Keeping Your Pasta Machine Station Organized

Polymer Clay Tutor Pasta Machine StationVideo #277: Plus an update on using Sugru to keep your pasta machine handle from falling out. ~Cindy Lietz

One of the most useful tools that has ever been introduced to the polymer clay world is the pasta machine. It rolls beautiful flat sheets of clay in a variety of thicknesses, and also makes quick work of conditioning your clay. Plus, the Pasta Machine makes color mixing a breeze.

Being such a useful and versatile tool for just about anything you do with polymer clay, it only makes sense that you give your pasta machine a special place in your studio. I have a certain way I like to set up my Pasta Machine Station, and thought I’d share some of those tips with you in today’s vlog…

Like I mentioned in the video, the neat Cookie Tin Lid idea came from fellow polymer clay artist Iris Mishly of polypediaonline.com. Thank you Iris for sharing such a handy tip for us clayers. It sure keeps the clay crumbles off the floor!

So… I hope that you enjoyed these helpful pasta machine station ideas. No matter how you like to set up your clay area, it is always nice if you can have everything where you want it… so it is always ready go when that claying urge strikes!

Oh btw… the Sugru worked pretty good for keeping the handle in the pasta machine, but was too flexible for the C-clamp fix. The clamp handle broke off again once I cinched it down tight. Pasta machine companies really should get rid of those stupid plastic handles and just go with a bent metal one. Maybe one day I will start designing my own tools, since my repeated requests for improvements seem to be falling on deaf ears (at least that’s the impression I get).

Speaking of improving on a product, if you haven’t seen my solution to preventing your bead pins from falling off your bead rack, make sure to check out this previous Studio Tip Vlog. Here’s the direct link: A Sugru Hack To Keep Amaco Bead Rack Pins in Place. I think you’re gonna love how it fixes that pesky “beads-falling-off-the-rack-and-getting-burnt” problem!

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Comments

  1. Love the idea of using a lid to catch the crumbles especially with dark red carpet where everything I drop tends to disappear. No metal tin lids handy but I’m eyeing a shoebox lid on my shelf. One of my August goals is to organize school supplies (I’m a grad student for Interior Design through an online program) and supplies for clay, jewelry making, knitting, spinning, etc.

  2. Another great episode of handy tips using magnets, Sugru etc and thanks go to Iris Mishly for sharing with you..

    CINDY have you tried MILLIPUT ? I discovered this great “putty” when looking for a product to stick a cast iron part in my sewing machine. Knew it couldn’t be soldered or stuck with conventional glues. I found it in a tiny hobby shop that sold boys toys ie: model airplane kits, car kits etc. The guy said that it is fab stuff, very strong and can even be used under water. Once cured it can be drilled, carved etc. It can also be used as a rigid mold.
    Anyways, I used it to repair my sewing machine about six years ago. It has be used cotinually since that time and the part is still good to go.

    Milliputt comes in a few different colours and strengths and is not expensive. (No I do not work for the company) but would say that it is just the stuff to tackle those difficult repairs , try it you’ll love it as it is soooooo strong……………………………..cheers xx………………………………………..

    • Thanks Elaine for the great comment! I haven’t heard of Milliputt. I wonder if we can get it here in Canada? Is it flexible? I think because of the flexibility of the Sugru, that was the reason it didn’t work with the c-clamp repair. It just kept flexing until it broke, with all the torque it took to tighten the clamp. Maybe if there was a similar clay product that wasn’t flexible at all and got hard as a rock, that might work to fix the clamp? But the best solution would be if they included a decent clamp in the first place, instead of the heap o junk that’s in there. ;)

      • Familiar name, my brother used Milliput all the time with models. You can get it from Micromark:

        micromark.com/superfine-grain-milliput-4-oz,7626.html

        They have two types, super fine and fine grain, plus a bunch of modeling tools for use with it.

        Great idea, Elaine!

      • Hi CINDY,
        Think Jocelyn answered your question about Milliput. No it is not flexible when cured but sets as strong as stone. I am surprised Doug hasn’t got some in his workshop as it is certainly a “boy’s toy” repair kit. We have a few more different ones here in the UK. The fine white one is used by ceramic artists as when mending china or fine porcelain objects. it is just the best. I think quite a few of our museums keep some on hand for repairs.

