Why Pasta Machines Leave Roller Lines On Polymer Clay

Pasta Machine Roller Lines - Polymer Clay TutorVideo #641: And more importantly, how to end up with smooth sheets of clay that don’t show any roller lines at all!

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • I’m going to show you how to avoid getting roller lines on your polymer clay from your pasta machine.
  • Sometimes you will grab a chunk of polymer clay (mine happens to be a section of Sculpey Souffle clay in a Pumpkin color)… and roll it through your pasta machine at the thickest setting… and you’ll get these obvious lines running across the sheet that were caused by the pasta machine rollers.
  • It doesn’t matter whether you have a beautiful pasta machine like this Atlas 150 Wellness Machine, or you have a lower end machine… those lines pretty much always show up when you are using the thickest setting.
  • The reason is because of the gears on the rollers, and how they fit together at the different settings.
  • The two rollers in a pasta machine turn when you roll your clay through.
  • There are gears at the ends of each roller that mesh together so that they roll at the same time and pull the clay through at whatever thickness you set them at.
  • At the thickest setting, the rollers are set as far apart as they can go, which means that the internal gears just barely touch at the tips. This causes them to clunk as they go around… jerking the rollers and leaving roller marks on the clay sheet.
  • At the thinner settings the rollers mesh together much better and roll much smoother, leaving the clay perfectly smooth.
  • The higher number of setting on the machine, the more range in settings there are. Therefore, the wider spread those gears have to go between the thickest and the thinnest settings, and the bigger the ‘clunk’ at the thickest settings.
  • However, there are a few things you can do to help minimize those roller marks from happening.
  • The lines are the worst when you force a thick piece of clay through the thickest setting.
  • So what you can do is roll your piece through at the thickest setting and then roll it through again at the same setting to flatten the marks out a bit.
  • Giving your piece a quarter (90 degree) turn in between passes, will also help to remove the lines from the first pass through.
  • It also helps if you kind of pull on the sheet as it is being drawn through the rollers. It causes some resistance on the rollers and helps to minimize the “lurch and clunk” factor.
  • When you really want a smooth sheet, just roll the sheet at a thinner setting.
  • If a smooth but thick sheet is needed, then consider rolling at a thinner setting and doubling up the clay to make a thicker sheet.

Do you have any suggestions for videos on tips, techniques or products you would like to learn more about? Let me know in the comments section below!

My goal is to help you to learn quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

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Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Ed Street, 16 March, 2015

    Two things.

    A) Playing card thickness varies by product and one may be thicker than another also between batches/lot number can have a great degree of difference.

    B) I have to disagree with the gears being the cause of rippling as the scraper blades itself is more to blame but there can be multiple points that cause this to happen.

    I do like your video’s and keep up the good work!

    Ed

  2. Cindy Lietz, 16 March, 2015

    Hi Ed, if you use regulation playing cards like the ones used for gambling the difference between thicknesses would be so slight that their would be very little difference in the thickness of the clay.

    And,as far as the roller marks, scrapers can sometimes be an issue in leaving lines on clay but usually they will leave scratch marks or weird ripples… not these straight line ridges. If the scrapers were part of the problem in this case then it would be a problem for all the settings… not just the thickest ones.

  3. Maria C, 16 March, 2015

    Hi Cindy!

    First of all – horrors – you’re not wearing polymer jewelry! At least, it sure looks like you only have wire earrings on.

    Secondly, I don’t remember where I learned this, but I was told not to use the #1 (thickest) setting on my machine because of the gears being so far apart. (which can easily break the machine if a large chunk of clay is forced in). Apparently the second thickest setting is essentially the same as the first and is a much better choice for rolling out clay.

    Maria

  4. Cindy Lietz, 03 April, 2015

    Hi Maria, don’t be too horrified, my bracelet was actually made with polymer clay beads from my Arizona Beads Tutorial. I was wearing wire earring I made though. Yeah some people don’t use the #1 setting, but I am real careful not to jam hard clay in that is too thick to start… but if you find there is less clunking if you start at setting #2 than that is perfectly fine.

  5. Dixie Ann, 16 March, 2015

    I’ve never had problems with these lines but I do appreciate the video so I can pass the information on to those who do!

