Kato Polyclay Color Recipes | Pansy Flower Spring Color Palette

Pansy Flower Kato Polyclay Color Recipes1B: Pansy
2B: Viola
3B: Lemon Zest
4B: Midnight

I’ve got some great news (as well as some color recipes) to share today, that will be especially exciting for everyone who uses Kato Polyclay.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Premo Sculpey Clay, and use it almost exclusively. It is an excellent artist quality clay, that is widely available in retail outlets at a good price.

This means that my monthly color palettes (at least the most recent ones), are all based on Premo Clay. But there are many members and visitors here, who also use Kato Polyclay. And I can’t tell you how often the following question has come up…

At some point, Cindy, will you start adding the color mixing recipes for KatoClay as well? ~Jocelyn-C

My response has always been some version of, “…if only there were more hours in the day.”

But to my delight, I received an email from Sue Fisher just the other day. And all of you Kato’ers are going to absolutely love how this conversation turns out…

Hi Cindy, I noticed you’re including B-series recipes from Volume-009 in your weekly newsletter for February. I really like the 009-B Pansy Flower Palette and replicated it in Kato Polyclay a little while ago, so I thought you (and your readers/newsletter subscribers might be interested in the equivalent Kato recipes.

The following recipes are set up so that the cured Kato matches the cured Premo. They’re identical under the halogen lighting in my house. Recipes 2, 3 and 4 are also identical under the warm fluorescents in my garage although recipe 1 in Kato is less saturated than the Premo version under that lighting (I could probably fix that by reformulating it… some time! :D). I have to admit that I haven’t compared them specifically in daylight! And they are close but not identical in the unbaked state.


MY RESPONSE: That’s Awesome Sue! I will definitely pass your Kato Polyclay recipes along to the group with your compliments. In fact, anytime you want to share your Kato conversions of my Premo recipe palettes (for either the A series or the B series), I’d be happy to give you the spotlight. I know you are very meticulous with your methods and would provide accurate information. I also know that you would end up gaining a LOT of fans if you wanted to turn this into a habit and have your own guest series of Kato recipe posts at the blog. I’m constantly getting emails asking if I’ll ever get around to doing this myself… and I always have to reply with my… “if-only-there-were-more-hours-in-the-day” response. Let me know if this is of interest to you. It would be fun for you to get some recognition like this. ~Cindy

Hi Cindy, I’d be happy to share my Kato conversions of your Premo colour palettes as I do them. I only recently decided to make all yours up — I’m just over half way through making the Premo versions of the recipes that I have, which are about two-thirds of the A-series and most of the B-series — with the intention of then doing Kato conversions for the colours and palettes that I wanted to try. I got to 009-B in Premo and thought “Ooooh, that’s nice!” so I converted that one out of my planned order, but I’ll definitely be doing quite a few more.

I’ve just compared my 009-B Kato conversions with your Premo originals in daylight too, and did some minor adjustments… it’s really annoying how differently the Premo and Kato colours behave under different lighting conditions!!! But unless you’re holding the colour chips side-by-side like I’ve been doing, I don’t think the minor differences will matter! ;D

I’ll also assemble some of my other favourite Kato colour recipes and send them along in a little while, but I won’t be able to make that regular. I only get time for claying sporadically, unfortunately. (“If-only-there-were-more-hours-in-the-day” is a fairly widespread affliction.)

It’s been interesting to do more with Premo than I have in the past (with Friday’s video as inspiration, I had fun making a few right-angle triangle kaleidoscope canes with some of the leftovers to see how it handled for canework). I still much prefer Kato myself — and would like to help you support others of similar ilk! — but I can see why Premo is hugely popular too. And I finally understand why you advocate cornstarch, baby wipes and rubbing alcohol!!! LOL

Anyway, I’ll send along more Kato conversions and recipes when I can. In the meantime, I hope you have a great weekend! :) All the best,


MY RESPONSE: Great news to hear that you’ll be able provide some “Kato Konversion” recipes for everyone’s benefit. I look forward to publishing them as you find the time to share. Look for the first installment soon, ~Cindy

So without further ado…

009-1B Pansy

  • 4 parts Ultra Blue (Kato)
  • 4 parts Magenta (Kato)
  • 1 parts Violet (Kato)
  • 2 parts White (Kato)

009-2B Viola

  • 2  parts  Ultra Blue (Kato)
  • 2  parts  Magenta (Kato)
  • 1  part   Violet (Kato)
  • 21 parts  White (Kato)

009-3B Lemon Zest

  • 8 parts Yellow (Kato)
  • 1 part  White (Kato)

009-4B Midnight

  • 12 parts Ultra Blue (Kato)
  • 5  parts Magenta (Kato)
  • 6  parts Violet (Kato)
  • 2  parts Black (Kato)

Blank Polymer Clay Recipe CardTo download a blank recipe card that can be duplicated and used for keeping your collection organized, click on the following link: Polymer Clay Recipe Card

And here is the original article where I introduced these recipes using Premo Colors: Pansy Flower Spring Color Palette

A HUGE Thank You to Sue for her awesomeness in converting these recipes for everyone’s benefit!! If you all leave some wonderful, grateful comments… I’m guessing it will give her a warm feeling about wanting to continue sharing more of her Kato color recipes, as often as she is able.

** Index of Previously Posted Guest Recipes:

2009-07-10: Eleven Sculpey III Color Recipes [Carrie-W]
2009-08-02: Six Sculpey III Color Recipes [Carrie-W]
2010-02-07: Kato Polyclay Vol-009-B Pansy Flower Palette [Sue-F]


Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Joyce M, 07 February, 2010

    I have some Kato clay stashed away and it must be feeling very lonely and neglected (lol) as I haven’t worked with it yet. I am feeling a little more comfortable with the Premo so a side trip with Kato will be an adventure.

