Got a Polymer Clay Pasta Rolling Machine – What Else Do I Need?

by Michele Counihan.
(New York Greater NYC area)

Got a Polymer Clay Pasta Rolling Machine - What Else Do I Need?  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

A friend donated a heavy metal pasta rolling machine to me to process polymer clay into jewelry.

I have never used clay but am excited to try it; also a little intimidated. How many colors do I need to start, and how many of those shape cutters should I invest in?

I don’t want to spend a fortune since I already have so many beads, wire and pliers in my stash. Thank you!

Michele Counihan

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  • Hi Michele, Why not start with the 2 or 3 colors that best go with your bead stash and then experiment. Once you gain a little experience you will know where you want to go from there. Have fun, and be sure to share your pieces when you’ve created some!

  • Katie Murphy says:

    Go to your local library and find books on the subject. You can find the most basic to the most spectacular works! On line is good but having a book in front of you is much better. There is one book from over 25 years ago I still remember with such envy, the artist made rolls that when cut were the characters from Alice in Wonderland! No, I never got that good!

  • Catelain says:

    Watch videos on you tube to decide what you want to do. That’s how I started and learned techniques. Jessema tutorials is one of the best!

  • Diana M Pucci says:

    There are tons of books as Katie mentioned. Start with one that gets you started on the basics. If the projects are too advanced you could get discouraged. As to tools, just about anything will work. You could hit the flea markets and garage sales for interesting cutting and shaping tools. If you have cookie cutters with hearts, stars and the like they are good for large pendant bases. Art supply stores have multi-molds, usually themed, pattern impression sheets and so on. You can also use patterned glass ware, “silver” ware, and anything else that has a deep enough pattern to it, like rubber stamps, and other assorted item you might find at a flea market or garage sale. You can also see if your dentist has any tools that are old and they are thinking of tossing. I found a huge treasure trove of dental tools at a flea market, once where the wife was selling her late husbands tools, including dental tools. Other useful tools are Needles, fondue forks, knitting needles, razor blades with one edge, replacement knife blades for the various types of utility knives you may have laying around. I have made specialty shaped tools from coat hanger wire, where I shaped one end of a 3 – 6″ piece with a hammer then fine tuned with a Dremel. With this method I have made tiny scoops, various cutters, pointed 3 to 4 sided tools for drilling and scribing. At the other end of the shaped point on a 3″ piece flatten it at two points then shape scrap clay around it to form a handle. On a 6″ piece of coat hanger wire make two tool ends and flatten two or three spots and wrap you scrap clay around those flattened spots for a dual purpose tool. Experiment, experiment experiment! Have fun! Like Rena said start with colors that match or complement your bead stash. Also… to add a bit of fun, some poly clays are flexible! Some brands are harder end products than others. Sculpy is usually a little softer than premo and others, easier to work with, BUT the others polish up better. After a half bake you can hand carve into all of them, you can do this with a full bake, but it is easier with a half bake. You can use dental tools, those coat-hanger tools, and a rotary tool to carve sharper detail and not leave finger prints. You can use Original sculpy or flexible sculpy to flatten with your pasta maker and scribe patterns into it and half bake it, then fine tune your carving/scribed pattern and use it as your own unique texture plate. Oh…if you have a big Shot or some other scrapbooking texture plates or cutters those can be used with poly clay too. You might not be able to use them for scrapbooking again though. If there is foam in the cutter that has to be removed to use with polyclay thinly rolled out.

    PS: I like my coat-hanger tools the best for fine detail, even better than dental tools. Oh I forgot, you will need baby powder for a texture or mold release agent and Mineral Oil or one of the polyclay solvents to soften hardened clay or attach new clay to an already fired but not finished piece.

    Fire Mountain Gems has a great resource in their free, how to sections, including videos by their featured artisans. (No I do not work for them, but I am a customer for many years and did win a Polyclay award in one of their contests.)

    Good luck and have fun.

    Diana Pucci

  • Marilyn Buehler says:

    A great website for ideas and community is Ginger Allman’s The Blue Bottle Tree. Christi Friesen is another good place to go for help.

  • DEFINITELY read through the Blue Bottle Tree Website! It has the best and most up-to-date information about all thing related to polymer clay. There is a wonderful”basics” guide for new clayers. Pay particular attention to the info about baking – proper curing is essential to producing strong products! NEVER “half bake” or underbake in any way! The most accessible clay is Sculpey Premo – nice to handle, comes in many colors and sells at many craft stores. Do NOT use Sculpey 3 for anything important – it is the weakest and most brittle of clays. Also, do not go for “cheap” clay, store brands or Chinese brands. Best brands are Premo, Fimo, Cernit, Pardo and, my favorite for strength, Kato Polyclay. All are available online. Invest in a good basic book, like The Art of Polymer Clay by Donna Kato or Making Polymer Clay Beads by Carol Blackburn. Get yourself a set of good cutters – long blades for cutting the clay. Get a firm blade and a flexible blade. Get an acrylic roller, some brass hatpins for putting holes in beads, a GOOD glass work surface or a large ceramic tile, and always bake on paper (parchment paper or even copier paper works fine) You can bake on the tile or on a cookie sheet. ALWAYS check your oven temperature before you start baking. Most ovens do NOT hole a proper temperature – some may be 10 or 20 degrees off! Clay will burn approaching 350. If your temp is good, you can bake for an hour or two with no harm. Good luck, it’s addicting!

  • carole says:

    I have never worked with clay but heard about air-dry clay. Might that be something to start with?? Does it even work?? Any comments on that??

  • Stephania says:

    Basic materials and tools:
    work surface – plastic place mat
    clay blade – purchase where you buy your clay
    needle tool – purchase or use an ice pick or needle
    toaster oven – check garage sales; you don’t need a fancy one
    polymer clay – 1 color to start
    NOTE: your tools should be dedicated to clay.

    Check to see if there’s a local polymer clay group in your area. They always welcome newcomers. Also, the internet/YouTube have many resources to get you started.

    Decide how you plan to use your clay (sculpture, beads, pendants, etc.) This will determine the types of extra tools and the type of clay you need. Have fun!

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