  6. Jocelyn C, 17 March, 2015

    Cindy, bless you, it worked on 3 machines. Now to get the other ones out of the cupboard, lol. One for white, one for red, one for translucent……hee hee.

  7. Julia G, 17 March, 2015

    Hi Cindy!
    Your timing is perfect! Just a day or two ago my husband Geoff walked into my clay room as I pulled a piece of clay from my pasta machine. He asked why the sheet had funny lines on it. I didn’t have an answer, but I wanted one because I’d started noticing it too. I so often feel as if you are holding my hand as I try to put into effect what You teach me..Thank you.

  8. Lena S, 20 March, 2015

    Maybe roller lines could just be my signature style. LOL.

  9. Stacy Ozer, 02 March, 2016

    I’m new to this art/craft and your videos are amazingly helpful!!

    I am getting deep ridges in my clay. It seems to get worse as the clay gets conditioned or warmed. The ridges get worse as the settings get thinner as well, it’s driving me nuts and I’m not able to use the clay then. Any idea or suggestion?

    You are the only one I could find that addresses this and two extremely experienced artists didn’t know and referred me to this video!!

    Thank you!!

  10. Cindy Lietz, 07 March, 2016

    Stacy other than the advice I gave in this video, there is not much you can do… except get a new machine. I suppose if you tried leaching the clay a bit (do a search on leaching clay in the search box at the top of the page) it may help. Stiffer clay usually doesn’t wrinkle as bad. You can also try rolling it with an acrylic roller, after, but that kind of defeats the purpose of having a pasta machine. Once the gears start slipping… there isn’t too much you can do. Good luck!

  11. Sarah E, 30 June, 2016

    Hi Cindy,

    I’m experiencing the same problems as Stacy – but I’m working with a brand new Atlas 150. It arrived yesterday and as soon as it was set up and I put the first sheet through, there were ridges. The thinner the setting, the more rippled and warped the clay became. I thought that perhaps the gears were misaligned so I took off the side panel to take a look but they seemed to be just fine.

    Since stepping away from the machine last night, I’ve been Googling pretty frantically to figure out what the problem might be. I realize that as far as returning the machine, I’m probably out of luck because I’ve already used it for something it’s not meant for. I’m wondering if my rollers aren’t lined up straight, which could cause the clay to sort of squish out at the higher settings instead of rolling out smoothly.

    I realize that no one has all the answers, but when it comes to these sorts of things, you’re probably my best bet! Do you think it would be worth it to have it checked out by someone who maintains/fixes small appliances? I’m honestly so frustrated I could cry, I was so excited to receive my pasta machine so I could start making skinner blends and all sorts of things, and it’s leaving me with a textured, shredded mess LOL

    I appreciate any advice you can give me.

  12. Cindy Lietz, 30 June, 2016

    Hi Sarah, sorry to hear you are having such issues. I personally have not had any issues with this particular machine, but I am hearing more and more people are having problems. It is either that they are skimping on quality or that they are reselling broken machines without checking them, but it is an issue with the machine, not you.

    You need to contact the company and tell them exactly what you told us. If the machine is not working properly, they NEED to deal with it. These companies are making a ton of money from the polymer clay niche and they need to acknowledge that. If it is brand new, and it isn’t rolling properly, then they need to replace it.

    Don’t go to an appliance person. That will just cost you money and they may not be able to help.

    Let us know what they say.

  13. Sarah E, 05 July, 2016

    Hi Cindy,

    Thought I’d update you!

    I’ve mainly been using my machine on the thickest 2 or 3 settings, simply to produce sheets that have a uniform thickness, and that alone is hugely helpful after only using an acrylic roller for so long. I’ve also been using it to condition so of my more crumbly/stiff clays (including Super Sculpey firm) and my hands are practically singing with relief!

    One thing I noticed as I put the stiffer clays through the machine was that the rippling wasn’t half as bad as it was with the softer clays. After a bit of fiddling, I’ve found that my best results come from leaching softer clays quite a bit and making sure they don’t get too warm when I’m working with them. Even then it’s still sort of a gamble as to whether or not I’ll get ripples in my clay as I work my way up into the thinner settings, but right now I’m much less flustered than I was when I first got my machine. I’ve actually been able to do some pretty fun stuff without a ton of trouble – Claire Wallis’ water cane, in particular!

