Rhodia (or to be be precise, Exaclair, the US distributor of the conglomerate that owns the Rhodia brand) contacted me and asked if they could send two of their Rhodia brand pencils.
Let me confess – these weren’t my first Rhodia pencils. I learned of the Rhodia pencil line from the old “Moleskine Art” blog, a predecessor of the excellent Scription. This was probably 2006 or so. I was so eager to see the products that I ordered some from overseas, which was a major event for me back then. (How times change!) The pencils were mentioned on the blog’s 1st anniversary post.
What I noticed online was the widely varying reaction to the pencil – ranging from excellent to poor. The pencil has no markings other than the Rhodia firs logo, so it is hard to know if commentators are talking about the same pencil. I was happy to engage with Exaclair just so that I could ask – has the Rhodia pencil changed? I also wanted to ask – where does it come from?
The pencil is very curious in advertising that it uses Linden wood, also known as lime wood or basswood. It is very unusual for pencils not made of cedar to mention their species of wood. Linden wood/Basswood is considered is a budget alternative to cedar, so it is a surprising association for a premier brand like Rhodia.
The black died wood seems to have received a treatment which made sharpening relatively easy.
So are the 2006 and 2011 Rhodia pencils the same? I was told “yes”, but the 2011 pencil is clearly and distinctly better in my testing. Probably two degrees darker and much smoother.
So where is it made? I didn’t get a clear answer to that question.
The product seems to have been quietly improved over the years, and is certainly worth a try, especially if you like Rhodia’s paper products.