned. It wasn’t until I directed my first documentary that I realized how fascinating and outright fun history can be! History is not simply what some scholar writes in a book or an agreed upon account of the past – to be memorized, quizzed on and forgotten. History is our story and it is as fascinating and diverse as each of us.
By now you are asking: “What does any of this have to do with Rhodia paper?” Well, nothing… And everything.
Early on in the process of researching our documentary The Worlds Greatest Fair – about the 1904 World’s Fair – I was shown the diary of a young woman who visited the fair and who wrote about it in great detail. Her name was Laura Merritt.
Laura was likely a teenager when she visited the St. Louis World’s Fair with her family in 1904. She was born on the family farm near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Like so many people, visiting the World’s Fair was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the world. Laura wrote about that experience in her diary. Her accounts ultimately became part of the introduction and conclusion of our documentary. (Note: Unfortunately, since Rhodia didn’t exist in 1904, Laura didn’t use a Rhodia journal.)
Laura Merritt’s diary represents a physical connection to something that happened 110 years ago. The words written on each page were put there by a person who actually experienced that momentous event. Those same words typed on a computer and read in an email or a book would lose something very important and yet difficult to quantify. Laura’s words are not terribly substantive or poetic; her penmanship doesn’t exhibit a particularly artistic flair. There have certainly been more thorough accounts of the 1904 World’s Fair and thousands of photos exist that reveal more detail. But Laura’s handwritten diary is more than an account of an event. It is a time machine. Seeing those carefully handwritten words, feeling the paper as you turn the pages – the same pages that Laura turned over a century ago – transports the reader back in time.
I use fountain pens to write in my Rhodia A5 webnotebooks nearly every day. What I write is unlikely to ever be fodder for a documentary. In fact, I often write purely for the tactile experience; the words are sometimes unimportant. There is just something so enjoyable about writing on high quality paper… The pen seems to float across the page.
You may think that the act of physically writing is old fashioned and insignificant… If so, you’ve missed the point. You are depriving yourself of one of life’s simple pleasures and a uniquely human experience.
Close your laptop; turn off your computer. Grab a marvelous pen and some Rhodia paper and write! Tell your story – large or small – and you will create something far greater than text on a screen. You will create a time machine.
Five years ago on Nov. 17, 2009 my wife and I received our first shipment of Rhodia, Clairefontaine, and J. Herbin products from Exaclair to sell on our website, GouletPens.com. This was our first foray into fountain pen retailing, and we had a whole new world to discover.
We were new to online retailing, and brand new to the fountain pen world. We had our website that we’d been using to sell our hand-turned wood pens for the previous three years, in a failed former version of our business. We’d devoted three years of our lives trying to build up our company with wood pens, and we simply treaded water.
It wasn’t until I’d discovered fountain pens and the amazing community of folks that are into them that I found my new home. Attending the DC Fountain Pen Supershow in 2009 opened up my eyes to the fact that people are actually into this fountain pen thing, and my discovery of online communities like the Fountain Pen Network showed me that the internet was bringing us together in a way that wasn’t possible even just a few years before. Fountain pen users were no longer isolated from each other. Yes, maybe geographically we are spread out, but online we’re all together sharing with each other. I immediately recognized that this is what had been missing from my wood pen experience, and I dove in head-first to learn everything I possibly could about fountain pens and then turn it around and immediately share it back out freely on my own blog and in my YouTube videos. This laid the groundwork for my company today, and I’ve put out well over 1,000 blog posts and 600 videos with many more to come.
It’s very appropriate that the GouletPens anniversary falls right around Thanksgiving every year, because each year I’m thankful to have spent yet another year doing what I love. The pens, ink, and paper that make up this hobby are great. Though for me they’re not the most satisfying part of being “in the fountain pen business” after five years. It’s the people. Those of us who are into fountain pens have a connection with each other, one that’s hard to explain and even harder to find outside of this community. Because of the internet, blogging, and social media, we are able to find each other and share our knowledge and passion with one another in a way that was difficult to do even ten years ago. I consider myself to be unbelievably fortunate to have discovered fountain pens when I did, with the opportunity that was there for me to participate in the writing community like I do.
