My Kato Polyclay First Impressions… Finally!

Kato PolyclayVideo #333: To me, the overwhelming difference between Kato and Premo, is… (you will need to watch the video to find out ;-).

Topics Covered In This Video:

  • Finally getting the chance to try out Kato Polyclay.
  • What the packaging looks like and the sizes of blocks available.
  • Comparing the differences in consistency, texture, smell, baking temps, hardness of Kato clay to the other brands I use.
    If you have worked with Kato Polyclay before, are you sensitive to the smell? If you haven’t, do you think the smell would make a difference to you or not?
  • Plans for doing more testing with Kato Polyclay, since it is such a popular brand with so many polymer clay artists.

By the way, if you have a polymer clay question or challenge you’d like me to address in an upcoming video vlog, do post it in the comments below. I’d love to help you find quicker and easier ways to bring up the professionalism in your polymer clay art.

Oh and don’t forget to give these videos a Thumbs Up click at YouTube if you are enjoying them. The more Likes a video gets, the higher it rises in the searches. And that means even more people will be able to join in on this polymer clay journey of a lifetime.

Also, by subscribing to our YouTube Channel directly, you will receive notifications as soon as new videos are uploaded. To subscribe, click here… Kato Poly First Impressions. The Subscribe Button is right near the top of that YouTube page.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor
  1. Monique U., 07 January, 2013

    As always, I enjoyed your video, Cindy, and look forward to your further experiments (well, my left brain does LOL). As for my right brain, it continues to prefer Kato for most applications, especially caning. However, I still keep some Premo on hand. I used some recently on a Christmas ornament for an ABS blog hop: I used your beautiful Blend and Switch method for a stained glass effect, and the high-mica-content Premo pearl colours are perfect for this technique.

    Since I open the Premo packages infrequently, I was struck by the distinct odour right away! I guess one becomes accustomed to the clay of choice over time, Cindy, and it also seems the unopened packages, of either brand, smell quite a bit stronger than clay which has been exposed to air and/or conditioned. You are definitely onto something with the allergy/sensitivity angle. I am not that sensitive to smells. While I don’t like the scent of the Premo, I don’t have a strong physical reaction such as you described.

    If I can get hold of some Fimo Classic, Cernit or other brands, I would love to try them some day. For now I enjoy reading about how you and other PC lovers contrast the different brands. I personally feel that having many popular products on the market is a great advantage for us as artists: hopefully it will keep the manufacturers responsive to our wishes! Just my two cents…

    P.S. I laughed out loud at your Barbie foot comment, Cindy. For some reason I pictured Sid from “Toy Story” and the doll torture chamber. *Tee Hee* Can you tell I didn’t play with dolls as a child? LOL

  2. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    I didn’t really play much with dolls either Monique, hence being careless enough to leave her sitting on the the heat register to melt! LOL

    Thanks for your input. I understand that Kato is a big favorite of a lot of people, which was partly why I was so surprised about how strong the clay smelled to me. (In fact I have a hard time even having the open packs in my studio.) I am glad to hear that the smell is not an issue for you and many others. I will definitely do more testing with it, to give it a fair chance, especially since there are so many people who consider it to be their favorite brand of polymer clay.

    I will definitely start testing other brands as well. I think it would not only be fun to see the differences but it would also be great to have the knowledge base for all the brands of polymer clay that are available out there. Each brand has it’s strengths, weaknesses and different properties that make one more suitable for a specific technique, over another one. For example, it is said that Kato’s drier and stiffer properties make for better canes but also make it harder to sculpt. All things that I am looking forward to learning through testing.

  3. Lenae O., 13 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I just watched the “Kato First Impressions” and found it most helpful. I would also like to say in answer to your question about the smell. It would make a big difference to me because I have asthma and allergies to all kinds of things. I would guess this is not clay I should work with.

    Thanks for posting this video.

    Lenae O.

  4. Becky Chisenhall, 07 January, 2013

    Love the review, Cindy. Just to chime in here with my opinion, I actually love the way Kato Polyclay smells. It does remind me strongly of new vinyl baby dolls, not melting ones. Isn’t it interesting how differently people find things smell-wise! It doesn’t give me a headache per se, but I find that working with any polymer clay tends? to lead to a migraine for me…oddly.

  5. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    You’re not the only one who likes the smell Becky, I hear Sue F. our resident polymer clay mad scientist likes the smell too! Apparently she thinks that Premo is the brand that smells weird!

    I agree that it appears that different people have ‘smellers’ that smell things in different ways. I was curious what others thought about it, so just had to ask!

  6. Cyndi J, 07 January, 2013

    I started out using Kato before I tried Premo. I don’t think I really even smelled it until I baked it. But it wasn’t enough to give me a headache. I have to be super careful when the kids use my clay as I now have both Kato and Premo. Since they bake at different temps I made a rule that they can only use one or the other-not both in the same project. I like the feel of the Kato but I also like the Premo. At this point I couldn’t say I like one more then other.?

