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Rhodia Dotpad And Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Notebook Comparison



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jasonchickerson

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.

Edited by jasonchickerson
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jasonchickerson

Unfortunately I am not seeing your pictures....

 

I am having difficulty uploading images at the moment (upload manager is telling me I've exceeded allotted disk space for attachments, though nothing has been attached). I will add the images back as soon as I am able to.

Edited by jasonchickerson
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Joe in Seattle

Nice review, thanks. I am always on the lookout for new and/or better paper.

"how do I know what I think until I write it down?"

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jasonchickerson

It was worth waiting for - thanks :thumbup:

 

Nice review, thanks. I am always on the lookout for new and/or better paper.

 

I'm glad you found it helpful.

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  • 2 months later...
Strombomboli

At its e-boutique, Fabriano sells this paper even in form of A4 jotters with lines or squares, at least in Europe. Take a look here.

 

And I found a variety of smaller books, some glue, some spiral bound, with blank or dotted pages, at a large artists' supply online store here in Germany. There, they are sold as sketch books. (Click here.)

 

In both cases, the books are not very expensive per se, but shipping costs a lot, especially from the boutique in Italy.

 

 

Iris

My avatar is a painting by Ilya Mashkov (1881-1944): Self-Portrait; 1911, which I photographed in the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

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  • 2 months later...

I just purchased one of these Fabriano EcoQua notebooks on a whim while at my local art store. I LOVE it! I actually like the cream ivory color - it isn't too yellow like many ivory papers (yes, Rhodia Premium Ivory, I am looking at you!) :P

 

I am still getting to know this notebook, but as long as I can easily purchase it, I will always stock this notebook along side my Rhodia. I am so glad to have found this notebook!

 

One of my less than favorable aspects of Rhodia was the limited and uninspiring (to me) cover design. Fabriano's cover design is a thousand times better imo. I have the wine notebook and it is utterly gorgeous!! So for aesthetic reasons alone I love it, along with all the great paper performance you mentioned.

 

In the little I have played with it, I actually have better sheening on Fabriano than on Rhodia. Same pens, same inks, same day, side by side. Fabriano showed way more sheen than Rhodia. I will need to test this further of course, but my first impressions are extremely favorable.

 

Thank you so very much for your in depth review! It is great to hear so many wonderful things about this notebook and all of your points were valid and well said!!! :happyberet:

Tessy Moon



My thoughts are filled with beautiful words for the King, and I will use my voice as a writer would use pen and ink. Psalm 45:1


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I have a regular Rhodia lined notebook in A4 and A5 as well as the A5 Fabriano Eco Qua blank notebook.

I agree with your review (thanks a lot for it) but I would describe the Fabriano as fairly toothy against the Rhodia.

Though, perhaps the paper on the blank notebook is slightly different and maybe designed for sketching.

I think it compares quite favorably to Tomoe for ghosting and bleed through and feathering but I find the feedback on Fabriano to be much greater and like the smoothness of the Tomoe and even the Rhodia better.

It's overall a very nice notebook and comes in a nice range of pretty covers which would be good for projects that needed different colored covers.

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gordonhooker

Great review I have not see the "Fabriano Ecoqua Dot Gluebound Notebook, A5 (made by Fabriano)" paper here in Australia but that does not mean it is not available somewhere. I use the Rhodia paper all the time.

Nature is the one song of praise that never stops singing. - Richard Rohr

Poets don't draw. They unravel their handwriting and then tie it up again, but differently. - Jean Cocteau

Ο Θεός μ 'αγαπάς

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Strombomboli
I would describe the Fabriano as fairly toothy against the Rhodia.

 

So would I, and it's precisely what I like about this paper, or else, why I prefer it over the Rhodia paper.

 

The Fabriano is smooth as a result of the paper production process, not because of coating afterwords.

 

Some of my pens don't write on Rhodia paper, even worse, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. This might have to do with the part of the paper (upper or lower) on which I am writing, but since I do not tend to write with greasy fingers and arrive pretty fast at the end of a page due to my large handwriting, I rather suspect that the paper is not evenly coated.

Iris

My avatar is a painting by Ilya Mashkov (1881-1944): Self-Portrait; 1911, which I photographed in the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

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  • 7 months later...

Thanks so much for this great review! I recently acquired my first fountain pen ( a pre-owned Montblanc Generation ) and have been looking for a good notebook. I guess I'll have to buy a Rhodia and a Fabriano and find out which is my favorite. Thanks for narrowing it down to these two great options!

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Cushy Butterfield

Thanks for narrowing it down to these two great options!

.

You must make that three - try Nanami Crossfield with Tomoe River. (Keep checking for availability, it's worth the hassle.) Scrumptious!

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Great review, although I have to say my Fabriano ecoqua dot notebook doesn't feel nearly as smooth as normal Rhodia notebook, which I assume is as good as the dotpad; still, it's good paper.

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

 

B. Russell

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jasonchickerson

Great review, although I have to say my Fabriano ecoqua dot notebook doesn't feel nearly as smooth as normal Rhodia notebook, which I assume is as good as the dotpad; still, it's good paper.

No, the Fabriano is not as smooth as Rhodia. If smooth says quality to you, then the Rhodia has it. It should be pointed out, though, that these are both coated papers.

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