    You are so special to share these Pansy flower color recipes with us. The purple palette is one of my favorites. Thank you so much for sharing….and “all the best to you” as well.

    Joyce M

  2. Lisa Whitham, 07 February, 2010

    @Sue F – Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!! I am a Kato Clay user – exclusively. I am not good at color mixing and I find it very challenging to try to convert Cindy’s Premo recipes! Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes there are happy accidents, and sometimes it’s just a disaster (thank goodness for “Jupiter Beads”). So from the bottom of my heart, Thank You again for sharing your recipes!!
    One happy Kato clayer,
    ~Lisa :)

  3. Silverleaf, 07 February, 2010

    I have some Kato and I don’t like it, to be honest. Whenever I try to condition it, it crumbles into tiny pieces and ends up all over the place, sticks to the underneath of my pasta machine and basically takes way too long to get to an even vaguely useable state. And my hands can’t cope with conditioning hard clays.

    Maybe I’m just not doing it right? I dunno. It would take a lot to persuade me away from Premo now though.

  4. Phaedrakat, 07 February, 2010

    What Silverleaf said about the crumbling & sticking to the PM is what I’ve read a gazillion times (on those seldom occasions I venture away from this blog ;-) However, the Jana-Whack Method, involving putting the still-wrapped bar of clay on the floor and pounding it with a mallet to get the clay moving inside, is supposed to really help with conditioning. I haven’t tried Kato yet, though, so I can’t speak from experience. (I’ll bet Silverleaf’s already tried this–she IS an experience clayer, for sure!)

    I’ve wanted to try Kato, but I have sooooo much Premo, and quite a bit of Fimo, that I stored away 5 years ago. It will be some time before I need to make a purchase for my clay stash (except Premo Frost — the 1 lb. brick I mail-ordered isn’t lasting as long as I’d have liked.) Still, I’ll admit I’m intrigued by the stories I hear about Kato’s firmness for caning, and the colors, well… But, I already find conditioning clay to be a bit of a chore. I would hate to deal with all that crumbling & extra conditioning Kato demands; it doesn’t seem like it’s worth it (unless maybe I had an extra food processor to donate to the cause?) I’ll have to do a bit more reading. That might convince me to buy a few Kato colors next time I place an order for “clay-related” accessories. It would be nice to know what people are talking about first hand…and decide for myself!

    Anyway, how nice of Sue Fisher to donate her recipes to Kato users! And how fabulous of Cindy to create the palette in the first place, and to publish the recipes here at this fantastic clay community — Thanks!

  5. Sue, 07 February, 2010

    @Joyce M, Lisa Whitham:

    You’re welcome! :)

    Cindy has published some really gorgeous colour palettes and individual colour recipes — and one or two where I thought “why would you make that colour on purpose”! ;P — and since I absolutely LOVE Kato and find its colours relatively easy to work with, I thought I’d share what I’d worked out with others like me who don’t really like Premo.

    The pigments used in Kato and Premo respond differently to various lighting conditions so I can’t get a single formula that’s a perfect match under all types of lighting, but I check my conversions under halogen lighting, warm fluorescent lighting and daylight and make sure the formula I’ve given is extremely close (if not identical) under all. More to come soon!

  6. Sue, 07 February, 2010


    That’s cool. ;D
    Everyone has their own preferences and priorities!

  7. Sue, 07 February, 2010

    @Silverleaf & Phaedrakat:

    There are a few tricks to conditioning Kato, but by far the best is one I first saw suggested at Over The Rainbow, which was the first online seller I discovered in Australia that carried Kato (great range and excellent service there, by the way, for any of my fellow Aussies who haven’t already discovered it!). The original conditioning process is described here:


    I use a variation of that technique because I’m too lazy to do the acrylic roller stage and don’t find it necessary.

    What I do is this:

    1. Cut a slice from the block that’s just a bit thicker than the thickest setting on the pasta machine.
    2. Feed it through the pasta machine at the thickest setting (#1 on mine).
    3. WITHOUT FOLDING THE CLAY, set the pasta machine one setting thinner (e.g. #2 on mine), and feed the clay through again.
    4. Repeat the “one setting thinner, feed it through again” process WITHOUT FOLDING THE CLAY until it’s getting quite thin. For really crumbly Kato I go down to setting #7 (out of 9), but for normally-firm Kato I only go down to setting #5 (out of 9).
    5. At that stage, fold once and feed through the pasta machine at that thin setting a few times.
    6. After a few folded passes through that thin setting, back the machine off a couple of settings, fold and feed a few times, then back off again until you get to a medium thickness (e.g. #3 on my machine) where you can finish the conditioning process. For example, for really crumbly Kato that I’d started folding at #7, I’d back off to #5 for a bit, and then back off again to #3 to finish the conditioning; for normally-firm Kato that I’d started folding at #5, I back off once to #3 and condition there.

    That really avoids the crumbles. I have some large blocks of quite old Kato that are extremely crumbley, enough to bother even me before I discovered that trick (I used to psyche myself up to condition a heap of it at a time using the “beat the stuffing out of it with a mallet” Jana-Whack method), but even it conditions nicely using the above technique with minimal time and effort.

  8. Priscilla, 07 February, 2010

    Thank you, Sue. I use both Premo and Kato (and sometimes Fimo, too), so it’s nice to have the recipes in both brands.

