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.
Have you ever considered keeping a journal dedicated to holiday memories and traditions?
Here are a few journaling prompts to get you started:
Holiday foods: What are the traditional foods that you eat at the holidays? What new foods did you introduce this year? What came out perfect, and what needed improvement?
Mom and Gram each made a dense “filling” around the holidays and that was never like anyone else’s filling or stuffing that I knew. It wasn’t until years later that I figured out what they were making was actually a savory bread pudding.
Holiday decorations: What decorations do you put out during the holidays? Are they family heirlooms, or are they new? Are they influenced by any cultural or religious traditions?
Growing up, we put silver icicle tinsel on our imitation tree with blinky lights and taped golden garland around the door frames along with Christmas cards from friends and family. Gram had a mini pre-decorated Charlie Brown style tree. It would take her 5 seconds to set up; she’d plug it in, drape a mini tree skirt under it and it was good to go.
Favorite Gifts: What was your most favorite holiday gift ever? What gifts missed their mark?
One of my all-time favorite gifts was actually a birthday present from a friend. It was a small fabric bundle tied with a piece of yarn. Once opened, I discovered a tiny feather, a small seashell, a few beads from her favorite bracelet that had broken, a tiny piece of driftwood and some small rocks. (Mostly items I knew she’d collected along her many walks in nature) She’d placed the bundle inside a cardboard box that she’d collaged with meaningful images.
Who do you spend time with during the holidays? Do you always go home for the holidays? Spend it with friends?
When I was first with my husband, we’d go on a whirlwind tour to visit at least 5-8 different relatives. I especially liked spending Christmas Eve at my Mom’s.
What cultural holiday traditions do you observe, or do you remember from when you were younger?
What I remember most is all food related. Mom’s kiffles, Polish kielbasa, macaroni and potato salad. The filling I mentioned earlier. Ham with pineapple glaze.
Need a few more prompts to jump-start your holiday journal? Take a look at the links below.
30 Holiday Themed Journal Prompts at Art Journalist
December Writing Ideas: 30 Holiday Journal Prompts at Journal Buddies
Pen and Paper: Holiday Journaling Ideas at Carol Rubenstein
This week’s Noteworthy Guest Blogger is sketchbook artist Bonnie Jean Woogler.
Over time I have wondered how to describe myself and my work. Recently I have come to think of myself as a sketchbook artist. The filling of a sketchbook is not a means to an end, but it is the creative work.
The form, the shape, and the weight of the notebook/sketchbook is the vessel for the artwork. Each page flows into the next, making my internal world external. This is a creative process and finished work that has come from a lifetime of day jobs and limited time for creative work. I can carry a sketchbook with me everywhere and allow the creative thought to flow in and around all the day job demands. The sketchbook/notebook is the work; it is the lifeline to always being with the drawings and the internal creative world.
The discovery of the Rhodia notebooks has been a luxury. I have spent many years making my own books or simply using the next one I find.
The Rhodia Journal book, hard cover with the dot paper, (Webnotebook) is my favourite. The dots are a wonderful background for my drawings and collages.
One of the qualities that make the Rhodia books a real luxury is that the binding holds up to my abuse.
The quality I love the most is that the paper is totally compatible with and receptive to the assortment of pens and pencils I use in my work.
Contest Alert! Enter now for your chance to win one of these two U.S.A. Artisan Made Leather Pocket Notebook Covers by Oberon Design. You will win our choice of either the Tree of Life or the Bold Celtic covers. Each will include a pocket sized Rhodia Webnotebook in our choice of color/ruling.
This contest is now closed for entries. Thanks to all that entered!
Love your pocket Webbie? Oberon Design’s tooled, bench crafted covers will mold itself to your notebook over time and develop a gorgeous, polished patina. See more cover designs here. Many thanks to the good folks at Oberon Design for offering us these stunning items to be raffled off on Rhodia Drive.
This contest is open to US residents only and will be remain open until midnight EST on Monday December 8th. The winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog on Tuesday December 9th. 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.