It’s no longer just about me and my wife, either. We have had two children since starting our company and been able to build a future for them. We have a team of amazing people that help us do what we do every day, twenty-four of us all working hard to share the fountain pen love. This is something I could not possibly have conceived when I wrote on my first Rhodia pad in 2009, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the community that has taught me so much.
I’m thankful for Exaclair, for allowing a once no-name online retailer like me to start to carry their products and represent their brands. I’m thankful to Stephanie Smith here at RhodiaDrive for blogging passionately and being a resource for me as a fountain pen newbie. I’m thankful for manufacturers like Rhodia who make consistent and reliable fountain-pen friendly products that greatly enhance our writing experience. And most of all I’m thankful for you as a reader of RhodiaDrive for reading and sharing your own knowledge of this writing lifestyle. Your passion and generosity of your knowledge is what drew me in to fountain pens five years ago, and that continues to inspire me to this day.
This is Virginia Abbott.
Virginia is a nationally recognized sculptor whose current work addresses a variety of environmental issues. She is a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society and a fellow resident artist at the Banana Factory in Bethlehem, PA. You may recognize Virginia from a previous post where she’d combined some of our Decopatch papers with some of her cast paper sculptures. (Want to watch Virginia demo the cast paper process at our local PBS station?)
Virginia had stopped by my studio not long ago to show me the results of some sketches that she’d drawn in a Rhodia LeCarre notepad. These pendants of sterling silver, brass and bronze were created using the lost wax casting method, a labor intensive process which begins by her carving the three dimensional design model from a block of wax.
The casting process continues by placing the wax model on a base, which is then covered by a flask. The flask is then filled with a wet plaster, (known as ceramic investment) and placed in a vacuum to remove air bubbles. Once the investment has been allowed to dry, the base and flask are removed and the piece placed in an oven to burn out the wax – hence the name, “lost wax”. It is at this point where molten metal is forced into the investment mold by centrifuge. To remove the cast item, the mold is destroyed and the resulting metal piece is cleaned up by filing and polishing.
If you want to make multiple pieces from a carved model, you have to send the finished metal piece back to the foundry to have a mold made – otherwise, it’s a one of a kind.
These are a few images of the original design sketches.
When I asked Virginia “Why trees?” It was a treat to learn the response.
At this point, it might be helpful to know that deer, trees, and irony happen to be a recurring theme in Virginia’s work. Did I mention that she also happens to be a clown?
Virginia also created the deer pendant shown above, which in its antlers, is holding a taxidermists glass deer eye. (I’m totally not making that up)
Looking at the reverse of the pendant, you can see how Virginia used the cast tree design as a “gallery” which is a decorative element used behind a stone in place of a solid mount. The tree pendants shown in the photos at the top of this post are a smart secondary usage of the original design.
Keith Haring was an American artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s by expressing concepts of birth, death, sexuality, and war. Haring’s work was often heavily political and his imagery has become a widely recognized visual language of the 20th century.
The Keith Haring Foundation has scanned the artist’s journals from 1971 to 1989 with the intention of making them all available online. The journals feature writings, drawings and the occasional collaged element. Some of the journals had been previously seen in the Brooklyn Museum’s 2012 exhibition, Keith Haring: 1978-1982.
The foundation has created a tumblr account for the scans, which can be viewed here.
This journal entry from 1986 provides insight into Keith’s feelings about computers and technology:
“I was very interested in the tactile experience of drawing that is very different than drawing with a computer…This displacement of image and action [on the computer] creates a new problem to be solved by the “drawer”.
The book Keith Haring Journals a brilliant account of Haring’s life and observations, told through the voice of the artist himself. You can also learn more about Keith from the “In His Own Words” section of The Keith Haring Foundation website.
