In order to make the many items needed for my space in Showplace Market, I have to be efficient with my time – so I made an investment in upgraded equipment.
A pasta machine is very useful to roll out sheets of clay and condition it so it’s more pliable. I had one, but the stiff clay caused all the nuts on the inside to fall off with the movement of the machine. I had to completely disassemble it to put it back together. It was difficult to clean, too – bits of clay stuck to the scraper blades and made streaks in light-colored clay when it was put through the machine after darker colors. There went another half-hour to poke a toothpick up underneath the rollers to scrape the unwanted bits of clay away!
I did some research online and found a place that sold a more substantial pasta machine that had been modified especially for use with clay. It seems that the manufacturer had recently changed the metal scraper blades to plastic ones, which makes it difficult to use with clay because the clay sticks to the plastic.
So these people fabricated their own metal scraper blades and also modified how they were attached to the machine. Now it takes me about one minute to take off the thumbscrews on the scraper blades, wipe them clean, and replace them so I can get back to work creating things for my store.
I also bought a motor drive for this wonderful new machine, which will speed things up tremendously, too. Where it might take me at least 15 minutes to condition a single two-ounce block of clay with my old machine, last night I conditioned a whole pound of clay, plus two other small blocks in an hour. And since that’s the least fun part of this process, the quicker I can get done with it, the better!