  9. Silverleaf, 07 February, 2010

    Thank you Sue, I tried it and it helped a fair bit, although it still crumbled quite a lot it was much better. After about a million times through the machine it’s still breaking when I fold it though. I’m giving up!

    Guess I just don’t have enough patience! ;)

  10. Silverleaf, 07 February, 2010

    I only have a couple of packets of Magenta anyway…

  11. carolyn, 07 February, 2010

    A few drops of Sculpey Clay Softener – or even a few drops of baby oil – have helped me when I’ve tried to condition that crumbly Kato.

  12. Peggy Barnes, 07 February, 2010

    I have to admit until I joined Cindy’s blog and tutes Kato was my choice of clay and still is my favorite for canes. I use mostly Premo now. But if the quality is the same I have some great news for Kato lovers. I belong to prairiecraft.com newsletters and just received one Saturday where they apologized for the shortage of clay because they are working on the new formula which will be same quality only easier to condition. I have trouble with my hands and shoulders so I have to be careful when I condition my clay. I use my food processor and a heating pad when I am working with Kato. My husband uses the rubber mallet sometimes for me but most often I can do my own. I keep using the word quality, if it is the same as before I welcome the new Kato. I can’t see Donna selling anything other than the best. Soon as my old Kato is gone I will be trying the new. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind using Premo and sure I will keep using it also.

    Thank you Sue for the recipes and conditioning information. Clay is just like all other items – It is good we don’t all like the same one or there would even more problems than conditioning.

  13. Sue, 08 February, 2010

    @Peggy Barnes:

    That’s actually horrifying news for THIS Kato lover! LOL

    If they can make it easier to condition without it being ANY softer in the conditioned state that would be OK for me. I’m probably in the minority (as usual!), but the current (old) Kato conditioned consistency is perfect for me, and I don’t mind in the slightest the time it takes to condition since I discovered the above approach for avoiding crumbles. I really, really, really don’t want to work with clay that’s noticeably software than current Kato. If the new Kato starts approaching Premo in softness, for example… well, I might give up polymer clay and go play with something else — after buying up all the old Kato I can get my hands on! ;D — because I find Premo’s softness extremely annoying.

    I guess I should wait and see what the new formula is like before freaking out though… ;)

    Anyway, you’re welcome for the recipes. Another palette’s coming up soon!

  14. Sue, 08 February, 2010

    Oops. That should be “noticeably softer”, above. Not “software”. My fingers type certain words without consulting my brain. ;)

  15. Susan B, 08 February, 2010

    Firstly I would like to thank Sue for so generously supplying her recipes. Even though I don’t use Kato, since the subject of crumbling clay came up and I recently had a problem with the clay crumbling, I thought I would post what happened in case anyone has any advice for me. I use Cernit which is the only brand easily available from my local hobby shop. My house is not particularly warm so this past weekend I decided to warm the clay before conditioning by putting it on top of a piece of paper of the radiator. The result appears to be that the clay slightly “cured” and so became impossible to use and just kept crumbling whenever I tried to roll it together. Needless to say I didn’t do this again!
    The other strange thing that happened was after having kneeded some clay into a rather soft ball using my hands, the clay began to show signs of crumbling and cracking after I folded it and put it through the pasta machine. In fact the more times I put the clay through the pasta machine the more crackled along the edges and crumbly on the fold it became. I even tried adding a small quantity of baby oil. I was wondering if this could be happening because the metal rollers of my pasta machine are just too cold!! Has anyone else had this problem or is it just me?

  16. Phaedrakat, 08 February, 2010

    @Sue: Thanks for the Kato conditioning tips. I’ve decided to get a few colors next time I make a clay accessories order. I want to see if Kato is all it’s cracked-up (crumbled?) to be. (Sorry about the “pun” — I heard some groans…) Look forward to your recipe conversions!

  17. Cindy Lietz, 08 February, 2010

    Thanks for the great interaction here guys… excellent info!

    I have debated back and forth whether or not to introduce Kato Clay here at the blog and in my tutorials, since I know that there are definitely benefits to using such a firm clay. ie. better definition in caning, less fingerprints, etc. But up until now have had a few concerns about how the beginner would feel about conditioning it and decided to hold off on it for now. Who knows, if they change the formula a bit and make it more readily available, I may change my mind about that.

    Premo is an excellent clay that is easy to find and easy to condition. I am very pleased with it. Most of what I have taught you, will work with either brand and for those that prefer Kato you are welcome to substitute it for the Premo.

    I am very grateful to Sue Fisher for offering to convert some of the recipes and am pleased that you Kato fans are able to benefit for her generosity. Thanks again Sue!

  18. Sue, 08 February, 2010

    You’re welcome, Cindy! (And others :D)
    I’m about to email you another converted palette.

    My $0.02…

    Despite being a Kato die-hard, for a general-access site like this with a wide audience I too think Premo is probably a better “default” clay.

    It’s a quality product as you said, and it takes a beautiful finish. The Premo packaged colours are very nice and there are certain colours that you can mix in Premo — like deep saturated metallics/pearliseds — that you’d need to use concentrates for with Kato.

    Kato is probably too firm for anyone who has trouble with their hands, arms or shoulders. I don’t, fortunately, so I can squash Kato easily with my fingers, but I can think of (adult) family members who would be hard pressed to even dent it with theirs. It also takes a LOT of muscle to force Kato through an extruder, particularly with the smaller dies, so if extruded clay is likely to come up regularly you’d be better off with Premo. Or include body-building/physical fitness site links!

