With the planners I received for reviewing, I was also generously given a few other goodies to try out. There was never a condition to review these items, but I am very happy to promote quality like this.

First off, the Rhodia pad. These little things have been seen worldwide for decades, and I don’t know how I went this long without trying one. It’s a simple little orange notepad, built for tough and practical usage. The front cover is scored in perfect segments for folding over. I’m generally partial to spirals for notepads, but this set up works great without the clumsy lump created by a spiral. I keep mine in my large camera bag, using it for sketching portrait shoot ideas. It’s replaced my former Moleskine Volant, which was black and just wasn’t cutting it for the job. All of my equipement, bags, and many of my clothes are black. I kept losing the little Volant. The Rhodia, with its orange cover, stands out nicely and never gets left behind. It will also, due to the cover design, stay open for hands-free reference. And the paper is fantastic! Makes me rather curious about the Rhodia Webnotebooks…

Next, the Clairefontaine notebook. I love this thing. Out of the stack of goodies I received, this is the item that competed with my planner for heaviest usage. The size is convenient, and the paper is simply divine. As I mentioned before, I have a soft spot for spiral notebooks. Well, I have never used one this fantastic before. It’s all about the paper. When I’m trying to convince someone that fountain pens are worth the bother and not as intimidating as they think.. I reach for this notebook and get them to write in it with a fountain pen. They always stop and look at me with a “wow” in their eyes. So smooth and silky it makes writing a joy.

Lastly, the Exacompta sketchbook. It’s a black “Silver Edge Basics” sketchbook with heavy, 100g paper that is pH neutral and contains 25% cotton. Each page seems to have a smooth side and slightly textured side. Not being a fan of texture in my sketchbooks, I generally opt for the smooth side of things. The texture is faint enough to not be much of a problem for me, however. One of the winning features of this book is the binding, which is sewn and cloth-bound. A sketchbook that won’t lay flat is infuriating, and forcing one to lay flat only to later lose pages is even worse. This great little item will not only lay flat, but it will hold together with use. Now, if only they would make this book in a smaller size. I currently prefer smaller books for sketching, and the 5×8″ just means this one gets left at home. The pages are heavy enough to withstand some ink usage – which enables me to draw with my fountain pen without bleed-though. I haven’t had a problem with feathering, either, which is great! I’ve been on the lookout for some dip pens for months, and finally have some coming in the mail now. My current primary sketchbook will not take fountain pen ink, so I’ve held my Exacompta in reserve to use with my dip pens. Can’t wait to play!

The stack of loot:

The Rhodia at work:

My heavily used Clairefontaine:

Lay-flat happiness:

The end: