Gen. info
....uses for pasta machines (summary)
........getting acquainted... creating stock
....general care--important
Types & brands of machines... (+ current problems with Atlas machines)
....bad ones?
Where to buy?
Feeding Tray
Handles, clamps, scrapers, rollers
Making sheets of clay
...thicknesses & measuring
...very thin sheets... + narrow sheets
...uneven or ragged edges & rippling (& too wide)
...streaks! .....stressing
......using clay barriers to avoid streaks, or colors
Cleaning + Taking Apart while using (alcohol, wipes, brushes, soft clay, etc.)
...removing parts (for cleanliness + lighter weight)
...taking apart
a pasta machine (cleaning, repair)
Noodle attachments
No pasta machine?--other ways rails
Misc info. & books

(the roller type)

General Info.... Uses, etc.

Having a pasta machine isn't essential...
...BUT... having one sure does make a lot of clay things much quicker and easier
......(actually some of those things may not be worth doing very often if you don't have a pasta machine
......... though see below in "No Pasta Machine" for other ways to make sheets and slabs)

USES for pasta machines

1..make the clay pliable and ready for use, or to "condition" it ... (much quicker than conditioning by hand)
2..mix new colors more easily
3..create sheets be used in many ways:
.......use alone
.......cut out shapes (with cutters, etc.)... or cut into strips (for weaving or onlay or or mica techniques)
.......make cane components (sheets for wrapping, stacks, etc.)
.......beautiful gradient blends ("Skinner" and other blends)
.......marbled patterns of color, or partially marbled
.......single, smooth sheets from cane slices (or embed single cane slices or other clay bits into sheets)
.........these can also be use as "fabric" for figures
.......create textured sheets (...or texture mold sheets)
.......make very thin sheets of translucent clay for see-through coverings and other techniques
.......create sheets for "covering" other items... or for making vessels, draped bowls, etc. technique called "mokume gane" (stacking of thin sheets, which are distorted then shaved) various techniques with clays which contain mica, etc. (like "ghost impressions, "invisible canes")

(here are a few GlassAttic pages which deal with the techniques mentioned above:)
...Conditioning ...Color
...Sheets ...Cutters ...Canes-gen & Canes-instr.
...Texture ...Translucent & Transfers
...Covering ...Vessels ...Mokume gane ...Mica

some suggestions for just getting aquainted with your pasta machine,
...or to create "stock" anytime you don't feel especially creative

condition some of your clays for future use

make regular bullseye canes (also called wrapped canes) ....see this page if you want more info: (click on "Bullseye-Wrapped")

make Skinner blends
.....if you then make plugs from the resulting blend sheets, they can be easily turned back into blend sheets to be used in various ways
.....if you go ahead and make your blends into bullseye canes (which are really jellyrolls, aka spiral, canes --made with long, very thin strips of blend sheet), you can later use these almost anywhere you'd use a plain log or a wrapped/bullseye log
When used, these blends make something simple look very complex, and just generally give a lot of bang for the buck anywhere they're used!

GENERAL CARE.... important!

To extend the life of your pasta machine and to avoid problems & repair (for those, see below):
... any time you pass clay through the rollers, the clay slabs should not be much thicker than the widest opening between the rollers (in order to avoid straining the pasta machine.. could break off and misalign the teeth, for example)
... In other words, don't try to jam a ball of clay, or even a thick slab of stiff clay, through the rollers
.......You can also run the clay through a thinner setting (before folding it in half and sending it through a thicker setting); this will cause less stress on the teeth. Elizabeth.
... If you let kids use your machine, be especially vigilant because they are almost certain not to be able to remember this!
(..if your clay is very soft, this may be somewhat less important).
....I'm careful about running clay with inclusions in it through my pasta machine - sand in particular can scratch the rollers (so roll it between sheets of waxed paper to prevent that).. and make sure the opening is wide enough. Irene

It's a good idea to alternate the side of the machine you use when doing repeated passes. ...don't always use one side of the rollers or the other to condition color (can cause your rollers to wear out of alignment). Elizabeth

A pasta machine won't be heavy enough to crank with its handle unless it's clamped down (attaching a motor will allow it to avoid clamping)
You'll need to have a table (or stool, etc.) with a suface that's not too thick to accomodate the clamp in order to clamp it successfully ...... if your tabletop is too thin, add a small block of wood between the underside of the table and the top of the screw-in bolt
.......if your table is too thick, you'll have to find somewhere else to clamp it, or buy a larger clamp form the hardware store. pasta machine, Dremel, and a worklight on a pivoting arm, are all bolted to a wooden barstool that sets next to my worktable and can easily be moved out of the way. Lisa

When using a motor on your pasta machine, a change in sound is normal when you feed a piece of clay through.
...however, if you should hear the motor really slowing down and laboring, to dissipate any excess heat that's built up in there let it run for 10-15 seconds after the sheet is done ....then, you can either continue to feed clay through again or turn the motor off (once the motor is turned off, it has no way of bleeding off excess temperature other than the slow exchange with surrounding air.)

If you want to make a sheet which thicker than the widest pasta machine setting (which is about 1/8"), just stack several sheets together (be sure to roll the sheet down gradually to avoid air bubbles.... a bit of liquid clay can be used between the layers if you feel it necessary
nfortunately, there isn't a way to seamlessly create sheets wider than the pasta machine (6" for most pasta machines), though the sheets can be widened after removing by stretching it, using a hand roller, etc. (adding a second sheet underneath can keep the top sheet from thinning too much)
...sheet length is practically unlimited.... just add more clay, or create a narrower sheet with one of the techniques in Blends > Width

I *knew* (I should get a pasta machine) but hesitated..."I don't NEED it," said I, massaging my wrists. "I'm saving money," said I, ignoring the days lost to CTS and aching hands. "I LIKE working with tiny amounts of clay"...and so on, sez I...till I got a pasta roller and saw the light after we started going through it in pounds. Ah, its SO much better this way. Sarajane

TYPES & BRANDS of pasta machines

If you're in the US, due to the "Great Pasta" trend, pasta machines are quite common. Many stores that have a good array of kitchen applicances, will likely have some type of pasta machine (see below for more places to find one).

NOTE: There are basically two "kinds" of pasta machines available
......(there's also the roller attachment sold for the Kitchen Aid stand mixer).
...The first is the kind which is electric, and mixes the dough before extruding it through preset holes for the diff. shapes of pasta (like macaroni, etc.)... this is not the type we use!
...The second kind is usually hand cranked and looks very different, having two long rollers to pass the clay through (it *may* also have a set of attachment rollers for making long strands of linguini and fettucini, though some machines may not offer these (you don't need them!). This is the one we use, and they cost $20 - $45 bucks.
.......These usually come with a hand crank, but a motor can be bought and substituted for the hand crank (or I think some of them may come already that way). Motors are wonderful!! ... but they're expensive. I would guess that most people who end up doing very much with a pasta machine end up buying a motor, and most of us with any physical problems definitely want to buy one. (see below for more on motors).
.....Many of us eventually have a second pasta machine as well (some are less expensive or sold without the extra rollers which makes them cheaper) which we take to classes, or you can remove the motor and reinsert the handle though that's a bit of bother. Classes have often not allowed motors in the past, though they're being accepted more and more nowadays as long as people don't use them while the teacher is talking ..and those with physical disabilities certainly need to be accommodated as much as possible).

Pasta mchines made in the Far East are cheaper in price, but less sturdy than Italian-made ones.
...however... they'll usually work fine if you're careful with them --especially being sure not to feed clay into the rollers which is more than a tad thicker than the opening which stresses the machine (see General Care above for more details)

....these machines are also fine for beginners or for those who aren't sure how much clay they'll do (again as long as they're properly handled)

....they can be purchased for around $25 in various stores and online, and the Amaco can be purchased for around $15 from Micahels with their frequent 40%-off coupon

Most people who do a lot of clay especially buy one that's made in Italy
...Of those, mmany of those will buy an (Mercato) Atlas brand (not a Villaware Altas--see below in Bad Ones), or a Pasta Queen or Imperia, etc.. At least those are the most frequent brands we see from Italy.

{2007-- there are currently problems with the Atlases though... please see just below}

I'd recommend a Mercato Atlas, since I've found other PMs that sport the name "Atlas," but they're not of the same high quality. Desiree

The most commonly available pasta machine and the one most clayers have has a 5.75" roller width (150 mm) (...Mercato Atlas 150... also others)
....The widest manual pasta machine for home use has 6.75" rollers (180mm) ...Mercato Atlas 180
(...There is even a wider pasta machine which has 7.8" rollers (190 mm) ...Trattorina by Belpasta)
Desiree's photos of 150 mm Atlas, and also 180 mm, plus an unusual 110 mm (4.25") size (Mercato... still available?) ( ..and for photos of Trattorina, see below)

I think you'd be able to more easily get replacement parts for Mercato Atlases, and Atlases are easier to disassemble (still true?), if ever you have to. Desiree

I highly recommend the Atlas is the widest I have found. Desiree
...If you do all small pieces then the more narrow machine may work for you, but I do a lot of vases and votives where I want the widest sheet of clay possible. Linda H.
... However, the thickest setting on the wide Atlas is only about the same as on a medium setting on the normal size Atlas!. Dorothy

The pasta attachment which is sold as as option for Kitchen Aid stand mixers is probably an Atlas (without the rest of the pasta machine --crank, stand, etc.)
... the mixer itself functions as a motor for the rollers, and can be set at any of the regular Kitchen Aid speeds, I thinki's made by the same Italian manufacturer as the hand-crank units, has spring-loaded nylon scrapers (Old Salt)...and has plastic gears inside. rob pinion (from 2 customer reviews)
.......some other amazon reviewers said metal shavings came out when the machine was new, and also that there was grease ("streaks" presumably) just when new?... so this may be the same as Atlas 180 rather than the 150

current Atlas problems
(late summer 2006 - 2007)

There appear to be at least two issues going on with the newer version of the Atlas machines… the new non-metal scrapers, the new gears, and the fact that once taken apart they many not work as well
…the new 150 has the scrapers problem only
…the new 180 has the scraper problem and other problems

SCRAPERS ….white (rubber?-tipped) plastic scrapers have replaced the metal scrapers
…rubber can cause
drag (rubber is okay tho’ for use with actual pasta dough because it’s softer and also flour-covered which helps keep it from sticking)
…the new scrapers create
ridges on settings 1 and 2, and on thinner settings the clay ripples even more
……the new scrapers may also cause small
air pockets in the clay from catching and pulling on it (caused by the rubber getting marred?)
cleaning the scrapers is much more difficult (especially with stickier clays?), so previously-used colors get onto the next clay (can’t easily get to the scrapers because of a ridge that catches the clay)… so a lot more time needs to be spent cleaning between colors
(There are replacement metal scraper blades available and some machines are being sold with those already installed… they make the situation much better, but those replacment blades also may not be quite the same as older metal blades --see below in Fixes)
...(also probably the pasta attachment unit which can be used on the kitchen Aid stand mixer)

…new gears seem to be made of different material or lower quality (thinner?) than before
…..they grind and catch a lot (esp. on widest setting), and can wear out much more quickly
…rollers become non-parallel
…fine black metal flakes sometimes fall under the gears and get onto the sides of the clay as it passes through (worse with stiffer clays?)

TAKING APART ...if taken apart (even correctly), these newer machines may not function as well as they should or as well as older machines would when they had been taken apart (non-even openings, grinding, skipping, etc.)

fixes for Atlas problems?

One can purchase replacement blades (metal) and put them into the newer machines, following lessons on taking pasta machines apart if necessary (see below), but the newer machines seem to be harder to take apart and may also have problems afterward that older machines didn’t after being taken apart.
….also, these replacement blades also may not be quite the same as the older metal ones

replacement blades
Gary Valenti, Inc , 718-417-6227, (specify “all-metal” and give model #)

machines with replacement blades….. or replacement blades alone:
….PolymerClayExpress is currently not selling the Atlas 180 because of its problems, but is still carrying the Atlas 150 (which may have replacement metal blades alread installed?) …they will carry the 180 again when the problems are resolved 
….Mona Kissel and her husband are offering some fixes and machines:
..…..if you send your machine to them, they will do a "modification" to it which allows easy removal of blades without tools (for cleaning)
.... and will also adjust rollers to help with uneven sheets (will that fix the gear problems though?), and remove fenders if your request ($20 + shipping both ways... 7-10 days)
.…..or buy an Atlas 180 with replacement metal blades already installed (plus their "modification")

other (reasonable) pasta machines


(no recent changes in blades?? for these other Italian machines --as with the Atlases)

I assume there are other Italian brands floating about (that are of the same h gh quality as an Atlas).
.... but there are others out there that only look like those.
BEFORE PURCHASING at a store, check the machine very carefully .
the pasta machine should feel smooth to the touch and be smooth in operation.
... It should feel solid and substantial.
While in the store, take the machine out of the box. ...Crank it. Twist it. ...Feel it.
...... If the surface has rough areas, burrs, rust spots.....or if it feels wobbly or loose... or it squeaks or grinds when rolling or transitioning between settings... "Put the machine down, step away, and no one will get hurt". ;-) Desiree

(NEW--2007) Eberhard Faber Fimo Pasta Machine not yet available in the US?
... it may be that you've stumbled on one of the "new" pasta machines that was "coming soon"....but don't know that for sure. The Craft Cellar site did say "New for 2007" though.
....I wasn't able to find it at the Eberhard Faber site, or any other site besides the Craft Cellar (in the UK) for that matter (!), although a search brought up some that looked like Amacos maybe, which were listed as "Fimo pasta machines" (think the word Fimo was being used generically for all polymer clay there though).
....I think it's not just a rebranded Atlas either because the rollers are incoporated into the machine instead of being removable. It does, however, look exactly like my oldest one which is one of the Pasta Queens (made in Italy). If that's true and they haven't changed the design, or if they've rebranded another machine that's similar to my old one, I'd buy that in a heartbeat. It would be sturdy like the older Atlases, but without their problems.
.....btw, since the rollers aren't removable, that would add a bit of weight and size... BUT it also makes the machine better in that it doesn't have to be clamped to a suitable edge (it's heavy enough to stand alone, anywhere you want)'s also a bit more stable if using a motor with it. has 9 thicknesses, where I have 7 on my Pasta Queen
...the opening sizes are a bit different from mine, I think (but that could be just a later model?)... they range from 1.0mm (.04 inches) for the thinnest setting to 3.5mm (.14 inches) for the thicknest which is just a little thinner than the thickest on the Atlas--12.5 mm.
...sheet width is the normal width of around 6"
.. it's reasonably cheap too for a "good" pasta machine... less than $30, but you'd have to add shipping. DB person reported it worked fine... a second one said that one of the rollers on the first one she bought didn't revolve, but the second machine was fine

I loved my Domus!
(Unfortunately I disassembled it before I ever found instructions for doing so ("how hard can it be?") and could never get it back together. Now that I know how, I can't find all its parts... It *is* possible to disassemble these.)
....The Domus was such a workhorse! I didn't realize how ...sturdy it was until I didn't have it any more, so I bought an Atlas, and was aghast that I bent the scraper blades within a few weeks of having it. I was used to being able shove chunks of clay through the rollers with ease.
.....I recently bought another Domus on eBay, but the scraper blades are slightly rusted and I haven't gotten around to derusting them yet. Irene NC
...mine says Excelsa Modello Depositato... sounds like yours . . . a real workhorse. Sue

I have had two Pasta Queens.
...the one with removable noodle cutter rollers was fine, until I let some of the kids in a class use it; now it works but clunks on each revolution
. . . . the other Pasta Queen I have is a very heavy one, and the extra cutter rollers aren't removable. (It says Made in Italy on the front plate—that’s the important part).... It's a great pasta machine and has held up to everything I've done with it so far
(of course, I've been careful to use sheets of clay that are only slightly thicker than the setting I'm using though --that is, since the kids messed up my other one!) Diane B.

I love mine! ...a Pastafast ...which isn't that popular I guess, but it's a wonderful machine. Never had a bit of trouble with was my first machine (bought at Cost Plus). Jan

... made in Italy ....great pasta machine... sturdy
....Linens 'n Things carries Imperias (can use their 20% coupon... must sign up for mailings to get coupon?)
.....I have an Imperia pasta machine that I've been using for about 2 years. It works great for me. It is very sturdy, and cranks fine for me. Marlene
....The Imperia has different widths and makes different thickness of clay than the Atlas (doesn't have the thinnest settings?), which could make it more difficult to use some of the instructions in books and magazines for making a clay project . Dotty
....I had been initially impressed by the solidness of nearly every aspect of the Imperia pasta machine. It's a heavy and sturdy looking little beast. So, this weekend, I took apart a brand new one to see what what was under the hood. My evaluation is based on taking apart and comparing the components of pasta machine brands such as Pasta Queen, Atlas, Trattorina, Imperia and a couple of no-names. I was very disappointed with the scrapers (those blades that keep whatever material that passes between the rollers from wrapping around the rollers). They're little more than stiff aluminum foil. The scrapers may be adequate for pasta dough, but IMHO they wouldn't last under serious or over-zealous polymer clay conditioning. These scrapers can be easily bent (if rolling though too-thick clay) ... Desiree?