        I am also researching a couple of new products but until I have used them and tested them (to destruction) I will reserve my judgement. I agree with you on the designs of some of the equipment we use. Just a shame my father is no longer with us. He was brilliant at making and adapting tools. If I have a problem I just say “Now what would Dad have done”?. i know he is with me in spirit as I mostly am given the answer. Sometimes not straight away, so I know he’s making me use my brain.(thanks Dad)

        just had my Sugru delivered so better go and play…..cheers xx………………

  3. Great ideas !!! thanks for sharing, can’t wait to see if I can finally get that cussed handle to stay in. Although, it is good exercise bending over to pick it up off the floor….lol.

  4. Love all the handy tips! I especially like the magnets for the blades since mine seem to disappear, I think there’s a Gremlin in my studio !! Anyone else have that problem? LOL

    I do wish they would improve the pasta machine handle, I use tape put it wears off after awhile and the handle flies off.

  5. Yeah -what good tips! As everyone said – the cursed handle keeps falling off !!!!!! Mine is covered with Pc, and I think that makes it worse. I JUST HATE IT < when it falls off. Can't wait to try some Sugra ! The magnets you use are sooooooooooo clever,too. Thanks for all your handy-dandy tips!

  6. A long time ago, I gave up on the C clamps that come with the pasta machines. I got some 3 inch spring clamps from Harbor Freight and put one on either side of the machines, and they have not budged since. The handles jut out a little, but do not interfere with the clay process. In fact, I found I could use the handles to string on the plastic bags you get from the grocery store (use a few clothespins to tighten up the fit), and can use them to catch any bits or trash.

    The best part now is that you can still use these spring clamps with Cindy’s method. The tin lids are low enough that you can still set the pasta machine in one and use the spring clamps without damaging the lid. You can still use the handles to clip on baggies or little grocery bags to have trash disposal close.

  7. Fortunately I have the Dream Machine so don’t have a handle problem. However, I still use my Atlas for dark colors and have it attached to an old wooden TV Tray table. The handle does continue to fall out of that one so I love the sugru tip for it. What I would really like to see is a video in taking the fenders off the atlas machine and how to put it back together without them. They are useless as far as I can see and it would be much easier to clean if they were gone!
    I tried doing it with the first atlas I ever had and the parts flew all over and I have never been able to put it back together.
    Luckily I was able to get this one on sale for $10 at Joanns.How about it Cindy? Could we have a video on this? Please..

  8. Help
    I need some help . I must be doing something very wrOng… When I bake my project at 275…. It starts to fluctuate so I lower the temp and then but it back up…I bake them On a bed of corn strach and cover it with corn starch and then a folder….I found that any thing resting directly on the corn starch cracked… Very upsetting to say the least … These are not the words that I used../ I am. Ery frustrated right now and sUch. So that I want to quite! When I used
    Y regular convection oven this did not happen …. What can I do to correct this
    Major problem ./..I did shut of the toaster oven when it got to not…was that part of
    My problem? I know that someone of there can Help…. I remember Dixie saying something abort a sImilar problem .Unfortunately some of the stuff that got broken were things that mu granddaughter handmade….is there any way of fixing them?
    I seem to make h error quite often ..Auvergne I need to write down on an index. Add exactly what I should d and Not do when baking my projects……do we really need that hour of baking at 275 ../ the palpating say 15 minutes per 1/4 inche and none Mu stufff is 1 in hi thick
    Natalie …. Glsd i did not comits myself to the crag show next weekend…..I still have time to make ecessary corrections with your help

    • Hi Natalie,
      Very frustrating for you. Are you leaving your beads a long time before baking? ~~It might be that the corn starch is leaching out the plasticziser thus making your beads brittle. While you do NOt have to bake your stuff for an hour I always do so. it is what CINDY recommends and I think this makes them really strong. Also to plunge in to cold water straight from the oven seems to “close up” the pores! If your beads are not burnt you can repair with poly paste or liquid poly then re-bake.

