Michigan’s Georgeann Galantehelped launch polymer lessons at the Ohio Reformatory for Women with her donation of 14 Atlas pasta machines several years ago. Those machines did not fare well when they were screwed down tightly to the tables. They eventually worked themselves apart.
We added a Lucy machine when we won the bid on it at the IPCA Synergy 4 auction. That machine is designed to be bolted down and continues to work well.
But one lone machine shared among the whole group slows production. So we’re raising money to buy another prison-approved roller to be used by the students in the Kindway polymer program.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Worldwide Pasta Machine Survey. Now we can recommend labeling pasta machines with a thickness guide that will help set a shared standard.
After analyzing the survey results we have four key findings:
As we suspected there are huge differences not just from one model to the next but also from machines of the same model.
The Imperia has the smallest range (in one case just 1 mm – 2.1 mm!) and the Dream Machine has the largest range (.5 mm – 3.4 mm)
The common range is between 1 mm and 2.5 mm.
Absolute precision is not possible due to differences in the way each artist measured their clay and machine, the types and age of clay, the variations in thickness of playing cards and the shifting of the rollers over time.
Pasta Machine Thickness Guide
The survey results were used to create this simple chart that can be used as a more consistent way to talk about thickness regardless of the brand of the pasta machine or the number of settings.
Note that the actual thickness of playing cards does not necessarily equal the millimeter equivalent. The stacked cards will commonly be a bit thinner than the clay that comes out of the machine at the equivalent setting but should be within .25mm. This is due to the cards not filling the space precisely as well as expansion of the clay as it rests after being rolled through.
Not every project needs precision in measuring thickness, and not every artist wants to work with this degree of accuracy. But for those who do, establishing a standard will provide a guideline for teachers and writers to use when preparing instructions for students who would like to duplicate steps as closely as possible.
How to label your pasta machine
The instructions include a chart you can fill in and then cut out to tape to your pasta machine. It only takes about 15 minutes to measure and label your pasta machine. The more machines that are labeled, the more we can shift to sharing a common language about thickness.
We believe it’s important to include the worldwide polymer community in the process of developing this kind of standard. Please let us know your thoughts by continuing to comment here on PCD.
Next Guest Article: Some Recommendations for Teachers and Writers
You can help create a Standard Thickness Guide for the polymer community by reading the measuring instructions and filling out an easy survey form by March 31, 2012. All participants will be entered in a drawing for two prizes.
Let’s do it
Don’t you think it’s time we establish a standard way to refer to the thickness of sheets of clay? A few months ago Sage published an article in The Polymer Arts magazine that suggested a playing card method. Then independently on her blog Maggie proposed a metric stacking method that makes it easier to get metric measurements by stacking sheets to be measured by a ruler. Both methods generated many comments. The common theme was “let’s do it!”
Developing a standard is not an easy task. We aren’t working with precision tools or a precision material. Thicknesses produced on pasta machines aren’t consistent even between the same models. Polymer itself can increase in thickness after being rolled, bouncing back a small percentage when left to rest.
However, we’ve found in the variety of machines we tested that they can all produce sheet thicknesses that measure between 1 mm to 2.5 mm. We’d like to recommend that teachers and writers keep references to sheet thickness in this common range. That way students and readers will be able to duplicate their instructions on whatever pasta machine they own.
Measuring sheet thickness in mm is fairly precise, but requires access to calipers or time to go through Maggie’s stacking method. Knowing there isn’t usually time and rarely a caliper in a classroom, we tested the fast and easy playing card system and found the common range to be 3-8 cards.
To confirm our findings, we would love to get results from polymer artists from all over the world. You can help us finalize a Standard Thickness Guide by taking a few minutes to measure your machine and fill out an online poll.
As a thank you to those who pitch in, we will put you in a drawing for one of two items–A $20 gift certificate towards copies or a subscription to The Polymer Arts magazine or a copy of Maggie and Lindly Haunani’s book Color Inspirations.
PCDaily will publish the results of the poll and share the final version of our Pasta Machine Thickness Guide in an upcoming guest post. Thank you for helping.