Most(?) pasta machines come with a removable noodle cutter unit which creates long strips of several widths (linguini, etc.). This unit is often removed to reduce the weight and size of the pasta machine because it's seldom used (possibly for weaving or making tiles). Some have permanent noddle cutter units built in.
...And some pasta machines can be bought without noodle cutters
...if you want to use a motor with your pasta machine though, the ones without cutters may be less stable and you might have to put a support under the motor or clamp the pasta machine down to keep it from wobbling excessively?
... removing the permanent rollers from a very-small Atlas with a hacksaw & Dremel and


Amaco (made in China for Amaco)
...Michaels (and other craft stores) now has a pasta machine from Amaco which they're selling for around $25 (...using Michaels 40% off coupon brings this to about $15)
...also available online, mail order would be fine though as long as it's handled with care --e.g., never run through any clay that's much thicker than the width of a particular opening
...mine works great... and now I have a separate machine just for white and translucents. Angela.
(when compared to an Italian-made machine:)
...the dial for thick/thin settings are backwards from the Atlas settings. Patty B.
...the widest setting on the Michael's machine is thinner than the widest setting on the Atlas.
...when cranking, the handle is harder to turn, and less smooth. Julie
...I found it to be "clunky" when cranking (compared to an Atlas). Patty B.
...I took mine back would be ok for just conditioning clay though also left lots of continual horizontal lines on one side of the clay(??). Stephen C

"Ultimate Clay Machine" ...from Makin's Clay (an air dry clay)... Walnut Hollow is the US distributor of the Makin’s Machine, which is manufactured by Hong-Kong based Sino Harvest Limited
....version 1 of this machine was removed from the market in 2006 for re-enginnering the problems it was having
.....version 2 was re-introduced the next year but may also have problems:

........the clay sticks to or scrapes against the plastic scrapers... The friction from this plastic on plastic is causing the surface marring at #1 setting and the rippling at #4 and beyond.
........HOWEVER, not everyone has experienced the same issues as I have. BUT some others have.
........I returned my machine and the company (Walnut Hollow) sent me a technical sheet regarding use of the machine.... Makin’s clearly states, “The Ultimate Clay Machine™ works best with Makin’s ® Clay. Results may vary if machine is used with brands of clay other than Makin’s Clay. Margaret Donnelly (unfortunately, Makins Clay is an air dry clay, not a polymer clay, and is therefore much softer than most polymer clays.)
WRITTEN PREVIOUSLY at various times:
....this new pasta machine is
created specifically for "clay" (but Makin's clay is softer than most polymer clays) has a non-stick coating on the rollers (not the particular brand of non stick called "Teflon" though)
....has 9 settings...and is 7" wide
....more expensive than Michaels' Amaco pasta machine (about $50 --but good place to use their 40% off coupon... and Joann's will match their coupon?) ... in Michaels, there will be no "Makin's
green" color on these machines, by their request ... also available by mail order
...the new Makin's Clay pasta machine is very much like the Atlas 180, except for the added coating... I have no idea yet how compatible the coating is with the clay's plasticizers works wonderfully with my motor and comes with the standard handle and clamp, but no cutters. Patty B.
Makin's guidelines and warnings re using its machine
... e.g., any particulate inclusions besides mica powders may scratch the non-stick rollers
...these guidelines are both for using their air-dry clay and "other clays" on the same page, so some of them may not apply to polymer clay
MORE CONCERNS about Makins' machine:
bottom line: may want to wait till they get all problems fixed before buying one? (written after Version 1 of machine?)
(....this machine originally had a problem with burrs on the metal when it was first introduced, which left scratches, etc., on on the clay was taken off the market, then reissued with plastic scrapers)
... now however, the plastic scrapers seem to get distorted or out of place, causing rippling and/or bowing of the clay sheets on the thinner settings... also worse with the softer clays
it also seems to leave a fine grain patterning on sheets of mica clay which are put through its rollers (more than most other pasta machines)... can roll over sheet with a brayer afterwards to remove them?
...mine makes a much louder noise (like metal rubbing against metal or something) than her older machine (Italian-made tho?) . Susan
What to do?
....some clayers elect to return the machines, and some may wait for a newer version
....some clayers report that this bowing tends to settle down after awhile, but some extra passes or other things may have to be done (leaching a short time, or powdering with cornstarch)
.......some people also feel that cranking the handle slower makes less friction and works better... but some people feel the best sheet is gotten from quickly passing the clay through (friction may or may not be causing the problems)
...I had to take the 'fenders' off tho -- the clay had been sticking to the fenders and making it bunch up going into the rollers, or just plain tearing the clay apart. I'm much happier with the machine since hubby took the fenders off.
.... ...He took a screw out of the side where the handle (crank) is, and took that cover off. Then he took the nuts off of the rods on either side of the handle (holds support/braces in, which holds the whole thing together. That gave him enough leeway to spread the sides apart just enough to pop the fenders off. Watch out here tho, as he said one of the rollers popped out - he just popped it back in. Squished the sides back together, put the nuts back on the support rods and tightened them up. Put the side cover back on and put the screw back in. Waa-laa. I'm sure you could probably just pop them off with a screwdriver, which is what I was going to do till hubby saw me with a tool in my hand, lol. (though this will void the ability to returj the machine because advised against by Makin's -- no reason given)
...My old Imperia machine seems so much sturdier and of higher quality (but it is small and doesn't have the high settings unfortunately). Susan

The pasta bike is a little three wheeled hand gadget that lets you cut strips out of sheets of pasta... for making wide noodles, lasagne, etc. Like a quilter's cutting wheel, but has three wheels instead of one... not very sharp, and the one I got had a broken wheel, so I never did try it with clay. The wheels are hard plastic, so they'd probably get eaten by plasticizer, anyway. Elizabeth

(see below for bad machines and wider ones)

7-8" Trattorina (pasta) machine (Desiree's photo of a Trattorina, and lessons on cleaning and lubing it; also removing noodle rollers from the Trattorina pasta machine)

The Tratt is approximately 195mm wide, as compared to Atlas's 180mm width of their extra wide PM.
.... note that the Tratt is a unibody PM....the flat and noodle roller pairs are permenantly built on, which is different than the Altases where you can remove the noodle rollers (noodle rollers usually account for about 60%-70% of the PMs weight and are not usually used in polymer clay). Desiree

I bought my Tratt from Polymer Clay Express, but I think they are no longer being made? Every once in a while you can find one on ebay. Also there is a place in Canada that had a blurb a while back about carrying them soon. . Valerie

The Belpasta company is in Boston Massachusetts. This thing is huge! Check it out: ( $99 at King Arthur Flour-- much more $$ now?)
-7.8" rollers for bigger sheets
-2 clamps hold it down--this thing never moves
-best of all, the roller "cleaners" are located so that clay that gets stuck in them does NOT contaminate clay that comes out after it. I run color after color through this thing, without having to clean it!
-2 sizes of noodles (yeah, that's standard)
..Mine was also gritty when I got it and seemed "stiff" as you state, although, I figured out a way to put my Pasta Facile motor on it and don't know if it's still stiff feeling or not. The motor doesn't seem to have any problem with it and once I got rid of the gritty packing material they shipped it in, everything has been fine. . . . The best way to get rid of the gritty stuff is to run scrap clay through it quite a few times once you've thoroughly cleaned it. Meredith
....As far as I can tell, the best reason for having one is that you want to roll out wider and thicker sheets. For anything else, I have to say that the Atlas is better. My Trattorina is also stiff, though I figured out that the squeaky sound was coming from the handle and a couple of drops of oil fixed that. It is easier to dig out accumulated clay, but it also collects a lot more accumulatd clay than an Atlas does. I wish I could just lop off the huge noodle cutters and save the space! Jody B.'s HEAVY . . . it should be pointed out that it not only makes thicker sheets, but thinner sheets of clay, too. I use the thinner settings for all kinds of things more than I use the thicker settings. .. . I have heard some people say that they have a hard time making the dial stay on the setting they want (they tape it). I have only heard of two cases of this now. . . I am able to dial in between settings and it stays, even. . . . Last thing is I really would suggest getting the motor on this particular pasta machine. The only modification that needs to be done to fit the motor onto it is to drill the casing in line with the hole for the motor bracket, (the one that comes with the Pasta Facile motor). If you buy the new stainless steel motor, it *doesn't* come with a bracket and I think you really need the bracket to be able to adapt the Trattorina for the motor. It runs very well with the motor. I can even change settings when the motor is running and clay is being run through it to get a gradated thickness for a wrap.... Meredith
...I got one of these for Christmas and you will love it. Had hubby take a few of the guards off, without interupting it's functioning properly.Threre's less you can remove on this one. It's nice and heavy and so much better than the less expensive machines. Rolls like butter. LOL I am sure this will become your favorite machine! deb jean
... I plan to remove the two pairs of noodle rollers to really lighten its weight, sand off any rust, clean and grease it good and put it back together, making it *better* than new. Desiree
...I THOUGHT I was going to like it lots... because of the extra thick settings... and the fact that it's wider than the atlas. But I found it way too bulky to use comfortably.... for me anyway. I find it difficult to reach all the way behind it to get the clay as it rolls out. It doesn't fall *down* where you can catch it & pull it towards you, like the atlas does.... and it's size is a drawback when you have to reach around it. However, I hasten to say... I didn't really give it a fair try yet. I think that it will be much better if I can get the noodle units out of it as Desiree suggested. And then, I'm thinking of mounting it on a wall, so the clay will drop straight down as I crank it out. That might be nice. Joanie
...I feel the same way, Joanie! I have finally made peace with my Brat the Tratt. It's my primary machine now. ...I have come to appreciate the wider and thicker sheets because of the work I do but for the average clayer, it might not be worth it. I'll have to go do a comparison, but I don't think the #1 is twice as thick as the same setting on the Atlas. I use the #4 setting a lot and it's just the slightest bit thicker. I've used sheets from both machines together with no problem. Jody B.

Slab Rollers (the humongous rollers!)

slab rollers made for earth clay come in various sizes (you can drool over these photos, but probably can't afford one!)

I'm going to try a do-it-yourself pc slab roller.... I've got some pvc pipe and endcaps in two sizes for diff. thickness slabs ...all I need now is a large smooth surface Pat

What about using the roller from an old wringer washing machine? I may be mis-remembering, but it seems as if those rollers were infinitely adjustable. I'm trying to remember just what my grandma's machine's rollers were made from. I think they were metal. I saw one at an estate sale recently... Talia

BAD machines??

The Dick Blick catolog also has a pasta machine for poly clay users. It's $24.99, Al Dente, Villa Ware. You can get a new pasta machine for $25.99 from Dick Blick catalog. 1-800-447-8192 It extrudes down to # 7 (made in China?)
This is something every polymer clay player should know about when considering pasta machine purchases. The link you provided shows the box with the labels - 'Atlas' and 'VillaWare'... 170 mm. This is not the same as the "Mercato Atlas". I don't know why it isn't, but it isn't. I had the chance to do a hands-on exam of a VillaWare PM and it was LOUSY, LOUSY. Very poor construction, craftsmanship, scratched rollers, squeaky grinding feeling when cranking the handle, jagged unfinished edges (which means you can get those tiny little cuts and scratches on your hands and arms). If I recall, the box said Atlas and "VillaWare, but the machine itself had the infamous label - Al Dente. [forming a cross with two fingers to ward away evil spirits] . . . .:^O On the other hand, the Mercato Atlas is a fine machine. I got my Mercato Atlas via I suspect you can acquire that specific brand from a few vendors, but you want to ask what's on the box. And if you happen to get any brand of PM that just doesn't seem to be a quality product, send it back, complain and ask for a refund. Desiree
....It's an "Al Dente", has 7 settings, and mine lasted about one year - apparently the gears stripped; the rollers slip very badly. Dawn S.
....I have to agree with Sharon. My Al Dente is very problematic. At this point I have removed all the guards and I am very careful with not letting the clay wrap around. Removing the guards at least stopped the streaking and the other problems. Tara
....oh,nooooooooo! i should have warned you guys about the al dente machines. i hadn't had mine a month when the silver coating on the rollers began to peel off and transfer itself onto the clay as it was passing thru.
...HOWEVER, I bought a Villa Ware on eBay, and when I took it out of the box, it was an Atlas, only without the Atlas name on it. *g* . . . A "Pasta Queen" is another Atlas brand. Just make sure you're getting the roller type and not the extrusion type. Elizabeth
...Recently I checked out what was called an Altas pasta machine at a local cooking supply store. The box said 'Atlas by VillaWare'. The brand label on the actual pasta machine, however, said 'Al Dente'. The machine itself was poorly made, IMHO. All the metal edges were rough and sharp, the gears clanked and squeaked, the rollers were scratched. Perhaps this was a case of a wolf in sheep's clothing. I trust a pasta machine that actually has the name "Atlas" on the machine itself is a fine quality device. Desiree

You can get those little MINI PASTA MACHINES at they're cheaper & fun for small skinner blends. I think they're called the Ampietta? Joanie
...I purchased a few minis some time ago and found that they didn't hold up too well. I dropped them (accidentally) and the plates from below popped off. Donna
...Luckily they can be popped back on. I popped one off doing a demo, once and it actually works better since I popped the blade back on. Given that they're created as children's toys, they're pretty nifty, but definitely not intended for heavy duty. I certainly wouldn't use it for conditioning. Halla

Since "Ampietta" could be translated as "little Ampia", perhaps it is the smaller version of (a regular size) Ampia (which is okay?)? Deb

(see also current problems with Atlas machines above, particularly the Atlas180)

12" wide machine (.....orig. for cold porcelain)
(link deactivated --now an "attack site")

from ColdPorcelainCreations... Bradenton FL, 941-727-7293 ... $70 ... 12" wide
....they say it's okay for polymer clay, though it was originally made for "cold porcelain" paste which is much softer, so probably not good for us) housings to speak of...simple looking ..2 built-on clamps for table top??..hand-operated
...the rolls are made of metal, easy to adjust... can roll your paste thicker than #1 on the atlas and as thin as # 9, with the atlas... It is not heavy. Yvonne (of ColdPorcelainCreations)

I have the Dough Machine from coldporcelain
...compared to an Atlas, it is almost useless for polymer clay
...If you are thinking of purchasing it to condition clay, don't bother. It's not the lack of scrapers... it's the spring-loaded width adjustment. If the clay is not dead soft/limp, it forces the rollers apart rather than the rollers forcing the clay to conform to the desired width. stargazer

I got one, and so far I'm not sure I'm all that excited about it...... first, it is fairly pricey. $70 plus S/H.
.....The thickness settings are actually two knobs (one on either side of the top of the machine) and they don't have
markings for thicknesses (and no easy way to mark them yourself)... you have to tighten down on both knobs to control the thickness and it's not easy to get them exactly the same (which will produce an uneven thickness of clay) ...takes some fiddling to get it straight (do-able, but just not as simple as turning a knob on the Atlas). Kat

... (because there are no scrapers) the clay wants to feed out around the rollers ...that's ok so long as you're ready to catch it as it comes out the other side option for motorizing it. information included for replacement part
options, if needed.
...setup was mostly easy, except for a white metal plate that came in the package with no explanation as to where it goes. The machine originally comes from Brazil, and the setup sheet is in another language. LOL! I figured out where the plate goes based on where there are screws on the machine, though I don't know if it's all that essential.


Online & Mail Order

CHECK all prices (and types) offered at the following online sites, since they seem to change frequently! of Feb. 2005, the lowest price for an Italian-made one is about $40?

I suggest ordering from Polymer Clay Express
....I bought both of my machines from Polymer Clay Express, the Atlas and the Trat. I just feel that supporting our community is important, so I try to purchase from other clayers or businesses that support clayers. You will find that Polymer Clay Express is VERY competitive in their pricing. Valerie
. . has pasta machines without (extra cutters attachment?) for $30 or 40? plus shipping.. I just got one there for Christmas.. .. dave

(NOTE: having no cutter attachment can mean that if you use the machine with a motor, it may have to be clamped down rather than standing on its ownbecause of the lack of counter-weight on the back of the pm)

lots of links to places that may have pasta machines

I just got a brand-new Atlas 150 at Kitchen Etc. online for $29.99.
...This is the price Donna Kato was asking for the pasta machine without the cutting attachment. It's the best price I found unless you want to compete on eBay. Barbara

I finally found a pasta machine with a more than reasonable price and shipping cost at (Tammy Sims' supply site in Michigan) , which was suggested to me by Geo and Dorothy. Emily (gone now?)

Canadian supplier (Atlas & motor)

You can order one from Kitchen Etc. for $29.95...I think they charge $5 for shipping as well. It's the Atlas made in Italy too... that's the best one.
....Kitchen Etc. or .This is an Atlas 150, made in Italy... I bought my pasta maker from Kitchen Etc. It arrived in seven days, just like they said it would. gail

Italian Home Cooking's pasta machines .....also motors and extra handles or clamps

Prizm sells ...flat shipping rates - $7.50 for up to $100... I bought my Atlas 180 PM from them for $35, and that's NOT a sale price (the 150 is $30). Lisa (no longer have?)

I bought mine from the King Arthur Flour Company. You can order their (free) catalog by calling 1-800-777-4434. Nuchi (all they have now is the Trattorina?)

E-Bay online auction site: . . I don't remember who it was that mentioned running searches on eBay for pasta machines using "pasta maker" and "noodle maker", but bless you!!!! I've had a search bookmarked for pasta machines for ages and have never been able to win the high bid. I just got 2 Atlas pasta machines by checking the other searches… Jean/PA
I looked at a lot of auctions, and it seems to me that after you pay shipping, you're not likely to get a really screaming deal, maybe just a kinda okay deal. gail

Have you tried eBay? I usually sell used pasta machines. I take them completely apart, clean them inside and out, put them back together and then sell them. ...These machines come to me extremly dirty. It's hard to believe that people won't take the time to take them apart and clean them throughly. They weight approx 9 - 10 lbs, so I do charge $15.00 for shipping.. . . You can check out my auction at eBay (to see if I have any listed at the time). . . The reserve price is $19.95 + $15.00 for postage. The machines weigh approx. 9 - 10 lbs. My eBay id is Daezhavue. Go to SEARCH, BY SELLER, type in Daezhavue, and click search. This will bring up items that I currently have up for auction. I usually check my mail on yahoo about every 5 days or so. Dee

What about


Always take the machine out of the box, put the handle in and crank using a few different thickness settings kand just make sure everything works (both rollers move, turns repeatedly, etc.)
.... also check for any other difficulties such as grinding or squeaking, feeling of looseness of the parts, poor construction or craftsmanship, scratched rollers, jagged unfinished edges, etc. (...all pasta machines have handles which will fall out easily so that wouldn't count)

If you live in a large enough area, there may be some form of recycle store like a Salvation Army or Goodwill. Check them out for appliances. You might find a decent pasta machine for a song. Desiree (ALSO, garage sales –DB)

Just bought my Atlas Pasta Maker in Linen & Things in San Diego for $29.95.
.....My Bed, Bath and Beyond finally has Atlas 150's. With a 20% coupon they are $31.99 plus $2.48 tax.