      Dixie Ann even has two oven thermometers to test different parts of her oven so temperature is vital to the curing of polymer clay. I do have a small toaster oven but it is religated back to the kitchen cupboard as found however careful I was I couldn’t get it right. I use my ordinary kitchen gas oven which is right next to window, open (in summer) and extractor fan in winter. I make sure my pc is sealed. I use a lot of tin foil but recycle it for big bead cores etc. I also use a kitchen timer especially if I am making dolls house stuff that calls for (adding bits to) and baking multiple times. As long as the temperature is correct you can bake for longer with no damage. Hope this helps.

      Also welcome to ANDRIA P. Are you a new member? If so welcome, nice to see you live in London. Is that London UK? I live in Essex UK and am so glad I found Cindy’s site. It surely is the best on the web…..cheers xx……….

    • Hi Natalie, What are you baking and setting on the cornstarch? Cornstarch will leach the plasticizer from your clay if you put it on the starch or cover it over and do not bake it right away. Only do this when you are ready to place it in your oven. Is your clay more than 50% translucent? Both these questions will affect the outcome of your baked piece. 275 degrees is pretty comparable temperature and baking it for 1 hour should not cause your item to crack. Without knowing what you are trying to bake makes it a little difficult to figure out what could be causing the cracking. Is your temperature getting hotter after you have it in your oven? Did you test your oven with your thermometer in different locations so you can locate the hot spots? When I bake thin pieces, I bake them at 275 degrees but for only 30 minutes. If I have 50% or more translucent in the clay I dump the pieces in ice water. Once they have cooled down completely I will bake them an additional 30 minutes and repeat the ice water. They have never cracked and they are very strong. Is your clay fresh or is it older and dryer? This will affect it also. I don’t know if this helps but hopefully it will help you figure out what the problem is.

      • Great information you gave to Natalie, Dixie! I didn’t know some of these things. It’s great how you can constantly learn something new…from Cindy as well as all of you! Thank you so much- :)

        • Glad I could help Amy. You can get a lot of information from just using the search function on the blog home page.

    • When my oven fluctuates I take the clay out turn the oven off until it drops to 200 and then adjust the temp. I wait to put the clay in until the temp is right. I found that trying to adjust them temp in an oven that is too hot is difficult. I also preheat my oven 20 minutes before putting in the clay. I always bake much longer than the 15 minutes per quarter inch, usually about an hour. Something an inch thick should probably be baked at least 90 minutes. I have never had problems with clay cracking when baled with corn starch. Are you mixing different brands of clay together?

  9. Polymer Cafe Magazine has been doing an artist profile in each new issue. They are looking for suggestions for upcoming Artist Profiles. I sent in Cindy Lietz as a suggestion and encourage other to do the same. It would be so exciting to see her PcT RoadTrip featured in upcoming issues. Send your suggestion to ahuizenga @ scott publishing . com. I had to space it all out so the PcT system does not read it as spam.

    Anna

  10. Oven temperatures, variations and timing are key to sell-able and “art level” product in our industry. It continues to amaze me that two decades later, bad toaster ovens still plague us.

    I started out with stained glass prior and rheostats made a lot of sense to me while using my favorite tool to sculpt layers and shapes in lead. But the results were quickly apparent. Polymer clay is more mysterious to me, lol.

    I think one of the reasons that Cindy’s rule of one hour of oven time is so accurate is that most of the ovens we use peak and fall, so that to keep the clay from too high temps and browning, we set it low. Therefore, during the heat cycle of a normal toaster oven, one hour as specified gives it the time it needs at the optimum temps to cure to the hardest and most easily buffed. The better it’s cooked/cured, the better it finishes and sells.

    I have had the best luck with temperature moderation when I load the bottom/sides with tiles, rocks, whathaveyou…which hold heat. I also seem to get the best results when I put the clay in during the initial warm up stage, and no matter what, plunge it in ice water. Then, I try to rebake items by adding them while I am processing new stuff. This 2x approach seems to get better results when sanded and buffed, or treated by surface inks and treatments.

    I still get too many darkened, browned, or burnt pieces for my liking but since I am just entertaining myself at this point my solution is to keep testing and re-reading all the valuable links I get here at the site by using the search facility to bring up past comments or blogs.

    If I were doing this for profit, I would demand a more functional machine when baking, and be willing to pay for it. Does anyone have any suggestions or new findings in baking machines?