    My main dislike with Premo’s softness is that I have to be much more careful than I’m used to being! LOL
    If I try to work my normal way, Premo flops, sticks, and stretches when I don’t want it to, is somewhat more prone to air bubbles, and is a lot more prone to fingerprints. It also transfers colours to my hands, pasta machine and work surface so I have to clean up every few minutes. That might also be due to softness or it might be the formulation, but it’s something that isn’t an issue with Kato. If you think of how people reacted to the super-soft Premo that was around for a while, compared to their normal Premo, that’s pretty much my reaction to normal Premo compared to Kato. When making up colour chips and playing with Premo canes I kept thinking “Argh. I would hate to have to work with this for real!”, but it also made me really understand how people who didn’t have my hand strength would absolutely loathe Kato in turn.

    I did start with Kato as a total beginner and the work to condition it didn’t bother me, but I’d done quite a bit of research beforehand so I knew what to expect, and I was also stubborn/pig-headed enough that I wasn’t going to let any clay beat me! If a newcomer saw polymer clay in passing and hoped to be able to just jump right in, Kato is probably less suitable.

    I do find Premo a lot bendier and softer when cured compared to Kato. That is, I can make cured Kato as bendy as cured Premo if I want to, but so far I haven’t been able to get cured Premo to be as hard as my normally-cured Kato. This is an issue with some of the things I make, like the wire-reinforced polymer-clay-only cuffs that I mentioned in another topic.

    Premo isn’t as easy to find in my neck of the woods as Sculpey III, Fimo Soft, and even Fimo Classic. However, Kato is even less common. For both, I shop online.

    So overall it’s great that we have the choice. I’m not going to try to convert you to Kato. Much. ;D And even *I* use Premo Frost (bleached translucent) in preference to Kato Translucent! (which is more opaque although it’s a lot whiter)

  19. Sue, 08 February, 2010

    @Susan B

    I haven’t heard of clay becoming MORE cracked with more passes through the pasta machine, but it sounds very frustrating. I’m sorry I don’t have any suggestions.

    But for warming up cold clay, what I usually do in winter here is tuck a packet or two down my clothing for a while, or hold them in armpits if I’m in a bit more of a hurry. It works well, even if it looks really weird!

  20. Susan B, 08 February, 2010

    You are right about it being frustrating. I LOVE the idea of tucking packets of clay down my clothing and I am game for anything so will certainly give that a try. Thank you for your suggestion even if I will look weird!!

  21. lynn watts, 09 February, 2010

    I have not tried this yet because I have not had a crumbling problem yet. But if you can find Quick Mix and use a little in the clay as you condition it that may help. (Quick Mix was used in Fimo when it first came where I was at that time(N.C.) it was to soften the clay ) It was a hard to condition clay. It used to have numbers on the back of the clay pkg. that used to tell you when the clay was made,(year) they changed that too. It came in handy so you knew how old your clay was and how hard it was going to be to condition. @ Susan B. don’t throw that baked clay away that was cooked by the radiator- use it for an inclusion in your other clay. As long as you do not have to cut slices from it cuz it probably smear when you cut thru it. May be Faux Pebbles or something. Hope this helped.

  22. Susan B, 10 February, 2010

    @Lynn Watts
    I will certainly ask my local shop if they have Quick Mix but I don’t hold out much hope. Whilst the man tries to be helpful he had no idea why my “white” Cernit was turning grey in the oven no matter for how long or short I cured it and it was only when I discovered on-line that you can buy “white” Cernit and “opaque white” Cernit that I solved my problem. The “opaque white” stay very white when cured. This means I have lots of black and grey disk beads which I a don’t know how to use just yet. I will certainly have a go at using the other clay that I managed to cure on my radiator for an inclusion. I did keep it just because I HATE to throw away any piece of clay no matter what! Great suggestions and thank you so much!

  23. Rose, 10 February, 2010

    I prefer Premo clay to any other, but I do have a supply of Kato which I seldom use because of conditioning issues. I used the rubber mallet method, but was too tired to work with it by the time I conditioned enough clay. The next day, the clay needed to be reconditioned. I finally decided to try an old food processor with Kato & can say that it does the job. I run it thru the food processor til it’s warm but still in small bits. I dump out the bits & roll them out into a pancake. I run the pancake thru the pasta machine until it’s smooth & pliable which doesn’t take all that long. I’ve found that Kato conditioned that way stays conditioned for a much longer time. I still prefer to work with Premo, but now will try Kato for more complicated canes.

  24. Sue, 10 February, 2010

    I never tried a food processor for conditioning Kato… although I’m considering trying one for chopping up CURED scrap Kato.

    I want to experiment with finely-chopped/grated cured polymer clay as an inclusion — for a variety of faux gemstones among other things — but the downside of how hard Kato cures is that it takes AGES to grate it up by hand. And I’ve ruined two graters doing it so far. Has anyone tried a food processor for that?

  25. Rose, 10 February, 2010

    Sue, I’d be afraid it would ruin the blades. I just tried grating some cured Premo using a microplane grater & it grated easily. I put some Kato in the oven a few minutes ago & will give it an ice water bath & then try grating it with the microplane. Did you use a microplane or a rasp?

  26. Sue, 10 February, 2010

    That’s one of the reasons why I haven’t tried it yet! :D

    Cured Kato is a LOT harder than cured Premo, and I bake my Kato at between 300F and 325F, for quite a bit longer than the minimum time for those temperatures, which makes it harder still. I’d thought of popping the scrap cured Kato in the oven for a few minutes to soften it slightly before throwing it in the food processor, but still… I wouldn’t be trying it out in a good machine.