I've seen pasta machines at Lechter's, Service Merchandise, and Macy's - if you have any near to you. Other dept stores might have them. Italian groceries, too.

I got a tip from a woman who is "leader" of the local guild here where I live and she told me that Cost Plus has pasta machines all the time for around 25.00. and she told me that it is the good one.,, Katherine (see above)

I got mine at Lechter's (kitchenware store found in a lot of shopping malls) but I've also seen them at Butterfield's (more upscale kitchen store also in shopping malls.)
Just got home from True Value Hardware, and what I found was 2 different kinds of pasta machines...both only $24.99. One was a "Pasta Queen" and the other was the good ol' ATLAS. Call around to your near by stores...I found that not all of them had them in stock! Maggie (sale price through Dec. 19, 1999)


an upright, metal sheet which attaches to slots at top back of an Amoco pasta machine (or Atlas 150?) (or other? pasta machines) so that one won''t have to hold a long sheet or strip of clay with the left hand while cranking or motoring it through the rollers



I read in a polymer book that you "should not use" a motor.... Apparently that book was wrong (!!)

When using a motor on your pasta machine, a change in sound (slower and pitch change) is normal when you feed a piece of clay through.
...however, if you should hear the motor really laboring (slowing down too much) when you're sending something through, let it run empty for 10-15 sec after the sheet is done, so that it can dissipate any excess heat that's built up in there.
......then, you can either continue to feed clay through again, or you can turn the motor off (once the motor is turned off, it has no way of bleeding off excess temperature other than the slow exchange with surrounding air.)
...the laboring can be caused by putting too thick a clay pad in the rollers too (which can also mess up the gears), so only put through clay that's just a bit thicker than the opening you've set between the rollers (unless you're using very soft clay)
...You can also run the clay through a thinner setting before folding it in half to send it through the thicker setting- this will (make it thinner and) cause the machine to labor less and build up less heat - it will also cause less stress on the sprockets. Elizabeth
...Hmm, my motor gets warm too but never noticed that it got hot ... never thought to turn it off to cool down either, but then I don't generally let it run and run, since I usually turn it off after I've completed a mini-task.
(....well, there were a couple of times when I had to condition and mix colors of LOTS of clay for giving kids' classes. . . maybe I turned it off occasionally then, but now I'd probably just pop an ice bag on the sucker and keep going! . . . or maybe point a little fan at it). Diane B.

My motor wobbles as soon as I put clay through! doesn't seem to be defective; just doesn't "fit tightly"). Barb
...You know, mine and many others' also wobble a bit... I also worried that something was wrong at first, but turns out nothing is wrong... the thing just wobbles normally (I never even notice the wobble anymore, after thinking initially that it would drive me crazy!). Diane B.
....first, check and make sure you have a tight fit on the bracket that holds the machine. If it isn't a tight fit, take a good heavy duty pliers and squeeze that sucker in so you have a good tight fit! (?).
..... also, I put a piece of Lucite (or piece of wood) under the front of the pasta machine, under the bracket so that it would be flush with the (surface the pm is sitting on) which also cuts down on some of the movement!
....I had a similar problem. I have the noodle-cutter attachment on the pasta machine and it balances the machine. You can also use a clamp to hold it steady to the table. Sally
....the Pasta Facile motor has the metal bracket that attaches onto the side of the pm & clamps the motor into place. I'm using it with the Atlas 7" wide pasta machine, without noodle cutters.... my clay guild has several Atlas machines & one of them uses the Imperia motor with no problems or wobbles at all, so I wasn't prepared for this one to do so... Barb

You should get a bracket-frame with your motor. It's a metal "arm" that attaches with a nut & bolt to the pasta machine itself, using that hole at the center bottom of the handle side..... The motor sits in the frame and you pivot the arm to hold the motor against the side. Irene NC

brands, types

There are some key differences between motors that you should research
.......but you don't have to get your motor right away because the motor you buy will depend on which pasta machine you buy, or already have. Desiree
...You can also buy pasta machines at various places which are already fitted with an appropriate motor
.......there doesn't seem to be any price break on those though.

Mercato's PastaDrive, which has a silver housing, is exclusively for Atlas pasta machines (but see conversion plate below for extra $), has only 1 speed ... and I think it's a little more powerful (??) than the Imperia (Pasta Facile?, Pasta Ezee?). Desiree

Imperia's Pasta Facile motor (white housing) is adaptable to most any pasta machine, and has 2 speeds.
.... the Pasta Facile comes with a brace which helps hold it in place on a pasta maker.
.....The Pasta Facile seems to hold up better than the silver colored plastic one (Pasta Drive) which is sold on some online clay companies.
.....I also like that it has two forward gears (speeds) as well as the "pulse" function which I don't use
.....I've had a used Pasta Facile motor on my Atlas 180 for over 3 1/2 years, and it works beautifully.'s is available from for about $80.00 plus shipping. Patty B.
......the Pasta Facile is made in Italy... and that 2nd speed can really zoom !! ... a great advantage IMO! DB
I have used this brand of motor for a year and am very happy with it ( as is my arm, formerly known as the Big Pain --tendonitis). The price is (was) $65 + S&H. LynnDel

VillaWare 180 Pasta Machine Motorizer (...looks like a Pasta Facile .... bit more expensive?)
...."powerful and quiet".... 2 speeds ($70-90)... made in Italy...anyone know more about this one??
..."works with the Atlas pasta machine, and VillaWare's Imperia and Al Dente pasta machines".

Pasta Ezee motor
....fits onto a standard pasta machine.... manufactured by AEPI for A.I.T. and available in select gourmet specialty stores. Barbara McGuire

We would like to introduce our new custom-made pasta machine motor. We think it is the very best available on the market today.
...It is quiet, powerful (1/3 hp), well made, and will give many years of good service. It comes with a one year warranty on parts and labor and there is free email and phone support for as long as you need it.($495)
...I am an engineer and my wife is a polymer clay artist. When we could not find a pasta machine motor that was good enough for Jeanne to use in her work, we set out to design and build a motor that would do the job right. We think we have succeeded and are now offering it to other polymer clay artists to help them in their work. Photos and othe information are available at our new website . We would be happy to answer any questions you might have.. Vince & Jeanne Rhea

I got my motor at a local swanky kitchen supply store -- about $80 and worth every penny.
PolymerClayExpress has 2 (Altas) pasta machines with motors (also with or without cutter attachement), & also sells motors separately (Google results for "Pasta Facile"... many places to buy) (Google results for "PastaDrive"... many places to buy) (Google results for "PastaEzee"... many places to buy)
(...not all places that sell pasta machines will also have pasta machine motors)
eBay auctions .....Before you shop, you might want to check out "completed auctions" for *pasta motor* to get a general idea of what they have been selling for in the past 30 days (if one is exceptionally high in the description to see what makes it mooooore wonderful than usual......OR if 2 inexperienced bidders met!!! ;o)
.....Remember to have patience....there will be more motors offered soon.
.... Lurk a bit. Read the descriptions carefully....ASK the seller questions if in doubt. ...if it ain't in the description, ask --don't just "assume"! (of "Bid in haste. Repent in leisure."!! IMHO) Cella in SD

.....(one seller at e-Bay) puts them up for sale about one each week). . go to ebay and look for the seller category. ...type this seller's name: pastamama20 .....then check under the page where it says seller's auctions. mamadude


Many (but not all) pasta machines have 2 holes on the side which a motor can fit into:
...the crank hole will be for the motor's shaft... and the clamp hole will be for the bracket that holds the motor on. LynnDel

Marcato's (Atlas) PastaDrive motor mounts very differently from the Imperia one (and will not fit on all pasta machines).
.....the only difference between a Marcato pasta machine that doesn't take a Pastadrive motor and one that does, is that side panel with the two little holes. is dependent on the pasta machine's side panel having two little holes for the two little mounting bolts on the motor to fit into (the holes are positioned kinda at 12 o'clock and 6 o'clock)
..When I got the Pasta Drive motor, the darn thing doesn't fit on my machine! There seem to have to be other holes in the side of the machine to have the motor attach to to keep it from falling off. Karen

(Or) you can buy an adapter so that you can use a motor on a pasta machine that doesn't have those extra holes.
...I had recently purchased the Pasta Drive motor, and found I couldn't use it because my pasta machine frame didn't have the holes that the motor mounted I contacted Gary Valenti and they carry the conversion kit for $6.50 total.
....(importer of Atlas Pasta Machines... sells replacement parts --Gary Valenti, Inc. 54-36 Flushing Ave., Maspeth NY 11378, TEL.: 718-386-0896) Gary Valenti, Inc. and Marcato both have new websites, but with only e-mail addresses so far:
.....I had contacted another vendor (, but theirs was $8 plus another $5.10 for shipping! slarussi ... You can purchase that side panel separately at and, remove the old panel and replace it with the one that will accept the motor mounts. Desiree

I don't think the "old" pasta motor fits the new wider Atlas 180, or even the newer 6", but if you order from (gone?) by phone, you can tell them which pasta machine you have and they will tell you which motor fits it, and vice-versa. Zig
....Howard at the Clay Factory says that motors won't fit on the larger 7" pasta machines (Atlases?). However, someone else mentioned that there are motors "for the newer machines". . . anyone know about this?
....How odd that these motors aren't fitting standard machines.....I have a Pasta Facile motor (from a kitchen supply store) that I got in 1997. It's the kind with the white plastic housing. It fits any of the many Atlas machines I have, including the new 180 mm wide, as well as the Domus machine I bought on eBay. Irene NC

(For foot pedals, see Tools/Dremels/Misc)

(or, I'm-a-believer)

If my motor ever burnt out, the first thing I would do is get on the phone and order another.
.... I can do things with it that I couldn't do without a motor. I can condition so much more clay then by having to hand crank. What a life saver it is. Or I should say an arm saver. Lucille

Once you get a motor you'll wonder how on earth you ever got by without it
.........I got mine in 1997... it's still going strong, and I use it a LOT. I've never heard of anyone burning out one of these motors.
.....My shoulder and elbow no longer ache from hand cranking.
.... I can condition *more* clay *faster.*
.... And I can make Skinner blends as long as my arm since I have both hands free. Irene

10 Reasons Why You Should NOT Buy A Pasta Motor, by Donna Zeffren.... ;-)
1) You might become spoiled, and lose your sensitivity for those who still crank by hand...
2) You might finish conditioning your clay so quickly that you will have extra time on your hands and have to do housework or something unpleasant like that...
3) Your Skinner blends might be so perfect and quick since you have both hands free that you might lose your excuse for not making hundreds of them...
4) The noise it makes may disturb and scare off your kids, dog, husband, inquisitive neighbors, and others who love to "visit" your workspace when you are busy...
5) You won't be able to develop that attractive enlarged right bicep which is so popular among Italian ravioli-makers...
6) Your right hand may get bored, atrophy, and wither right off...
7) You might feel left out of conversations where everyone is discussing how miserable it is to condition FIMO...
8) You won't have anything to do with your clamp, and might feel guilty for ignoring it...
9) You might let your hair dangle over it while it's running, and get sucked in and be flattened like a pancake...
10) You might like it a lot, and lower your self esteem by feeling stupid that you didn't buy one before...
.......So, by all means...DON'T BUY ONE!! .:-D . . . A reformed crank, Donna

I don't find it too noisy, either. I just turn up the music. :) Irene
........I use a Walkman radio --with earbuds--for long sessions of pasta machining. . . Diane B.
........Most conclusive about how anyone can get used to the (noise of the) machine... my cat used to bite my legs when I first started using it. After 5 or 10 times, he stopped (even though he still sat at my feet or right next to me at the table). He's the one who always hides when he hears the vaccum cleaner. Randi

Another advantage of having a motor is that you no longer have to clamp your pasta machine to anything!
.... (I’m not sure if this is true for pasta machines with the extra rollers removed though??).
Mine simply sits on a stool next to the work table, and it doesn’t move around at all. ...seems so much more portable too since I don’t have to clamp and unclamp any time I want to take it somewhere. Diane B.

If you want to take your motor to a class or other group function
....first, try to condition most of your clay before you go.
....Certainly do not run it while a teacher or demonstrator is talking!
....Ask your group how they feel about the noise... if motors haven't caught on much in your area yet, you may need to use it in a corner or in another room
...generally, those with physical problems who need to use a motor are usually allowed to use one (but they should be as considerate as possible)
...another possibility would be to have everyone use the same pasta-machine-with-motor--especially those folks with arthritis or other physical problems; they could stand in line (then there'd be only one going at any one time).

HOWEVER . . . (to quiet a pasta machine )
(this is new one Jeanne and her DH built, or a first generation of it, or what?)
....We used the (a?) motor which we already had and which we knew was very, very quiet and yet very strong. It has no noise at all when just running and not hooked up to the pasta machine. When hooked up it is like a very small fan motor--sounds almost like a battery operated little motor--a soft purr.
.......All of the (added?) "contraption" was as you guessed it, to slow down the turn of the pasta rollers. Believe me, if hooked up directly, there is no way to keep up with the clay shooting out of the machine. I counted my pasta machine roller turns and it was about 30 + or - a few revolutions per minute. ( We had to do that for him to do the calculations to know what size belts, etc he needed.) The motor we were using was 1725 rpm. So without the "contraption", clay would be flying all over the place! And I think unsafe for claywork. This is a standard appliance motor and the kind that would not cost a fortune and the type that one could easily run across in a garage sale. .... He has mentioned all kinds of things about AC vs DC. (This I think I remember was in regards to using a foot pedal for speed like a sewing machine. Slow and fast as you want it.) Gearing down, etc....... We have wondered the same thing about a motor already being out there that can be adapted. ...I'll keep you posted if we run across one that we can just make a simple adjustment, it's quiet, it's inexpensive and it works! Of course, I'll have them for sale. ;-) Jeanne Rhea
I'm guessing that the "transfer stuff" (pretty technical, eh?) in the middle is because the motor is more powerful than the regular pasta machine? I'm wondering if there is a motor out there that doesnt need the conversion for the speed....that is, compatible rpms. I don't even know what the rpms are for my own motor! Lori
To be cost effective he may have the coupling shaft (or whatever it is called that must fit appropriately into the pasta machine) custom made and sell that with instructions. He made the shaft yesterday for mine and it is quite a job if not done in a machine shop. It has to be exact or it would be no good for the pasta machine or the motor. It will take a lot of legwork, research and experimenting to find exactly the right motors which are currently being made, which have at least two speeds, quiet, and then figure the specs so a person could get the materials and do it themselves. And I'm not certain how many different shafts would have to be made to fit all pasta machines. (I am ordering a new pasta machine just to see what we need to work with. I want the best for claying there is so send me the brands.)... I suggested that he try to teach a class at a retreat of some sort so we could cover our expenses as a business expense--but I don't think he's into that yet! Just imagine quiet pasta machines for conditioning as a retreat. Hope I answered all of your questions. We will pursue this and see what can be done. Jeanne Here's a picture for you to see.... We had picked up some old motors at a garage sale ...Two of them are so quiet you can barely hear them run. Since they have very fast rpm, DH did some math and figured out the size pulleys and belts that he needed to make it run roughly the same revolutions as my old motor. This one is faster, but I don't mind. It works like a charm. I have pieces of clay that are over three feet long and smooth. I can condition an entire pound of clay in just a couple of minutes. And it is so quiet I watched the PBS special on Jazz in my work room and conditioned clay for over an hour. DH didn't even know that I was using the pasta machine! Now we will search for a good motor that has two speeds (OR MORE!) or he will make one somehow. (It is so great to have a hubby who lived in the bush in Alaska for several years and can adapt something for every thing. ...And he'll refine the design so it doesn't take up so much space, and design a cover for the belts. I hesitated with showing this to you all as it looks a little funky---but hey, it works. Jeanne


If you don't have a motor on your pasta machine, it won't be heavy enough to use without clamping it down.
..You'll need to have a table (or stool, etc.) with a suface that's not too thick to accomodate the clamp in order to clamp it successfully ...... if your tabletop is too thin, add a small block of wood between the underside of the table and the top of the screw-in bolt to make it clamp tightly.
.......if your table is too thick, you'll have to find somewhere else to clamp your pasta machine or buy a larger clamp form the hardware store.

If you handle seems to come out of its hole frequently, wrap a bit of plastic wrap or the fingertip of a rubber glove or one of those fingertip mini-condom-looking tyings around the end and reinsert it.
handle kept coming up until I slipt a small, long balloon on the end and inserted back into it's slot. Works great. Jeanette
At a recent Mike Buesseler workshop, Mike mentioned that he uses a small strip of duct tape around the handle end. I didn't have any duct tape, so I used a bit of masking tape, which I'm still using and it's still holding (much to the relief of my cats). Bonnie
what about a balloon? Geo

My pasta machine is permanently attached to a small wooden board. When I use it without the motor, I use the Easy-grip type of clamps which pump on and then a little lever is pushed to quickly and easily release them. (With the motor on the machine, I don't need any type of clamp.) Dotty in CA

DON"T LOSE YOUR HANDLE (esp. if you buy a motor --and take it off) ….(if you do) you might consider taking your machine to a machine shop and have them make you one. I've done that for a couple of kitchen items, and they made the part while I waited. They weren't nice and shiny like the original, but in both cases they were an improvement on the original in functionality. Neither shop charged me nearly as much as I was willing to pay.

…if you lose the clamp that comes with the machine . . . . (go to the hardware store and buy a C clamp;) make sure you don't get a clamp that is too small. There is a large-ish hole down near the base below the handle where the clamp can go. Some people just clamp the base to the table without using the hole - that works well, too. Meredith
..clamp to replace the one on my Atlas 150?
...... I found my clamps at Home Depot ...they are black plastic and work very well, much easier than the clamp that came with my machine. Look in the section where the saws, buffing wheels, etc., are kept. Sarah

According to, these are the people to contact for replacement parts for the Atlas machines. The Valenti Company, 54-36 Flushing Ave., Maspeth, Queens N.Y. 11378, 718-386-0896. Kimba
Another online source is at ...They also have a retail store near Gilroy, CA... They sell the Atlas replacement handle for only $2.99 and the clamp ("vice") for $1.99. MLBee

I found yet another web site; a source for pasta machines, parts and accessories. Their prices aren't as good as, however. The reason I thought it worth considering is they also sell, seperately, the clamps and handles (cranks). Desiree

I got my first atlas free at a garage sale because the handle and hold-down clamp were missing. The rollers were rusty, and a fair bit of sanding was needed to clean them up. Had to hold it with one hand and turn it one crank at a time with a screw driver in the other hand, but it "worked!" Don

Marcato does carry just the scraper blades. Just email them and ask ...Judy
"Scrapers and Rollers for the ATLAS 150 Pasta Machine can be purchased from us.
The pricing would be as follows: SCRAPERS - $5.00 SET ROLLERS - $5.00 EA.
Payment can be sent with order or we accept Mastercard and Visa (name, billing address and expiration date required). There are no additional shipping charges.
54-36 Flushing Ave, Maspeth N.Y. 11378, 718-386-0896 "

for info on scrapers, see below in "Problems"
for info on keeping clay from sticking to the rollers, or to the stationary bars as it comes out of the pasta machine when parts have been removed, see below in Problems > Sticking

SHEETS of clay
making from slices, or from anything

One of the main things people like to do with a pasta machine is to create even sheets for stacking/stripes, rolling up, wrapping (see Canes), merging lots of cane slices or other squiggles/bits/etc, making drapable clothing or bowls (see Vessels/Draped Bowls), etc.. (lesson)

--To create an even sheet of cane slices, the slices need to be laid close together (or they can be overlapped) on a base sheet (which may show through or not depending on whether areas aren't covered by the slices); or the slices can be laid on a piece of paper/parchment without a backing.
--(Hint: square slices are easier to lay together without overlapping than round ones; I sometimes sharpen the long edges of a squared cane before slicing by pressing my thumb and forefinger down each edge.)
--(For non-overlapping slices) the more consistent the thickness of the slices are, the easier the rest of the job will be! You may want to refrigerate your cane before slicing or rotate it between slices to avoid squashing it more in one orientation than the other.
--Place canes really close to each other, straightening out/stretching any uneven sides with your thumb and forefinger before placing.
--Now you may want to eliminate any larger holes between slice corners by placing your finger on an area and wiggling it around while pressing slightly --don't rub your finger over the raw clay though or it will smear (could be sanded after baking though).
--At this point you can either run the sheet through the pasta machine, or you can place a sheet of parchment or paper over the top of the slices and press down any obvious bumps. Then rub your finger briskly over the entire surface to smooth it; it won't smear because of the paper. You should be able to feel any uneven areas through the parchment; you can also use a roller.
The sheet can be run through the pasta machine after rubbing also, if you want (some people leave the paper, others don't, but be sure to peel back the papers most of the way so that they won't cause drag/distortion if you don't remove them).
--Because there can be some unevenness around the sides of your rectangle now (esp. if you used the pasta machine), you can use a fingernail or straight edge to push them back a bit before removing the paper and using.

Anything you can put together can be flattened into this type of sheet.
For example, You could also add other things in the spaces, mix up your canes, add other patterns, flatten a wad of marbled colors, overlap slices (spirals are popular here), or add squiggles, twisted square ropes (see Clay Gun), or slices to a background sheet.

Laurie passing a sheet of overlapped long spirals through the pasta machine after laying them on a base scrap sheet

Those (thin) sheets can be used for all sorts of things. I've seen many miniatures done by some of my guild mates that do the draped fabric thing - it seems to work very well. I have a little tiny bear that is holding an afghan blanket that was made from a slice of one of my canes - too cool. author?
my bear holding a tiny quilt made from 4 cane slices (cane was thinly wrapped with lavender before slicing, to create lattice and borders) (website gone)

pressed-chunks sheets of clay
...chop up some clay (mica or pearl-mixed clays will show a more 3-D crumbly look), then run it through a pasta machine or brayer it flat . . the edges will be very ragged, and the sheet will look stonelike
. . Here’s what I would try. Condition your clay. If it very soft and sticky like Premo leech it a little first. Roll it out to the thickness you want. Then chop that sucker up all around the edges. It looks to me as if individual pieces/chunks were pressed back together. Not sure if you should texture before or after the chopping. Denise
...your theory about large chunks scattered onto a (base) sheet sounds good . . . Catherine

Just remember that the patterns are likely to be distorted to some degree. To minimize that you can send the clay through the pasta machine twice, once in each direction (especially if the amt. of flattening will be about the same), or you can try to have your sheet as close to the resulting pasta pass as possible before putting it through.

For keeping the sheets narrower than the full width of the pasta machine (e.g., for Skinner Blends), see Blends > Continuous Blends > Limiting Width

(for uneven sheets, and/or ragged edges, etc., see below in "Problems" )
(for avoiding air bubbles in sheets, see below in "Problems")

THICKNESS & Measuring

It's seldom important to know *exactly* most of the thickness settings of a pasta machine... you really only need 3-4 settings if trying to end up with a specific thickness.)
....the most common numbers you'll hear referred to for pasta machines are:
1.. 3.. 5.. 6or7 . . . those numbers should correspond to something like : thick... medium... thin... very thin

Most Italian-made pasta machines are numbered with #1 being the thickest setting (going up to 7)... whereas many Far Eastern pasta machines are numbered with #7 being the thickest (going down to 1).

# 1 is the thickest setting on most pasta machines, and it results in a sheet just a bit shy of 1/8" thick (2.8 mm).
# 7 (or the thinnest on most pasta machines) is so thin you probably can't create it without a pasta machine.

You can probably figure out the thicknesses in-between those two settings by creating 5 steps between them (which sould correspond to #'s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) way to do this would be to use a deck of playing cards: card (if thin enough) would be close to the thinnest setting
.......stack some cards tightly together until the stack measures 1/8" thick, then tape them together... that will be your thickest setting
...... now, create 5 stacks that graduate in number between your thick stack and the single card ( probably can't get this exact, but you're only looking for an approximation anyway)

Here are some other guidelines for thickness:
....# 5 is about the same thickness as five sheets of ordinary copier paper can also use a smooth sided paint can to roll out a clay sheet .... the seams on the ends will give you about a #4 to #6 thickness
....on a regular pasta machine, there never seems to be much difference between a #1 and #2 thickness for some reason.

Elise Winters told us something I think is VERY VERY important and wise...the different settings on a pasta machine are numbered, but some pasta machines don't have numbers at all.
.....When people write instructions for other people, even if they use a number setting it might not correspond to the numbers on everyone's pasta machine. Deirdre

(measure the thicknesses of your own pasta machine): clay through your thickest setting & cut it into a little square....(repeat this process for each setting on your pasta machine)
.....number the squares according to the setting they were run through, and bake.! Borrow some calipers and measure the thickness of each setting.
......write on each piece of clay the thickness.
.....Number 1 (the thickest on some machines) or Number 6 (the thickest on other machines) should be about 2.8 mm. . . . If we start to discuss our clay in terms of mm instead of settings, we can all know what each other is talking about! I think this is a great idea. Deirdre
....It is simple enough to chart out the thicknesses any pasta machine makes... roll a sheet at #1, then at other numbers, (bake?), and measure them
......... if a sheet is too thin to measure, cut it in pieces and stack several together. . .then divide by the number of sheets.

Rebecca N's "fact sheet" for knowing how much clay will make certain size sheets or logs

making THIN Sheets

esp. translucent-clay sheets (& avoiding sticking)

It's useful to be able to make very thin sheets of translucent for various techniques: just a regular sheet of clay-- for example, in mokume gane or other stacks of "colors", or for wrapping around canes, etc. a transparent, protective covering layer over transfers, or over any other materials which need protection or sealing on clay (metallic leaf, colored pencils, some inks, glitter, etc.)
.......when used this way, the thin translucent sheets can also be sanded and buffed to get a glassy effect a transparent layer under transfers to allow something behind them to show through
......for example, Gwen's "faux enamel" technique where a transfer is created on a very thin sheet of raw translucent & then it's flipper over onto metal leaf, which will then show through as "background" for the image .... Celie Fago has done some neat things that way too.

It's not easy though to create very thin sheets of clay without tearing or creating holes in the thin clay though, especially in soft clays like translucents or any that are sticky.
...Gwen feels the translucent sheet is thin enough only if a newspaper can be read through it.

Here are some methods that clayers found helpful for making very thin sheets of clay... many of these methods proceed as usual until the thinnest settings on the pasta machine are used:

....these techniques may also be used to keep the clay from sticking to the rollers...
.....and/or to keep stray colors or grey streaks from getting onto clay sheets:

Running clay through the pasta machine between waxed paper or parchment...(lessons)
1.... (Run a sheet
of clay alone through the pasta machine, on the #1 setting.)
.... Fold a long piece of wax or baking parchment in half.
.... Push the fold between the rollers so that it can be grasped from below with one hand (pulling it as you roll keeps the rollers from slipping on the paper).
.... Lay the ends of the paper over both rollers --looks like a magazine flopped open. (this way the clay is not pressed against the paper before it has a chance to slide or stretch.)
.... Place the sheet of clay into the paper pocket.
.... Roll the clay and paper through the machine, pulling on the paper from below if needed. ....(if your clay extends beyond the paper ends, you can tear it off before it goes through and makes a mess of the machine).
....You can get your clay to run through even the smallest settings on the pasta machine this way.... However, you must do this progressively.
.....start with the number one setting as above. Then, reinsert the bottom fold of the paper and a bit of the edge of the clay into the machine, then move the setting to a #3.
........with each pass, you'll need to open the pieces of waxed paper and carefully... free up the clay... then re-place it on the waxed paper before running it through again, or the paper will get all wrinkled
..... If you want to go smaller, reinsert the paper and clay again on the #3 setting and then change the setting to the #4 or #5 and repeat. . .
..You must also be careful with the size & volume of the clay sheet you start with, however (compared with size of the waxed papers). If your sheet is too large, it will expand beyond the top edge of the waxed paper as it is rolled down in size, and possibly stick on the rollers..... once you have the clay to the thickness you want, very carefully peel back the waxed paper. (author?)
2...Gwen's lesson and tips on making thin sheet of translucent for applying a transfer to it... (she also uses an gold acrylic wash after removing the photocopy, and then backs the transferred translucent with metallic leaf crackled on a sheet of translucent sheet)
......remove the wax paper that adheres to the convex side of the curve, and smooth away wrinkles in the clay with your finger. (step 1)
... in this lesson Gwen uses only two passes. . . she puts (translucent) clay through the 3rd from smallest setting, then sandwiches with two just-larger sheets of waxed paper and puts through the smallest setting
5 min .video clip from Ancient Images video, showing Gwen making her very thin translucent clay sheet with waxed paper --need to have, or install there, MacromediaFlash to view this video clip)
.........(she also cuts an oval stencil and uses it to cut out a clip art image before coloring it in with colored pencils and transferring to the translucent sheet)

....This is
a great technique but you have to be careful that after you run the clay and waxed papers together through the pasta machine that you loosen the clay sheet from the paper if you run it through again on a smaller opening..... otherwise it will bunch up and get stuck. Dotty in CA

..... If you want your layer even thinner with this method, you could use more than one sheet of parchment or waxed paper (or even plain paper), on either or both sides of the clay while rolling it through....Gwen suggests adding a sheet of construction paper on one side, which may give better tooth.
...I can't say that I'm very good at this, but when I saw Donna Kato doing encased transfers on HGTV, she smoothed down the forward edge of the translucent sheet (inside the waxed papers?) with her finger so that it started through the rollers evenly.... I wasn't being careful about that and it makes a difference. Jody

We all have this problem of the clay either rippling, tearing, or shredding when you get to some of the thinner settings on the pasta machine.
...the best way to avoid this is to run your clay to the setting just before you know it will not work right
...then, sandwich your clay inbetween two pieces of waxed paper --near the bottom of the paper, but leave about one inch of just paper. this through on the same setting you last used, grabbing hold of the inch of paper at the bottom to help tug it through the machine
...then peel the clay away from both sides of the waxed paper.... and lay it loose back between the two papers again.
...go to one setting smaller and repeat this ...continue until you reach the thinness you want.
(Be sure to loosen it from the paper each time you put it through the machine... otherwise it will clump up and not work right). Dotty
...(see more on running very thin sheets of clay through the pasta machine above in )

Word of advice, don't put translucents or very soft clays through on the thinner settings if it's really warm! ....It's gonna gunk up the machine ALL THE TIME!!! (can send through with waxed paper or parchment though).
....If I am doing translucents I prefer a cold pasta machine (rather than a warmed one--hot pack,etc.). . . another thing is before doing any work with translucents, clean the scrapers well.
....What has worked pretty well for me is letting the clay cool down between settings.... I have found that if I just set the sheet aside for even a few minutes, especially between setting 6 & 7, I get much less weird ripples & such.
... I use the idea (from Donna K, I think?) of keeping a gel ice pack at your work space....
I love using it when rolling a really thin sheet of clay---starting on the thickest setting on your pasta machine, and then cooling the clay on ice before putting it through the thinnest setting
.......cooling also ensures that your sheet will be nice and flat instead of "ruffled. ..Jana
take the thin sheet and place it in the refrigerator or freezer for some amount of time, then run it through at the next thinner setting. Patti
When I'm putting clay through smaller and smaller settings on the pasta machine, I always put it in the freezer for a few minutes first....that keeps it from stretching and distorting when handling the very long piece you get
.......however, if it gets too cold, it will shatter when it's very thin ??. DottyinCA

Also this seems to be affected by how soft a particular batch of clay it is so I sometimes leach the clay & get a better result
.......if it's that yucky cream cheese consistency, it's just not going to work for thin sheets.
.......Of course, this all means that in Michigan in July, I almost NEVER get a nice thin sheet unless I'm working in air conditioning. Lynne
...clays that are too sticky can also be leached to remove some of the plasticizer which will make them less sticky

I heard a great tip for getting thin sheets once... this person always kept on hand several sheets of translucent that had been run through the pasta machine to the smallest setting it would go without messing up, in storage
...... she says that once it sits for a day or so... you can then take it through the smaller settings with no problems
.......the person who gave the hint was talking about translucents in particular, and what she does is keep a bunch of sheets of translucent already rolled out.. then she can just grab a sheet and roll it through the thinner setting when she needs it. Joanie
...(for a possible way to enclose or store thin sheets so they don't get "too dried out," see the vacuum-bag trick in Conditioning > Marinading and also Storage)

Sculpey III's translucent clay can be rolled incredibly thin --then it can be stretched by hand even thinner! --compared to the other translucents.

I have one solution that has helped me when trying to roll a thin sheet of clay. I roll it as thin as I dare without distorting it and then slightly rub it with cornstarch..,,It goes through the machine at the thinnest setting with ease.
.....that might affect adherence to other clay though (if you use too much?), but when using the encased photocopy transfer onto clay to make large beads, it has worked very well
.....I've only tried it when I've been able to pull the sheet tight to the base and don't know how it will work when, say, rolling it onto clay. ...Maybe it could be wiped down after rolling thin with something. Pat
...(cornstarch, but not talcum powder, can be easily removed with water --I would think that even if there were a little ground down into the sheet, the uppermost part at least could be removed and would then act as a suitable surface for adhering . . . what about trying to rub in metallic powders later though?? Diane B.)

There was an excellent idea posted a while back about using packing foam to press the translucent down because it really works great. . . I just wrap it around the pad of my finger and press the clay down.... It seems to help by spreading the pressure over a larger area and by keeping the clay from sticking to my finger

Kathi Dustin's press-hard technique for getting maximum transparency (on baked clay) when applying thin translucent over a transfer, or over other materials or clay (encasing)
....she rolls the translucent to #6 on the pasta machine , then places it on the transfer carefully applying contact paper, gently press from the center to the edges to move any bubbles to the edges
......then she presses down REALLY hard with plastic wrap over the transfer or clay to be's necessary to WORK at it to get maximum transparency
..One of the best ways that I have seen to encase (cover over) stuff in transparent clay is to roll out the clay thin between wax paper and then to apply it using plastic wrap. ....You can press it onto your bead or whatever and spread it out, seeing the air bubbles, etc. without leaving fingerprints on your clay. You can get it really thinned out this way...Meredith

But why aren't folks just using clear liquid clay (instead of translucent clay) if they wish to apply an extremely thin layer of polymer clay on something? Desiree
I tried doing a transfer with liquid clayso that I would have a very thin sheet of translucent "clay" backing the transfer. It worked perfectly! ....(this is something you need to do when making Gwen Gibson's Faux Enamel.)... that was much easier than trying to roll out the clay on the thinnest setting, even using wax paper. Just this one thing alone makes getting liquid clay worth it!! Dotty

(see also Translucents > Thin Sheets)

NARROW sheets

Various "stops" or physical barriers can be used to keep the clay from spreading (widthwise) as it is passed repeatedly through the pasta machine which will keep the strip narrow.
...for example: /fingertip, end of palette knife, paint stick + cardstock, wedge of baked clay, magnets of various kinds, and even bars of raw clay still in the wrapper

...see Blends > Limiting the Width for all details on making narrow blends since those techniques are used most often for making narrow Skinner blends
...see also a bit below in Streaks

Or, you can stretch the clay lengthwise after each pass, or pull on it from either end as it's passing through, to help keep it narrow
...or fold the sheet, or cut-and-stack the sheet, so that like colors fall on like-colors, then pass through the pasta machine starting at one narrow end of the strip.