    • Hi Doll, I research the Kitchenaide Toaster Ovens
      and recently purchased one for my kitchen since I already have an Oster for clay. To my amazement it held the exact temperature for whatever time I baked and wherever I put the item being baked. There were absolutely no fluctuations in temperature. I also tested it with 2 seperate thermometers, one I had used for awhile and a brand new one I purchased just to test it. Both thermometers registered the same. I got it on sale at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $99.00 and a 20% off coupon. I would love to switch them but cannot since I have already baked a lot of clay in the one I purchased before. You can also buy the same model in a convection style but it would cost another $80 bucks. So if anyone is thinking about getting a new oven, they should seriously think about a Kitchenaide.

      • Wow, Dixie, that is amazing and timely news! I am sick of fighting with the toaster oven, and am ready to switch. Now, what would be the benefit of the convection style model? I already have food ovens separate.

        • depends on what your preferences are. convection ovens have a fan in them that blow air over your baking item and cuts down on the length of cooking time. They are also known for their holding temperatures better and if you are cooking meat it browns the meat very nicely. A lot of Polymer Clay Artists will only use convection ovens because of their stability in baking. I found this out when I switched from a regular toaster oven to a toaster convection oven. There is a 25 degrees difference in this oven. I set it at 250 and my oven bakes at exactly 275 degrees in 2/3rds of the interior, one corner bakes at 295 degrees. But the big thing here is it does not fluctuate in temperatures during baking time. It is always 275 in that area and always 295 in the back corner when I use the convection baking. I am using an Oster but I sure wish I would have bought a KitchenAide.

    • Hi Jocelyn. I use a countertop convection oven by Deni. The temp always stays spot on and the built in timer never lets it bake longer than I wanted when I get distracted and “forget” Im baking. Also the large clear glass bowl that is the body of the oven lets me view my baking pieces from all sides including the top, while they bake. So even my translucents dont burn anymore and I dont even have to tent them because the moving air keeps the clay from building heat and scorching. I wont ever go back to a toaster or gas oven again. At least not for my clay. I got it online a few years ago and at that time it was around 80$

      • Hi Jaime, I researched your Deni oven and I must say was impressed with it.
        I never came across this brand when I was looking for a new convection for my clay. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I would seriously consider this one also. I like the fact that you can see 360 degrees inside the oven. Nice choice.

        • Thank you Dixie for your nice comments. Although I must admit I cant take credit for originally using this particular oven for polymer work. I was made aware of it by another clayer who does polymer figurines. She swore by it for some of the very reasons I love it. The total view and the even baking temps. Plus with the rack that comes with it you can actually bake two levels of smaller pieces like beads, and not worry the ones on the bottom wont bake right. The airflow bakes them all evenly. I love mine most of all because I can have it right in my craft room and not have to run up and downstairs to check pieces in the oven. I have COPD and stairs are not my friend. Plus I dont have to worry about cleaning my whole oven after a clay baking afternoon. The only small drawback, and it isnt one really, is that depending on what type of dish you bake in, the airflow can move your baking pan around. I didnt want to use my good baking dishes for the clay. So I use the round disposable aluminum pans you can buy at the grocery store for a few dollars and I recycle small light weight aluminum pans (the kind the little individual serving pies come in) for most of my pieces. But unless I have a large piece in them or several smaller ones, they tend to “float” in the oven. Imagine my surprise when I turned on the oven for the first time and my baking pan went into UFO mode! Hahahaha! But I solved this by laying an old heavy metal washer or a larger nut in the pan beside the pieces. Any similar weight would work. Baking on a tile or a bead rack is no problem at all. And of course glass baking dishes work well. Parchment paper will tend to lift a bit too if the pieces are light. So again, place items on the paper toward the edges so it will stay down, or use weights on the corners. Covering translucent and delicate pieces in cornstarch of course is out of the question, unless you place another pan on top to keep it from blowing around. :}

    • I agree with you on how helpful that particular tutorial really was Dixie! I had owned and used my Atlas Pasta machine for over 15 years and never cleaned it! I was scared to death to even try. And all the other instructions I found elsewhere were so long and complicated I decided to just live with the streaks. :( But then I saw Cindy’s tutorial and it looked so simple I finally decided to give it a go. And tada! Nice clean pasta machine! Hurray for us and hip hip hurray for Cindy! Now I clean it once a week or so and bye bye streaks!

