Review-Rhodia Heritage Book Block Notebook #RhodiaHeritage #Clairefontaine #Notebook

Today I am reviewing the Rhodia Heritage book block Tartan notebook with a graph format.  I was very lucky to receive (and give away five in a giveaway that is now ended). The prizes and my copy were generously given by Exaclair, USA, and I’m very thankful because these have been selling out.

I just learned that my contact at Exaclair, USA, Karen, is retiring.  I wish her the best of luck and great joy in this new path in life.

Size: 19 x 25 cm/7.5 x 9.8 in.
Cover: Watercolor cold pressed 140 lb with Tartan Design
Paper: Weight-90 g Color-Ivory, Format – 5×5 Graph Orange-lines
Contents: 80 sheets, 160 pages. 2 Orange fly leaves, 1 Title Page, 7 Contents pages, 152 numbered Graph pages
Binding: Sewn, book block

Look & Feel
When books are bound, several sheets of paper are placed together and folded in half.  These sheets are sewn at the fold.  This is called a signature.  Each book is made up of several signatures.  Usually a spine is added to the notebook, which covers up the back edge of the signatures and the sewing.

A book block is a binding where the spine is not added and you can see the folds and the sewing.  I love the look, but you can see where the tag ends of the thread are tucked away, which might bother some.  There is a tacky feel to this area that leads me to feel that glue has also been added to keep the signatures together.

The Rhodia Heritage Notebooks come in two formats – sewn binding with a line of orange thread going up the spine, and book block and it comes with Tartan, Escher or Checkered design covers.   I’m reviewing the book block with Tartan cover and that is the version that the four giveaway winners will receive.  The cover is made of 140 lb watercolor paper.  It’s sturdy and won’t scuff, but will keep bend marks if folded sharply.

The Rhodia logo is on the front cover, and there is a block of specifics information, Rhodia and PEFC logos, and the ISBN Code on the back cover.

The cover has rounded corners and is flush with the pages.

This is one of the most flexible notebooks that I have ever come across.  In fact, when I first held this notebook, the ‘feel’ of it was distinctly different.  It almost felt as though it would flop over in my hand.  It didn’t.  I immediately did a test by holding one sheet at the edge and shaking the book to see if the page would tear or come loose.  It did not.  Despite the flexibility, the book is securely bound.

My next test was to deliberately tear out a page.  The notebook isn’t designed for this, but Clairefontaine paper tears cleanly and I had no trouble getting a smooth tear.  I could detect no loosening of other pages.  I won’t recommend doing this though, beause it does leave a very slight gap in the spine.  One sheet isn’t noticeable unless you are looking for it, but if you tore out very many pages, you would get a ragged looking spine.  So, having confirmed that the Heritage book block has a good firm binding I won’t tear out any more pages.

Did I say this book was flexible? You can not only fold the book in half along the spine…

…you can almost fold it completely in half across the middle.  I don’t recommend doing this, because the cover will bend if you overdo it, but you can hold onto it this way if you need to carry it in one hand.

The notebook lies flat.

The paper is ivory Clairefontaine 90 gsm, which is thin but fountain-pen friendly.  At 7.5 x 9.8 inches in size with 160 pages, this book has noticeable weight.  I don’t find it too heavy for carry, but some might.

There is an orange fly sheet at both the front and the back.  Both the fly sheets and the first (title) page and the last page of the book are glued to the covers along the inside edge, which means they are the only pages in the book that won’t lie completely flat.

The title page has three lines for written information, the Rhodia logo and a tag line, all in the orange ruling that is found throughout the notebook.  I had to punch up the values to make the light orange show up in my scans and photos, so they seem darker than they actually are.

I wish I could guarantee that what you see is the true color, but I notice the photos look different in my laptop than they do on my husband’s desktop PC.  In real life, the ivory of the Clairefontaine paper seems a bit more yellow than usual with the light orange ruling.  I find it appealing and very easy on the eyes.

Since the orange is light, the graph ruling might be difficult to see if you have vision problems, but I find it a helpful guide that tends to fade from notice once you’ve drawn or written on the page.

There are seven contents pages. Each has 24 lines, broken into space for the page number and the content information. The heading ‘Contents’ is written in both English and French.

The graph-lined pages have a margin on all four sides, and an orange streak on the inside fold.  I hope that you can find these in the store so you can see the color for true.

The pages are numbered on the outside edge.

The right-side page has a title box at the top right.