- 85g, ivory paper with satin smooth finish
- 96 sheets
- Elastic closure, black ribbon
- Elegant round corners
- Inner pocket for notes and cards
- Available in large and pocket sizes (A5 and A6)
Aside from keeping a diary when I was a pre-teen, I didn’t really start putting pen to paper until mid September of 2005. I am able note the exact moment in time because I remember making a special trip to Blick to purchase a fancy notebook and pen just for this purpose. (And then there’s this: The day after I bought the journal, I sat and talked with a psychic woman at a local holistic expo who distinctly told me that I needed to get myself a journal and and ink pen and start writing. <– Not making this up.)
The first entries in that book listed crazy dreams, noted the end of one creative phase (jewelry making) and the start of another. (hand drumming) I wrote about the decline of my dog’s health and a job promotion that wasn’t working out for me. That journal quickly became a trusted friend. The action of writing in it about whatever was important to me in the moment, became my therapy.
If you need any encouragement on why it’s a good idea to put pen to paper, check out the articles at the links below.
26 Reasons Why I Keep a Journal (And Why You Should, Too) at Huffington Post
“I can yell in my journal and no one will hear me raise my voice”
How to Journal in 10 Simple Steps at Journaling Saves
“Words, on a page. It’s really that simple.”
30 Days to a Better Man Day 8: Start a Journal at The Art of Manliness
“Why Keep a Journal? Your children and grandchildren will want to read it.”
Famous Writers on the Creative Benefits of Keeping a Diary at Brain Pickings
“Journaling, I believe, is a practice that teaches us better than any other the elusive art of solitude — how to be present with our own selves, bear witness to our experience, and fully inhabit our inner lives.”
How to start a journal – and keep it up at The Guardian
“You don’t need to create a masterpiece; you just need to write or draw something in the journal every day to get into the swing of it.”
10 Famous Authors on the Importance of Keeping a Journal at Flavorwire
“Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it?” – Joan Didion
Keeping a Journal Can Change Your Life at The Change Blog
“You will get better if you practice, and your journal is an ideal place to do so – no-one will laugh at clumsy phrases or failed experimental pieces, and you can write about whatever topics inspire you the most.”
Today’s Noteworthy guest blogger is Ron Manwaring from Pen Chalet. Welcome Ron!
I was first introduced to Rhodia because of my passion for fountain pens. Designing, building and maintaining the website for Pen Chalet has also helped, since we sell Rhodia pads and notebooks online. I like to keep a small Rhodia pad at my desk or with me wherever I go, so I can jot down a quick idea or sketch out a new design. I also keep a short task list of thing to do so I don’t forget them and I can prioritize my goals. I find if I don’t write things down as they come, I may forget them later. I am a big believer of the Chinese proverb, “The palest ink is better than the best memory”.
I recently created an infographic on the fountain pen. When the idea came to me, I immediately grabbed a Rhodia pad and began to sketch out the idea. (Since Rhodia pads come in a wide range of sizes, it is easy to find a small notepad to carry with me at all times.) The infographic shows basic elements of the fountain pen; from the anatomy of the pen, to the nib and feed sections. It also shows a brief history of fountain pens, common brands and more.
In the fountain pen community, there are few notebooks that are “fountain pen friendly”. Rhodia is accepted by the community as one of those and considered one of the top choices by fountain pen users across the globe. I have found that I can lay down a lot of ink on the paper and it will not feather or bleed through. Many cheaper papers will soak in fountain pen ink, causing the writing to feather and bleed. The 80g Rhodia paper is smooth and durable, and the cover is coated- making it waterproof yet flexible, which makes the top staple bound pads ideal for carrying.
I enjoy what I do! I have been in web design and development now for over 10 years for various companies. Creating websites and digital images such as infographics gives me a sense of accomplishment. To be able to watch an idea take shape and then to implement it on the web and share with others is a lot of fun.
Many thanks for sharing your story Ron! Stay tuned for additional Noteworthy guest bloggers each weekend here on Rhodia Drive.
Contest Alert! Enter now for your chance to win 1 of 15 of the appropriately named “No. 80″ Rhodia 80th Anniversary gift sets!
This limited edition gift set includes a 6 x 8 1/4″ (14.8 x 21 cm) notepad featuring 90g ivory paper with our classic grid in a light grey ink. It also includes an 80th anniversary pencil! A copper-colored Rhodia name and logo appears on both sides of the pad, with a special 80th anniversary emblem on the back cover.
