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  1. introduction For the past two years, I’ve used Rhodia’s dotpad for taking notes, writing letters, and testing fountain pens and inks. I had never heard of Fabriano or Ecoqua until I stumbled across their version of the dotpad in a brick and mortar store in Long Beach, CA. I’ve used them both quite a lot since then, and enjoy them both. Here’s a comparison of these two great pads. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2006.jpg http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2007.jpg Used for this comparison: 1. Lamy 2000 (stubbish XF/F) + J. Herbin Cacao du Brésil 2. Lamy ABC (1.1 Joy nib) + Iroshizuku Ina-ho 3. Conklin Crescent-Filler #25 with Toledo #2 nib (3XF-3B) + Sailor Tokiwa Matsu 4. Tachikawa G nib dip pen + J. Herbin Rouge Hematite part one: Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Notebook, A5 (made by Fabriano) the company The city of Fabriano in Italy boasts a distinguished heritage of paper-making. Fabriano’s mills have been producing paper as far back as 1264; they were the premier Italian paper makers throughout the Renaissance. The company claims historically to have been a favorite of Michelangelo and to have invented both the watermark and the process of gelatin glue-binding. The Fabriano company today continues to make highest grade arts papers and writing papers, and supplies paper for Euro banknotes. The company claims their paper is ecologically produced, and indeed they have a slate of ecological certifications to back up their claim. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2008.jpg the paper Fabriano’s version of the dotpad is a moderately warm, side glue-bound notebook available in a wide range of cover colors. The paper is of very high quality, on par with or better than the Rhodia. It is archival-quality, pH-neutral and chlorine free. The feel of the paper is very different, however. There is much more texture to the Fabriano, and the dot spacing is noticeably smaller. Because the paper is only available in ivory, you may feel limited to cooler color choices in ink as browns and reds lose vitality on this paper. The Fabriano has more texture than the Rhodia, which gives a more visceral feel in writing. But it is by no means “toothy.” http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2001.jpg Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Notebook performance The Fabriano held up very well to my testing. I tested bleed-through by repeatedly making downward strokes with a wet pen/ink combination to determine how many strokes were necessary before bleed-through occurred. The Fabriano came out on top here, both in bleed-through (+2 strokes) and dry time (-4 sec). http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2004.jpg Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Notebook price and availability Fabriano Ecoqua in this format is available at this time for $4.55 from Dick Blick online (that’s $0.050 per sheet). This is as close as makes no difference to the Rhodia. However, for that price, you get slightly more useable paper as the glue-bound sheets are slightly larger than Rhodia’s perforated sheets. Fabriano availability is a mixed bag. It can be found readily enough online at Dick Blick, Utrecht, and Amazon (not recommended) online, as well as many brick and mortar art supply and stationary shops. I have not been able to locate a single source that carries all variations of the paper listed on Fabriano’s website. However, and the even the complete list of offerings is puzzling. They only offer certain formats (staple-bound, glue-bound) in certain sizes. Most perplexingly, in A5 size, the dot paper is only available glue-bound, while blank pages are staple-bound (38 sheets) and grid paper is spiral-bound (70 sheets). You cannot get lined paper smaller than A4 size. I do not recommend Amazon for purchasing this paper as many reviews noted that the wrong format or binding were received. part two: Rhodia Dotpad #16, A5 (Clairfontaine) the company Rhodia started life in 1932 as the Verilhac Brothers in Lyon, France, becoming Rhodia just two years later when the brothers moved to Grenoble. Originally a side offering, the Rhodia pad soon became the face of Rhodia. In 1997, french paper makers Clairfontaine (c. 1858) purchased the Rhodia brand, ending production in Grenoble. Today, all Rhodia pads contain Clairfontaine paper. Unlike Fabriano, Clairfontaine does not produce its own paper pulp but sources it internationally. Like Fabriano, Clairfontaine paper is produced from wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2005.jpg Rhodia left, Fabriano right the paper Rhodia’s dotpads (number 16 in particular) are famous in the fountain pen world, and for good reason. They are incredibly smooth, immediately improving the feel of a scratchy nib. The paper is very high quality and quite white. It is archival quality and pH-neutral. All colors of ink fare well on Rhodia’s paper, making it the better all-rounder. Because the paper is not very absorbent, dry times are long but sheening is high. Those who like no feedback with love the feel of Rhodia paper and a wet ink. The dots are spaced at larger intervals than the Fabriano, and they contrast with the white of the paper more, making them more conspicuous. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2002.jpg Rhodia Dotpad #16 performance Rhodia is well-known for being a bullet-proof paper, so it’s no surprise that it fared well here. I was slightly surprised that it did not handily best the Fabriano. Perhaps the 5 g/m2 difference in weight makes the Fabriano more robust, but it clearly exhibited less bleed-through, showing none even on the heavily flexed dip nib. I’ve met very few inks that feather on Rhodia and none that I tested here did. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2003.jpg Rhodia Dotpad #16 One area where the Rhodia trounced the Fabriano was sheening ability. Rouge Hematite, of course, was made to sheen. While it does sheen on the Fabriano, it literally sparkles on the Rhodia. Tokiwa-matsu is a strongly, though more traditionally, sheening ink as well. It too, seems more alive on the Rhodia paper, though the color mates better with the ivory Fabriano. Before you conclude that a less absorbent paper will always sheen more, consider that Original Crown Mill Laid Paper (also excellent) is very absorbent and sheens more heavily even than the Rhodia. The Rhodia also exhibited slightly less show-through, despite the thicker paper of the Fabriano. http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2010.jpg Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Notebook http://i900.photobucket.com/albums/ac209/jasonchickerson/paper%20comparison%2009.jpg Rhodia Dotpad #16 price and availability Rhodia’s dotpad can be found for just slightly more (one half cent more per page) than Fabriano’s pad and is readily available online and offline retailers. The pads are available with dots, lined, grid, and blank in all sizes. Though I’ve never seen it, the pads are supposedly available in yellow paper as well as the white. Cover colors are limited to the historic Rhodia orange and black. conclusion and my personal choice Both of these are great, top quality pads, and which you will prefer is a very subjective question. I will say that for my purposes, the Fabriano is technically the better paper. It bleeds less and dries faster. I also personally prefer the smaller dots and the slightly longer page. However, I continue to spend my money on Rhodia’s dotpad. For me, the staple-bound format is a much better option than the side glue-bound Fabriano, which suffers in a backpack. I’ve never had a page detach prematurely with the Rhodia, while the Fabriano’s pages peel away at their whim. When I remove a page from the Rhodia that I want to keep, I simply tuck into the back of the pad. When I tried this with the Fabriano, the glue binding pulled away from the cover and the whole thing practically fell apart. And while I like the color of the Fabriano paper and less obtrusive dots, I do feel restricted in my ink colors using the ivory paper. It’s nice, but I’d like a white option, too. So, in conclusion: I award a win for best paper to Fabriano’s Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Pad. But the win for best pad to Rhodia’s reigning champ, #16.
  2. Can someone compare the dot grid on the Rhodia Dotpad No. 16 vs the dot grid on the Leuchtturm journals. Are the dot grids the same? Are the dots lighter or darker on one of them? Thanks.





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