More specifically, a manual pasta machine with different thickness settings and a clamp. The one shown above is one I bought for $25 USD, it was on sale at a craft store. You can also find cheap buys online. :)
Why Use A Pasta Machine?
A pasta machine is one of the more important buys you can make when it comes to polymer clay. It saves a lot of time, and the project ideas are only limited by ones imagination. Pasta machines also make inclusions, patterns, and blending easier.
How Can I Use A Pasta Machine?
1) Whew, this question is like opening up a can of worms. Before one should use your pasta machine you may need to get to know it a little better.
a) First thing to do is clean it, you can do this by running alcohol wipes through the machine several times. This gets rid of any residue that you do not want on your clay.
b) Finding a sturdy table or ledge to clamp it down is key. Many craft store pasta machines come with a clamp, as the picture shows below.
c) Having lots of space, and a non clay sticky surface to work on is also important. You will need plenty of space for those long pieces of clay, I use a folding table covered in wax paper. The wax paper ensures that the clay will not stick.
d) The only accessory I have for my pasta machine is the feeder tray. This feeds the clay directly to the rollers, good for a large amount of clay being put into the pasta machine.
2) Now that you have gotten to know your pasta machine a little better it is time to actually work with it. ;)
Pasta machines come in different settings, mine starts at 9 (thickest) and goes back to 1 (thinnest). The picture below shows pieces of clay that I put through the pasta machine, after it was conditioned, on each of the different settings. From left to right is the thickest setting to the thinnest, your machine may vary.
3) The thicker setting can be used in a variety of projects that need a thick background, or stand. For example, I used the thickest setting on my Haunted Pumpkin Patch as shown below for the grass.
4) The thinnest setting is used a lot with transparent clay, and faux materials. When using the thinnest setting you may need to sandwich the clay between two sheets of wax paper, so the clay does not tear.
In my Hungry Coco above I used transparent clay on the thinnest setting so one can see the blue water and to get an "ice" look.
5) One can also use the pasta machine to blend colors. I used red, and black clay on one of the middle settings. The red piece of clay was smaller then the black piece and thus when stacked and rolled through the pasta machine I got a blended look.
6)Inclusions become pressed into the clay with a pasta machine as well, one could use very fine glitter and brush it onto flat piece of clay then roll it through the machine. The glitter will be firmly pressed into the clay, and will have a larger chance of staying. Don't forget to glaze each piece that has inclusions to seal it in after baking. ;)
7) Patterns from cane work can be easily enlarged simply by putting them through a thinner setting on the pasta machine. This will also distort the pattern a little. This pendant's original cane was actually no bigger then a dime while on the pendant it's about an 1 inch long!
My Final Words:
Pasta machines are a definite must for those who wish to work with polymer clay. I really only gave just a handful of uses for it, as it would take years to explain them all. :P
One thing to note though is you will need to clean your pasta machine often if you do not want residue from old clay sticking onto your new project. Again, just roll some alcohol wipes through the rollers a few times and you are good to go. :)