Between the book block binding and the Tartan cover design, this is a notebook with an Old World flourish.  It’s fancy enough to satisfy the need for elegance, but sedate enough for office use.


Since the paper is Clairefontaine, I expected good performance and I got it.  No feathering, pilling or drag on the pen.
From the back, there is show-through with heavy saturation, though the scan picks up more than the eye actually sees.  There are dots of bleed-through with the broader nib, and where I layered wet-into-wet.  The Identi-pen bleeds through everything unless it is specially treated, so I use it mostly to verify that the paper isn’t.

Water-based Felt Tip Ink Pen 
For most of my step-outs, I used a water-based felt tip pen that doesn’t dry out too fast, so I can switch between red and black without having to recap every time.  They are pens meant for children, so they are not problematical.  This example was meant more to show one way you might use this graph ruling rather than how well it handles the pen.

Water-based Marker & Pigment Artist Pen  

You would think that the ivory with orange lined paper in the Heritage might mute color, but I’ve found it to be a rich base indeed.  In the eye of this picture, I’ve used the color of the paper as highlight and it makes a bright contrast.  I used the same process here that I did with other art I’ve already shared – Fossilized in Amber, Dragon’s Embryo and Goatherd, except I didn’t use colored pencil with this one.  I liked what I had and was afraid I would ruin it if I continued.

Both the marker and the pen glide across the page.  The paper has a nice absorbancy, so drying time is long enough to let you lay down quite a bit of color before you start getting streaks, but not so long that you are smearing everything.

Ballpoint Pen
This next piece was done completely with ballpoint pen.

Inherent problems with ballpoint pens are blobbing, skipping or stoppage of the ink flow until the pen has rested a while.  While almost all ballpoint (and gel for that matter) pens have these problems it is worse on some papers than others.

While I did have to be careful and watch for the ink buildup that causes blobbing, I had no problem with ink skipping or drying up while I did this drawing.

I got a softer look than I expected, to the point where I think this almost looks like colored pencil rather than pen.

Fountain Pen Ink– Jacques Herbin Amethyste de l’Oural
The Heritage has Clairefontaine paper so I knew it would be fountain pen friendly, and I had already used fountain pen ink in it for another review.  I have to admit that I found this a good excuse to use the beautiful ink I received a while back.  The purple is lovely against the ivory and orange paper.

As I expected, no feathering or pilling, a slight show-through and dots of bleed-through where I really saturated the ink wet-into-wet.


Rhodia Heritage Book Block Notebook with Tartan cover has a unique look with it’s book block binding.  It’s extremely flexible so it can easily be carried or held in one hand even though it’s 7.5 x 9.8 inches in size with 160 pages.

The orange-lined graph pages are numbered with contents page so you can keep track of what you enter in the book.  Each double-spread has a title box for further organization.

The Clairefontaine paper is fountain-pen friendly and suitable for many different media. Despite paper that is fairly thin, it resists bleed-through from mildly to moderately wet media, so very light washes, some markers and most pens work well in this book.  It’s a bit slick for graphite pencil and some colored pencils, but I have excellent luck with my Coloursoft color pencils.


What Is the Prize?  Five winners will receive an Rhodia Heritage Book Block Notebook with Tartan cover as pictured above. 

How to Enter? Cut and paste these words: ‘I want to win a Rhodia Heritage 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 August 25, 2017 at 13:30 PM PST and ends September 01, 2017 at 11:59 PST.  I’ll notify the winners on September 02, 2017, by responding to the email they sent as entry.

Who Can Enter? Sorry. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Who is Giving Away the Prizes? I’m hosting the giveaway, but the prizes are coming from Exaclair USA.  They will mail the prizes to the winners.  I want to thank them  for their generosity.

Disclaimer:  I received the Rhodia Heritage Tartan Book Block Notebook from Exaclair USA for the purpose of this review and giveaway. I was allowed to choose the item from the line of products that Exaclair USA distributes.  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.

Exaclair USA is the American subsidiary of Exacompta Clairefontaine, a French family of companies including Exacompta, Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G. Lalo, J. Herbin, Brause, Schut Papier, Decopatch, Avenue Mandarine and Maildor. They are the exclusive U.S. importer and distributor of these companies’ finished products. Their warehouse is located in Hamburg, NY and includes printing presses and a bindery for Quo Vadis planners, Habana notebooks and customized products.

Published by Life Imitates Doodles Art, Reviews & Tutorials

Artist Ambassador for Zebra Pens. I'm a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I'm a little bit crazy, but doesn't that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways two times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.

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