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Tips & Tidbits!

Pasta Machine Technique:
by Judi Maddigan

Last year, I posted one of my favorite pasta machine techniques on the AOL boards. The tip is for rolling clay sheets without introducing air pockets or bubbles. It works especially well on thinner settings when sheets get larger and harder to handle. Since you do not fold the clay, there's no chance of trapping air between the layers.

  1. Condition your clay as usual and make a few preliminary passes through the pasta machine.
  2. Place the single sheet of clay over the machine so that half of it drapes over the front roller and the other half drapes over the back roller.
  3. Start cranking the machine slowly with your right hand while you use the four fingertips of your left hand to nudge the center of the clay into the rollers.
  4. Once the clay starts to feed, put your left hand under the machine, continue cranking, and catch the clay as it emerges. Because the rollers are both pulling the draped clay into the machine evenly, there is no need to guide the feeding on top.
  5. Lift the clay with only your left hand and drape it over the machine for the next pass. By keeping your right hand on the crank, you can develop a natural rhythm for smoothly feeding the clay on repeated passes.
  6. Five or six passes on a thin setting (#5 on my Atlas) is often enough to remove any air that might have been introduced during the conditioning process. Eliminating all air bubbles in the raw clay will help prevent surface imperfections in the baked clay. Once the air is removed, you can gradually work your way back up through the settings for a thicker sheet of clay.
One last thing... When you are using a pasta machine without a motor, for this or other techniques, you can help prevent repetitive stress by occasionally mounting the machine on your other side and changing hands. It may seem awkward at first, but it is surprisingly easy to get used to switching sides.

Judi

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