    I’ve tried one of those parmesan cheese-type thingies with a rotating grater and a tong-like hopper/pusher arrangement (the grater just spun round and round without doing anything, until I squeezed REALLY hard at which point I broke the rotating handle off), two box graters (and ruined one), and a cheap microplane grater which didn’t work well either, although the fact that it wasn’t really able to hold the pieces I was trying to grate might have contributed to that (they’re leftovers and colour samples and things like that so they’re not all in large chunks). I could grate the cured Kato somewhat using the box graters and the microplate grater, but it took a lot of time and effort for very little output… and it generated a lot of static electricity which had the bits that did get grated off clinging to EVERYTHING! LOL

    I was just wondering… If I see a cheap food processor around I’ll try it with that (oven-softened). Otherwise I guess it’s what you suggested, and off to the hardware store for some serious rasps!

  27. Debby C, 05 March, 2023

    Face the fear! KATO is an amazing polymer clay! Give it a try, your fears are unfounded.

  28. Rose, 10 February, 2010

    Sue, I cured the Kato clay for about 30 min & then gave it a few min in ice water to get it nice & hard & it grated easily with a microplane. If anyone hasn’t used that type of grater, it’s an inexpensive kitchen grater based on a woodworking tool called a rasp. They’re really sharp & are wonderful for lemon/orange zest. Also, it seems, good for polymer. I tried to grate using both the fine grate & one with large holes. It only worked using the fine grater. I don’t have a regular grater so can’t do a comparison.

  29. Rose, 10 February, 2010

    Sue, I just read your last comment & you’re right in that it does generate a lot of static elec. I did bake a pretty small sample to try – about a gtr inch thick, but I didn’t bake that long or at that high a temp. If you just want it as an inclusion, why not use Premo, or bake it at a lower temp for less time? I want to try some faux jade & may want to include some baked clay then.

  30. Sue, 10 February, 2010

    I’m trying to grate the ultra-hard cured scrap Kato because I want to use it rather than throwing it away. Some of my cured Kato scrap would make awesome inclusions… if only I can grate enough!

    Curing temperature makes a big difference to Kato strength and hardness. Last year I posted a comparison of curing at 275F versus 300F, for a variety of durations. Even I was surprised at how much difference it made. I’d also emailed Van Aken at the same time about an apparent discrepancy in curing temperature, and from their very informative reply decided that slightly higher than 300F would suit me even better.

    If I had cured the Kato at (say) 275F, or even slightly lower at typical Premo curing temperature, I wouldn’t have a problem grating it. It’s relatively soft (and weak by Kato standards) when cured that low. But I can certainly do that if I want to make NEW cured inclusions. I just don’t like throwing things away when I can think of a use for them. ;)

    Anyway, I really appreciate you performing an on-the-spot test! :)
    If I find a good solution I’ll post the results.

  31. lynn watts, 10 February, 2010

    @ Susan type in Fimo Quick Mix and search the internet for it, if your store does not carry it.Do you have a Jerry’s Artarama where you live, they carry it. They do here in Tennessee. I think you already know to use a grater for your cooked clay for an inclusion. I seen a new grater @ Walmart for $6.50 it was hand held with a knob on the top that fits comfortably in your hand . You would just have to see it to know what I mean. I one time seen a foodprocesser at a second hand store and bought that for my clay to chop it up when it was to hard to do by hand. Your welcome for the suggestions, just want to help.

  32. Susan Dyson, 12 February, 2010

    Cindy, I love the colors in this pansy. Since moving from Tennessee to Florida I do miss growing pansies. I was wondering if you’d considering showing us how to make a pansy cane. Then maybe I could “grow” some here in Florida :-)

  33. Penny, 16 February, 2010

    I stock, and have used, Quck Mix and it certainly helps when your Kato gets crumbly.
    Kato is wonderful – for me it is such a superior clay. What you see is what you get: the colours don’t change, the gleam of the clay raw is the gleam you get on the clay when finished, it is strong, it doesn’t move when making canes. And with one or two basic colours you can mix so many.
    Incidentally, when you are grating your cooked Kato, have you tried putting it in warm water first? Warming any cooked clay makes it more pliable.
    Incidentally at the Sandra McCaw workshop last month there was discussion about how the texture of Fimo Classic was harder in the US than it was in the UK – suggesting that the formulation might be different. It was suggested, too, that that might be the case with Kato too, but the other way round i.e Kato is firmer in UK than in US.

    Certainly wacking Kato with a rubber hammer works – preferably on a stone floor (Donna Kato had her mallet with her when she was in the UK last year). My experience is that ‘bashing’ it is actually very therapeutic as well as effective.

    And there was also an anecdote at the UK workshop about someone who drove their car over Kato clay to condition it!

  34. Penny, 16 February, 2010

    Oh dear 0 dyslexia rules again – its Mix Quick, not Quick Mix!

  35. Cindy Lietz, 16 February, 2010

    Just thought I’d pop in and say hi. Great conversation going on here… keep it up!

    I have plans for a pansy cane coming up in April so stay tuned for that!

  36. Linda K., 24 February, 2010

    @ Cindy L: A pansy cane? Yippee!

  37. Cara, 25 February, 2010

    Here in the UK fimo is the main brand that shops sell, it can be hard to get anything else. I used it happily for years but recently (having been reading this blog) I decided to try premo and also kato just so I would know what all the major brands are like.

    I made a couple of canes (a spliced flower and a geometric tile cane based on jelly roll cane) using the same colours (as close as I could) from fimo soft, fimo classic, premo and kato clay. I then cut a slice as the cane was made and then one after it had rested (next day).

    I couldn’t believe the results. The Kato cane slices look suberb and held their shape much better. The slices hardly deformed at all. The colours were much better in the kato, the cane kept it’s definition better, the white is whiter. It is a pain to condition and it isn’t as easy to work with but for caning I am now sold on Kato.

