In the bio below this article, I’ve described my eight-year-old daughter as an “art geek,” but I’m not sure it gives the right impression. An “art geek” implies someone who is interested in art as a concept, with their mind. My daughter is better described as a compulsive artist. From the moment she first held a crayon and realized, “Hey, if I move this on something else, it makes a mark!” she has been making her mark on every available surface: paper surfaces, sure, but also walls, floors, furniture, herself, and any other living creature that will stand still long enough. A few years back, as a mere reader of GeekMom, I won a giveaway of some awesome Stomp-N-Go cleaning pads by describing the intricate occult circles she’d left on our carpet. Just a few weeks ago, as I headed off to Saturday work, my husband stopped me and said, “You need to change your pants. Apparently, somebody wrote on your butt.”
This past Christmas she got a roll of chalkboard wallpaper for her door, in the hope of curbing her graffiti-artist tendencies. Reusable surfaces of this sort are handy for channeling the energy, but they come with their own drawbacks: when she brought the kids back from their grandparents’ earlier this week, my mother sort of sighed as she said, “She spent the whole time drawing on a dry-erase board, but then she erased it so I can’t hang any of it on my refrigerator.” I should have offered her a pick from the large pile of drawings on the floor behind my desk here, because they’re just going to get trampled on for a couple of weeks before they’re thrown away.
Two days later a Kickstarter launched that has the needs of someone exactly like my daughter in mind.
The Rocketbook Color Notebook comes from the creators of Rocketbook, and addresses this two-fold problem: how do we give compulsive young artists a surface to draw on that won’t waste paper or build up as garbage around the house, while still allowing the results to be archived, displayed, and shared?
Part One is the Color Notebook itself. Each book has 12 pages of water-resistant, tear-resistant material that writes like paper but erases like white-board. It’s formulated to work with any Crayola washable or dry-erase coloring supplies, whether crayon, marker, or colored pencil, so that the drawing won’t smudge but will wipe off in seconds if you intentionally take a cloth to it (dry for dry erase, just a bit of water for washable), so as to be endlessly reused.
My daughter has destroyed enough white boards in her time to raise my skeptical-mom sensors at that word “endlessly.” I asked for clarification and here’s what the creators had to say:
How endless is the endless reusability compared to, say, a typical dry-erase board?
We’ve tested extensively with Crayola Washable and Crayola Dry Erase products, which we recommend to use with the Rocketbook Color. When using these markers, crayons, and pencils, the Color notebook can be used thousands of times. While the Rocketbook Color is subject to normal wear and tear, it is extremely durable and waterproof.
Do marks get harder to erase the longer they stay on the page? How much build-up over time?
In our tests, the notebook remains easy to erase even after Crayola Washable and Crayola Dry Erase writing has been on the page for several weeks. Given the breadth of products on the market, we can not guarantee that all washable and dry-erase products wipe clean and do not stain. Some formulations contain harsh solvents that could damage the Rocketbook Color, or that might be difficult to erase if left on for too long. More importantly, many non-Crayola products aren’t kid safe. While other dry erase products will work with the Rocketbook Color, our recommendation is to stick with the Crayola line. Finally, users wishing to test erasability may test new products on the inside front or rear cover, which feature the same coating as inside pages.
Yes, I definitely know someone who could put such a surface to good use. When I went to ask her what she thought of this product, I only got as far as “It’s like a dry-erase coloring pad that—” before her eyes went big and she shouted, “I WANT THAT!” But I didn’t even get to describe Part Two of the project, the part that earns it its subtitle of “The Internet of Crayons.”
Part Two is the Rocketbook App. The Rocketbook was originally designed as a way for grownups to take paper notes and easily upload them to the internet. Sure, you can just take a picture of your page and upload it that way. But the Rocketbook app automatically crops the page, adjusts and enhances the color balance, and sends it immediately to whichever online destination(s) you indicate by marking a code of symbols at the bottom of the page. You can set one symbol for cloud storage, one symbol for a more social destination, and several symbols for specific email addresses or phone numbers—say, for grandparents.
The Rocketbook Color Notebook combines the online functionality of the grown-up Rocketbook products with a child-friendly reusable notebook, and that’s an innovation that can’t come soon enough for someone who’s been painstakingly scanning pictures to send to loved ones and/or popular YouTubers (my daughter draws a lot of fan art).
Oh, and here’s another fun trick: you can “bundle” a series of pictures and have them delivered as one animated gif, instead.
The Kickstarter for the Rocketbook Color Notebook is accepting pledges until September 8, 2017, with expected delivery of the notebooks in November. A pledge of $20 or up gets you one Color Notebook (the final retail cost of the notebook will be $27); bigger pledges get you more notebooks at a discount (you can even pledge $850 and get a classroom supply of 50). Throw in an additional $5 and get a pack of six Crayola dry-erase markers, too.