There are two ways that unwanted color can end up on your rolled clay sheet
... little crumbs of colored clay can be held under the scrapers and in the housing of the pasta machine, which can then come out later on any clay put through it (for more info, see Cleaning) can get what we call "streaks," which are gray to black (for more info, see Streaks).

Before you use your pasta machine for the first time, run light-colored clay scrap through it until you're sure any oils, etc., which may cause discoloration have been removed.
(don't get too overconfident about being clean though <g>-- see below under Those Dreaded Streaks...!)

Many people like to just remove the outer housing pieces around the rollers (or " fenders ") from their pasta machines permanently. This makes the pasta machine easier to clean (and colored clay bits can't get stuck there and be rolled into clay sheets); it's also lighter weight and less bulky (see much more on doing this below)
...however, put a note to yourself on the bottom as to date, and what brand/model it is. Otherwise, you'll never know, because once the fenders are gone, the machine becomes anonymous. Janey in MN

If I am using translucents, I prefer a cold pasta machine (rather than a warmed one)
. . . also, clean the scrapers well

to minimize the distortion, compensate by pre-distorting your cane slice in the opposite direction than they are going to go through the rollers. Squash your cane nearly flat, cut the slices and apply them (as close to one another as possible) to a flat sheet of clay, and then roll the sheet through so that the wider edge of the cane slices is parallel to the roller
(see for a photo of this technique)

I really dislike using the pasta machine for chopped crayons--takes forever to clean the machine. ?? Dianne C.

(.....for ways to keep sheets of clay from spreading out to the full width of the rollers when being passed through the pasta machine repeatedly, look in Blends > Size > "Limiting Width")

( ....crumbling . . . some clay won't go through the pasta machine without breaking into seems kind of "dry.
.... I have noticed that it helps to set the pasta machine to a thinner setting (I can run it through at #1 time after time without improvement, but a couple passes at "3" fixes it.... the edges will still crack though)
...(for more solutions and info on this problem, see Conditioning > "Old Hard Clay" .....and Characteristics > "Fimo")

(...for info on noise made by the pasta machine, see above in "Why to Treat Yourself to a Motor" above. . . .)
(...for clunking or dings in rollers or scraper problems, etc., see below in "Repairs".)

Uneven Sheet Shapes
Ragged edges + Rippling + Ruffling (+ too wide)

(when doing a Skinner blend sheet especially, the clay will tend to become wider with each pass through the machine ...for techniques to keep it narrower, see Skinner Blends >Size > Limiting Width)

Is is possible to make a sheet with nice straight sides?
...Well, if you figure out how to do that *in one pass,* please let me know! ....LOL. I usually just try to get my clay pad as rectangular as possible before putting it through the pasta machine (and I especially like to over-square the 4 corners) . If you don't have a consistent thinness throughout your whole pad beforehand, the pasta machine will force the pad to the same thinness, and any excess will get pressed to the sides creating a sort of ameoba.
...You can, however, get one or two sides straight when it's really necessary... (Clean your rollers first, then...) Put your clay through the pasta machine so that one clay edge rolls through the opening slightly pressed up against one side; that edge should then come out straight. . . . To get the edge on the opposite side straight, firmly hold an object next to that opposite side of the clay sheet (like Mike B's palette-knife handle, a baked clay shape you've made, or even a magnet), and that will also force that side to be even. It's a bit of a hassle though and you may not want to do it all the time. Diane B....One thing I like to do is to fold the bottom end up toward the center and the top edge down to the center. Then as you feed it through, slice the top fold with your blade so you don't trap air bubbles. I find that helps maintain a good square shape, plus it helps prevent uneven blobs of color at the top. – Beth ( though you'll be cutting off some clay, at least it won't be mixed up with a second color :)

One reason you get an uneven shape of clay at the top of your clay sheet is because your rollers are not quite even... Klew suggests turning the clay sheet around if you're getting that and passing the sheet through in reverse. DB
... this is practically impossible to avoid though, so just try to put the clay in with as much volume of clay in the shape you want as you can . . . then trim to the size you want.

If you're running a sheet of clay through the pasta machine (numerous times especially), the resulting sheet will most probably be uneven or lopsided...when you see sheets on TV, etc., they've most likely been pre-cut!
....Most pasta machine rollers are the tiniest bit uneven, or closer together on one side or the other. This may be inherent in a particular machine or it may be caused by pushing too much clay through at once causing the rollers to push apart. (To correct for the unevenness on the sides, it's easiest if you can make the clay) the same width as the rollers (or I put a block of wood or something on the rollers to keep it small...). . .also, with every pass through the machine, I turn the piece around, so the edge that last went through on the right is now feeding on the left. Carla

To "square up" a sheet, I will sometimes fold across the width of the sheet... but then put the fold to the side against the edge of the pasta machine. This will give a long, narrow strip of clay....then I fold this strip in the middle, and again with the fold against the edge, roll through the machine.. . .This usually gives a fairly square or rectangular piece of clay instead one that is uneven around the edges. Patty B.
....(to control (eliminate) "horns" at the end (of Skinner Blend or any sheets)
....I learned a trick from Marie Segal to "not distort" the piece. You must start with the clay being the width of the pasta machine. If you get a curved end at the top, it means your rollers are not exactly aligned (this happens on many machines). Then you just put the curved side in first and it should even out. The secret, according to Marie is to start with the clay the width of the pasta machine-----
...AHA! I notice the side near the motor starts to grow first. I think the motor exhaust warms the clay on that side making it move faster. The motor itself may make the pasta machine just a bit warmer on that side as well. What I do.... the minute it starts growing on one side... I turn it, still keeping the fold side down.. but flipping the longer side to the outside of the machine. Also pressing the side that's NOT growing against the edge of the machine just a bit will help it keep pace with the side that grows. You'll still end up with some extended pieces on the end... but whatcha gonna do?.Joanie

When using a pasta machine, the clay's curved leading edge results from having more clay in the center of the rollers and less toward the edges. The excess clay in the middle makes the center bulge into that curved edge. It's a natural tendency of the process, especially when the sheet is not as wide as the rollers. One way around it is to gently stretch the clay in the middle so that your sheet is just a fraction wider than the rollers. The stretch should be parallel to the rollers. That way, as you fold and feed the clay into the rollers, the volume of clay is less in the middle (where you have stretched it thinner) and more toward the edges. . . . You also need to be careful to feed the edges of the clay sheet into the machine at the same time as the center. Sometimes the rollers grab the center of the sheet first, which contributes to that curve.
Any odd, misshaped edge can be corrected in the same way, by stretching at the location of the bulge, folding, and feeding through the machine again.
....Stretching also works to keep straight side edges. (This applies to general pasta machine technique, not just narrow Skinner blends.) After a number of passes through the pasta machine, my sheets aren't always shaped like the neat rectangles I started with, especially when the sheet is narrower than the rollers. When fed fold-first, the trailing edge sometimes develops a bulge. That can be corrected by stretching the sheet crosswise, along its full length, but only along the line of the bulge. In other words, if the bulge is in the middle, stretch only the middle of the sheet crosswise along the full length of the sheet. This helps to distribute the clay evenly across the rollers, resulting in a rectangular output again. Start by stretching only a little because you can always stretch more with the next pass. Otherwise, the sheet will become too wide. (Judy Maddigan)

I find that the sheets I run through have seriously ragged (side) edges. Is this normal ?
You can always fold the sheet and rotate 1/4 turn while conditioning--just fold the ragged edge in a little from the straight edge. This very often happens (especially with clay that is a little "stiff").kathy

I have more trouble with the edges tearing when the rollers of the pasta machine are cold. To solve that, I shine a high-intensity desk lamp directly on the machine to warm the rollers. A hair dryer or heating pad might also work.
I got a "HEAT GUN… works great on my pasta machine to warm up my roller when it's cold around here. Kim (it can get really hot though --watch out!)

The (random rippling or non-flatness of sheets on the thinnest setting) is caused by part of the clay sticking to one roller, and the surrounding strips sticking to the other. It has nothing to do with having bent scrapers --bent scrapers result in seeing 'strips' of clay coming back around..... these strips are very common with some soft translucent clays even at thicker setting).
.......the solution is to keep the clay cool. Only make a few passes and then let the clay cool down in the frig. Lysle
...What has worked pretty well for me is letting the clay cool down between settings.... I have found that if I just set the sheet aside for even a few minutes, especially between setting 6 & 7, I get much less weird ripples & such.
...We all have this problem of the clay either rippling, tearing, or shredding when you get to some of the thinner settings on the pasta machine. avoid these, run clay through the smallest setting you can before getting the ripples, then put it through between two layers of waxed paper or even regular paper.... remove from paper and lay it loose again between papers... run through on the next thinnest setting & repeat until as thin as you want.

when rolling a really thin sheet of clay. ...cooling your clay (on a gel pack or in the frig ...or letting it sit awhile) can also ensure that your sheet will be nice and flat, instead of "ruffled" (on edges, or in body?) . Jana

even rippling....I think I know the type of "rippling" you are talking about. Almost like minor indentation lines the width of the clay sheet, and spaced at about 1/4 inch intervals. I have had that with every pasta machine I've owned ..... It does seem that the indentations coincide with the rotation of the gears----like the gears don't roll smoothly, so it causes the indents. I know of no remedy. jana

(testing pasta machine to see if the space between the rollers is even:)
...if you have the chance to go to a store and see the machines before you buy, bring a piece of paper with you that is about 5" wide and pretty long, almost the width of the rollers! Put the paper in the pasta machine and turn it to hte thinnest setting!!! ...Now try pulling the paper out, see if it sticks anyplace.... if it doesn't fold it in half and test again!. . . Keep doing it until you do get it to stick, then see if it sticks in the right place!<G . . . When I first did this, I put it in the machine and tried to pull it out, it stuck on one corner of the machine and the rest was loose and wiggly, this means the opening was not even!!! Leigh

(clay spreading, and growing too wide)
...each time clay is passed through a pasta machine, it will spread outwards because the space betweeen the rollers is narrower than the clay (it will also lengthen)
... there are various ways to avoid this widening if you want, and keep the sheet narrow .. this problem is most relevant when making "blends," so see those techniques in Blends > Size & Shape > "Width"


Suggestions for clay not sticking inside the pasta machine . . .. I use one sheet of waxed paper if I can't wait till the rollers cool down. Clean just one roller. (thus the sheet will stick to the other).
Leave a tail of waxed paper extending off the end of the clay that you are going to put in the pasta machine first. Open the machine a bit and slide the waxed paper through the rollers. Put the setting back to #7(or extremely thin) and as you are rolling the clay, pull gently on the waxed paper that is already through the rollers. This should keep the paper and clay from getting rolled in the rollers. KathyG (see thin sheets too)?
Help!! my clay is sticking to my pasta machine. I've tried all the standard remedies, leaching and chilling and still it sticks . . The rollers look very scratched up. .. time for a new machine? Sally
I think I heard some where on here to use talc powder. I haven't tried it yet. My clay stuck to the rollers so bad I had my husband take the roller guards off the machine. Now the clay still sticks but it does'nt jam up. I gently pull the clay with one hand, turn the crank with another...Mia
Kris Richards sprays her pasta machine with Pam cooking spray. Matilda
you might as well try wet sanding it with automotive grit paper. That might give you a few more months with the machine! Leigh

if the cover plates have been removed on a pasta mchine, sheets may sometimes stick as they come out of the rollers (esp. long sheets)
so slipping a tube of some kind around the thin metal rod behind the back roller can keep the clay moving as it's extruded:
.......I learned from the wonderful Irene Yurkewych that the stationary bars that are left exposed if you've removed the fenders on as pasta machine (see below for details) on the front & back can be covered with a length of hollow PVC tube while you have the machine apart.
........then it's like having a second pair of hands! ....especially when you're running a long sheet of skinner blend, the pvc tubing will ROLL as the clay moves across it instead of sticking to stationary metal rod. So, instead of having to hold that tail end of the clay off the machine... in order to keep it moving & unstretched... you can just let it lay across the pvc roller & it'll keep moving along with no help from you. Cool huh? Joanie
....styrene tubes could also be used, and are lightweight, but clay will dissolve styrene eventually
... some people like to add a piece of PVC pipe over the remaining rods to allow the clay to rest on. However, since PVC and clay love each other so much (and can stick together), perhaps either a brass, aluminum or steel tube would work better although not necessarily cheaper.
.......or maybe a coat or two of Flecto Varathane on the PVC pipe would help prevent the sticking I have observed. Patty B.
...I use a 3/4" lucite tube and it works great... and better than PVC pipe.... luckily I have a plastics store not far from me. (I sold every last tube I had at Sandy Camp!) ..... They certainly are not necessary, I just like them. Esp. on the back rod where the clay comes in contact. ... The front one, I found, is mostly for looks.Trina

for using paper, waxed paper, etc., on both sides of the clay to keep it from sticking to the roller (and also to be able to create very thin sheets), see above in Thin Sheets


......I find that minimum conditioning of all clays works best for me (esp. for translucent clays --see below)
as often as possible, I like to condition it by using progressive steps (# 1, 2-3, 4, 5...) when rolling it through pasta machine which still stretches and warms it.
.....I just slice clay off the block just a tiny bit thicker than the pasta machine and run it through #1. ...then stack two pieces together and repeat until I have the necessary size and the clay is pliable. . . .
.. instead of folding the clay in the pasta machine, I cut or tear the clay sheet in half, place one sheet on top of another, and roll it through. Less chance to trap air bubbles....the less folding you have to do, the better (...and colors will blend faster too). Patty B
....I do NO conditioning by hand since I don't want to add moisture from my hands to the clay which would expand inside the clay and cause plaquing and bubbles. Patty B.
...folding or twisting the clay by hand may introduce bubbles (....but if done right, it may also wring them out, etc.?)

....OTOH, conditioning by pasta machine can add more air than by hand conditioning (depending on how it's done).
...sometimes the pasta machine seems to make bubbling worse; so after conditioning, try rolling the clay back into a solid lump, then squeeze and roll it a bit, then flatten it out with a roller (acrylic rod, pvc pipe, brayer, whatever...) ...this seems to help with stubborn bubbles . . . if you need it in sheets, start with a mostly flattened pancake before you put it through the for the last time. Sarajane H.
...since I stopped wadding up scraps (or other bits of clay) and started being more careful with them, I'm getting fewer air bubbles (air gets trapped among the bits?).
.......... I now lay them (scraps?) carefully on top of one another, then roll them through the pasta machine on increasingly thinner settings until completely smooth ...then I fold the sheet into thirds, and reverse directions rolling through on increasingly thicker settings. Irene looks like Dotty came up with the solution to nix my air bubbles.... staying on the thickest setting needed and not going thinner on the machine was suggested (until final pass if thinner sheet desired). This is the first time I have had things come out of the oven without the bubbles..hope it's not a fluke. .Jacqui

Any brand clay can have a problem with bubbles, but Kato clay is a little more prone to bubbles if not handled right.
There are things to do to avoid getting bubbles though. The main ones, according to Donna Kato, are:
---when you first condition the clay: ...roll over the bar or whatever part you've cut off fairly hard with an acrylic roller (or maybe even hit it with something) ... roll through the pasta machine at #1, then 3, then 5... fold and pass through 12 times .... finish on # 1 awhile before baking ... don't skip numbers when decreasing thickness in a a pasta machine

ALWAYS feed folded-over clay sheets into the pasta machine rollers with the folded edge entering first (or one of the 2 sides) ...if a sheet is fed into pasta machine fold-last, air can easily be trapped under the fold and may have nowhere to escape
another thing that may cause bubbles is my attempt to fold back in the ragged edges of the clay to smooth the edges of the sheet, even though I still put the folded edge through first. Karen C.
...if you've folded a long sheet in thirds rather than in half to fit into the pasta machine, you'll have to put one of the open sides in first

I discovered that if I brayered the clay too hard in one spot, it would begin to thin and then develop an air bubble nearby.
In other words, I was stretching the clay. Finally figured that out and stopped using my brayer and began to pat the clay down (after making a slit for the air to escape).
......Also, I discovered that if I rotated the item slowly under good light at an angle, I was able to see air pockets easier. Patty B.

However, Judy Belcher recommends stretching sheets of clay in-between pasta machine passes to release any air that may be trapped inside the the sheet.

If your pasta machine scrapers have bits of clay trapped underneath them ...those can catch the clay as it goes by and give it a little pull in spots (particularly the thinner you roll it) . . . .either one can result in more likelihood of air pockets.

First, I always look at both sides of the sheet of clay after every pass through the machine
.... If I see bubbles in the clay, I fold the sheet so that the most bubbles will be on the outside of the sheet as it goes into the machine... they'll stretch and pop within a pass or two. Eliz.

If I wipe down my pasta machine with alcohol, I then make sure the rollers are totally dry before using it . Patty B.

