What is a Polymer Clay Conditioning Machine?

If you look on Amazon or other marketplaces, you’ll see dozens of different brands of clay machines. What’s the difference?

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. They’re not really clay conditioning machines. They’re pasta machines, and there’s very little difference between them (if any). They’re not originally designed to be polymer clay rollers.

Types of Clay Machines

Okay, okay, let’s roll this back a bit. There are three main categories of machines that you can use with your clay.

  1. Lucy Clay Machine – the only one INTENDED for polymer clay use. Very pricey. Beyond the scope of this post, but you can read my review of an early version of these machines here.
  2. Italian Pasta Machines – Usually made by either Marcato (the Atlas) or Imperia, these are heavy-duty pasta machines that work well with polymer clay (within reason).
  3. Imitations – China does what China will do. And factories there have copied the basic design of the Atlas and produced them with sloppy tolerances, cheap metal, and sharp corners. Years ago when pasta-making was big, you could find the same machines flooding cheap markets, definitely labeled as “pasta machines”. Now that polymer clay is big, you guessed it, they’re selling the same thing as “clay conditioning machines”. They’re not. They’re knock-off pasta machines.

Knock-Off Brand Names for Clay Machines

What about brand names? Well, each little seller can order their own stamping on the front fender. So then they sell them to you as a whole new brand name. This is just the same with many cheap things. There are dozens of identical widgets with different “brands” all over Amazon. None of them are better than (or even remotely as good as) the well-made Italian brands.

One exception is the Makin’s brand. It’s a cheap pasta machine by design, but it has coated, non-stick rollers and appears to be made a wee bit better than the cheapies. They’ve put some thought into it. But it’s not as solid as the Atlas.

Choosing a Clay Conditioning Machine

Which type of pasta machine (aka clay conditioning machine) should you buy? Well, if you’re just goofing around and don’t know if you’ll do this for long, get a cheapie. The cheaper the better. Some individual machines last a while, others crap out in weeks. Its roulette. But you’re not out much cash.

If you’re kinda hardcore, get an Atlas or Imperia. And if you’re SUPER hardcore, go for the big deal and get a Lucy Clay Machine.

But before you buy an Atlas, be aware that there are modified Atlas pasta machines that have been customized to make them easier to use as a clay conditioning machine.

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