Ok, this Sculpey Clay Conditioning Machine review has a really bad headline. Don't let the pun keep you from discovering if this budget polymer clay extruder will work for you. I've tried to make some some really useful comparisons to the Atlas 150 and other alternatives. Plus you'll discover how to fix the most commonly reported problems with this inexpensive model.
Update! On Nov 26, 2014 Polyform announced a new, redesigned model. The new box has a bright yellow starburst containing the words, "Now With Stainless Steel Rollers". Polyform says that it has more rugged gears to handle the demands of cranking clay. They aren't in stores yet. As soon as I can get one, I'm going to review it here and compare the old to the new.
Older Model Rated: 4.0 out of 5 by 50+ users on Amazon
Price: Budget priced, usually between $15 and $30 USD
Maximum sheet width: 5.5 inches
Has a Motor? No
RECOMMENDATION: Best for low to medium usage. A good machine for beginners.
Check the Sculpey Clay Conditioning Machine on Amazon for today's sale prices.
Comparing to Other Polymer Clay Pasta Machines:
The consensus among people who've purchased it is that the Sculpey polymer clay pasta machine is a good value for the money. It breaks down far less than the Amaco or Makins models. The turning action of the handle is smooth. And I do like that it has 9 thickness settings which are very similar to the Atlas ones.
The downside is that it just isn't as sturdy as the Mercato Atlas 150. It's lighter weight, and may be constructed of just slightly thinner metal. It also has several other quirks, most of which can be worked around, which I'll discuss below. But hey, it costs half of what the Atlas does and a tenth of the Dream Machine. So if I was just starting out and didn’t have a big budget I’d choose this one.
Fixes for the 3 most common complaints about the Sculpey:
The clamp is not strong. And its plastic tightening knob breaks easily. Don't use it. Get a sturdy deep throat U clamp like this one I drew. It will easily hold the pasta machine securely on most tables. You'll want one with at least a 3 inch opening and at 4 inches of reach to fit over the thickness of your table and the Sculpey machine base. If you're worried about damaging the table, just use the plastic caps from milk jugs on the clamp heads like this. Either raid the garage workbench or find a C-clamp on Amazon.
The handle falls out a lot. Cut the tip off the finger of a rubber glove and put it on the end that gets inserted into the pasta machine. It'll grip like Godzilla.
There’s a dark residue on the rollers that leaves dark stripes on light colored clays. It’s probably a bit of grease that’s leaked out from the rollers. Thoroughly clean the rollers on top and underneath with baby wipes. If the problem persists you may have a damaged or defective unit.
My Recommendation: If you’re a beginner or don’t often work with polymer clay this is the machine that I’d recommend. It’s priced low enough that there’s no excuse for not getting started. Buy a Sculpey Clay Conditioning Machine, throw in the C clamp and a good book from Amazon and get it delivered free!