This contest is open to US residents only and will be remain open until midnight EST on Tuesday 10/21/14 The winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog on Thursday 10/23/14. One entry per household please. If you are viewing this post via e-mail or on a mobile device, you may need to visit Rhodia Drive directly to see the entry form.
Please feel free to share this post on your own blog, or on any of your preferred social media outlets.
Two great opportunities are on the immediate horizon which will allow you to sample Rhodia products, as well as paper from various other Exaclair brands like Clairefontaine, G Lalo and Exacompta.
First up: In tomorrow’s post, we will be giving away 15 of the limited edition No. 80 Anniversary sets!
And then, on Monday, we are rolling out… The Paper Project!!! And just what IS The Paper Project?
The Paper Project will offer 30 people each week (first come, first served) the opportunity to test and compare up to 3 sheets of paper from a wide variety of Exaclair products. We will look forward to hearing your feedback and comments about your experiences testing these samples on the giveaway page itself, and as always, you are more than welcome to write reviews of our products on your own personal blogs and or share your experiences with this project throughout your various social media outlets. (Tag #rhodiapaperproject on Instagram)
So… are you as excited about this project as we are???
With Karen’s encouragement, I wanted to share with you several events and exhibitions that I have going on during the month of October:
On First Friday October 3rd I will be a featured artist at The Banana Factory with an exhibition of my work in the 1st floor lobby. First Friday activities throughout the building are from 6-9pm. Be sure to come up and visit me in my studio #250 on the 2nd floor. (My lobby and stairwell exhibitions at the BF will be on view until Nov. 3rd.) Facebook event details can be found here.
On Wednesday October 8th I will be offering a free artist talk entitled “Metamorphosis” at The Banana Factory from 7-8:30pm. I will be discussing influences, artistic processes, and my evolution as an artist. This event is free and open to the public. The event will begin with a slideshow and talk in the Banko Gallery at The Banana Factory and end with a visit to my private studio on the 2nd floor where light refreshments will be served. Facebook event details can be found here,
October 3rd-30th is the 125th Annual N.A.W.A Members Exhibition held at the Sylvia Wald and Po Kim Gallery, 417 Lafayette St in New York City. I became a juried member of – N.A.W.A (National Association of Women Artists) earlier this year and my piece “Orbit” will be part of this historic exhibition.
On Friday October 10th I will presenting an all-new workshop entitled “Tapping the Source” with Dr. Kell Morton – an expert in the field of transformational healing and personal growth. This experiential workshop is designed to help you awaken, access and nurture your full creative self. See the attached flyer for full details or visit the Facebook event page here.
Rhodia is celebrating its 80th birthday! Take a look at the video below for a behind the scenes look at the Rhodia factory. See below the video for an English translation of the French.
Here is the newest Rhodia product, with its white color and metallic logo – offering a nod of recognition to the technology (cell phones) of today. For 80 years, the Rhodia brand has stood resilient- watching change after change in the way people communicate with one another, proving that nothing beats a great pad of paper.
Geraldine Muller product manager: “The Rhodia pad is timeless. – which is the way Rhodia founders wanted it from the beginning. The Rhodia logo and characteristics have remained the same. The only changes have been the introduction of the black cover in 2007 and now this year in white for its 80th birthday with a silver logo. It is a sort of wink to the digital with whom it gets along very well.”
40 people at the plant have produced 10 millions pads, and other than the color of the cover, the pads have not really changed since 1934 when two brothers from Lyon started with this simple orange pad with 80 sheets, and 80g paper, staple bound at top, To this day, it remains 100% made in France.
Patrick Sartre, plant manager: “We have both the people formed and ‘faithful’ to the company as well as the tools specialized for this product. With this winning combination there is no need to move away in order to stay abreast of the competition.”
Finally the 5000 tons of paper we use are guaranteed to protect the environment and the socio-conomic role of the forests. Knowing that 11% of forests are harvested for paper, it is a very respectable accomplishment.