  7. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    Great point about keeping the brands separate because of the baking temp differences Cyndi! There is a little more flexibility with mixing the other brands, since they are closer in curing temps, but with the Kato being at 300F, the difference is just too big. I think there are people who have done it, but there would need to be a lot of testing done in order to come up with the most ideal temp in order to get a proper cure. You are smart to make sure that the kids keep them separate.

  8. Roly Z, 07 January, 2013

    I mix Kato and Premo in my canes and there is no problem with that.
    I bake at about 275F

  9. Sue F, 07 January, 2013

    The Kato will be very weak compared to its normal strength if baked at 135C/275F, although that might not matter (e.g. if the item the cane is applied to has a normal baking temperature of 275F, or if its shape/thickness/support means strength is less important; or if you’re not totally hung up on clay strength like I am! ;D).

    When I use Kato and Premo together, I bake at Kato’s 150C/300F (150C) unless there’s visible Premo Translucent. But I use a very accurate, non-spiking convection oven, and I immerse the items in bicarb soda (baking soda) too. If I had to use a toaster oven I’d probably need to come up with something different.

    If there *is* visible Premo Translucent in a mixed Kato/Premo item, if the underlying bead/whatever is Premo I bake at 130-135C/265-275F. But if the underlying bead/whatever is Kato I usually start baking at Kato’s 150C/300F for the first 20-30 minutes, then drop the temperature to Premo’s 130-135C/265-275F for the rest of the hour-plus total baking time.

  10. cherie, 09 January, 2013

    What do you immerse the clay in soda bicarb for? Does it make it stronger or more translucent?

  11. Sue F, 09 January, 2013

    It’s similar to the idea of tenting your pieces while baking — it protects them from potential scorching as well as discolouration from fumes in the oven (e.g. from the oils that accumulate in the oven over time from baking polymer clay) — but I personally think immersing them is much more effective, particularly for the second aspect.

    Additionally, the baking soda fully supports the item so that if you have weird shapes, particularly made of thin clay, they don’t get distorted from drooping, and they don’t get flat spots from sitting on a hard surface either.

  12. Andrea Schundelmier, 11 January, 2013

    @Sue F ~ I am working on Journal covers, made completely of clay… made several with primo and fimo, which I sold. I am trying to cut down on the time and money so I can bring the price of the journal down … I bought some Kato and when I baked it according to pkg directions it was very brittle but beautifully white .. :)) so I figured , if I mixed the fimo (which was very flexible but didn’t remain white ) with the Kato it would be a good balance so I tested a few pieces first ..and got a thermometer too ! I found out that my oven was running hotter than I thought , but as far as the mixed was great..white and slightly flexible and strong.. the only thing I am concerned about is that it may not be ok later on ..I only baked it at the fimo temp for an hour..I read somewhere that the clay will breakdown later if not baked enough.. I would hate to sell something that won’t be good.. any input would help so much.. thanks, Andrea : )))

  13. Sue F, 14 January, 2013

    Hi Andrea,

    Sorry for the delay in replying!

    In my experience, Fimo baking temperature (110C/230F) is much too low for Kato (150C/300F). Increasing the baking time helps a bit but doesn’t compensate strengthwise for the lower temperature (e.g. Kato baked for just 20 minutes at 150C/300F will be significantly stronger than if it had been baked for 70 minutes at 135C/275F; see my previous post ( for some testing results… you can see there that I could bend the ideally-cured sample pieces completely back and forth literally hundreds of times without them breaking; 400+ for the strongest — I got bored with bending them at that point! I’ve never baked Kato at such a low temperature as Fimo uses, but I’d expect it to be even weaker than when I tried it at Premo temperature.

    The Kato packaging also only shows 10 minutes baking time, however, which in my experience is too short a time for good results, particularly if the item is thick or in contact with something that will take some time to heat up (i.e. which will slow down the rate at which the Kato item gets to the required temperature). For example, if my item was on a tile and I’d put it into the oven for 10 minutes only, it probably would only have *just* got to the oven temperature because of heat transfer to the tile and the tile’s thermal mass; to get 10 minutes of baking at the required tempature on a tile you’d probably have to leave the item in the oven for 20 minutes (which isn’t long enough for decent strength anyway; see previously mentioned test results!).

    I normally bake Kato for 40-50 minutes at 150C/300F, depending on how thick the items are, and whether I’m baking them on a tile (i.e. exposed to the oven environment) or whether I’ve submersed them in baking soda (which needs extra time to heat up). I’m not sure how you construct your journal covers but I’d probably bake them on tiles for 40 minutes. If I’d covered them with baking soda (see below) I’d probably bake for 50 minutes.

    You can actually try using an even HOTTER temperature for Kato for an even stronger end result, e.g. 163C/325F, which was suggested to me by Van Aken International, the manufacturers of Kato Polyclay, when I emailed them with some baking temperature questions a few years ago. Just don’t exceed 175C/350F.

