Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Why I Use Kato Clay?


I wasn't always a Kato fan.  I started out using Fimo and then switched to Premo when I fell in love with the rich colors.  When the phthalates had to be removed from all plastics, the consistency of the polymer clay changed making the Premo clay much softer and mushy.  I found it just didn't work as well for me when I wanted more detail especially when making canes.

I decided to give Kato clay a try.  I found it extremely frustrating and difficult to work with at first and almost wanted to curse every time it would crumble when slicing or conditioning it.  I found a way to relieve my frustration thanks to Jana Roberts Benzon and her "Jana Whack" method by pounding the ----  out of it with a rubber mallet first!  At least it made it more bearable to work with.

Fortunately Donna Kato announced they were changing their formula again to make it a little softer and easier to condition.  It was a year later when I finally got my hands on some and I was finally satisfied that it was a more superior product than the other clay brands I've tried.  Below is an example of two leaf canes I had made.  The one on the left made with Kato clay which shows more detail and clarity than the one on the right made from Premo.


But what about the colors?  Premo has some beautiful ones but other than a few like black or gold, I'm not one to use any of the clay colors straight from the package.  And now that Polyform has revamped their colors many recipes that we have created will have to be reformulated all over again.  Many artists were up in arms when they tried to discontinue several of their primary colors like cobalt blue and zinc yellow.  Polyform compromised by making them still available but only from a few sources that sell online.  It is apparent that they still don't consider the artist community who buy tons of clay from them each year that important.

So what about Kato clay?  Well Kato clay was formulated by Donna Kato, an artist, for other artists.  She understands the artists needs and demands for a top quality product.  I discovered I could create gorgeous rich colors and finer detail with Kato clay like in these bracelets.


Shades of Clay is a Canadian supplier that I buy my clay from and they have some great color recipes  for Kato clay.  These recipes are great as they are similar to some of the most popular colors from other clay brands.  You will find the color recipes on the link here.

I have many more rich color recipes that I have formulated, all from Kato clay which I decided to share in my new tutorial that will be available soon.  I will share my own method of mixing, blending and combining colors as well as a simple and unique way of organizing your clay and recipes.  This is a fun way to discover new colors and exciting color combinations.

I will share more about this with you next time.

Update:
My tutorial is now available and you can read about it here.

19 comments:

coltpixy said...

I first tried kato last Summer after using premo for years. I like that it is not mushy like premo is now but I love it because the color difference between before and after curing is almost nonexistent.

2 Good Claymates said...

That is an excellent point Star! I almost forgot about that one.

Victoria's Polymer Art said...

I too have made the switch from Premo to Kato. I still use Premo for somethings, but I'm slowly replacing it with Kato. Kato is more dear to buy, but I love the results. Kato translucent is the best!!!

Victoria

Desert Wind Designs said...

I still have some old formula Kato and it is a struggle to condition! New formula is much easier.

And I hate how some Premo colors darken after curing!

Cynthia Blanton said...

Terrific post, Carolyn. Is it OK if I post a link to it on Polymer Clay Central and Clay-Polymer?

Kate said...

Loved this post! I am a die hard Kato fan. When I first started with polymer all my books were by Kato but I tried to make canes with Sculpy III (you can stop laughing now). I experimented a little with Premo and Fimo but when I finally got my hands on Kato Polyclay I felt like my craftsmanship improved exponentially. I can't even get started on the color shifting and/or translucent thing or my kids won't get lunch :)

Have a fantastic day!

2 Good Claymates said...

I'm finding more and more people who are switching to Kato for various reasons. Nice to see the added comments!

2 Good Claymates said...

Thanks Cynthia, I don't mind at all...

Cynthia Blanton said...

One reason I like Kato is that there is a wider range of temperatures at which it is safe to bake it. You can go up to 350. With my oven fluctuating a good 25 degrees as it cycles on and off, this prevents a lot of burning. Premo needs to bake at 275 but it burns at 300.

Another reason I like Kato is because of the translucent liquid. After baking my crackle earrings, for example, I put on a coat of liquid Kato and bake again at 300 to 325 degrees. As soon as the things come out of the oven, I hit the liquid clay with a heat gun and it becomes completely clear and very shiny. I like it much better than varathane or Future.

bluedamselflyjewelry said...