Another thing that could be happening is that your clay itself is too soft or sticky
1. leach the clay a while's easier to trap air in your clay if it's overly soft and floppy. The answer is to "leach" your clay between a few sheets of clean printer paper weighted under something substantial like a heavy book. If you check the clay after an hour you will notice the plasticiser has stained the paper (the longer you leach, the firmer your clay will become and less inclined to trap air). TanOz
2. cool the clay (and the pasta machine).... before using
etting your clay sit for awhile, instead of rushing to bake it, helps bubbles get reabsorbed. Trina
...... If I seem to have several air bubbles in a piece of clay, letting it cool and rest for awhile sometimes leaching and sometimes not, does the trick for me. Jeanne R.
....... when I get bubbles in soft, stretchy clay, I've noticed that once the clay is well cooled, I can then run it through the pasta machine at progressively thinner settings (without folding) and get rid of those little suckers! LynnDel

moisture can get into the clay in various ways (then cause bubbling when it expands and turns to steam during baking)
(this causes "plaquing" which is seen half-moons of opacity which can be seen in baked translucent clays or any clay with translucent in it--originally or added.... see Translucents > Plaquing for much more)
..humidity in the air is very important... esp. in summer
.....unfortunately my workshop area is not air conditioned (it's cool and extremely damp) so all the scopes we made there have bubbles (the scopes I made in my air conditioned room do not). Valerie
..humidity from hands... some people just have sweatier hands than others, but everyone's hands may become unnoticeably moister on humid days... when conditioning or handling the clay, the moisture can then get into it
..moisture from inclusions, encasements, or covering
....anything that's added to the body of raw clay, or covered with clay, which has moisture in it
.......acrylic paints (before they dry, but not afterwards) have water in them... so if very much acrylic paint is added to the clay to color it, the clay may bubble (but usually okay if use only a little paint, or if they are the thicker acyrlics in tubes?)
... acrylic paints can also act as sealers for items which may contain residual moisture, but allow to dry thoroughly before covering with clay
............ white glues can also be used as sealers and may also act as heat buffers (also do contain moisture till dry) materials which aren't completely dried out (wood, twigs, leaves/herbs, even rocks and sand) ...put in oven on low heat before using
water when used as a release (on a texture sheet, stamp, etc) ...wipe off well, or let dry
.....clay which has been put into the freezer to firm up (wipe off well when condensation happens)
.....lightly or completely covering or wrapping clay or slices with plastic wrap or waxed paper, or storing in air tight containers, may prevent any residual moisture on the clay from completely drying out
...(again, leaving clay out overnight before baking may allow much of this moisture to escape) any questionable situations, or if you're getting a lot of bubbling you can't figure out:
...... let your clay rest before baking it (in a non-humid area) (somehow this allows the bubbles to work their way to the surface and escape/evaporate, be "reabsorbed," or somehow go away)
.......... may even be best also to let the clay rest a bit before assembling separate parts (especially stacks)

.....also keep hands dry, work in non-humid areas, wick moisture off whenever possible, completely dry moisture out of inclusions, etc., which often means baking them (alone)
.....sometimes applying a white glue to the object, letting it dry completely, then adding the clay over it can help prevent bubbles
...any time you use the pasta machine and want a sheet thinner than # 1, don't skip numbers as you decrease (in other words, always begin at # 1, then run through at 3, 4, 5, or down as thin as you want --it's okay to skip # 2 because it's hardly ever any thinner than # 1 on most machines)
(see more below in Baking & Correcting, etc.)

conditioning translucent clays adds air pockets (something I learned for sure from my tests ).... those air pockets then interfere with translucence just the way rutilations break up the clarity of quartz from now on, I'll be "conditioning" those just enough to get it as thin as I want it. Elizabeth
...Kathleen Dustin said it was important to handle the translucent as little as possible for maximum clarity (moisture and oil from your hands can cloud it) her method is to take a fresh, out-of-the-wrapper block of Sculpey translucent, smoosh one edge just so it will fit into the pasta machine, runs it through at the thickest setting, and then again at #6 (second thinnest)...she also advised me to use this fresh-rolled sheet immediately.
....when making very thin translucent sheets,
I constantly remind myself to make certain the clay isn't sticking to my hands (this causes air pockets)...sometimes I rub my hands with cornstarch, or wear gloves, during this step.....finger buffing the surface with cornstarch or talcum powder is another technique good for large areas... Katherine Dewey

making sheets with guide rails (rather than in the pasta machine) may help avoid bubbles.

....seldom do I see a bubble if I've used a texture sheet ...I think the added pressure of the sheet
going through the pasta machine may either force the air out ....or at least hide it
.....apply the texture all over to the clay once it is in place before baking
.....try textured fabric as well as the usual rubber stamps and texture sheets.... I've used a rough surfaced rock, coarse sandpaper and the green scrubbing pads from 3M. Patty B.
...using any fine-texture on smooth clay will hide tiny bubbles ...and when the texture is small it doesn't seem to distract from the overall design of a piece. DottyinCA

(bubbles ...especially when covering things, or making stacks or layers)

when covering something with a clay sheet, it's important to apply it without trapping air underneath, so roll the sheet down onto the surface underneath gradually to avoid bubbles...Desiree
...apply sheets of clay (from) the center of the sheet, then smooth it outward to push the bubbles to the outer edges. zig

then prick any you find with tiny needle then roll over to smooth. Desiree
...if you find a bubble after you've already got everything stuck tight, use a very sharp tissue blade to slice into the side of the bubble, then push the air toward the cut and out... the diagonal cut will be easy to mend with a little care.... brayer over it with a pen or something. zig
...if you get one that you can't push out, lift the clay away from the votive or whatever to the edge of the bubble, smooth it down and continue. zig
Cover the clay with tracing paper, and then burnish with a bone folder before baking. It really aids in eliminating or at least reducing most bubbles between the clay and the surface you are covering. Linda G.

When making stacks of clay (or even just two layers for a simple jellyroll cane), it's also important to roll the clay sheet gradually down onto the sheet below, it rather than just laying it on top to avoid trapping air underneath. above, it can always be a good idea to let the raw clay sit for awhile before baking ... many bubbles seem to go away for some reason with this precaution... and to make sur eyou aren't inadvertently trapping moisture
(see Covering > Bubbles & Cracking for more on bubbles when covering with clay)

(bubbles... baking & correcting)

I also try whenever possible, to bake pieces with the nice side down-- that way as air pockets enlarge and rise, they're enlarging and rising toward the less-important surface ....that alone seems to eliminate any problems with bubbles
...but, you can't always cure things (especially dimensional ones) in that position. Elizabeth

(When I cover things)... to give bubbles a way to escape during baking, I usually poke 1-2 holes just under the surface in a couple of places on the raw clay. kleebug.

On way to keep some bubbles from happening with anything that's flat on the back, is to bake it stuck down on a smooth surface like a ceramic tile or metal sheet... if it's attached well (or if actually created from scratch on one of these surfaces), it will be held perfectly flat while baking.

moisture in glues can bubble up and make your clay bumpy because the vapors have nowhere to escape. Elizabeth (see more just above)
....when using white glue on glass, wood, cardboard, etc. to prepare for a covering of clay, it's very important to let the glue dry completely (otherwise the water in it will make steam bubbles because it has no way to escape)
may also help to let rest at least a while before baking, and bake and cool as gradually as possible ..even tenting or enclosed baking can moderate the temp too
...put the clay covered plate into the oven COLD, and bring temp up to 200 degrees for 10 minutes, and then to final baking time (to help avoid bubbling) .... keeps the plate from heating up faster than the clay can
. syndee

For items you want to remain very flat (thin sheets may be most susceptible to curling) and also to help prevent air bubbles, bake your clay sheets (veneers) on a very flat surface, and also weight them during baking and during cooling..... Any time something touches clay while baking, it will transfer some of its texture to the clay, so if you don't want your baked sheets to be shiny, use something like terra cotta tiles or simply place a sheet of paper between the (ceramic) tiles and the clay.
... if the weight will harm the surface technique, then wait until the pieces comes out of the oven and while it is still somewhat hot, place heavy books on top of it until cool. Dotty
. . . or (if the surface is embellished with onlays, etc.), while it is still fairly hot but not so much so that you can't handle it, fill the sink with cold water and then lay the piece down on the bottom of the sink and hold it flat until it is cool. Dotty in CA
.....or just use a shiny tile, then press the clay down firmly against it for baking (....or if's it's embellished, etc., create the piece on the tile in the first place)
......ff you want to prebake a bunch of Kemper cutter shapes to use as inlays, etc., just press a sheet of clay onto the tile and punch away.... then peel the excess clay off, and bake the whole tile with the shapes on it. Works great. Bean

(While still very hot) after baking, plunge into icy cold water. This will reduce air bubbles if they do form. . . Katherine Dewey

I re-heated the egg for about 10 minutes & then pushed the bubble down as I held it in a pot holder. Now I can't even tell where it was! Kay

To the person who posted the idea of using a metal file for smoothing out egg bubbles, THANKS! It's been a life saver! files, being family antiques, were rusty so I used water anyway and had no problem. The rust washed off the eggs just fine.

or hide the bubbles.. . I had horrible air bubbles that I couldn't push down. So I cut out the bubbles and plan to add something on top (or something actually crawling out of the holes) .DeB

HOWEVER.... some bubbles formed (during curing in the incompletely mixed Premo gold and red clay which created a copper color)
...and when I sanded the little bubble bumps smooth, the vessel had a beautiful water-marked look --or I suppose a muted mokume gane appearance.....Next time I do this, I hope I get bubbles! Jody B.

(those dreaded) STREAKS

According to the manufacturer, black or grey streaks on the clay are a chemical reaction between the steel rollers and the plasticizers in the clay.... Wilma sent them a bunch of different clays and Liquid Sculpey, and they took some pasta machines for testing to see which steel formulations react and which don't. Elizabeth

("streaks" are NOT the same problem as getting stray colors from other clays which were trapped in the scrapers, housing, or rollers onto sheets when putting them through a pasta machine --lots of clayers actually remove the housings permanently, and may also use barriers to avoid those... see below in "Using Barriers" and "Cleaning & Taking Apart")

The reason I think some people have more problems with streaking than others? ....It depends on:
--the exact composition of the steel in a particular pasta machine's rollers and scrapers (the machine manufacturer, however, doesn't make the steel, and steel composition varies from batch to batch at the foundry)
--the kinds of clay processed through the machine (lots of soft and/or translucent clay)
--how much stress/pressure the rollers and scrapers are subjected to. . . increased stress facilitates the release of the accummulated clay hiding inside the scrapers. . .. Desiree ( try not to put clay through that's more than a bit thicker than the opening of the rollers)

If you already have a streak on your clay sheet, don't put it through the pasta machine again until you've cleaned it off first.
.... I had some alcohol on a paper towel and had just pulled a piece of white through the machine and without knowing what I was doing, wiped over the clay with the paper towel and 'voila' .... it wiped all the streaks away. Now why didn't I think of that sooner? Judy

My Atlas, bought in 1970, never causes streaks and has never been cleaned. I have new pasta machines (a 7" and a 5" Atlas), they both streak. To me that suggests a different composition to the metal. They all look the same but something is very different. Kay
...My new pasta machine is an Atlas 180, and it always leaves black on everything . . . I had this problem with my old one too, but then only on the ends and it didn't come back for a while after wiping... Joyce

I have both an Atlas and Imperia and both leave streaks only on certain brands and colors of clay! I am beginning to think that some clays have more of some chemical or plasticizer that causes the rollers to leave streaks.
...I get no streaks when using most brands of Cernit, but I get more streaks on really fresh Premo. far Pro-Sculpt has been really good about not having any streaks. Jeanne R.
...And it appears that the greater the amount of plasticizer in the clay, the greater the reaction. .. the clay that seems to cause my pasta machine the greatest streaking problem is plain ole soft translucent, and it has the highest ratio of plasticizer per weight/volume . . . Desiree

Black or gray smears or streaks on various areas of the clay sheet: This is the biggest complaint of all...... Many assume that these streaks are caused by the pasta machine's lubricant. ....Most complain about being plagued by some streaking throughout the course of using their pasta machine, no matter how old it is. Other's don't notice it. Most say it's more noticeable when their machine is new.
.... I learned the rollers and scrapers of apparently all pasta machines are made of steel. Of all types of steel, there are over 40 types of stainless steel... steel is not invincible, not inert. Besides water, it can react to various chemicals, acids and alkalis. And I now think it reacts to the plasticizer in the polymer clay. And it appears that the greater the amount of plasticizer in the clay, the greater the reaction. .. the clay that seems to cause my pasta machine the greatest streaking problem is plain ole soft translucent and it has the highest ratio of plasticizer per weight/volume.... My current hypothesis is when a sheet of clay is passed between the rollers, sometimes a small amount of clay is scraped away off the rollers and accummulates on the scrapers and it sits there, reacting. Minute traces of plasticizer sit on the rollers, also slowly reacting with the steel. Desiree

I've taken my machine apart several times and still get streaks, not as many as when the machine was new (it's 8 yrs old now)... they still present themselves, but not as often......the effect will ease up over time, but never completely go away. Katherine D.

The streaks happen most often after the machine has been stressed (by running a too thick slab of clay through the rollers-- remember pasta is very soft compared to clay)... but it doesn't happen at the moment of stress
........I find that stretching the clay sheet thinner before stepping down to a narrower setting seems to help. Katherine Dewey

I have found that if I step down one increment at a time when using the pasta machine, the side streaks do not appear
.......if I skip settings though, and go from a 1 to a 3 or a 4, I notice more side streaks. mamadude
..I hate to pick nits or shatter precepts, but there really isn't such a thing as 'stressed rollers', at least WRT rolling polymer clay between them (you can stress these hefty steel rods only by putting them through physical or chemical extremes.).... What you may be referencing is act of stressing the scrapers, which isn't too hard to do because they're so thin. Desiree

I have noticed that when one of my machines is left running with the motor and not a single streak was on the previous run of clay, then when new clay is put through after it just sat there running (with motor) it will have streaks toward the edge of the sheets next to roller ends. ...So if you have a roller, turn off the machine as each sheet of clay comes out (?). Jeanne R.

There can also be greasy, oily smears along the very edge ...(these are not the same as "streaks"):
... Lubricants are used to keep a pasta machine's metal parts turning as smoothly as possible. ...for whatever reason if there is too much lubrication, it can migrate onto the roller surfaces and scrapers, then to your clay. This is the easiest discoloration problem to correct. Hold a paper towel on the edge of the rollers while cranking the pasta machine to absorb the excess lubricant. Then pass light colored scrap clay through the pasta machine to see if the problem is gone. Desiree

using "barriers"
(to prevent gray streaks, or color streaks, on sheets)

A physical barrier can be used between the clay and the pasta machine rollers to keep gray streaks or stray colors from inside the pasta machine from being deposited on sheets of clay while passing through (esp. important for lighter colors, and final sheets).
...This has most often been a thin flexible material like waxed paper, parchment paper, ordinary paper or cardstock, plastic sheets, and even plastic wrap (though it's so thin and flexible that it wrinkles more easily). Other things might work too.

Using a barrier can be helpful when simply flattening a clay sheet with one pass though the pasta machine (e.g., for "sheets of slices." or for mica or mokume gane sheets)
...and also with multiple passes (trying to get a very thin sheet of clay, or when conditioning clay or mixing colors).

(since the streaks appear mostly along the edges,) I put a block of clay still in the plastic wrapper on it's side at either end of the roller ...this keeps the clay from reaching the area where it picks up the black streaks. Brenda R.

One-pass sheets are easier to do than multiple passes because many of those materials will wrinkle after the first pass, so the clay will need to be removed and repositioned before each subsequent pass through
.... the stiffer the material, the better it can work, but stiffer materials can also add thickness to the sandwich being put through the machine, so the clay will end up thinner.

Two sheets of material can be used (one on each side of the clay sheet), or one sheet of material can be folded in half creating two "sheets" (see above in "Thin Sheets for those methods)

....for much more on using barriers like paper, etc., see Thin Sheets above


cleaning while using

To clean the inside of the pasta machine in preparation for the next pass through of clay, I run scrap clay through the machine, especially as I progress to thinner and thinner settings .Katherine
the best material I found for cleaning was somewhat stale bread which works great with sticky pasta, so I figured I'd try it on the clay. Worked... then I wipe down with a paper towel and crank away. Marcia sure to do this before passing through any light clay especially .... or before any sheet you want to be perfect.
...or just clean periodically to help prevent streaks
...You can usually get a few clean passes through the machine after you've cleaned the rollers, but it only takes a minute for the plasticizer to start reacting with the rollers and the streaks to come back. Elizabeth

colored bits or streaks which appear on the clay where you dont' want them :
...crumbs of various colored clay can be deposited on various areas of the clay sheet... sometimes the bits are soft, sometimes they're hard.... What they are are little return gifts that the scrapers had scraped off clay sheets as they passed by, clay that has accummulated between the rollers and the scrapers over time. Desiree

The easiest way to correct the problem of colored chunks is to remove the scrapers and wipe away all that residue clay with a good degreaser or a thin lubricant like WD-40 or mineral oil (which is safe for the steel). Desiree

I use baby wipes soaked in denatured alcohol to clean the rollers. Elizabeth
....I'd strongly recommend using baby wipes that do NOT have any glycerine in them though...glycerine is not the best thing to use on rustable metal since it coats like an oil, but moisturizes like water.'s almost impossible to find baby wipes that don't have glycerine though.... (so this is what I do to remove most of the glycerin:)
......... I buy a refill one end and saturate the wipes with water ... then put the package in the bathtub with the opening at the drain, and step on the package to smoosh all the water out (they're nearly dry, at that point)..... then I put them in the container and saturate them with alcohol (if there is any glycerine left on the wipes, the alcohol will cause it to dry quickly). Elizabeth
...(for more materials & methods for cleaning, see below in Cleaning)

the other thing we use in our guild is Baby wipes called: Chubs baby wipes. Only this brand works. They really help keep your machine clean. . .
... also be sure to thread your wipies around in back of the rollers (may be possible only at the thinner settings) --because a lot of clay gets stuck in back where it can't be seen.

