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Pasta Machine

Posted by goregt On March - 18 - 2007

Using a Pasta Machine with Polymer Clay

Whenever you create an original piece of artwork, the preparation stage whether it be for jewelry, beads or a sculpture can be a mundane and daunting task. Now don’t get me wrong, there are many people out there that enjoy the process of mixing clays, conditioning the clay and building armatures however I am not one of them. Some people find conditioning clay a therapeutic exercise but I personally look for anything that can make the preparation stage easier and quicker to finish. The quicker I get through this stage the quicker I can start sculpting.

If done by hand, conditioning and mixing polymer clay can take a considerable amount of time. For small pieces like beads it may not be a big deal but mixing and conditioning a couple boxes of Super Sculpey and Fimo can be a painstaking task. One of my larger sculptures took both me and my daughter two days to mix all of the clay and after that another day or two to let my hands recuperate from the soreness that they received.

If you enjoy conditioning and mixing clay with your own hands then I recommend that you continue to do so. However, if you are like me and are looking for a shortcut to this process then I invite you to read further.

I have to say that one of the best tools that I have come across for polymer clay is a pasta machine. What use to take me hours now only takes a few minutes. Conditioning and mixing clay has never been an easier process and a pasta machine is a must have for anyone that is looking to shortcut this process. The best deal of all is that you can pick up a pasta machine yourself for a small amount of money.

How to use a pasta machine

* Click on the images below for a larger view

For my example I will use a block of Super Sculpey with my pasta machine
My pasta machine allows me to adjust the space between the rollers at seven different levels. I start out the process with the widest setting (which on my pasta machine happens to be level 7).
In my example I’ll use my three year old as an assistant to roll the clay – hard to take pictures and roll the clay at the same time :-). I carefully insert the clay as he turns the handle.
Depending on the condition of the clay it can break apart in chunks during the first run in the pasta machine
You will want to run the clay several times through the pasta machine. Keep folding and rerunning the clay through the machine until you get a consistency that you like
Once I run the clay through a few times I will adjust the setting on my pasta machine to a narrower width. I’ll run the clay through one or two more times to fully condition the clay. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes to complete.

Safety tips and guidelines

- Don’t use the same pasta machine for food and polymer clay. Pasta machines are cheap so go out and buy a separate one for food. - If you have little ones around the house, like I do, store the pasta machine’s handle in a separate and safe location. The last thing you want is for one of your little ones to roll their fingers in the pasta machine when you are not around.- Securely fasten the pasta machine to a counter or table when using it.- Be mindful of your fingers when pushing the clay into the rollers.
Where to buy a pasta machine

pasta machine for polymer clayPasta machines are easy to come by and you can pick one up at your local Wal-Mart or other retailer of choice. They can also be purchased from a variety of online sites such as Amazon.com or a long list of other online retailers.

I personally own a stainless steel Atlas pasta machine. It is very durable and has seven different thickness settings for rolling out the clay. My machine also has a separate section where you can chop the clay (great for mixing different clays).

Amazon.com carries the Atlas pasta machine for around $69 and you can view more about it by clicking here.

3 Responses to “Pasta Machine”

  1. Diego Sanchez says:

    Do you have a suggestion for reconditioning unbaked polymer clay that has hardened with time? I tried doing it by hand but developed tendinitis in my palms!

  2. goregt says:

    Diego,

    Get a pasta machine it is well worth the investment (just don’t use it for food if you use it for your clay)

    Gerald

  3. Carrie Kilgore says:

    Diego,
    Whether or not you use a pasta machine (which I heartily endorse), it’s not a bad idea to get some clay softener. Lots of brands and kinds (some liquid, some not-I use Sculpey’s Mold Maker, which is a soft solid) and it only takes a smidge, honest! (like the size of a pea for an oz. or two) There’s still some work involved incorporating it into the old clay (breaking into small pieces whether by hand or chopping or food processor (which, natch, you’ll not use for food), but it’s amazing how much it helps. I recently reconditioned some old Fimo (20 oz. worth, a much harder clay than what I normally use even when new) that my daughter-in-law had given up on after hours of working at it. I’ll go on to say that I did it by hand (during doc ordered bed rest), and being a polio survivor, I’m much weaker than most (which is why I normally stick to Sculpey III, despite some drawbacks). Well worth the cost…so, give your palms a break! (Plus, you’ll have the strength to jump directly into sculpting, which is the whole point, right?)
    Carrie

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Nothing special, just a self-taught sculptor having fun with my art and showing all of you the tips and tricks I use to create my own artwork

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