    The thing that shocked me most, having given up fimo classic some years ago cause it was too difficult to condition, was how soft fimo classic was. I found it hard to tell the difference between the fimo soft and the fimo classic. I was expecting the fimo classic to be like the kato but no it was easy to conidtion and the cane distorted a lot in slicing, just like the fimo soft.

    I will see if I can photogrpah them adequately to show you how I found the clays, but perhaps better still try out some different ones for yourself – you may be surprised.

  38. Penny, 25 February, 2010

    I was talking to a representative of Staetler yesterday and asked him if, what Sandra McCaw said is true, that Fimo Classic is softer in Britain than it is in America. He confirmed that it is the case that it is different. Interesting isn’t it?

  39. Phaedrakat, 25 February, 2010

    @Rose: The Microplane grater looks amazing – I’ve never heard of one before, so I looked it up. It looks like a cool kitchen tool (and perfect for grating really hard polymer!)

    @Penny & Cara: I’ve never tried Kato (but I’m going to remedy that today, by placing an order.) But I have used Fimo Classic, and it is much firmer than Fimo Soft (and Premo) here in the US. So, it sounds like “proof” of what the Staetler guy told you, Penny. That IS interesting! I wonder if the ‘reverse-Kato’ thing is true also. (In your comment you said it was suggested Kato is SOFTER in the US.) If that’s the case, I’ll think I will be happy with Kato — for caning. I like what you said about the “white” whites, too. But for everything else — Premo. I have so much (w/Phthalate) clay, that I’ll be using it for quite some time. Anyway, I like how you did your experiments, Cara, very thorough!

    @Cindy L.: The pansy cane sounds like fun!

  40. Cara, 27 February, 2010

    OK I have published my findings on a page in my new blog – hopefully there is a link here.

    I know different blocks of all the brands come out slightly more soft/crumbly at times and I am sure there are lots of reasons that can make a differnce, how old it is (could even be a different forumlation if it is very old), how it’s been stored etc. I also wonder if certain colours are always slightly softer. The fimo soft black I have had recently has all be far too soft. Kato is possibly softer in the US just because it gets to you fresher? It is all imported over here from the US and I guess there are less people buying clay full stop let alone Kato.

  41. Silverleaf, 28 February, 2010


    Great stuff Cara, thanks for that! It definitely appeals to the scientist in me. :)

  42. Cara, 28 February, 2010

    @Silverleaf: lol thanks – I did a science degree which is where that comes from I guess. Not sure if I am a scientist trapped in the body of a creative person or a creative person trapped in the body of a scientist.

  43. Silverleaf, 01 March, 2010

    @Cara: I’m always saying I have the head of a scientist and the heart of an artist.

    Science degree here too, except I had never finished despite two attempts, due to illness. Zoology and genetics the first time, psychology the second.

  44. Phaedrakat, 27 February, 2010

    @Cara: That’s cool being able to check out your experiments. That Kato sure does look nice!

  45. Sue F, 28 February, 2010


    Thanks for testing those different brands and for posting your results!

    Kato white is actually whiter, i.e. it’s not JUST a result of it being firmer. When I’ve been converting Cindy’s Premo colour recipes to Kato, I’ve found that recipes with a very large proportion of Premo white need a small amount of brown in the Kato version to get a proper match.

    Also, I used to think that particular Kato colours were firmer than others… when I started using Kato, the white always seemed to be quite malleable, and the black at the opposite end of the spectrum. But I’ve since bought extremely well-behaved black and ultra-crumbly white, and at the moment the second-crumbliest Kato I have is translucent which I would have expected theoretically to be the smoothest!

    Sometimes I buy Kato from Fire Mountain Gems the US (who should turn over quite a lot, as well as being relatively close to the manufacturer), and sometimes I buy Kato from Over the Rainbow in Melbourne (Australia is a small market, and not exactly close by). I haven’t found any consistent patterns in Kato softness/crumbliness between the two. But I’ve seen speculation that Kato is likely more affected by storage conditions, e.g. during transit between manufacturer and retail outlet, than some other brands which might explain the variation a bit.

  46. Cara, 28 February, 2010

    @Sue F: I was wondering if you would care to share how you go about converting Cindy’s colour recipes. Perhaps if we had some insight some other people might help out and do some too. I should have a bit of time to play with the clay (stuck sat down for the next couple of weeks whilst my foot recovers from surgery- just have to get the kids out of the way or they steal all my clay) so with a bit of guidance could have a go at conversions.

    I am new to colour mixing and new to Kato. I had a play around today and am having trouble getting nice bright greens.

    I tried your conditioning advice above and found it much easier generally apart from one very crumbly block. Whilst cutting this block I observed some swirly marks in the clay which weren’t there in the less crumbly blocks and a few tiny specks of white clay near the edge in an air bubble (wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t of sliced it). I wonder if this is the plasticizers not being distributed properly? Could this be that some blocks aren’t quite mixed enough in production or is it a storing thing? Who knows. It would be great if we could solve this mystery of why it’s sometimes crumbly and sometimes OK but it all seems very random. The KatoPolyclay web site states it is easy to condition with no crumbling – hmm some blocks are and some are quite frankly crumbly!

  47. Sue F, 01 March, 2010


    Sure. Here’s roughly how I go about converting Cindy’s recipes…

    To start with, I use the original Premo recipes to make 28x41mm oval colour chips of each colour. I bake these flat on small tiles, and keep any leftover unbaked clay for later use.