      • I am so glad that tutorial was helpful for you guys! The new machines with the spring type wires that hold the scrapers in them (the nine setting Amaco or Sculpey machines) can’t be taken apart anymore… well they can come apart, but they won’t go back together! So for a lot of people this tutorial is outdated, but for anyone with one of the older 7 setting machines or the Atlas machines like you guys have, it totally solves the problem.

        It really doesn’t make sense that these machines are not designed for cleaning, in the first place. Aren’t they supposed to be used for food? Wouldn’t you want to clean something that is used for food? I just don’t get it!

  11. I LOVE these tips! Thanks Cindy. Funny about the pasta machine handle. When I used to do my claying on the kitchen island (over a wood floor) I’d drop the thing all the time. I had to yell, “It was JUST ME!” when that happened so everyone wouldn’t come running to make sure I was okay. LOL I started puttling a cushioned bar stool under it to catch it before it went clanging to the floor. And, I’ve got a cookie tin I’ve been holding onto thinking it would come in handy for something. Aha!

  12. Nothing worse than that handle falling off in a workshop situation or a Guild demo. The teacher at one workshop I attended marked an “X” on the blackboard each time a handle fell to the floor. The blackboard was almost full by the end of the first day.
    Someone at a Guild meeting gave me a 1/4″ rare earth (neodymium magnet) which fits perfectly to the end of my pasta machine handle. My magnet stayed in my machine but still works when I put the handle in and really holds it well. I guess you could glue it to the handle with a good two part epoxy glue as these magnets are STRONG.

  13. Dixie, I am so appreciative of all of your in-depth discussions on toaster ovens, before I give up mine, when the cooler weather comes I am going to retest mine and see if it’s worth it.

    I have a NUWave clear round convection oven for food, and it is wonderful. From the freezer to the table so quickly, with a lovely browned tasty topping.

    Jamie, thanks for your suggestion on the Deni, been researching that and the convective KitchenAid model Dixie spoke about. I use a lot of white and I am sick of it tanning, lol.

    Think the convection approach is the way to go. The air circulation feature evenly spreads the temps so heat build ups don’t exist.

    Does anyone else have any input? Sure would appreciate it.

  14. Quick question. I notice on some of the videos that your pasta machine has the fins on and some do not. Is it still ok to take them off? I just notice this because I went back to the how to clean the past machine video and now want to take mine off. It would be so much easer to keep clean.

    • Hi Edie, I have three different pasta machines that I use in my tutorials, depending on where I am filming. The machine in my filming studio and the one in our Roadtrip Trailer are 9 setting pasta machines (one Amaco and one Sculpey). These newer 9 setting machines have a weird spring that holds the scraper blades in and so they can’t be taken apart. The machine I have in the studio, where I have been filming my studio tips, has no fins because it is an older Amaco machine that only 7 settings that could be taken apart. You are right it is easier to clean without the fins, but if you have a newer machine, that will be impossible.

      • Hi Cindy, didn’t get your message before I took my pasta machine apart. It is the 9 settings newer amaco with the wires so it freaked me out when I couldn’t get it back together. Thank goodness my husband was able to fix it for me and without the fins yaha!. He used a wire tie to hold all the peices while we put all the parts back in all the slots and used chanel locks to put the wire things back in. Was not too bad but I think I will keep it cleaned by putting a peice of paper towel with rubbing alcohol through it more often to keep the build up off. I think I am going to be happier with out the fins. Thanks for your help.

  15. Edie, you are so lucky your DH was able to put yours back together. My Amaco did the same thing and I kept it in a box for awhile until I got a Sculpey with the 9 settings. I was able to take the fins off of it since it did not have the springs in it. After that I just threw out the other one. I use my Dream Machine for everything except white and translucent, I use my Sculpey. Those two are the hardest to keep clean while working it. I must have been real lucky getting that Sculpey when I did.