I have a wad of light-colored scrap clay (or use SuperSculpey) that I run thru to pick up any stray bits. I just run it thru a couple times till it’s not picking up anymore left over colors, then it's safe for a new color. claylady
.... The easiest way to clean your food processor and pasta machine between colors is to use plain white Sculpey. It's really sticky and will grab all the crumbs of your previous color. It works even better once the piece gets a little dirty and less sticky…

My stiff bristled brush ("a glue brush"?) (like the one in a rubber cement can) is my saviour! I use it to clean under the blades with no danger of damaging them. I never get streaks (of course now that I said that I'll get them!) I clean it out after every day of heavy use, so it doesn't build up enough to warrant taking the machine apart. Dzmom

Set your machine at #7 (the thinnest setting) .... then take a fabric softener sheet (I use a used Bounce) and thread it behind the roller from the top to the bottom at one end of the roller..... firmly gripping both ends of the sheet, pull it along to the other end of the roller.....It dislodges the clay. Sometimes it will just fall out, other times you have to reach your fingers in for it, but --on my machine at least-- it removes ALL the collected clay. Lynn Del.

if I stick a single sheet of paper between the front roller and the covering (from top down)
....... and then roll backwards...even more clay is cleaned out. Annette
I can get my pm pretty clean using a combination of old business cards (they are nice and flexible-- don't use a regular thickness credit card, it'll crack) and those faux credit cards they send you in the mail (which are thinner and more flexible than a real credit card)
.......then after I have gotten the big globs of clay out, I cover the card with a wet wipe and use that, running it across the lip of the cover plates where the gunk piles up (I did that once and then took the pm apart, and there was barely anything left to clean out).
...(It helps to take the pm off the table clamp so you can turn it upside down, etc)
...Don't use anything metal for this --you could gouge your rollers. Melanie in DP

After cleaning mine (with wipes) there was still some gunk left inside the rollers. I used a dental floss or a strong sewing thread and meticulously inserted it around the roller
......i don't know how i did it but i started from the sides of the rollers where there's a tiny gap between the roller and the wall of the pasta machine that you can insert the thread into and underneath so much so that you can scrape off the gunk from the entire length of the roller!... It worked!
.... The thread technique worked for's like flossing the entire roller...just be careful not to pull the thread too much and it might break and you'll have to start inserting (the hard part!) it again. Tanya

For cleaning, and before each pass, I use Armor All on my pasta machine. It cleans the rollers well, and as I always mostly use Flex (which can get quite sticky), the Armor All keeps the clay from sticking to the rollers. Quixote
...however, ArmorAll can also prevent good things from adhering later if it's present on the surface in sufficient amounts ...finishes like Varathane (or glues? powders?)

I use washrags with Vaseline Intesive Care Lotion on them .... after wiping the top and the guards underneath, I sort of bunch up the washrag and run it though the rollers which really cleans up the black stuff. Adrienne
... lotions could be a problem because of the glycerine/water in them which could stay on the rollers and react with the steel. Desiree

Dr. Robert K. Schlatzer, director of the Mississippi Polymer Institute & Pilot Manufacturing Extension Center and he was as generous with his time as he was informative. Here is his answer to the problem of (how to remove the) all clay gunk in my pasta machine:
..."Polyvinyl chloride can be dissolved in certain solvents which will not do anything negative to the steel...Tetrahydrofuran is very flammable and Carbon Tetrachloride and Chloroform should not be used in a confined space without a good fresh air supply. Ethyl Acetate (also flammable) might be effective."

I take everything off my pasta machine that does not make it do what it's supposed to do ....& leave it off. . . it's then much easier to clean & you don't have parts for clay to get stuck under. deb jean (see below for instructions)

(.... see more on cleaning and prevention methods also above, under "Streaks" which are gray, not colors)


treating the steel ....(the rollers and/or the scraper blades)
... I ran a cloth with a type of light cleaning oil through my pasta machine... and then I ran a dry cloth through it, pulling it back and forth until the streak lessened ...I did this only once ...eventually the streaks went away and have never come back... Joy

I know this sounds like a lot to do but it really works! still eventually get the black gunk again, but not as often.
... soak a paper towel in mineral oil, run it through machine... then run a plain paper towel through to soak up any leftover mineral oil and black stuff.
....take another paper towel dampened with water and Dawn liquid dish soap (natural grease remover... this brand seems to work the best), and run it through
... followed by another plain paper towel
Also, every so often (and before I even see the streaks appear), I run a paper towel through dampened with water and Dawn, which helps even more.

I sparingly spritz a paper towel with WD-40 to wipe the rollers and scraper blades, wait a few minutes for the substance to "sink" into the metal, then dry wipe
..... it's very important to dry wipe, otherwise lack of friction will not allow the clay to be grabbed when you feed the clay in between the rollers. Desiree
... ...WD40 seems well suited to use on "non-food" pasta machines to remove plasticizer residue and polymer clay from metal, since it is a degreaser and a water displacer. Desiree

I'll have to try that. I've tried Armor All a few times, and it doesn't do any harm, but it doesn't prevent sticking for a long time either when I'm using goopy clay. Elizabeth
...ArmorAll is silicone though so can prevent things from sticking later (metallic powders, finishes, etc.)

According to some of the literature I've found, it was common to see carbon steel knives quickly tarnish when exposed to strong acids like citrus fruits. Strictly as an experiment, if any of you are desperate and curious enough, you might try pH testing your clay to see if the pH is low (acidic or in the pH scale below 7).... If there is such a thing as acidic polymer clay, perhaps mixing in a tiny smidge of baking soda to raise the pH could neutralize the clay and reduce corrosion/tarnishing (what we call streaking). Desiree

I tried a couple of metal polishing compounds on an old Altas pasta machine (to see if they would prevent streaking). The compounds were Brasso metal polish and MAAS metal polishing cream.... (on the smooth, shiny pasta machine base, both worked fine.) However, when either substance was applied to the rollers - disaster! ... instant tarnishing! Since the MASS cream is concentrated, it created more tarnish than the Brasso. The research continues... Desiree

Now the good news is if you've got a common household pasta machine like an Italian Pasta Queen or a Mercato Atlas (AA), it's quite easy to take the machine apart to thoroughly clean the scrapers as well as the rollers and then lubricate where necessary - what I call a "2nd stage cleaning and lubing". (Third stage cleaning is complete disassembly of the pasta machine . . . . When you've got the right tools and you've done this once or twice, this entire procedure takes about 5-10 minutes!
...(see more below in Taking Apart, etc.)

I think the streaks come from the lubrication (looks like molybdenum, or"moly" grease) that is used on the ends of the rollers. Some machines are probably born with more grease than others, and the streaks may be worse. They lessen after awhile, but that also means that your lubricant may be getting low. When I finally took my Atlas apart to clean it, I removed some of the grease and replaced it with vaseline. The streaks are definitely milder now. Bonnie

The guy at Marcato USA recommended white lithium grease to lubricate the gears. I just couldn't bring myself to spend 72 dollars on a quart tub of that, so I picked up a small tube of "white grease" to use on the gears. Kathy W.

I took the (new) pasta machine apart (again), and took a good look at those scrapers. I ran my fingernail down the inside edge and felt minute nicks and burrs. I sanded the edge with 600 grit wet dry sand paper and made it nice and smooth. Now, the black lines are still there, but much much fainter. They get darker towards the ends of the clay. Valerie

don't even need to clean?

I just wanted to note that I seldom or never clean mine. After Steve Ford (City Zen Cane) told me that he and David never (deep) clean their pasta machines or their food processors, I decided I wouldn't either. They do have different machines for their white clay, I believe.
.... I've had two pasta machines in the past nine years and only cleaned one of them once. ...I do wipe them off now and then on the underside where some clay residue tends to build up. But mostly I just keep a piece of white clay that I run through the machine whenever I change colors and let it pick up any stray bits of clay. When the white is gray I get a new piece of white. So far, this scarce amount of cleaning has not cause any problems at all.
. . . The only thing I would warn you about is taking the whole machine apart for cleaning. A lot of people who have done this have found that their machine doesn't work the same afterward. Others have not had this problem. Dotty

I took a great class from CityZenCane about 5 years ago...It is true...they said they never clean their pasta machines, nor do they bother to run scrap clay in between different colors. I think they may have said something about using plain white, bulk sculpey to run through their machine if they are going to use white or translucent. Kay
... (but do they primarily use their pasta machine for mixing colors (and do a lot of caning), in which case it wouldn't be as important; they never clean their food processor either --DB)

removing parts help prevent and/or aid cleaning & to lighten weight...

Removing the cover plates (fenders) of a pasta machine has many advantages and is commonly done by clayers:

1. It makes the roller areas much easier to keep clean!
...I take everything off that does not make the pasta maker do what it's supposed to do, & leave it off. . . then you don't have parts for clay to get stuck under and therefore it's much easier to clean and stay clean. deb jean
......(see below in "Taking a pasta machine apart & cleaning" for how to remove the fenders-covers)

2. The reason that Donna Kato removes the ("front and back cover "fenders," or housing pieces) of her pasta machine is to lighten it so that it's easier to shlep around from one place to another.

Btw, removing the back-plate (fender?) has never given me trouble with clay falling behind the roller. In fact there is a small roller on the back-shaft that actually supports the clay and keeps the sheet of clay moving as it's being pulled through the rollers.
..... My back roller collects most of the small pieces of clay so with the guard-plate removed it's easy to reach in with a small tool and collect all the gunk. DanaDeSigns

chopping off the (permanent) noodle rollers of a small Atlas

(cleaning a whole pasta machine without taking it apart)

One of our members, Jean Nicolaysen, cleans her pasta machine using rubbing alcohol and a turkey baster! She puts the pasta machine in a aluminum turkey roasting pan, pours in the rubbing alcohol and uses the baster to squirt the rubbing alcohol into the hard to reach places. I have tried this and it is surprising how much stuff comes out. .. The force of the squirting and the rubbing alchohol eventually get the stuff out. Give it some time to soften the clay. It usually takes two bottles of rubbing alcohol for this procedure. (If you want to) Quick dry the pasta machine using a blow dryer on high - just don't touch the pasta machine for awhile after that or you'll get burned, (yes I got burned and know how hot it really gets!). You won't believe that your pasta machine was ever used after one of these baths. Looks brand new and acts like it, too. Meredith
....I put it upside down in an alcohol bath ( with the setting at its narrowest- this brings the rollers away from the blades). I use an old hospital basin and a quart and a half of alcohol. Let it sit for 15-30 minutes and then take a turkey baster and squirt it in all the crevices. You will be surprised at what comes out. Swish it back and forth and squirt it again. Reserve the last half bottle to pour through as a rinse. Take it out and dry it off and use some sewing machine oil on the roller ends and crank hole since the alcohol bath dissolved out the lubricant. Voila! You're good to go. Sometimes I use a wooden skewer to clean along the edges of the blades. You can strain and recycle the alcohol. Trina
....Using a 1/2" wide paint brush with 2" bristles with that pan of rubbing alcohol and baster also helps to dislodge those hidden globs under the bottom edges . Cella in SD, who removes the chunks and reuses the alcohol many times.
(With my 6-7 yr. old Pasta Queen) ...after the last really serious soaking in alcohol, it became very squeaking and course when cranking. All the oiling/greasing I tried didn't seem to get the oil in the right spot. Desiree (see her "repair" below)

taking a pasta machine apart

Many parts of a pasta machine can be taken apart (to clean it, to remove parts, etc.), then be put back together.
....... the putting-back-together is more difficult though than taking one apart!
....Before you take the thing apart, you might want to tie a string around the rollers and blades to keep everything in order. Trina
...someone also suggested using a digital camera to document the placements, or steps...

NOTE: Newer pasta machines may be a bit different from the lessons below, but they're still very helpful.

If you've got a common household pasta machine like an Italian Pasta Queen or a Mercato Atlas, it's quite easy to take the machine apart to thoroughly clean the scrapers as well as the rollers, and then lubricate where necessary - what I call a "2nd stage cleaning and lubing" (third stage cleaning is complete disassembly of the pasta machine) . . . . When you've got the right tools and you've done this once or twice, this entire procedure takes about 5-10 minutes! Desiree
And a second lesson on taking a pasta machine apart:

Carl Krucke's lesson at, with loads of photos (including removing fenders) (putting back together?... note fender on table)

Polymer Clay Central's lesson:

Helen's lesson: - there are four phillips head screws on the bottom - take these off.
- On the side opposite the thickness dial there is another screw -take this off. Make sure that you keep track of where you take off parts and screws.
- Underneath this plate there should be a few tabs - these belong to the various guards. Take off the inner plate from the guard tabs and you should be then able to take the guards off and clean them and the rollers.
(Be careful not to use anything sharp to get off the stuck on clay as this could affect your pasta machine performance. It's been suggested that you should use a plastic or wood tool (or toothpick) to get the scrap clay off.). Helen

Lysle's and Irene's lesson: (Y'all are welcome to reprint and use, just please acknowledge Lysle for his original post to the newsgroup about this, & me for rewriting them with additions & alterations. Irene in western NC
1. Unclamp the pasta machine from the table or bench and remove the crank handle. Set the machine at the thickest setting (usually #1).
2. Use a Phillips head screwdriver to remove the two screws from the foot plate on the bottom only on the side where the handle would be inserted. Set the screws and foot plate aside.
3. Set the machine in your lap, thickness-setting knob side down. Remove the single screw from the side with the hole for the handle and lift off the outer chrome cover.
4. Tie a piece of elastic around the part of the machine with the rollers to hold everything together for the next step.
5. Use a socket and handle or an adjustable crescent wrench to remove the two nuts. Very carefully, lift off the inner piece. Everything will sort of fall together, but the elastic should
keep stuff from falling apart.
What you’ll be looking at: two rollers, which are stationary, two scraper blades, which are loose, two tubes around long bolts, also loose, and two outer housing parts, also loose.
6. You can remove the two outer housing pieces ("fenders")permanently. I like to do this because it gives me easier access for quick cleanings. Leave the bolt tubes in place. Remove the scraper blades. (
...however, put a note on the bottom as to date and brand/model. Janey in MN)
7. Use alcohol or your favorite solvent to remove all traces of clay from the scraper blades and the rollers. You may need to scrape the clay from the scrapers if it is really dried on there. Check the scrapers to see if they are bent (if they are, you’d have noticed tears (and ripples?) in any sheets of clay).
8. When it’s all clean and beautiful, insert the scrapers (and housing, if you want to leave it on) into the appropriate slots.
9. Place the inner cover over the rollers, bolt tubes, and scraper tabs. Align them as best as possible until you can slide the cover completely down on the scraper blade tabs -- they'll sort of click into place. This is a little tricky and takes some finagling. It may help to align the inner cover over the long bolts and set the nuts on, turning them just enough (¼ turn) to catch, and then aligning the rest.
10. Make sure everything is where it should be, and tighten the nuts.
11. Replace the outer side and the screw that holds it on.
12. Replace the foot plate with the screws that holds it on.

Desiree's lesson on taking a Belpasta Trattorina apart:

When taking the machine apart to clean it, I have found it is not necessary to remove the end with the knob that controls the settings...remove only the side plate on the crank side to disassemble your pasta machines.. It is very difficult to replace and make work correctly on some machines. Patty B.

at our guild meeting, only two pasta machines could be dismantled (with the tools we had with us) .....out of the five machines we had
.........the Pasta Queen (which one--Italian or Chinese?) had small nuts holding on the foot plate instead of screws, and no one had the right tool to remove them.... so we didn't get far enough into it to find out if there were other differences.
.......for the other two: I forgot the allen wrench to remove the motor bracket on mine... and no one had WD-40 to loosen very tight screws on another.… Irene NC
...Imperia machine.... I never disassembled mine completely, just sufficiently to remove pasta from inside... There is a screw on the side, you can remove the side cover, then you need to remove the two nuts (then you can move the parts that prevent the pasta to stick to the rolls). caribou


–Cindy’s woven vessels-- (gone)

Roll the clay out to #4 thickness first. Thicker or thinner can be a problem. If it's sticky, let the sheet rest overnight, though I have never had to do this. The skinny noodles make those twisted, string-covered metallic gold baubles a breeze (I think those were Mike Buessler's, right?).
At the thickest setting, it wouldn't cut, but at the next thickest (#6 for me), it sucked the clay right up and out of the other side came perfectly cut, same sized ribbons! Deirdre

How do you get them to cut nicely? Mine leave such jagged edges. Erum
Refrigerate the clay sheet for about 1 - 3 minutes prior to cutting. This will reduce the inherent heat in the clay from the working with it. Then once you take it out, let it sit for a moment. Wipe off any condensation, then run through the cutters. Daibhi

I did a demo at Shrine Mont on my technique for making "rope" trim. I run clay through the #1 (thickest) setting of the pasta machine, apply foil to either one side of the clay sheet or both sides, and run it through the machine again--this time at the #2 setting. Then run it through the narrower "noodle" attachment. It will now look like a jumble of spaghetti. Take a strand of this "spaghetti" and twist it. This will make a "rope" which you can now use to decorate your clay creations. Twist in the opposite direction to get rope with a reverse twist--nice for decorating opposite sides of a piece or for alternating next to each other. Nuchi

I use the "noodles" to layer on stripes or to make a "woven" effect . . . or to make clay ribbons and bows.

Back in my Fimo days I used the spaghetti cutter for hair on my figurines. Ginger

~I use the noodle attachment when I am making square canes. Four flat noodles at #1 setting makes a lovely square cane with nice crisp edges. You do have to be careful to join without air bubbles, but it wasn't hard to do.

Or use the strips to add into or use with canes in other ways (inserting, stacking, wrapping, etc.)

To make "hair", to make uniform width strips and to wrap around the cornstarch peanuts. I use CFC and have had very few problem using most of the settings on the pasta machine. If the clay is too soft/sticky, I just let it rest for a little while before I run it through.

The cutter rollers are good for cutting even strips from your sheets of skinner blends... the way you stack your strips into a cane can make a neat zigzag or rippled pattern. The narrow cutter makes "hair" or "fur" or "string" - either will make "ribbons."

You can get some very interesting effects by running a blend of various metallics (not fully blended) through the linguini attachment, piling them up helter-skelter, then running them through the flattener again. It's not really mokume gane -- I don't know what you'd call it! LynnDel

I like the really skinny one for making teeny little checkerboards or copying cross-stitch patterns. and the bigger one can make quickie checkerboards too...if you stack the strips four high it makes a pretty accurate square!