    Then I consider how close the original Premo colours were to Kato colours, to decide which of two approaches to take to making a Kato version. If the Premo ingredient colours are quite similar to Kato colours, I might start with the Premo recipe, substituting the closest Kato colour for each, and then adjusting as required (approach 1). However, more frequently I compare the cured Premo samples to my reference set of cured Kato colours, to get a starting point for the Kato conversion (approach 2).

    While I CAN mix up any colour from scratch with no reference, using the reference set has a few advantages. Firstly, some colours (on both sides) shift a bit during curing, so I can compare cured sample to cured sample rather than having either one or both sides of the comparison uncured and therefore subject to change. Secondly, it gives me a nice formula to use as a starting point, which is easier than recording ALL the “bit of this, bit of that” additions that go into mixing an ad-hoc colour. And thirdly, it helps me minimise the number of adjustments necessary to get to the required colour.

    My reference set of cured Kato colours consists of all of the colours from the Kato colour mixing chart that Shades of Clay have on their web site, plus all the colours I’ve mixed in a controlled manner in the past that were nice enough for me to want to reproduce later. You can find the Shades of Clay Kato colour mixing chart at the following address:


    My reference colours are kept as 28x41mm oval colour chips with their recipes written on labels on the back, and they’re strung in colour order on ball chain. They also include a set of greys ranging from almost black to almost white, which are useful when working out how much black and how much white to put into any desaturated colours that I’m trying to match.

    So I use one of the two approaches outlined above to get a starting recipe, and then add whatever else seems to be necessary to get an exact match for the colour I’m trying to convert. I mostly use small or tiny cutters to minimise the amount of clay used. My aim during these recipe conversion stages is to end up with just over one sample chip’s worth of clay when I’ve mixed a particular recipe iteration up.

    Once I have a “first attempt” Kato colour that I’m happy with, I bake a small sample flat on a tile. Comparing the baked sample to the leftover raw clay lets me judge any colour shifting, which helps me tune the further iterations of the recipe. For instance, if the baked colour is bluer than the raw sample, I know that when I’m mixing up my next version of the recipe, I should make sure the Premo sample I’m trying to match is correspondingly bluer than the unbaked Kato I mix up next time.

    Anyway, once I have my baked Kato sample, I compare it to the original baked Premo sample in my workshop, which has halogen lighting. This is only one of the lighting conditions I check, but it’s most convenient for me so it goes first. If the baked Kato sample is noticeably different to the baked Premo sample (lighter or darker, more or less saturated, a warmer or colder colour, etc.) I’ll make appropriate adjustments for the next Kato recipe iteration, bake a sample, and repeat the comparison process.

    When I have a baked Kato sample that’s very close to the baked Premo sample under halogen lighting, I check the two samples side-by-side under fluorescent lighting (“warm” fluorescents) and in daylight (direct and indirect). The pigments used in Kato and Premo respond differently to various lighting conditions. For example, with purple-blue colours, a perfect Kato match under halogen lighting will look too purple in daylight, and a perfect daylight match will look too blue under halogens. Greens, however, generally look pretty similar between the two brands both under halogens and in daylight.

    So the next step is to try to adjust the recipe so that the Kato and Premo samples are as close as possible under all lighting conditions. This generally means moving very slightly away from a perfect halogen-lighting match to make the others close too, and this is actually the most time-consuming part. I can generally get a perfect match under halogen lighting on my first or at most second attempt, but it usually takes AT LEAST three further rounds of recipe tuning to get one that I’m happy with under ALL the lighting conditions I can test. Basically, I juggle the proportions, increase or decrease the saturation a bit, or add really small amounts of colours other colours, to reduce the apparent differences.

    A few other thoughts off the top of my head…

    I convert several colours at once, e.g. a whole palette, rather than individual recipes. With the turnaround time between curing recipe iterations and so on, this seems to make most efficient use of my time. Also, it means that I can judge the colour balance of all of the recipes in the converted palette against each other, just in case compromises are necessary due to different lighting conditions as described previously.

    Cured Kato is naturally shiny on top, while cured Premo is naturally satin-ish on top. Comparing these two finishes directly can be misleading (the shiny one will look darker even if it’s really the same colour), so sometimes I compare the undersides of the cured samples (they’ll both be shiny where they’ve been pressed firmly against the tiles they were baked on), sometimes I scuff the Kato up a bit or rub it to give it a satin-ish finish like the Premo, and very occasionally I’ll sand and buff both and then compare them in their “finished” state.

    Kato white is noticeably whiter than Premo white. When converting pale Premo recipes that contain a large proportion of Premo white, you need to add a small amount of extra Kato brown, yellow, or similar to get a proper match.

    Kato black is MUCH stronger than Premo black. For example, take Cindy’s colour “Rain” consisting of 2 parts Premo white to 1 part Premo black. The Kato equivalent is approximately 8 parts Kato white to 1 part Kato black (if you’re being picky you’d need a tiny bit of brown or yellow too).

    Kato black also increases in apparent strength when it’s cured. If the recipe has a lot of black, the cured version will be darker than the uncured. And if it only requires a small amount of black, err on the side of using less than you think you need.

    Kato pearl, silver and gold seem to have relatively more mica than their Premo equivalents, so you can add more “ordinary” clay and still get nice mica effects. Which is just as well because you generally need to if you’re tring to match strong saturated metallic or pearlescent Premo colours made with either the coloured Premo pearl clays or dark Premo colours like Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine Blue without resorting to Kato concentrates.

