..........continuing our countdown of "My 25 Favorite Polymer Clay Studio Tools, Gadgets and Glues Pt.1 from the previous post. If you missed PART ONE please click on the link directly above...............
|Genesis Heat Set Oil Paints mixed with TLS|
|Soft Plastic lid tops are safe for use with Polymer clay|
|D.R.E.A.M. Machine (pasta-like machine) from Polymer Clay Express|
I did eventually get the matching motor for it from Polymer Clay Express and love it, too. It's such a heavy workhorse that I expect it to have a long life.
For simple "in between" scraper cleaning I use a dry paper towel folded over a number of times so it's just a bit thicker than the width between the rollers when set on #1. I do this whenever I change colors, as recommended by Wilma at Polymer Clay Express. I only actually take it apart to clean the scrapers every few weeks, or when I want to work with very light colors. Compared to my "OH SO EASY to clean" Monafied (modified) Atlas pasta machines (that I still use from time to time and HIGHLY recommend as a mid-price pasta machine), I found that removing the scraper blades from the D.R.E.A.M. machine to clean them was not particularly easy, especially if one follows the written directions that come with the machine, however.........
EDITED: Sue C. shared a MUCH simpler way of cleaning the scrapers than what is described in PCE's directions. First do the complete operation on the front side and then do it on the back side. Simply remove the 3 hex nuts (PCE may call these "screw heads"?) that hold the long black scraper blade in place, clean the scraper blade with a paper towel and replace it. I find that for ease in applying the hex nuts it's helpful to follow this specific order: Insert the center screw through the hole, add the screw head and barely tighten just enough so that it grabs, then do the same for the other two. Once all three are gently tightened then FIRMLY tighten all three (but not tight enough to risk stripping the threads). Repeat on the back side. It's a bit tricky, but once you've done it a few times you can even accomplish this without even having to un-clamp the machine. I still find that maneuvering the scraper blades back into place and manipulating the screw heads takes finger dexterity, good vision and is not really easy, but this method is SO much quicker than following the directions that come with the machine. Thanks Sue C!
To remove the scraper hex nuts that hold the scrapers in (i.e. scraper retainer nuts) I used to use a 2 1/4 inch (6cm) long mini flat wrench the size of the hex nuts. Clearance was a problem if trying to use a wrench with a handle any longer than that. Then I discovered a 5/16 inch "deep socket wrench"with a 3 1/2"(9cm) short handle that fits the hex nuts and it works well.
The more firmly you tighten the screw heads, the less clay gets stuck underneath the scrapers and the less often you need to clean it with anything other than a dry folded paper towel. However, don't tighten so firmly that you risk stripping the screws. I believe Wilma recommends one turn past where it it grabs when tightening by hand.
That said, I really LOVE my D.R.E.A.M. machine and compared to IT, all the other pasta machines I've had in my studio seem like children's toys!
|"Magic" Tissue Blades from CarolynsClayCreations|
I protect the sharp edge of the tissue blade when it's not being used by sliding it (via an open end) inside the colorful triangular shaped plastic edge of a "slide bar report cover" from Office Max, the kind you use in conjunction with a clear plastic folded-over page to protect and hold thin document pages together. I cut it to a bit longer than the length of the tissue blade using a sharp kitchen shears or a jigsaw. I suggest making it a bit longer than you need it to be to begin with, because the cut end often needs a bit of extra trimming to make it smooth. Make sure when you slide the blade in that there is plenty of clearance between the "business" edge of the blade and the plastic, so as not to dull the blade.
|Kemper and Wilton cutters|
In order to get a nice tapered edge to the cutout piece of clay when you use a Kemper or other type of cutter, you can place a layer of Saran Wrap (plastic food wrap, but I prefer the Saran Wrap brand) between the top of the clay sheet and your cutter before you cut. Press the cutter FIRMLY into the Saran Wrap and move it slightly back and forth, up and down a few times. It gives a nicer edge to the cutout. The cutter releases easily from the wrap and it's usually easy to peel the PC cut shape off the Saran Wrap. I especially like the nice plump and rounded hearts that this cutting method produces.
Some of the cutters are quite small and I have them in many sizes. It's not always easy to tell the sizes apart, so I wrote the size on the cutter with a Sharpie Fine Point. Once the ink was dry I put a piece of clear tape over it to make it more permanent.
I have found that the larger Kemper cutter sets, like the Kemper Rose Cutter Set or Leaf Cutter Set, have edges that are too dull to work well on polymer clay, though sharpening the cutting edges with a file does help a little. I like the nesting round set of cutters I have from Ateco.
|Wilton Cutter with "empty" Rubber Stamp mount to use for pressing on cutter.|
|Pen Tips to apply colored TLS|
|Crafter's Heat Gun|
|Bead Piercing Pins|
Once the bead is cured, the holes are hand drilled to make them wider. I use drill bits embedded into ergonomically designed poly clay handles, cured, and then permanently glued into the handles using two part epoxy. I use bits ranging from a tiny #78 wire gauge all the way up to a jumbo 9/64ths. I prefer the control of hand drilling over power drilling, especially for smaller beads. I generally start the drilling process with #54 drill bit (a bit smaller diameter than 1/16”) and progressively work my way up through increasingly larger diameters.
In order to make LARGE diameter holes that are tidy, strong, and resist tearing when ultimately drilled to 1/8” diameter I add an extra step to the initial bead channel process in the raw clay by using the tip of a wooden skewer in a screwing motion to enlarge both the edges for about 1/16”.
|X-Acto Knife Handle and #11 blade|
|Large Vintage Farberware Convection Oven|
My favorite model of Farberware is a T 4850 and the remainder are the woodgrained 450's and 460's. If one is purchasing a Farberware that will be shipped I recommend making sure that it is insured. Unless they are packed VERY well with a lot of cushioning between the oven and the carton, the glass can break in transit. I've had two experiences with a lot of glass to sweep up after I unpacked the shipping carton!
An important hint about using the Farberwares that was shared with me by Laurie Prophater, “If you do find one...Be sure to use a power strip to turn it on and off! I cannot emphasize this enough. The on/off knob will be the first thing to go. There is a “stays on” setting...so set that and forget it.”
Ta-da........................and NUMBER ONE on the list:
|1/4" x 6 "Magic Wand" acrylic smoothing rod roller|
You also might enjoy reading my tute:Varnishing Polymer Clay with Rustoleum Varathane ©
If you'd like to see the finished pieces that were made using the tools listed above, I invite you to visit my shop MelodyODesigns at Etsy