    • I have had my amaco for a little while (under a year) so not sure if the ones today are any different since Cindy said they can not be taken apart?
      I of coursed plung right in and can take any thing apart even if it gets broken before I checked my email. But my husband is a welder-artist and was bound and determined to get it back together for me :)
      I will take a picture of the bottom of it tomorrow and post it to show what the wires look like without the fins (in bed now lol).
      I have not put any clay through it since he fixed it so I am hopping it will work ok!
      I checked out your Dream machine!
      Wow is that amazing, would love to have that. But I am too new now.
      I am afraid with my hectic life I am not getting much clay time in. But I am watching the blog and keeping up with the recipe cards because some day I am going to have time. For now just learning what I can and playing some when i can so I will be ready to go.
      Also loved the Demi oven! Put both in my some day favorites folder lol.

    • Hi Samaa, if you go to the top of the blog page to the search box and type in repairing crumbly or dryed out clay you should get several links that will help you with your problem. If you don’t have any regular clay conditioner you can use a few drops of baby oil or vegetable oil in a pinch. Don’t use too much though, as you don’t want mushy clay. If your starting with a full package, I would chop it all up really fine and then add about 4 or 5 drops of oil and continue mixing it with your blade until it starts to stick together a little, then you can pick it up and finish rolling it together in your hands. This should condition it back to it’s normal consistancy. Good luck, let us know how you do.

  16. Hi Cindy,
    I was trying to find the video on pasta machines, not the cleaning but the other tips on using it. You had one that talked about the clay crinkling or wrinkling on the thinner settings of the pasta machine and how to avoid that but I can’t find it again.
    Thanks in advance,
    Kathy

    • I think I know what video you are talking about Kathy but I can’t recall which one that was in either. The trick to keeping your sheets from wrinkling though, is to start at a thick setting and go down one size at a time until you reach the setting you want. It also helps if your clay is not too soft or warm. Popping it into the fridge can help there a little as well. If all else fails roll the last stages by hand with an acrylic roller. Hope that helps!

  17. Hi Cindy!
    I am so thrilled to know there’s a forum about polymer clay. You see, I am very new to this craft. I am interested to learn more about this art and have thought of buying basic things to start making polymer charms.

    I saw your video on using a toaster oven to bake clay. I have an old but still working toaster oven with no temperature controls, only the timer. I am not sure if I can use this to bake clay so I wont have to buy a new electric oven. I turned the toaster oven on, placed an oven thermometer and it already read 100 (in Celsius) within 2 minutes. I heard charms depending on its size and clay brands should be cured for 15 minutes or so. Im afraid by the time it reached 5 minutes, I’ll end up with a burnt clay. I didnt tried putting in clay coz if it does burn I might not be able to use my toaster oven to toast bread which I normally do. Do you think I should think of buying an electric oven ? Pls.help- Car from the Philippines

    • Hi Car, welcome and nice to meet you! I am not sure if your toaster oven is going to work for you. since you can not control the temperature. You would be better off baking your clay in your large home oven if you have one that will hold the temperature steady between 120C-130C. That is good to hear that you have an oven thermometer. That will help you greatly when using any oven to bake your clay.

      In regards to bake time, I prefer to bake for longer than the manufacturers recommended time. (Most of the other professional polymer artists do as well.) You will find that if your temperature is correct, that you can bake your pieces no matter how thin they are, for 1 hour or more without burning at all. Baking for longer makes a much stronger piece.

      I do have a video course for beginners that would be very helpful for you if you are able to buy it. It would teach you what you need to know to have success and will help you to avoid mistakes which can be very expensive in the long run.

      Also if you sign up for my free Polymer Clay Tutor Newsletter, you will get 3 free videos that will be helpful for you, as well as free recipes for mixing beautiful polymer clay colors.

      Lastly, do make sure to read the older posts and comments on this site. There is absolutely tons of free information that you can learn from. Typing keywords into the search box (like “baking” and “toaster over” and “thermometer” and “burning”) will get you to where you want to go.

      Hope that helps. Happy to have you here all the ways from the Philippines!

      PS: Doug and I have been talking with a few people over in your beautiful country, about hiring a virtual assistance to join our team on a full time basis. Someone that is interested in working from home, knows English very well, is good with the computer… and ideally… someone that shares our passion for polymer clay. If you know of anyone that may be interested, please do email me privately about this :-)

  18. Oh thank you for taking time to write back Cindy! You just made my heart smile c”,) I just realized that I have been subscribed on your YouTube channel and have confirmed the 3 free videos days ago.

    I’ll surely check the Video Course you mentioned.

    Thank you for answering my concerns!

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