Review: Rhodiarama Large Notebook & New Pattern Nagapushpam #Exaclair #Zentangle #Giveaway

Exaclair, Inc. has sent me a large, turquoise Rhodiarama for review, and offered to give away five (5!) of them to my readers.  The giveaway is now closed.  Many thanks to Exaclair, Inc. for their generosity.

Look & Feel

Size: 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 in / 14 x 21 mm / A5
Format: Blank (also comes in squared, lined and dot)
Paper: Clairefontaine Brushed Vellum, 90 gsm, ivory, acid-free 
Extras: Interior back pocket; Sewn in cloth bookmark; Sewn Binding, Elastic Closure, Rounded corners
Comes in 15 colors: Black, Chocolate, Taupe, Beige, Anise, Turquoise, Sapphire, Iris, Purple, Lilac, Raspberry, Poppy, Tangerine, Orange & Yellow.  

Rhodia Notebooks come in several varieties, yet have many features in common.  Clairefontaine fountain-pen-friendly paper, Sturdy bindings. Hard-back leatherette covers.  Rounded corners.  Color-coordinated ribbon and binding.

So what is different about the Rhodiarama?  Traditionally, Rhodia notebooks have come in black or orange.  The Rhodiama comes in 15 different colors (see Specs above).  But what is really different is the interior covers!

I love these guys, although I realize they might be too flashy for some people.  I realize, but really have trouble empathizing.  How could you not love zebras? Especially ones in rainbow colors.  

Even the back pocket has its own zebra.

The book lies flat.  I've been struggling with another brand of book, which has a slope due to the number of pages.  You get a little bit of that kind of slope in the middle of Rhodia book, but I've never had it interfere with my writing or drawing.  

The cover is leatherette, plain, except for the Rhodia logo embossed on front.  From years of experience with other Rhodia covers I can tell you it resists ripping.  I carry mine around in purses and art cases, and I won't lie.  They can pick up scratches and dirt and can eventually look dingy.  On the other hand, those I've kept on the shelf have stayed pristine.  I find them to be fairly average in this respect.  

The covers are a bit larger than the paper within, with rounded corners. 

The ivory-colored paper is smooth, but not slick.  It's thin (90 gsm), but sturdy and does not tear, curl or wrinkle easily.  In the case of curling or wrinkling, you can usually weight them out.

The binding is signature-sewn, sturdy but flexible enough that you can bend the book in half so it can be held in one hand, while drawing with the other. 

I've done several reviews of Rhodia notebooks, and I like to try and bring something new to each review.  At the time I received this book, it happened that I had a lot of doctors and dentist visits scheduled (not all mine--both my mother and husband's as well).  I decided that I would do my examples during these visits, aiming at showing what can be done in these boooks even if you are using them under less than perfect circumstances.

Calligraphy Practice
I used two different fountain pens and two inks for my calligraphy practice.  J. Herbin's 1670 Bleu Ocean in a Lamy Safari with medium nib, and Diamine's Chocolate Brown in a FPR Dilli with a flex nib.

This Clairefontaine paper is probably as fountain pen friendly as you will get.  On the back of the page there is slight show-through and where I added the serifs there is an occasional dot of bleed-through.  I was not able to scan or photograph either. 

Drying time can be an issue.  I'm so used to it that it's hard for me to smear without doing it deliberately, but I do remember having to be careful in the beginning.  This seems to be a trade-off with fountain-pen friendly paper.  Slower drying ink usually means less bleed-through to the back.

Ink Pen: Pigma Micron

What can I say.  The thing that I use most of my Rhodia notebooks for is Zentangle©-Inspired Artwork.  The smooth paper is friendly to fabric nibs and your pens tend to slide nicely across the page.

I had already done one example, when the inspiration hit for a new pattern.  So you get two examples of pen and ink this time.

About the tangle pattern.  Ever so often, on the internet, you'll find a beautiful photo of the Naga Pushpa plant that supposedly flowers only every 36 years.  It's a hoax, and the photo is of a species of coral called a Sea Pin.  I was inspired by the photo, and liked the name - only I accidentally added on an 'm' at the end.  Such are tangle patterns born, lol!