    That’ll do for now. If you have any questions, just ask! :)

  48. Cara, 01 March, 2010

    @Sue F: Wow thanks for all that useful information. That is a lot of work so I am more grateful than ever for your conversions! I am not really a premo user but do have a bit of premo so will perhaps give it a go with one of Cindy’s palettes. Can’t garuntee I will be that thorough

  49. Phaedrakat, 01 March, 2010

    @Sue F: Wow! I’ve said “thank you”, every time you’ve made a palette. And I’ve meant it. However, I never realized just how much work you’ve been putting into these. Amazing! That’s truly awesome what you’re doing, I’ll bet all of the Kato users are even more appreciative of your palette-conversion efforts now! As a potential Kato user (waiting for it to get here,) I thank you again!

  50. Penny, 28 February, 2010

    Well – I have news !
    Sue F – I am sceptical about transport being the reason for the difference as it only takes a few days for my stocks of Kato to get to the UK and they are exceptionally well packed ( am more inclined to suggest the difference is the age of the clay.
    However, Cara – you may have to go back to the drawing board!
    I contacted Van Aken (who manufacture Kato clay) and asked the two key question. The reply I got from the man who knows:

    Hello Penny,
    Kato Polyclay is not going through a major reformulation. What we have done is to make it slightly softer for conditioning purposes. We manufacture just one product that is shipped internationally.

    Well, you heard it here first!

  51. Sue F, 28 February, 2010


    I don’t think it’s JUST the age of the clay. The oldest Kato I have large amounts of on hand was bought two years ago, and the colours/batches that were well-behaved to start with still are, although they’re probably a bit firmer than they were when they were brand new. They haven’t gone crumbly though, despite the fact that the very crumbliest Kato I have is also two years old (it’s Pearl, and it was crumbly when it was new). The very oldest Kato I have was bought more than three years ago, and it’s not crumbly at all (although it’s only one colour, Brown, and therefore not an adequate sample). And the newest Kato I have on hand was bought four and a half months ago, and some of it is harder and more prone to crumbling than most of the two-year-old Kato.

    So I don’t know! LOL
    But even the crumbliest stuff conditions up nicely — eventually! — to a lovely pliable but firm texture, so it doesn’t really matter to me in practice even though it would be interesting to have the mystery solved.

    And thanks for passing on the info you received from Van Aken. I don’t like the sound of “slightly softer for conditioning purposes” at all, but I’ll give it a go when I next need to order clay.

  52. Cindy Lietz, 01 March, 2010

    What an AWESOME writeup Sue!

    See everyone… I told you Sue was thorough (if you want to read more about her meticulous methodologies when it comes to mixing kato color recipes, click on the link by my name).

  53. Sue F, 02 March, 2010

    @Cara, Phaedrakat: You’re welcome. It’s not really all THAT much work… although it would be nice if Kato and Premo responded the same way to different lighting conditions! LOL

    @Cindy: Thanks! :) I thought the info might be useful generally, as much of it would apply regardless of what brands you were converting between, or even when trying to match some other kind of colour exactly.

    One further tip that slipped my mind when I was writing the long post above…

    For very light, very dark or very desaturated colours where it can be hard to judge how closely you’ve matched the base colour, AND where you are able to prepare unbaked clay according to the original recipe as well as working on the conversion, a good approach is to make up a version of the original recipe WITHOUT the white or black (i.e. the original recipe’s base colour), then match that base colour in your target clay, then add the white and/or black back in on both sides after you’re happy with how the base colour matches. You might need to make minor adjustments, for instance for the whites being different between brands, but it’s a lot easier than trying to match the very dark, very light or very desaturated version up front.

  54. Cara, 02 March, 2010

    @Sue F: Been playing with mixing Kato colours – made a fair few different colour chips over the last day getting a feel for how the colours mix and to give me a starting point. Will have a go at converting some of Cindy’s premo recipes when I have finished my sister in laws birthday present (Indian inspired paisley cake forks is my plan – chosen my colours, made a rough design for a cane).

    Have you got any tips for making bright colours with the kato ? Maggie Maggio suggests using flourescents in her book but of course there aren’t any Kato flourescents.

    Also I was wondering if you had some pictures of your work somewhere online Sue I’d love to see it I bet it’s awesome.

  55. Phaedrakat, 02 March, 2010

    @Sue F: I love the tip about removing the black/white and matching base color. I can see how that would be a huge help. I hadn’t thought about that part of it either — comparing the really light/dark colors would be so hard without your tip!

  56. Cindy Lietz, 29 March, 2010


    Polymer Clay Projects

    Hello to Everyone,

    Some new Spotlight project pictures that relate to the topic of this page (Kato PolyClay), have just been added in another post. They were submitted by Ritzs. The link by my name will take you to where you can see them, along with a bit of a write up about some issues Ritzs was having with cracks forming in her beads made from Kato Clay.

    BTW: Thanks to everyone above, who took the time to comment in this thread. Your feedback, support and fun conversations are always such a wonderful part of my day. Although I don’t get a chance to address everyone individually, please know that I do read everything. ~Cindy

  57. Jocelyn, 13 August, 2010

    This is a fantastic thread, my head hurts from trying to digest all the information presented here. Thank you all so much for being sharers.

    Do all conditioning in a food processor, just pick them up at the local recycling place. Try to have two of the same so can just change baskets, and all have metal blades.

    By far, the fastest and easiest way to get small amounts conditioned is the Black and Decker coffee grinder. Lots of power for Kato and already dried bits, and a handy dandy plastic cap lets you empty and check frequently. Just have to remember to clean the small plastic cap with alcohol, not too much residue sticks to the blades or the metal compartment.

    I have 3 (all free) which I separate for transparent/white, reds, and rest, just like with the pasta machines.

  58. holgha, 12 September, 2010


  59. Saglik F, 12 July, 2014

    Very thanks for this info

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