Posts Tagged 'Exacompta'

Handmade Book with Clairefontaine Paper

In this post, I hinted at a new Book that I was binding using several different sample Clairefontaine papers: Graf It sketch padDCP Digital Color Printing Paper,Calligraphy Art Pad, and the Ingres Pastel Pad.

All the papers serve very different functions, so binding them into one journal is a way for me to provide a more extensive review of each type of paper. And, a way to keep me artistically on my toes! (Sure, we’ll go with that).

I used a simple long stitch and then glued the bound signatures into the cover. To make the cover, I used leftover mat board from an art project, and covered it in some blue ribbon.

(Making a new book without buying anything new = so rewarding.)

I’ve already been using this book throughout the exam season, so that’s why there are already some extra papers sticking out of it.

I think the order of use is: DCP copy paper, pastel paper, Graf It sketch paper, and then the calligraphy paper. I’ll try to post more extensive reviews as I finish each section. However, I have played around with all four papers already, so I can at least provide some preliminary thoughts…

  • So far, I’m loving the paper from the calligraphy pad– especially the off-white color, which I’m not used to seeing in Clairefontaine/Rhodia products. This paper is SO smooth, but less “slippery” than regular Clairefontaine paper. Plus, it’s a bit heavier which means it can handle wet media (sort of).
  • I was actually surprised how much I liked the Graf It sketchpad: it seems like a similar product to those “all-use” sketchbooks that you can buy at craft stores, with the rough-ish paper, but the quality of the Graf-it paper is a huge step up.
  • I love the DCP printing paper because it seems like basic Clairefontaine paper, but has the benefit of being available as loose sheets. I think when I bind small books for gifts in the future, I’ll use this paper instead of regular computer printer paper to fill them. Like the paper in Clairefontaine notebooks, though, it doesn’t offer the same versatility that the calligraphy paper and graf it paper do– it’s definitely more light weight, and not compatible with wet media. My guess is that it’s best used for writing and inking (and of course, printing. I’ll get to that in a later post)
  • The paper from the Ingres pastel pad seems really, really similar to the paper in the Exacompta sketchbook: it’s off-white, laid paper. And hey, I love the Exacompta sketchbook, so this just may be excellent paper. I found that it takes both wet and dry media equally well, and pastels are buttery smooth when used on this paper. This will be my first extended paper review, in the next few days.

Finishing My Second Exacompta Sketchbook

a filled Exacompta

*EDITED: I decided to include the images that I had previously posted, just to keep it all in one place. Enjoy!*

I purchased my first Exacompta sketchbook, and won my second from a Rhodia Drive raffle giveaway. (Remember how cute they were together?) I admit I had my doubts about using the same book twice… I tend to get a little claustrophobic with my art supplies if I’m not head-over-heels in love with them… and I did have few frustrations with the way that some of my more delicate nibs would catch on the Exacompta’s laid paper.

But now that I’ve finished that second book, I’d have to say it’s one of the best all-purpose books I’ve used thus far. In fact, I’m having a lot of trouble finding a replacement. I want many of the same characteristics: thick, unlined paper, a nondescript cover, and medium size. I’d like to have smoother paper this time around, though. And apparently, those requirements don’t come together too often in one book. I need to gather up the energy to bind one for myself again.

Here’s the visual summary:

ink therapy :)

testing Caran D'ache Museum leads

More Pages from the Exacompta

Page 2page 3 copypage 4page 6Page 7page 7 copy2

Art Therapy in an Exacompta

Page 1 copy

A few weeks ago I had a crisis involving Very Big Questions (you know, the kinds about Life and Love and The Future). I spent some time in ink therapy and came out with this.

This was in my 2nd Exacompta journal. I’ve found that I’m doing far more art than I did in my first one, which is good.

The Roundup: Rhodia Drive Raffle Prize

StackOh boy. Through farmwork and thesis work, re-carpeting my parents’ home and moving myself into a new temporary home, I haven’t gotten a chance to sit down and upload some photos of my Rhodia raffle prize.

These were graciously sent by Karen Doherty of Exaclair, and I want to note how impressed I was at the way the raffle was handled. Not only did the Rhodia Drive blog feature my blog when announcing the first winner, but I received an email from Karen congratulating me and asking my “favorite colors” –which was confusing at first, until she explained that she was just hoping to tailor the notebooks to my liking, for ink colors and cover colors.