I did see a interesting tool yesterday a 18" long board with a small board screwed on at both ends and thin wires stretched taut. It looked like a beading loom. The lady lay a sheet of pasta dough on (top of) it and pressed (the sheet of dough) through from the top use a rolling pin voila! instant spaghetti ! it took seconds… It had more wires of course maybe hundreds? I'm guessing stainless steal? reminded me of a potato or boiled egg slicer, but this should give you the general idea. It looked real easy to clean verses the pasta shredder from my pasta machine. Faun

…when Patty, the basketmaker noticed my pasta machine, she commented that she uses one, too, to cut paper and thin reed into strips for weaving. She uses only **the fettucini attachment** for this, and doesn't use the front sheet roller part at all, except to hold the attachment. So we swapped -- I gave her my extra attachments and she gave me her completely virgin pasta machine. Irene NC
I even read somewhere that you can run baked sheets of clay through the cutters too. Ginger

Freshly flattened soft new Premo will gum up the linguini attachment, but if I wait a little while until the #4 sheet is cool before making my little strips, I won't get the gumming up. I've never used liquids to clean it, though it sounds like it would work. I have an old piece of stiffer scrap clay that I always keep in its flattened state, and it does a good job of pushing gummed-up clay through the linguini and noodle attachment. LynnDel
I found out today that Premo is too soft. Like Miki suggested, cornstarch the Premo first or leach it. Ginger

In SaraJane Helm's new book, she mentions using the linguini cutter. Apparently she first bakes thin sheets of clay, then cuts it in the cutter! Valerie then-10 YO son decided to make a ...pumpkin patch complete with Snoopy and Linus! I had a punch in the scrapbook supply box that made maple leaves approx 1 inch across. I rolled the green clay real thin, then punched out the leaves. They draped over the pumpkins beautifully. I'll get a picture taken and post when it is available in my Photopoint album (website gone). Denise

How about making a "ravioli" and then making an "I" cut in one to open up like a little cabinet? Then you could put all sorts of stuff inside. You could bake the ravioli with removable filling so it would have a lot of room "inside"? Kelly
. . . *blink, blink* Ow, the ideas are falling on my head so hard and fast it hurts! Ravioli pendants? Ravioli lockets? Ravioli dollhouses for tiny Poly dolls?, now that would be a REAL Poly pocket. Ravioli birdhouses? Necklace modules? Cut a hole in the "back", stuff with polyfil, bake and connect several to make a puffy necklace. *marveling* What a lot of nifty things you can make from poly-ravioli! -- Ann

(see Cleaning for chopping off the noodle rollers, if desired)

(see Trattorina category above for Desiree's demo on removing the noodle attachments from a Trattorina)

No pasta machine?
of making sheets, slabs, and blends
(& measuring thicknesses)

You certainly don't HAVE to buy a pasta machine to make flat sheets
. . . . Tory Hughes went many years without using anything but a straight-sided drinking glass (...or substitute a smooth glass jar, or a cylindrical glass vase, etc.) to make sheets, and did all her conditioning by hand.

conditioning and making sheets/slabs (for use alone, or for special techniques like stripes and mokume gane) are the two most frequent uses of the pasta machine beside mixing colors, mixing in inclusions, and making continuous blends of colors.
...If you end up liking polymer clay though, I'm pretty sure you'll *want* to have a pasta machine sooner rather than later because so much will be easier and/or faster!

classes or kids
...for making a quick-and-irty flat sheet without a pasta machine, use a smooth-sided paint can
...... the projecting seams at the ends will give you about a #4 to #6 pm thickness (will give one thickness only though).
... some canned foods might work too (....see rolling pin with rubber rings below also)

I'm going to try something for a larger slab of rolled clay-- a do-it-yourself pc slab roller.
.... I've got some pvc pipe and endcaps for them. All I need now is a large smooth surface
.... Oh, and I have two sizes of endcaps, so I can adjust if I need a thicker slab. Pat

Start flattening your clay with your hands. Then use waxed paper to roll the clay out ....lay down one sheet of waxed paper, a flattened ball of clay (try to get it flattened to near the desired (but not less than) thickness, place it on the waxed paper. Cover with another sheet. starting in the middle and roll away from the middle. (could use only one piece of waxed paper over the clay if you wanted to stick the rolled out clay down to a tile, etc., to hold it steady for transfers, etc.)

To make rectangles of flat clay (for making spiral canes, etc.), use your roller diagonally after flattening somewhat, to square up the corners as much as possible and not waste clay.

It is possible to do a Skinner blend without a pasta machine, but it's a bit tedious and time-consuming, and not as precise (though still pretty neat)
......for all info on making them (plus
other blend techniques, and all you can do withboth types of blends), see Blends > Skinner blends > "Without a Pasta Machine"
...a graduated cane that's similar in effect to a Skinner blend can be made by using the "discrete" blend technique ...see Blends > "Discrete"
for those

spacers (guide rails)

Use 2 items of the same height on either side of your clay
...then when you roll (or press) something hard on top of the clay and the 2 "guide rails" at the same time, you'll get a consistently thick sheet of clay
. . . you can make very thick sheets (slabs) by using taller rails
. . . you can make sheets which are wider than a pasta machine will allow. Didilaros
. . . making sheets this way may results in fewer air bubbles in a thick slab than when building one up from pasta-machined layers!

(for creating the thicknesses used by a pasta machine, see below in " Thicknesses & Measuring")

photo of Sunni making and using her style of paper rails + a jar as a roller of Michelle Ross rolling clay with acrylic tube roller over 8-playing card thickness (guiderails),1789,HGTV_3270_2392071,00.html

Rails must be close enough together to allow the roller to reach both rails

You can temporarily taped down your two strips onto your work surface
....or create a permanent surface they're bonded to ...a tile, for instance... maybe different widths or heights on diff. tiles.
....or you can try leaving them loose.

If the height of the sides of the (not yet taped down) rails are different (e.g., 1/4" tall by 1/2" wide), you would then have two possibilities for sheet thickness

Sunni's lesson on accordion-folding sheets of paper for rails, then wrapping completely in clear, wide packing tape (be sure and go to "Page 2" also )
...or try pages from 2 books or magazines . . . or stacks of paper (or two pads of paper)

Make some wood pieces using a saw (or find some), with one side being the dimension desired (balsa wood would prob. be too soft)
....long ones could be 18" long, by 1/8" by 1/2", for example
...I have also used boards that are every size from 1/16 " to 1/4 "of an inch to control the thickness of the clay. Bob

Use playing cards ...lots of possible height variations here (might have to wrap with plastic wrap, etc., to keep from sliding apart though... or permanent stacks could be made with tape, with on deck yielding several thicknessness ... playing cards aren't long enough for big sheets though)

Make several like-sized strips from dense cardboard (not corragated) & make two duplicate stacks...fasten at the ends w/ rubberbands or tape.

If you want to get some really 'hard' guide rails get rectangular brass tubing.. . . .if you get rectangular instead of square tubing, you will get two different sized rails.

I've been using square acrlic rods; I use them lots more than I thought I would... an acrylic sheet would work too.

Some other possibilities: jewel cases or CD's ...knitting needles (Didilarose), or just about anything!

You could also make your own rails with polymer clay . . . be sure to bake well so they'll be really strong

Before I got a pasta machine, I used a marble rolling pin ... my wife found some rubber rings that fit over the ends
.......we got different thicknesses of the rings so I was able to choose how thick I wanted the clay to be. Bob
...Kato (acrylic) Clay Roller (8" or 12" acrylic rod) also comes with three pairs of rubber gaskets (O-rings?) that will enable you to roll sheets of three thicknesses when slipped on
... (you can get the acrylic rods alone in craft stores, or cheaper at plastic suppliers.... I'll bet you could get O rings in hardware or automotive stores.) Lia

can also use this technique also to make various size logs of clay, but in this case a large and flat tile (rather than a round rod), etc, is moved back and forth over a long blob of clay between two rails
....the guide rails will need to be placed far enough apart to accommodate the length of log you want to end up with
....the flat tile/etc. will be rectangular or square... the width of the tile should be at least as wide as the guiderails... and the height of the tile should be
at least 3-4 times the diameter of the guide rails
....I use knitting needles on each side of the clay snake (on a work surface)...(needles without caps)... the snake willl end up the same diameter as the needles
...(or use other small round, square, or rectangular rods or tubes-- like brass rods, wood skewers, or even small straws... or use any two wood strips or books or other items which are flat and of the same height ---see similar way to make clay sheets in Pasta Machines > No Pasta Machine?) turn something flat like a ceramic tile upside down on top of your needles, so you'll be rolling over both clay and needles with it. Didilarose
.......(for skewers or straws, probably need to keep the clay away from the needles to avoid sticking, or add a bit of cornstarch or other release?) make larger snakes, you might be able to use something else as your guides such as brass tubes (if you get rectangular instead of square tubing, you'll get two different sizes), acrlic rods, pieces of wood, jewel cases from CD's... or taped-together playing cards, stacks of paper etc! . . . thought the rolling might be a bit harder than with round items
Sunni's lesson on accordion-folded and taped paper


MISC. INFO... books, etc.

If you travel by airplane... take your motor ON the plane w/ you... you can explain what it is, but the airlines (after they agreed to replace mine) said anything with this kind of electrical stuff does not do well with all the throwing & banging around they do w/ luggage. Patsy

(When you are sandwiching several layers of clay just to make it thicker, and you won't be cutting into it later as for mokume gane, etc), I think I would using a small amount of liquid clay between the layers and then let the piece sit for several hours or more. . . .The reason for waiting for a while after sandwiching and using the liquid clay is because the liquid clay will then leach into the various layers and make for a stronger bond. (This advice was given to me by Marie Segal of The Clay Factory. Marie is the "mother" of Premo clay.) Dotty

Did you know, you can take the (Cerebral Palsy) rubber sheet of stamps, trimmed to fit, and roll it thru the pasta roller along with a sheet of clay? Very cool...)

...... see texture sheets and more things to use as texture sheets in Textures

Jeanne R's "scenes" made by onlaying various colors of soft clay she finds under her pasta machine on a clay sheet (often overlapped, for sunsets, etc.)

Glycerine could work to soften clay. But then you don't want glycerine (glycerin) or clay with glycerine in it anywhere near your pasta machine. . . . Think of glycerine as thick water. It is full of water and it coats like grease. If you wanna rust your pasta machine, glycerine is a great way to go! Desiree

BOOKS, etc.
...various polymer clay books, videos, etc., have info on using pasta machines in various ways, as well as online lessons, and other pages at this site
... however, Maureen's Carlson's short book is focused on various pasta machine techniques
Clay Techniques with a Pasta Machine (stripes, mokume gane...marbling... Skinner blends and canes, other canes such as spirals, checkerboard, nine-patch ...and Watercolor mixing) . ...




(see above for more on taking a pasta machine apart)

Roller or scraper problems ... rough or bent
Surely you aren't suggested sanding the rollers? Maybe the scrapers?
. . .Well, think about it for a second, what's the sandpaper originally created for? - sanding the surface of exterior car metal before it's painted. And I have sanded the rollers of my Trattorina. They look like finely brushed aluminum and feel very smooth.
...because the pasta machine's rollers are chromed steel, I suspect it would best to stay in the high end of the grit range - 1000, 1500, 2000.
. . . I would caution that this should be tried *only* if the smooth rollers are gouged or really scratched. So likely, a new pasta machine would not need this treatment (unless you got an Al Dente), but some old thing that had been beat up and in need of some serious restoration. That's what I used on a thrift shop pasta machine I rescued. Desiree
.....Carl K. shows the scrapers when he takes apart a pasta machine
The scraper blades on my big expensive tratorina have been giving me a really hard time. It's my own fault because I tried too hard to clean out some old clay and bent them. Out of desperation, I tried using a metalworker's burnisher to press them back down - and it worked! Not perfect, but so much better than before. I did work very carefully to avoid scratching the rollers. The poor rollers already have a few dimples from glass beads being run through with clay. That's the trouble with having your work space where a six-year old can decide to do a project on his own! Jody
. . . .
I have a small pair of pliers that are smooth (no teeth) they come together with no gap at all. They sort of look like needle nose, but they don't taper to a point, they're flat like a duck bill. I use them to hold the folded spine of the scraper. I push on the back of the blade and try my best to eyeball it straight. If I put enough tension on the blade, it straightens out pretty well against the roll. I know I will not be able to do this too many times before the metal cracks. does work much better for a while.
. . .I've also used 1500 and 2000 grit wet sand paper (dry) to work the bur off the blades and clean up a damaged edge. James

I have tried for the last 5 hours but one of the bolts refuses to move...Joyce
A frozen bolt is a fairly common hardware problem. ...get yourself a proper fitting socket wrench to fit on that bolt. Get one that ends up being parallel (right angle wrench with tip on) to pasta machine panel so that you get maximum leverage ...Another hardware trick is to apply a metal un-siezer...
...I have noticed that those bolts are pretty hard to loosen when it is first attempted. After that, however, it is usually no problem to remove them. With a decent Phillips screwdriver or two, and a proper sized socket wrench, you should be able to take apart, clean you scraper blades and put your pasta machine back together in about 5 minutes...Desiree

Gear noises... + opening wider on one side than other
...some of the gear teeth may have actually worn down or unevenly, creating noises and difficulty turning
......or sometimes gear teeth have drifted apart too much due to metal wear or looseness
, making one side of the opening wider than the other
......(simply retightening anything with a nut (inside-underneath the dial area) may help sometimes.... but worn gear teeth are a bit more serious and will need to be replaced.
...The lower the thickness setting (the wider the roller gap) the farther apart the gears are from each other.... each roller has a classic toothed gear on at least one the less room there is for error with regard to the gear's teeth meeting each other.
...Sometimes when a pasta machine has really been put through its paces, the rollers loosen or drift from their original position just enough such that you can actually hear a 'clunk...clunk...clunk' as the machine turns. That's the very tips of the gear teeth barely meshing. If they get further apart than that, you may lose function, at least at the the wider settings. As you noticed, Linda, when the rollers are brought closer together, the machine operates better. That's because the gears are closer and mesh better.
. . .How to cure this problem?
If you have an Atlas or Atlas-like machine, I wrote some instructions for how to access just the non-crank side of the machine to fix this:
The non-crank side is where the gears hide. That's also where the mechanical heart of the machine is. You'll need to get inside there and see if you can tighten things a bit.
.... I do consider this level of maintenance to be advanced because there are quite a few bits and pieces, springs and nuts and'll need to keep careful track and note where everything goes, exact positions, exact order of removal, etc. If you have a digital camera, take good closeups as you open and remove parts... Desiree
....The thumping you hear, Geo, is because the gears that turn the two rollers are not meeting up properly inside which makes one side slightly wider than the other. If you feel comfortable taking your machine apart, there are two rods inside that need to have the bolts at each end tightened. I had this problem and was able to fix it when I realized that the gears were misaligned, however, it did happen again and I had to do it all over again. The second time seems to have worked and it's been ok for a while now. Lori
. . . Well, I took your advice about trying the advanced pasta machine maintenance in order to alleviate the clunking sounds on my pasta machines. Thank you so much, Desiree. It was well worth the effort. My DH and I rolled up our sleeves, set out the necessary tools and supplies as outlined in Desiree's how-to
.........So we popped off the endcap of the thickness-setting wheel and proceeded to remove the left side panel. Imagine our surprise when we realized how simple and straightforward it was to tighten everything down. And when we reassembled the machine, we only had one piece left over!
.......... On to machine number two, we quickly saw where that left over piece belonged.
......So in less than two hours, we opened four machines, tightened everything on the left (gears) side ( then also opened the right side to remove the front and back panels and clean all the blades). Good as new! I'm thinking of applying for a temporary job next summer on the production line of an Atlas factory--you know, the one near Venice... Ciao, Linda

Sam Katz mentioned that she had dropped her pasta machine once, and then it wouldn't work because it was out of alignment. .... she took it apart, and when she put it back together it worked just fine. Trina Pasta Queen of 6-7 years was really getting on my nerves. The rollers were so misaligned, sheets were spiraling out, because one side of the roller gap was signficantly wider than the other side. . . . In addition, after the last really serious soaking in alcohol, it became very squeaking and course when cranking. All the oiling/greasing I tried didn't seem to get the oil in the right spot. ...Up till now, I had taken my machine apart a few times - but not completely. I'd taken off the foot plate, removed the crankside side plate, utlimately winding up with the pairs of scraper blades, rollers, fenders and long tubes independently flailing about. But the thickness adjustment side remained a mystery. And I knew that's where the secret lay to fixing the squeakiness and correcting the roller gap differences between the left and right sides. "All the way" for me meant somehow removing the springy thickness adjusting dial and getting at what lurked underneath.
With nothing to lose, I decided to wedge a screwdriver into the dial face, apply a little hammer force, to try pry off the inside cap on the dial. It worked! Inside was a nut and simple spring. I unscrewed the nut and removed the spring and then the numbered portion of the dial knob. Then I removed the one little screw in the machine's side panel, thus revealing the 'mystery of the inner scantum' - a small metal brace, a couple of gears on the roller ends, other bits and pieces. I cleaned, greased and tightened everything I could see with a little vaseline. Put it all back together... and it's a good as new! For the brave, I needed the following tools: - flat head screwdriver - a cross head screwdriver (phillips head) - a couple of sockets 9mm, 10mm, and a socket wrench - hammer. Desiree
To get the gears more evenly spaced you must disassemble the knob side of the pasta machine per the instructions, remove the brace (just slips out of its notches) and GENTLY flex it either flatter or more curved depending on which side is wider. This will take a little experimenting, and it is VERY IMPORTANT to flex it only EVER SO SLIGHTLY at a time - 1, so it will still fit into the notches; 2, so it won't break or become unusably deformed. . . It will probably take a few tried to get the spacing right - or tolerably right anyway. My spacing is still ever-so-slightly off but usable. I will probably readjust when I have a backup machine. Irwin
. . .gears! Right away I could see the problem. There's a metal bar piece in there that holds the two roller ends a specific distance apart. This piece is secured by the two outermost metal rods with nuts. Apparently all the taking apart and cleaning had jarred the nut on the right enough to pop it right off! No wonder the gears were slipping! . . So I unscrewed the rod from the other end enough to put the nut back on this end, tightened everything else, and it's as good as new! ... I feel so proud to have stripped down, rebuilt, and restored my most vital polymer clay tool. There's something empowering about knowing my machines inside and out. So thank you Desiree, for giving me the inspiration and courage to go for the gears and the gusto. :) Julia, in sunny IL
...(see above also in "taking a pasta machine apart")

(see also: Blends (Skinner), Translucents for more on getting thin sheets, )