EXCERPT FROM the Winter 2011 issue's article:
Measuring Thickness with Playing Cards

In The Polymer Arts magazine, we use card measurements as the standard for measuring sheet and rope thick­nesses. To find the settings on your machine that match up to our simple 1-8 cards reference,s all you need is a deck of playing cards.

You can get a standard deck of cards used for games like Poker or Bridge at a drug, grocery, toy, or department store in most countries. Standard decks are made from card stock (now you know where that term came from!) with a thin plastic lami­nate. Cards from boxed games, flash cards, or kid’s playing cards may be too thin. 10 cards should equal approximately 1/8” or 3mm (stack 10 cards and hold the edge of the stack up to a ruler to measure).

To measure a machine’s sheet thickness, you just need to see how many cards will slip between the rollers on each setting without forcing it. If you write out a little chart (i.e. Setting #1=8 cards, etc.) and keep it near your machine, you will only need to do this once ever.

For those of you without a deck of cards at the mo­ment, this chart can be your general guide:
1-2 cards: thinnest
2 cards: thin
3 cards: medium thin
4 cards medium
5 cards: medium thick
6 cards: thick
7-8 cards: thickest

This particular subject started a very lengthy conversation on our Facebook page. If you want to let us know what you think about this, drop a note on Facebook at ‘The Polymer Arts’ page. Or you can write us here at connect@thepoly­merarts.com with your thoughts!
Copyright © 2011 by Tenth Muse LLC  •   All Rights reserved  
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Notes and Extra Material from Sage's Seminars

Pasta Machine Standardization Guide
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Finding Your Artistic Voice

Pasta Machine Standardization Guide

Maggie Maggio and Sage Bray devised this artist's Pasta Machine Thickness Guide based on an international survey. We hope this standardization will become widely used so as to avoid confusion for students and readers when taking classes or following instructional material. Here is the PDF you can print out with instructions and a chart you can fill out and tape to your pasta machine or table:

Pasta Machine Guide and Instructions

*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.
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