So you've determined which polymer clay pasta machine you should buy. You've ordered it, waited patiently for its arrival, lovingly unpacked it, and decided that today is the day! Beautiful polymer clay creations are at your fingertips. There's nothing standing in your way...
...until your first sheet of clay comes out looking more like a mangled dog's breakfast than art! Yes, this is the frustration all too familiar to us polymer clay enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, polymer clay pasta machines can be a real pain in the neck if you’ve just started with polymer clay. They leave scratches, marks and smears or sometimes the clay just sticks to the rollers. In this article I’ll address rippling clay, parallel lines, crumbling clay and smears and smudges - some of the biggest problems when it comes to pasta machines for clay. In part 2 of this pasta machine series I’ll address some of the less common, but no less annoying problems.
Click here for a bullet point summary...
Parallel lines are caused when the gears in your pasta machine start to get out
of whack, usually because you’ve been shoving lumps of clay through your machine. Although I don’t experience this problem very often anymore, I used to,
way back with my first two polymer clay pasta machines. Eventually they both broke because I was far too rough with them. So be gentle with your machine.
If that ship has sailed and you already have parallel lines occurring there are a couple of things you can do.
At thinner settings the same whacky gears will cause your clay to ripple. I’ve experienced this problem many times and spent a lot of time and effort, only to have my project ruined at the final hurdle.
As mentioned above, prevention is best. Treat your polymer clay pasta machine gently. Don’t go jamming big lumps of clay through the rollers and your gear and roller alignment will last much longer. However, pasta machines for clay will begin to wear with use no matter how gently you treat them. The more you use the machine, the more the gears will wear and the more common rippling will become.
Tips and Tricks:
Rippling can also be caused by soft and sticky clay. Soft and sticky clay will ripple even if your pasta machine is brand new. Some polymer clay brands are softer than others and all of them will give trouble if you are working in a warm climate.
Tips and Tricks:
See my tutorial: How to Prevent Pasta Machine Ripples, for more ideas.
Crumbling polymer clay was another problem I encountered when I had my first polymer clay pasta machine. At this time I was using Kato. Now I know that Kato is a firmer clay then most other polymer clay brands, but that wasn’t the cause of the problem. It was me trying to jam lumps of clay through the pasta machine. This of course led to me having a pile of crumbs and a damaged machine.
Tips and Tricks:
The third biggest problem I had when I first got my pasta machine was all the smudges I got on my clay. By the time I’d finished conditioning my white, it was more of a grey. This was because I didn’t know I had to clean my machine or how to do it.
As your polymer clay goes through the rollers on the machine, it gets stuck up against the blades underneath, and over time a layer of dirty, yucky clay builds up on the blades and bleeds off onto the clay you are rolling through. In the past, cleaning the blades was as simple as removing them and giving them a good wipe. However, all but the most expensive machines are now made with fixed, plastic blades which cannot be removed for cleaning. This does make life a bit of a challenge but there are still a few ways to get your machine fairly clean.
How To Clean Your Polymer Clay Pasta Machine:
By doing this regularly, you’ll keep your
pasta machine in good shape and it’ll stop those pesky dark smudges. See my tutorial: How To Clean Your Polymer Clay Pasta Machine for more information.
Hand rolling these clays using an acrylic roller and playing cards or acrylic spacers is a much better idea.
(If you can find an old machine with removable blades at a garage sale or something, snatch it up. You will be the envy of all your polymer clay friends! The rest of us have to pay big bucks to get this feature on our machines!)
So in summary, there are a few polymer clay pasta machine techniques that will alleviate most of your problems:
That’s all the major problems I’ve had with my pasta machine and the solutions that I’ve found to work. Part 2 of this series deals with some other less common problems with polymer clay
pasta machines, like handles falling out and clay sticking to rollers.
Be sure to check that out.
I do hope that this article will help to alleviate some of the frustration surrounding your pasta machine. If you enjoyed it please like and share or leave me a comment.
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