One of our office mates, Jim Burke, spotted one of our Exacompta cloth bound journals on a promo for the new ABC television show, “Selfie.” Here is a clip of the promo. They show the journal at a distance and close up.
This journal is the cousin of Exacompta sketchbook that has been discontinued, much to the sorrow of its many fans.
The paper is off white, laid finish, 25% cotton and 100 g. The line width is rather wide – 3/8″ inch, so if you have big handwriting or like lots of line room, this book is for you. The journal includes a bookmark, and gold edge pages.
Goulet Pens -
I love a lot of things vintage for their classic design. Classic, as in that sweet combination of simple, practical and durable.
When I first started writing with fountain pens, I wanted nothing more than to exclusively use vintage, but it never seemed to work out for me. One after another I’d buy a vintage piece (typically on the cheap) that would work for a while then ultimately, a seal or sac would break, the nib would bend or get scratchy, or the ink would stop flowing properly. I began to see vintage pens as fragile creatures and became reluctant to invest in their restoration. As much as I love vintage, there was a part of me that didn’t like knowing that a favorite tool would be difficult to repair or replace and so I began to favor more modern designs like Lamy’s Safari, Pelikan’s M200 and the Sailor Sapporo – though I can’t tell you how many times I’ve poured over the offerings on sites like Vacumania, longing for a silver celluloid Parker Vacumatic, or a fully functional Parker 51. (Mine has a cracked front section and needs a new seal/sac)
Do you have a favorite vintage pen? If you take a picture of it and send to to me at email@example.com I’ll include it on our Favorite Pen Fan Photo Page.
- 4000 BC: Clay tablets are etched with metal or bone tools
- 3000 BC: Egyptians use reed pens on papyrus
- 1300 BC: In Rome metal styluses are used to write on thin sheets of wax
- 600-1800 AD: Europeans use quill pens
- 1790: Pencils are invented in both Australia and France
- 1800-1850: Dip pen nibs are made of steel and tipped with Iridium, Rhodium and Osmium
- 1884: Waterman invents the fountain pen
- 1888-1916: Ball point pens are invented
- 1940: Ball points become popular with the British military during WWII.
- 1945: Ball point pens are introduced to the US market
- 1960s: Felt tip pens invented
- 1980s-90s: Roller ball pens invented
- 2000s: Fountain pen revival!
Some during August-September I will be organizing a project to compare the different Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis and G. Lalo paper surfaces and how they interact with different writing instruments and inks.
We will collect the comments of as many people as possible on their experience with an individual product paper–how it feels to the touch, how their pen (pencil or other writing instrument) moves across the surface and interacts with it; basically–what is their experience, and what they like (or don’t like) about it.
The summary of the comments can be a good reference not only for people getting started with journals and notepads, but also for expert practitioners to exchange experiences with each other.
The products I am thinking of including for this comparison are: classic Clairefontaine notebook paper; Clairefontaine Triomphe pads, R by Rhodia pads, classic Rhodia notepads, Rhodia Ice, Rhodia Webbies, Quo Vadis Habanas, G. Lalo Verge de France pads, and G. Lalo correspondence cards.
People can test each sheet with their favorite writing instruments (fountain pens, rollerballs, pencils, etc.) and contribute feedback via an online form. We will publish the results on both Quo Vadis Blog and Rhodia Drive either in December 2014 or January 2015.
Each person would be limited to three or four different sheets per month (that I can send in a first class letter), but can sign up each month for other papers to sample and add their thoughts.
What do you think? Are there specific questions we should ask? Are there any other product papers you would like to try? Your input at this stage is very much appreciated and welcome. As always, thank you for your thoughtful suggestions, help and support.
Claudia McGill is one of my favorite contemporary artists because it was her colorful and whimsical art that first inspired me to take risks in my own art. She works with a variety of mixed media; including acrylic paint, collage and clay. Something I didn’t know about Claudia is that she uses Rhodia tablets. When she first learned that I worked for Rhodia, she told me about a zine she had been working on which included a short story about a train ride to Pittsburgh and how the story was based on notes she’d taken in a small Rhodia pad during her trip.
To read the story, click on the first image and then keep clicking to move from one page to the next.