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?

Fountain Pen Friends: Do you use ink swatches?

J Herbin Ink Swatches

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to test a LOT of different colors/brands of fountain pen inks. (over 100!) Because I am a visual person, the best way for me to compare and contrast was to perform ink swatches and though my method was simple, you can make this process as detailed as you’d like. In the images I’ve attached here, I used cotton swabs to do 1, 2 and 3 swipes of each J. Herbin ink in a white drawing pad.

I also kept two separate journals that I only used for ink testing. One with white paper and one with ivory.

What process do you use to remember what all of your inks look like?

J Herbin Ink Swatches

J Herbin Ink Swatches

Favorite Ink Colors: Summer of 2014

Herbin Inks

I know that many of our fountain pen friends enjoy switching out their inks to mark the changing seasons. Did you have any favorite brands/colors that you used or discovered this summer? Did you make any recent purchases that you are looking forward to using this fall?

Did you discover any new all-time-favorite ink colors at any of the recent pen shows?

Link Share Friday: August Edition

ink and pen

First impressions with J. Herbin Stormy Grey at FPGeeks

First Day of School Pencils, Take Two. at Pencil Revolution

Orange Delights From Ink To Paint at Inkophile

Guest Post: “I think I want to try out this whole fountain pen thing.” at The Pen Addict

Pilot Dr. Grip Full Black Dual Layer Grip Shaker Mechanical Pencil – 0.5 mm – Blue Accents at No Pen Intended

Cursive: Is it really that important? at The Well-Appointed Desk

Journaling Exercise: Write A Review at Kaizen Journaling

Traveling pencils at Palimpset

Shades of White at No Pen Intended

How Much Do You Spend On School Supplies? at One Hundred Dollars a Month

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen Review at Write to Me Often

DIY Pen Storage V.2! at EdJelley

6 Ways Your Brain Tries To Kill Your Ideas And How To Fight Them at FastCompany

Flight Delays in My Sketchbooks at Balzar Designs

An Introvert Goes to the Pen Show at From the Pen Cup

Check out FPGeeks on YouTube for videos from the 2014 DC Pen Show

Tracing Paper

Tracing Paper

Tracing paper is a product that hadn’t been on my radar until I needed to purchase some for a workshop I attended last fall. It’s purpose is simple yet multifaceted. It can be used to “test” potential changes to a drawing without altering the original. It can be used to isolate individual elements from a series of sketches and also allow you to play around with composition. With a little effort, tracing paper can also be used to transfer a drawing onto another surface. Watch the video below to see how this is done:

Illustrations by Kai Lützenkirchen

kailutzen 2

These animal drawings are by Kai Lützenkirchen and were drawn with a Kaweco fountain pen in a Rhodia notebook. Aren’t these meerkats adorable? Kai’s Instagram feed kailutzen is filled with all kinds of wonderful illustrations like these.

Kailutzen 1

Have you heard? The bird is the word…

Images courtesy of Kai.

Link Share Friday: March Edition


Scribbling With Style on OZY

Yellow Rhodia Paper at Pencil Revolution

A Minimal Pen with a Twist at Fubiz

A Celebration of The Stop Doing List at Danielle Laporte

Pilot Ageless Future Gel Ink Pen Review at The Pen Addict

Rhodia Mouse Pad Note Pad at Office Supply Geek

Can the Right Tools Help You Write Better? at Writing Forward

Stanley Kubrick’s Annotated Copy of Stephen King’s The Shining at Open Culture

Journaling lessons learned at Plannerisms

Hero Has Cloned The Lamy Safari at Pentorium

7 Inspiring Quotes About Writing at LifeHack

Shaw Pens – The Bessemer Ballpoint at No Pen Intended

2014 – the year of very many books about Urban Sketching? at Making a Mark

Writing and the Creative Life: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently at The Creativity Post

Gorgeous images of the new Pilot Metallic VP at Ink Nouveau

22 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin at The Art of Manliness

Art Journals at Quo Vadis Blog

Ink Review: J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen at The Well-Appointed Desk

Guide to Choosing a Highlighter Pen at JetPens

Anonymous Chalk Artists Decorate Ohio College With Inspirational Quotes at HuffPost

Wolff’s Royal Sovereign pencil samples in a tin at Palimpest

iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap Spring 2014 at iHanna

Start Shipping! Enjoy Free Shipping on Orders $45+ at European Paper

Image courtesy of marcieello on Instagram


What is Your Preferred Paper Surface Texture?

Rhodia R Pads

Earlier today I was trying to draw with a fountain pen on a drawing pad which boasts “excellent tooth”. This was not a good match at all. Had I been using pencils, charcoal or pastels, it would have been perfect but the delicate fountain pen nib (which admittedly was not flowing as well as it should) was extra annoyingly scratchy on this surface.

My drawing preference (with pencils etc.) is a paper with at least a little bit of tooth. My writing preference with any device (fountain pen, pencil, etc.,) is smooth but not too smooth. I want the pen to flow but not skate recklessly across the surface.

What is Your Preferred Paper Surface Texture?

How would you like a Rhodia dotReverse Book?

Rhodia Reverse Book

Yep. Me too. Unfortunately, they don’t exist… yet. To expedite the process, my suggestion is to leave a comment below on how much you’d love one and that you’d promise to buy three dozen each year to give away as gifts to all your dearest friends.