I just made the switch as well. I love Kato for the sexy canes I can not do that with any other clay.

Jenny Patterson said...

I have been using Fimo Classic for almost 18years now. I never did like Premo. I have tried Kato, and I do like it, but I have so much FC on hand that I keep buying colors to fill in, and thus am STILL using FC!
Jenny P

JoJo said...

Hi, I absolutely love Kato Polyclay. I had an unfortunate experience the first time I tried it- it had been sitting in a window in the direct sunlight of a florida sun for a year before I saved it - but lucky for me- one of the bars at the bottom of the basket(protected from direct light) was perfect , so I took the rest back, got a refund, and went online and ordered a 12.5 oz pack in 8 colors- all for less than 70 dollars(including shipping!)- and it would have cost me 132 dollars at my local craft stores!(prices have gone up to 2.79 on premo and fimo classic)- and even with their occasional sales(4 for 5 bucks) it still comes out to less! I won't mention where I bought it, unless I am allowed to and someone wants to know.I love the rich color, the feel of the clay straight from the oven, the high temp making it faster to bake. I am wondering about a comment above mentioning the excellent translucency of that color. I found it less translucent than Premo translucent(both frost and regular). Could I have gotten an off batch? I only bought one pack and haven't bought anymore since I wasn't impressed. I have read different opinions on it, too. I remember someone doing a test and saying it was not as good as premo, or sculpey and was only better than fimo translucent. But then I have read glowing reviews of it elsewhere. Any ideas on why this could be? I wish I could blame it on a difference of opinion, but that would be kind of hard, I thinly sliced, used a pasta machine between wax paper on the thinnest setting, and dunked finished pieces in ice water... curious for responses! Thanks! Oh, and my very fav. thing about Kato is the fact that impatient souls, like myself, don't have to wait to slice a finished cane because it stays firm! Yeah!

2 Good Claymates said...

Thanks JoJo for your interesting comments and great story!

I have found Kato transluscent to be very clear but I haven't tried the frost or other brands people have been raving about so can't compare totally. One thing about Kato transluscent is because you can bake it at a higher temp, it has a tendency to discolor if it isn't "tented" in the oven. Donna Kato shows how she bakes clay with transluscent embedded in a pan of baking soda. I use this method myself now and have found you do not even need the ice water afterwards as they come out very transluscent when baked this way.

You are right about slicing canes as well. I love how they do not "melt" in your hands when slicing.

Massimo Agostinelli said...

I had changed over completely to Kato Clay once I discovered it over 1 year ago, bought lots of it. Loved it! It WAS excellent firm professional polymer clay but unfortunately now that the formula has changed it's the worst and mushiest stuff around! I won't spend another penny on Kato clay now!

Hey folks....someone needs to develop a professional clay and stick to it! There is a market for it!

2 Good Claymates said...

Thanks for commenting. It is too bad you feel that way as I know I plus many others find the new improved soft formula much easier to work with. If you like to sculpt, however, I totally understand.

I know some have "leached" the softeners out of their clay first which makes it much better.

2 Good Claymates said...

I should add here that even though Kato is much softer now -- it is no way near as soft and mushy as the new Premo and after baking is much stronger and isn't "elastically" like Premo either.

Créatitia said...

Thanks for your post. i'm French, my english is limited so i take some help on Google. i hope it will understandable ;) I'm happy to find your post. Actually, i work with kato clay, and i'm totaly satisfied. i was making research on Prémo, to find information about the "ultra-light" clay, and know if prémo working as well as Kato. With your message now, i know it's not :)

sherib said...

I used to work with Sculpey in the 90's. Just bought a pack the other day and tried working with it to repair some broken ceramic figurines and WOW what a difference! I thought I was going nuts and I knew they changed the ingredients! Now, I read they had to remove phthalates which makes perfect sense. Glad to know there are alternatives out there. I will follow your advice as I want to start sculpting miniatures again. Thanks!

2 Good Claymates said...

Yes Kato clay is completely different now and when they had to remove the phthalates is made the other brands of clay almost too soft and mushy to deal with but made Kato clay at least more manageable.