Mixed Media: Color Pencil & Watercolor Marker & Pigma Micron
Color pencil is probably the least successful medium for this Clairefontaine paper.  It is too hard and smooth to properly pull the pigment from the pencil.  That said, you can get two or three layers of blending, and I often use it with other mediums, such as markers to get a softer look.  The brand of color pencil can make a difference.  I've found Soho to work better than the Coloursoft that I used for this example. I also used water-soluble Distress Markers to deepen the color in some areas (I used them dry).

Pencil Sketches
Again, the smoothness of the paper means you have to work hard to get dark values with a pencil.  On the other hand, the graphite lifts beautifully so the extractive technique, where you lift color with an eraser, works nicely.  This isn't the book I would buy for pencil work, but when the desire strikes, I don't hesitate to use pencil.

If you want to preserve pencil work on this paper, fixative is absolutely necessary.

Mixed Media - Acrylic Paint , Gel Ink Pens and Brush Pen
While drawing my Nagapushpam pattern, I screwed up and had to start over on another page.  I hate having a page like that in my books, and usually cover it up.  In this case, I painted the sky and moon with acrylic paint, at home, and then later used Gellyroll pens and my J. Herbin Creapen Brush pen to add the writing, shadows and detail.

The paper did curl at the corners from the acrylic paint.  Once the paint was dry, I wrapped the corners around a pencil, going the opposite direction and voila! No more curl. There was some slight rippling in the paper.  From experience, I know some of the ripples will flatten out from the weight of the book, but a few will remain.  Nonetheless, this book would work quite well for art journal style acrylic work.  It would work as an art journal, as long as you avoided 3D effects.  The binding wouldn't expand enough for that.

For more examples, you can find my review of the Pocket-size Rhodiarama here.

The Rhodiarama performs as you would expect from any Rhodia notebook. It is great for fountain pen, pen and ink, and surprisingly, acrylic paint.  It is less successful with pencil and colored pencil, but you'd expect that with smooth paper.  It's excellent for Calligraphy, everyday journaling and pen-oriented drawing.  If you art journal, it works well enough with light washes of watercolor, acrylic and small amounts of collage.

The look is fantastic.  I've always liked the traditional orange and black, but have to admit I love the new colors too.  I adore those zebras, but they might be too flashy for those who want a strictly business look.

But I hope one day, Rhodia will come out with a notebook featuring the zebras on the outer covers.

The giveaway is now closed

What Will They Win?  
Five winners will each receive a Turquoise Rhodiarama blank notebook like the one reviewed here.

How to Enter?
Cut and paste these words: 'I want to win a Turquoise Rhodiarama Notebook' into the subject line of an email, and send it to me at  LifeImitatesDoodles [at] gmail [dot] com.  

When is the giveaway over?
The giveaway starts on Sunday, Jan, 31, 2016 at 06:00 AM PST and ends Sunday, February 07, 2016 at 11:59 PST.  I'll notify the winners by email on Monday, February 08.

Who can enter?
I do apologize, this giveaway is U.S. only.

Disclaimer:  I received this Rhodiarama Notebook from Exaclair Inc. specifically for this review and giveaway. I was allowed to choose the item to be given away.  I'm excited about hosting this giveaway, but tried not to let it influence my opinion, and all opinions are my own.  I received no other compensation.


  1. oh my! I want that tangled kitty as a print! So pretty! and oof, that rhodia pad is SO my color but alas I'm not in the US :( Thanks for the great review though, it looks very flexible to use!

    1. Thank you! I need to do an International giveaway again one of these days. I always cringe at the postage costs, though. It's supposed to a small, small world and getting smaller, but the U.S. Post Office doesn't seem to agree, lol!

    2. yes, the postage costs are really not helping with hosting giveaways internationally. I am grateful that I won that rubber stamp set & magazine from you a few years back, that was amazing luck! I still cherish and use those stamps for my mail art frequently :)

    3. It's good to know that that prize package went to a good home!

  2. I am not a cat person, but that kitty is awesome! I love the doodles, but even more, the colors you used. :)

  3. Looks like a great book to create in.

  4. Thank you for the giveaway! I'm embarrassed to say I still don't own Rhodia and that print it just beautiful!


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