Seriously though, I know I’m not the only person clamoring for a spiral Rhodia notepad with the dot grid.

How Many Pens is Reasonable to Take on Vacation?


Our Rhodia Journal Swapping friend Andrea, (biggaydragon on Instagram) posed an interesting question within the tags of this Instagram pic: #howmanypensisreasonabletotakeonvacation? I hear you Andrea. For  the week long art intensive I just took I literally spent weeks trying to decide what to take and now that it’s over, I can honestly say that I used less than half of what I packed.

How much is enough when traveling? Do you have specific pens/pencils that you enjoy traveling with? Please share!

Visionary Artist Alex Grey with a Pelikan 150 Fountain Pen


This past week, I had the great pleasure of attending a Visionary Painting Intensive at CoSM (Chapel of the Sacred Mirrors) in Wappingers Falls, New York with Alex and Allyson Grey. The week included numerous lectures and about 8 hours a day of studio time, (which took place in the Grey’s personal home studio) and while I almost always saw Alex with a sketchbook in hand or somewhere close by, this image depicts the first time I noticed him sketching with a fountain pen.

The pen is a Pelikan 150 (I forgot to ask about the nib width!) currently filled with Pelikan black ink. I say “currently” because Alex was not familiar with Herbin inks and I promised to send him a sample of the Perle Noire which made him very happy. (Good to know that even famous artists get excited at the prospect of trying new supplies!)


If you are interested in hearing more about my experience with the Grey’s, (I took close to 600 photos during the week!) follow me on Facebook at Stephanie Smith’s Mandala Art.

Friday Link Share: Late Summer Edition

Pousserie de Lune ink

Five Best Paper Notebooks at Lifehacker (Guess who made the list!)

5 Reasons Journaling is a Life Changing Skill at Kaizen Journaling

Difference between ballpoint and rollerball at Write to Me Often!

Quotes on Writing: Ernest Hemingway “Learn to Write” at Writing Forward

Draw 3D with ruled Notebook Paper at Instructables

Review of the ePure Trolley Bag at Life Imitates Doodles

Handwriting Makes You Smarter at The Well-Appointed Desk

Miss That ‘Back to School’ Feeling? Here’s How to Get It Back at Inc.com

Goulet Q&A Episode 1 at Ink Nouveau.com

Canvas Pencil Holders at AlisaBurke

A Fountain Pen For MacGyver at Inkophile

Don’t Ask What I’m Writing at The New York Times

How to Draw a Complex Knot in 29 Easy Steps at Daisy Yellow Blog

Lamy 2000 Review at The Pen Addict

The Big Rhodia Review Part 1: Bloc Pads at Pentorium

Image courtesy of lylyle71 on Instagram.


Rhodia Webbie and a Conway Stewart Fountain Pen

In 1905, Mr. Frank Jarvis and Mr. Thomas Garner formed Conway Stewart at 13 Paternoster Row London EC1, next to St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Today, this area is known as Paternoster Square having been redeveloped after its complete destruction during the Blitz of World War II.

Jarvis and Garner had a single aim, to produce elegant, timelessly beautiful, yet functional writing instruments – a principle that Conway Stewart holds true to this day.

Although there is much debate regarding the origins of the Company’s name, it is believed that the name “Conway Stewart” derives from a popular vaudeville act of the day. Conway and Stewart were supposedly a comedy double act who appeared at Collins Music Hall in Islington.

Who of our Rhodia friends owns and enjoys a Conway Stewart fountain pen?

Text courtesy of Conway Stewart, Image courtesy of Gerald Taylor – follow my coffeepot on Instagram.

Show Me Your Favorite Pencil!


It is now time that your favorite pencils got a Rhodia Fan photo page of their very own! Favorite Pen has been our most popular photo page for pretty much forever, (followed 2nd by In Your Bag) and I think it’s time we gave the pen people a run for their money. All you have to do is send me a photo of your favorite pencil – any brand of wood, mechanical, etc., via e-mail with the subject line “My Favorite Pencil” to stephanie at rhodiadrive dot com to be included in our new gallery.

My favorite pencil? I’m still trying to figure that out but I am definitely a fan of the Palomino’s and the Hi-Uni!

Rhodia and Blackwing

whubbsie Instagram

While the ink is drying up in all of my fountain pens, 2013 for me has most definitely become my year of the pencil. I’ve got *piles* of them. (Albeit small piles, they seem to be everywhere in both my house and studio.) While I’m still trying to work out my favorites, I can tell you that so far I am quite fond of the 0.7 Super Hi-Polymer 2B Pentel leads that I have loaded into two different mechanical pencils and  for a close second, California Republic Palomino’s in 2B or B.

See the Blackwing pencil above? You know the story about them, right? Eberhard Faber began manufacturing them in the 1930’s and stopped production in 1998. These pencils were so well loved that a single pencil was commanding upwards of $40 on Ebay. People longing for their favorite brand of pencils began to notice a similarity in Palomino’s pencils and eventually, Palomino decided to re-inroduce the beloved 602 as well as a similar version, “The Blackwing” with a slightly softer lead geared towards artists.

I’ve tried both the Blackwing and the 602 and while I want to love them for the sake of nostalgia, they feel a little unbalanced in my small hands with their large eraser/ferrule. I agree that the Blackwing is pretty sweet for sketching.

Image courtesy of whubbsie on Instagram

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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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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.