*Note: These covers and notebooks will be shipped by Exaclair but if you want to order your own from Oberon, they close their shop on December 22nd and will re-open on January 6th 2015. Since products are made as they are ordered, folks on the east coast should order by Dec 15th to insure arrival of goods that are mailed or shipped UPS ground. During most of the year, Oberon Design makes and ships these covers within 2-3 days but at this time of year it can extend to 8-9 days if they are really slammed – so, to be on the safe side, don’t wait till the last minute to order.
Please feel free to share this post on your own blog, or on any of your preferred social media outlets.
If you regularly use a bound notebook or journal, what size do you prefer, and why?
My go-to size for a long time has been A5. 5×8″ books allow for me, a decent amount of real estate to write as large as I like and/or to sketch without feeling cramped. I also think this size isn’t too large to stick into a purse or backpack. I find 3×5″ books a bit too small for my needs, – though I do like and have occasionally used the 4×6″ Habanas, which are even better for portability.
The 8×11″ Habana shown above? I’ve had it for quite a while but haven’t yet committed to a use for it. Fear of The Blank Page? Perhaps…
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)
The Art of Journaling is a new weekly segment on Rhodia Drive where you can expect to read about the who, what, where, when & why of journaling. How is journaling defined? We see it as an individual’s record of experiences, ideas, or reflections kept for (primarily) private use.
We will be offering various how-to’s and also be talking about the overall benefits of keeping a journal. Whether written by hand or filled with art, the possibilities are endless and we hope you will join us in the weeks to come.
I myself am a huge fan of the stream-of-consciousness style of journaling. It’s the same kind of writing that Julia Cameron encourages doing as part of her “Morning Pages” routine in her bestseller, The Artist’s Way. (PS – The Artist’s Way isn’t just for artists. It’s for anyone interested in personal development.)
*There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
And now on to our next order of business – Announcing the winners of our Rhodia Anniversary Giveaway!
Eddie from Raleigh
Dan from Mount Morris
The prizes will be mailed out tomorrow (Friday) and you should all expect to receive them in the week ahead. Thanks to all who took the time to enter!
There is no question that we are all busy people with a multitude of things constantly vying for our attention. I know that sometimes we just don’t get the chance to put pen to paper as often as we would like, and so I’d been thinking about simple ways to keep the ink from drying up in our pens so to speak. When I recently came across a three year journal in a bookstore that prompted a single line to be written per day, my thought was, One line per day… that seems like something most people could accomplish if they really put their mind to it. It could also be a way for those who would like to begin writing, but don’t know how to start.
So here’s my creative prompt to you: Use a pen/pencil to always write as least one line per day in your favorite notepad or journal. The line can consist of anything – how you feel, something you’d like to accomplish or have just accomplished, a favorite quote, headline news – anything really. Just so long as you do it every day.
And what if we liked this exercise so much, that we were to put aside a separate notebook just for this prompt? One line per day: 365. A year in the life of (fill in the blank)
What do you think of this idea? Is it something you’d be willing to try? Already do? Have shared with other people?
Question: What do you do with the journal or notebook that you started, but ended up not liking?
Before I started writing for Rhodia Drive, I used to do a lot of product reviews on my personal blog in search of the perfect pen, ink and journal. At that time, the perfect notebook for me was one that was first and foremost friendly to fountain pen inks. Other preferred features included being able to both open and lie flat, pages with rounded corners, and a rigid cover so that I could write with the book propped on my knee. I ended up testing many, many journals.
(Some people use the words journal and notebook interchangeably. I tend to use “journal” when describing a notebook whose pages are not removable.)
If I really didn’t like the book, I’d either give it away or recycle it. If I liked it, I’d obviously use it – but there were one or two that while I didn’t love them, I thought had a few redeeming qualities. These ended up hanging around on the shelf a lot longer than I’d intended.
Case in point – I just finished a book that I’d started in July of 2010. I didn’t love the book when I first bought it, mostly because it wasn’t fountain pen friendly and the pages had noticeable grain. Four years ago I decided to turn it into a mixed media art journal and had started drawing on the first few pages but once again, I quickly abandoned it.