Well, gosh.

I really like the opportunities for personal connection that the world of blogging allows. Although it’s part of my firm belief to never confuse the digital world for face-to-face interactions, I must admit that there is a certain social etiquette in the blogging world (much more professional than the “dear-diary” of livejournal land) which opens up a door for cool opportunities– like this one!

So, a box arrived at my door a few days later, containing:

Basically, that’s a lot. I did the math, and the total retail value would be $174.25. I think knowing that makes me appreciate it even more, because it means that I won’t have to spend money on school supplies this year. Little blessings are especially nice when they come with pretty inks :)

I’m not going to do full reviews of anything right now, especially because I included the new inks in my recent ink comparison and because  so many of the notebooks are near-duplicates (all the Rhodia blocs, for example). But I will include a few initial thoughts, mainly–

What the heck am I supposed to do with this teeny tiny notebook?!

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I’m not sure this picture does this notebook justice in showing its size (I have small hands). Its about twice the size of a matchbook, 2″ x 3″. I also have English-major Carpal Tunnel syndrome, so writing in a cramped size is not an option. My male friends with larger hands just sort of laughed when they tried to hold it. Any suggestions?

My other initial reaction was: UH. Ironically, I received the exact same Exacompta sketchbook that I’m using as my personal journal right now.

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I’m nearing the end of my journal, and now I’m wondering whether to use this new one as a replacement or move to another notebook. It’s such a beautiful book, but I’ve always been the type to try new formats when I start a new journal. A gift, perhaps?

Exacompta Sketchbook

I posted about my new journal the other day, and have been trying to find some free time to post some pictures. Technically, I purchased the Exacompta sketchbook, not the matching journal, but I prefer to write on a blank unlined page.

In the past I’ve discussed my distaste for both the Moleskine corporation and the moleskine “culture,” and my transition toward making my own books. I’m still binding books for friends and for myself, but I wanted to experiment with a store-bought book that was:

  • of superior quality to moleskine (particularly the paper quality)
  • not overpriced
  • not over-marketed (i.e. no “legendary” claims)
  • produced by a fairly ethical company
  • classy, customizable, and unique.

Of course I know that no store-bought book is going to be unique, and it’s silly to make that claim about any mass-produced product. By “unique,” I really mean basic enough for me to fill, alter, and abuse it to the point where it becomes mine.

img_0734Enter the Exacompta sketchbook. By now I’ve spent a few weeks with this delicious book and I can say that it’s hands down my favorite store-bought basic black book (BBB).

The sketchbook (5.5″x8.5″) is cloth bound, and sewn, so the pages open completely flat. A lot of small and medium sized books have trouble opening flat so this has been a total blessing for a carpal-tunnel-stricken scriptophile like me. I thought that I wouldn’t like the embossed “sketchbook” logo on the cover, but I’ve found that I don’t mind it too much. I added a label with my name to the front, and I’ve been holding the book closed with a plain rubber band.

The book is filled with gorgeous off-white laid paper. It’s lighter than moleskine-yellow, which means that my colors show up brighter. The laid lines result from the pattern of the screen against the paper pulp during the paper-making process. I really love the texture that these lines create because it reminds me that paper doesn’t just appear out of nowhere– it goes through a process of creation, beginning with harvested trees. I’m not enough of a treehugger to stop using paper journals (and besides, computer laptops have a larger carbon footprint than a Hummer, so paper journaling is not my greatest sin), but it’s good to be reminded that the products we use everyday don’t come from the store; they originate from nature somewhere.

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gilded edges

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The paper takes well to my fountain pen, and also surprisingly to watercolor. I used my sister’s cheap watercolor set to play around a little while I was home over break. I had forgotten how neon those basic elementary school watercolor sets are! I’m looking forward to painting some more with my own set when I have the time.

Regarding my desire for a book “produced by a fairly ethical company,” I haven’t yet found any evidence one way or the other for Clairefontaine/Exacompta. I found a company profile, but there doesn’t seem to be much underground networking regarding their history. Nevertheless, I do know that their production has remained in France (not shipped over to China, a la Moleskine).

After searching a bit online, it turns out that a few others have discovered the beauty of this book before me: both Inkophile and Spiritual Evolution of the Bean raved about this sketchbook as well.


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