    Thanks for replying so quickly when I was so bummed out, and thanks for giving me the confidence to contact Atlas. Even though I’m feeling a little better about my machine, I do think I’ll send an email their way.

    Hope you’re well, keep up all your great work!

  14. Cindy Lietz, 07 July, 2016

    Good to hear the update Sarah! I am glad that you have figured out a way to make it work for you. Thanks for coming back and letting us know!

  15. Marilyn Loperfido, 17 May, 2016

    I am in a quandary re: both pasta machine and extruders. I have watched most of your videos re: this subject. I started out w my original Atlas “thrift store” purchase (new). I have been using it for a year but it does leave the black streaks. I switched to Makins machine with wider rollers and supposed patented to not leave streaks. However, after using it with very stiff clay it has become weakened.

    I then ordered the Atlas 150 that you got in gold, (I got the copper) and the motor. I have not used it yet as I noticed that the rollers were narrow v. the Makin rollers.

    What is your opinion as the Atlas was expensive but I will keep it if it is worth it. And the motor?
    Do you use it?

    Do you think the wider rollers ( Makin) are better for Skinner blends?

    Your help would be greatly appreciated
    Thank you, Marilyn

  16. Cindy Lietz, 17 May, 2016

    Hi Marilyn, I love my Atlas 150. It has been a great machine for me. I don’t have a motor for it. The anodized aluminum rollers have stayed streak free and the over all machine has remained sturdy and trouble free.

    As far as the rollers being wide enough… I have never had an issue with the size of this machine… but I have never worked with a wider one, so I wouldn’t know the difference. With the blending part of Skinner Blends, skinnier is easier any way, but if you wanted to make really wide sheets for decor pieces or something, wider may be better. Atlas does make a 180 which is wider, but I don’t know if they make them with the anodized aluminum rollers or not. But you could look into that.

    There is a new machine coming out by Lucy Clay Tools that may end up being the best machine for polymer clay on the market, but it is still in production and I haven’t had the opportunity to test it to know for sure… but the specs look very promising. It iwill be larger, have a better gear system, greater range in thicknesses, streak free rollers (I think) and can have a motor. I do believe it will probably end up being more expensive than the Atlas, so there’s that to consider as well.

    Any, until that new machine comes out, my Gold Atlas 150 is currently my favorite machine I have ever had. It is definitely worth the $100 I paid for it.

  17. Charmaine Taylor, 29 May, 2016

    Hi Cindy,I’m extremely new to this and super excited to get started. I just purchased the pasta this past Friday 6-27-16. Ready to jump in and give it a shot however do I slice 1/4 of the clay roll it in a ball and then insert it in the machine or do I adjust the dial to 4 and then insert the 1/4 block of clay and then crank for the smoothness. I’m so lost but eager

  18. Dixie Ann, 29 May, 2016

    Hi Charmaine, at the top of this page you will find a Basic Course tab that you can click on and it will allow you to purchase her inexpensive basic/beginning course that is highley recommended for anyone just starting in clay. It has everything you need to know and is well worth the cost. As far as using your pasta machine, that is also covered in detail. It is best to slice your blocks in sections, roll them out a little with your hand roller and then run them through the pasta machine on your thickest setting whichever your machine has. Most have a NO. 1 through 7-9. Good luck and welcome to Clay Heaven!

  19. Praneeta Poudel, 19 March, 2017

    Hi Cindy, I just started using polymer clay about two months ago and love your videos. Plus I love your sparkling personality! I hope you don’t mind if I ask you a question about the Atlas 150 Wellness pasta machine. My pasta machine makes deeper ridge lines the thinner I go! At the things near settings the clay actually gets bunched up and stuck even though the clay was thin when I put it through. I saw your video above, about ridge lines happening at the thick setting which is not a problem for me. I wonder what am I doing wrong. This is the second one I’ve purchased, due to this same issue, because I thought I got a lemon the first time. The second one is also doing it so I think it could be user error. Btw, I used premo translucent polymer clay to test it.

  20. Cindy Lietz, 21 March, 2017

    Hi Praneeta, is your clay super soft and sticky? Sometimes if it is too soft it grabs onto the rollers and scrapers and won’t come out smoothly. Try leaching some of the oils out of your clay first (use the search box at the top of the page to find some videos on that) and you may have less issues with the wrinkling. Try it and let me know if that works!

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