Review & Giveaway - Rhodiarama Soft Cover #ExaclairInc #Rhodia #DotGrid

On the December 23, I was the featured fan on Rhodia Drive's blog.  Not only was I honored by the feature, I was offered a choice of Rhodia products as a gift.  I chose the new dot grid softcover Rhodiarama notebook, with a yellow cover.  These dotgrid versions of the notebook are expected to be available in the U.S. in 2017, possibly as early as January.

Although, it wasn't expected, I was sent two of these journals.  So you know what that means... a giveaway! What better way to end the old year and usher in the new!  See below the photo for the giveaway info.


What Is the Prize?  
One winner will each receive a yellow Rhodiarama dot grid softcover notebook like the one reviewed here.

How to Enter?
Cut and paste these words: 'I want to win a Yellow Rhodiarama Notebook' into the subject line of an email, and send it to me at  LifeImitatesDoodles [at] gmail [dot] com. (replace the words enclosed in [ ] with an @ and a . and make sure there are no spaces)

When does the giveaway start and end?
The giveaway starts on Sunday December 25, 2016 at 08:00 AM PST and ends Sunday, January 1st, 2017 at 11:59 PST.  I'll notify the winners on Monday, January 02, 2017, by responding to the email they sent as entry.

Who can enter?
This giveaway is open internationally.

Disclaimer:  I received this Rhodiarama Notebook from Exaclair Inc. as a gift for being a featured fan. I was allowed to choose the item from the line of Rhodia products.  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.


Look & Feel
Size: 5.5  x 8.3 in / 14.8 x 21 cm)
Format: Dot Grid (also comes in lined)
Paper: Clairefontaine Brushed Vellum, 90 gsm, ivory, acid-free 
Binding: Glued & Stitched
Extras: Interior back pocket; Sewn in color-coordinated ribbon bookmark, Elastic Closure, Rounded corners
Available colors: The lined version comes 16 colors, so it is likely that the dot grid will be available in: Silver, Black, Chocolate, Taupe, Beige, Anise, Turquoise, Sapphire, Iris, Purple, Lilac, Raspberry, Poppy, Tangerine, Orange & Yellow.  

I've reviewed many Rhodia Notebooks over the last few years, and the dot grid versions are my favorite for creating new tangle patterns, as well for drawing with a variety of mediums. The new softcover has the familiar Clairefontaine fountain-pen-friendly paper, leatherette cover, rounded corners, and color-coordinated ribbon and binding.

The difference in the Rhodiarama softcover?  The softcover and glued binding.  While the covers have the same soft leatherette look and feel, they are thinner and more flexible.  They make me think of a heavy leatherette cardstock.  
 There is a trade-off with this thinner cover because I think they pick up dents more easily.

I'm always a bit wary of glued bindings, but then I saw that these are stitched as well.  The notebook can be folded back completely for ease of writing or sketching.

The notebook color I chose is yellow, and it comes with a coordinated orange ribbon bookmark, elastic band and flyleaves.  There is also a pocket in back. I usually store the informational banner there, so when someone asks what size a drawing is, or about the weight of the paper, I can easily find the answer.  My memory is no longer a safe storage place, so I have to rely on these things!  The pocket's also nice when I have the idea for a pattern, and scrawl it on something but can't get to working out steps.  I just put my scrawled drawing in the pocket, for later.  

The book lies flat.  As with most good notebooks, if there is too much spring or slope towards the middle of the book, you very gently fold the book all the way back (as in the fold-back photo above) at two or three sections of the book, and it will lie flat after that.

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, which you might get with watercolors or other 'wet' media, you can usually weight them out.

The dot grid color is light grey with a brown-purple cast.  The dots might be a bit too light if your eye-sight is bad, but for most it is dark enough to be used as a guide, while tending to fade into the background, once you've written or drawn on the page.  

Showing you the true color of the paper and the dots is always a problem because every PC/Phone shows color a little differently.  Then I thought of using a Kleenex to establish a familiar color.  Hopefully, that gives you an better idea of the paper and dot colors.


I didn't have too much time to set up this review and giveaway before the year ended, so I did a very basic example with Pigma Microns...

...and then an example where I threw a little of everything on the page to create a mixed media piece.  This 'Denizens of the Deep and the Kraken's Egg'...

... was started with watercolors.  I used wet pigment on dry paper, leaving sections dry.  This did cause some dimpling, and a change of the paper texture.  I got that crackly sound I love! Since this notebook is geared more toward fountain pen than watercolor pigment I wasn't surprised with this result.  The main thing is that the dimples went away after I put a weight on the book, and none of the color bled through to the back.

The upper right corner, the Kraken and buildings, was filled using an electric dotspen.  Since it is a mechanical pen that hits the paper repeatedly and quickly, some papers will deboss, leaving little bumps.  That didn't happen with this paper even though it is thin.

I switched to a Stabilio Pen 68, mainly because it can handle going over watercolor.  I didn't expect any problems and I had none.

Once I'd drawn the egg, the jellyfish, the eel monster, I switched to colored pencil.  The Clairefontaine paper in this notebook is a bit slick for creating lots of depth and complexity, using layers of colored pencil, but it does take some of them well enough.  With the added texture coming from the watercolor, I was able to create the transparent feel to the egg, and add shadows throughout.

The last step was to add highlights, and lighten some areas using a Sharpie white acrylic paint pen.  I will admit that I scrubbed a bit too hard in one area of the egg, where I had previously saturated the paper with watercolor, and actually got a little pilling.  I was truly stressing the paper and this was the only spot that gave.  I could easily have avoided it by letting the watercolor dry longer, and not pushing so hard with the paint pen.

By stressing the paper to the limit, I determined that this notebook would work as an art journal for light to middling mixed media art.  From past experience, I know the paper will take glued items decently, but the binding is a too tight for very much of that.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting a new tangle pattern that I drew up using this paper!


The Rhodiarama softcover notebook has everything that you would find with other Rhodia notebooks, except for the difference in cover.  The softcover is lighter and thinner, which means easier to carry and it will fit in bags or folders that a hardback might not.

While not meant for watercolor or colored pencil, the paper will handle doses of both and can be used for light to middling mixed media.  

I think it is more susceptible to nicks and dents though, so maybe not a carry for those that like their notebooks to remain pristine.  (I  like a 'wabi-sabi' look myself.  Sort of the art of living life, complementing my artwork).

Because I really wanted to start my giveaway before the year ended, I didn't do as many examples as I usually would.  If you want to see how well the notebook handles fountain pen, you can find another review at: Writers Bloc