I came upon the book once again this past April, when I decided that I either had to use it or get rid of it. Knowing that I’d created art in it, I didn’t really want to let it go and so I tried again. Five months later, it was filled with a combination of writing and sketches, all done in pencil and it felt good to have finally finished something that I’d started so long ago- even if it was just a simple journal.
So if I may ask, what do YOU do once you’ve started working in a journal or notebook, then decide you don’t like it?
(Once in a blue moon, if I’ve been in a journal for too long sometimes I get antsy and want to move on even if it is a journal that I do really like. In which case I’ll either finish the last pages with collage, sketches, poems, affirmations, intentions, prayers and/or overall positive words of encouragement.)
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today (and everyday) is a good day to be grateful.
What are you grateful for?
For this week’s creative prompt, grab a pen and some paper to make a list of all the things you did this summer. It doesn’t matter whether or not they were connected to any specific vacation destination or event, just write down anything that you’d like to remember about the summer of 2014. Think people, places, foods, music, games, sports, nature…
Feel free to write an essay if you like, but individual words and simple phrases will work just as well.
It has been historically close to impossible for me to take a staycation without feeling like I *have* to do work but this past holiday weekend I think I did a pretty decent job of tuning out the world and just enjoying myself. I spent time puttering around the garden, reading, cooking delicious food, watching fireworks and contemplating life.
As I took several long walks around the surrounding neighborhoods, I noticed that things seemed very quiet and my assumption was that a lot of people were either on vacation or visiting with family and friends for the holiday.
This started me thinking about the types of vacations that people take. We didn’t travel much when I young girl, but I can distinctly remember two trips to the Jersey Shore- (Long before Snooki…) then in my mid to late teens, all I wanted to do was to go to Wildwood or Seaside Heights. Nowadays, I’d rather be in the woods or by a nice lake in the middle of nowhere. Nature, quiet, solitude. Ahh…
Today’s creative writing prompt centers around this:
Do you still frequent the same vacation destinations that you did when you were young?
Why or why not?
The Pen of Maya Angelou at Palimpsest
Ink Review: J. Herbin Vert Olive at A Penchant for Paper
Autopoint Interview at Dave’s Mechanical Pencils
The 2014 Chicago Pen Show Report at Fountain Pen Geeks
You Win, Pilot Metropolitan at The Pen Addict
So I picked up a broad……..nib. at From the Pen Cup
J. Herbin Lie de Thé Ink Review at Write to Me Often
271 Year Old Manuscript Colours and Penmanship at Pentamento
Evolution of the Pencil at Pencil Revolution
How to Get Ink Off Your Fingers – Amodex or Mr. Clean at Office Supply Geek
This Is Why Everyone Should Write Poetry at Thought Catalog
Journals from Yellowstone. ~ Jill Pendergrast at Elephant Journal
Image courtesy of augustanissss on Instagram
There were several new products on display in the Exaclair booth at the National Stationery Show that I had the opportunity to drool over today, including the new “pictures can’t do them justice” Rhodia Ice. They look AMAZING in person. Continue Readering »
Commonplace books (or commonplaces) are essentially handwritten scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas, etc.
These commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts, or facts they had learned and each book would be unique to its owners particular interests. They became significant in early modern Europe.
Per Wiki, commonplace books are not diaries nor travelogues, with which they can be contrasted: English Enlightenment philosopher John Locke wrote the 1706 book A New Method of Making a Common Place Book, “in which techniques for entering proverbs, quotations, ideas, speeches were formulated. Locke gave specific advice on how to arrange material by subject and category, using such key topics as love, politics, or religion. Commonplace books, it must be stressed, are not journals, which are chronological and introspective.” – Nicholas A. Basbanes in “Every Book Its Reader: The Power of the Printed Word to Stir the World”
And in the words of Jonathan Swift: “A common-place book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that “great wits have short memories;” and whereas, on the other hand, poets being liars by profession, ought to have good memories. To reconcile these, a book of this sort is in the nature of a supplemental memory; or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day’s reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own by entering them there. For take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his.” —from “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet”
Would you like to read more about commonplace books? Try these links:
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” at ThoughtCatalog
Commonplace Books at Harvard University Library