Tag Archives: rendr

Smelly Notebooks

Is smell ever a factor in your notebook usage? I’ve tested a few notebooks over the years that had distinctive odors, sometimes pleasant, sometimes not. When I reviewed the Rendr Sketchbook, one of the first things I noticed about it was a strong chemical smell, although it faded after unwrapping. One Moleskine I bought on eBay had a wonderful smell, as though it had been stored in a drawer with cedar or some sort of scented candles or potpourri (I’m not necessarily fond of scented candles or potpourri, but it was a nice woodsy, herbal smell, not super perfume-y).

Usually Moleskines just have a sort of inky smell, not at all unpleasant, but the one I just started using, another eBay purchase of older stock, has a gross odor, kind of barfy-smelling. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced this, and I’ve used dozens of Moleskines over 15+ years. It’s still noticeable several days after unwrapping the notebook and using it, so I tried swabbing some eucalyptus oil on the inside front and back covers– that helped somewhat, but the yucky smell is still there. I also pulled a couple of leaves off my patchouli plant and stuck them in the back pocket, that that’s not solving the problem either. It reminds me of an old TV commercial from the 1980s, for some sort of room deodorizer spray. The ad criticized the competition for merely adding perfume rather than neutralizing odors: a little girl whines “Ewww, now it smells like fish and roses!” Well, now my notebook smells like eucalyptus and patchouli and vomit.

I keep riffling through the pages in hopes that it will air out and today, I put it in a bag with some candles to see if the smell will improve but what if it doesn’t? Can I bear to get rid of it?? Or will I just be wrinkling my nose for the next few months while trying to finish this notebook as quickly as possible? Oh, the drama… what would you do??



Review and Giveaway: Rendr Sketchbooks


Rendr Sketchbooks are a new product from Crescent Artists. Their main claim to fame is that the pages are 100% bleed-proof. Now that is a pretty audacious claim. The only sketchbook I’ve ever found to be almost completely show-through-proof and bleed-proof was the Stillman and Birn 270 GSM Zeta series, which has a very thick almost cardboard-like paper, and only comes in larger hardcover sizes starting at about 5×8″. Rendr Sketchbooks have a relatively thin and flexible paper, and come in a very pocketable and flexible 3.5 x 5.5″ size, so I was very excited to get some samples from the manufacturer so I could give them a try.


First impressions: a nice plain black notebook with squared corners. Once you take off the shrinkwrap and the paper insert, there is no branding other than the word Crescent on the back cover. The cover is scored near the spine to make it easier to bend it all the way around. The paper is a cool, slightly greyish white, and when you first open the notebook you will immediately notice a rather strong smell. (It fades over time, but not completely.) The wrapper also touts these as having a lay-flat binding– I did not find it as totally lay-flat as they claim, due to some glue in the spine. It’s a bit smaller and thinner than a pocket Moleskine (shown below for comparison).


But what about the bleed-through? Can this paper truly take anything you throw at it? I’ll just say it: yes. It is downright freaky how bleed-proof this paper is.

I attacked it straight away with my Super Sharpie marker, which bleeds through pretty much anything. I drew a line and flipped the page: nothing. I even scribbled back and forth over the same spot and held it down to force as much ink as I could into the page: still nothing! I tested a bunch of other pens: no bleed-through. No show-through. Nada. The only way I was able to see anything through the paper was to hold it up to very bright direct sunlight, as seen below. I don’t know what kind of deal with the devil they’ve made to create such ink-proof paper, but it works! The paper does feel a bit thirsty and I found that fountain pens seemed to soak in and spread out slightly, though not with the feathering out fibers that you get with some papers. I also tested a watercolor wash, which the paper handled just fine without much buckling. That said, I’m not sure I’d recommend this paper for watercolors, as the paint had a weird grey tone when it was wet and the texture seems a bit flat compared to watercolor paper. The only other caveat is that the packaging states that “limited show-through may occur over time with heavy application of Xylene markers.”



You can buy Rendr sketchbooks and paper at Amazon or Blick: Crescent RendR No Show Thru Paper. Or you can enter the giveaway for the extra samples I received!

Two random winners will be selected from entries received in the following ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Rendr sketchbook @crescent artists @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @crescentartists.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Crescent Artists page and post something containing the words “Rendr sketchbook” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Rendr sketchbook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday September 12, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.