    If you’re worried about discolouration with longer baking times (or in general, actually!), try submersing the items in baking soda (which is safe for all the polymer clay brands I’ve tested; cornstarch is not). For flat items on tiles, cover the tile and all. That helps me keep whites pure white. You do need to add a bit of extra baking time, however, since the baking soda will need to heat up too before the heat starts transferring to the polymer clay underneath.

    In relation to oven thermometers, some of the cheap oven thermometers are pretty inaccurate too, so I personally wouldn’t go by one of those unless I knew it was a good quality one or had calibrated/confirmed it independently. I’d bought a couple of oven thermometers from the supermarket once and they were wildly inaccurate… they’d show readings differing by 20C/30F when they were sitting next to each other in my main kitchen oven! Kato can take hotter temperatures than other brands, so I’d err on the hot side myself.

    Other thoughts on ensuring Kato is strong are to condition the clay really really thoroughly — Kato takes more conditioning than say Premo — and to ensure you don’t use a lot of cornstarch if your journal cover construction requires a release agent and you use cornstarch for that (a bit is OK, but Kato doesn’t really like cornstarch in my experience).

    That’s about all I can suggest, except for maybe making up some test pieces yourself and trying different baking times and temperatures, so you know what works best with your oven to give you good strength with minimal discolouration (e.g. if it doesn’t start heating again until the actual temperature has dropped a lot below the set temperature, you’d need a longer total baking time than if it starts heating again after only a small temperature drop).

    I hope that helps :)


  14. Andrea Schundelmier, 14 January, 2013

    @ Sue F…. super thanks from Andrea Schundelmier !!!! I”’ give it a try ..if kato will work alone I can just use it… the kayo I baked for 10 minutes now I know why.. thanks again.. :)))

  15. Wendy S, 20 September, 2014

    My beads came out dark gray after baking for 30 min at 275
    Translucent What am I doing wrong

  16. Cindy Lietz, 21 September, 2014

    Hi Wendy, translucent clay can look kind of gray when baked depending on what you have added to it. It isn’t actually transparent… just translucent, which means it only see though when incredibly thin and pretty cloudy when thick. If you are using an oven thermometer and you know your temperature is correct, (sometimes translucent will discolor if at the wrong temp then maybe whatever you have added to the clay, plus the thickness is the reason for the color. You could add just a touch of another color of solid color polymer clay, to change the hue a bit. Hopefully that helps to answer your question.

  17. Jocelyn C, 07 January, 2013

    Used a lot of Kato during it’s early stages (roll the car tire over it, lol) and found I needed to use a food processor to mix it. The smell always reminded me of the mimeograph machine back in school, which I kind of liked, so don’t notice it enough to be bothered by it. But, wouldn’t bake it here in this tiny apartment until spring when the windows open (like you) just in case. Just got over severe headaches and migraines for two years and don’t want them back.

    I didn’t bake long enough back then, but when I look, the Kato stuff I did do stood the test of time as compared to the other clays (Premo Fimo Sculptey). Not as much cracking or breaking. Seems to buff up easier and faster too. When you roll it super thin, it seems to be easier to work with, less sticking to itself and easier to maneuver.

    The one thing I like best about the product is that the primary range is there for color mixing, and the super concentrated colors offered really fill a niche in the market.

    Look forward to spring, and hope that you will continue your experiments with this product. Also would like to see you profile some Pardo, too.

  18. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    Excellent points Jocelyn! In regards to the primary colors for color mixing, I actually find that more difficult than using the artist based pigment colors of the Premo line. That is because I learned how to mix colors using art paints which are based on the same system and I now have an instinctual ability to mix the colors I want with those pigments. The primary color system (which would be easier for most people without an artist background) has my color instincts thrown completely off. (Think Old Dog… Old Tricks. LOL) Will take some time to get used to a ‘simpler’ system.

  19. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    Ooops what I meant to say was Old Dog… NEW Tricks! Just goes to show that this dog is getting older by the minute! :)

  20. Jocelyn C, 07 January, 2013

    LOL, it’s always something, isn’t it?

  21. Sue F, 07 January, 2013

    There are actually two Pardo clays… Pardo Jewellery Clay (softer; more colours; comes in balls) and Pardo Professional Art Clay (firmer; comes in blocks in a clamshell pack which makes it a pain to shelve).

    I haven’t used them all that much — particularly the Jewellery Clay, because I like very firm clays — but the translucent is remarkable.

    And neither of them pong. ;)

  22. Wendy Moore, 02 February, 2014

    Hello, I am hoping Sue F reads this reply even though it is a late comment! My name is Wendy Moore and I work in Nepal with some amazing ladies in an organisation called Samunnat. We all use Kato clay exclusively for various reasons (in spite of challenges!!) and we just want to thank Cindy and Sue F. from the bottom of our hearts for all the information I have just found re Kato on your site. Sue F, you are amazing!!! What a saint! A creative, scientific saint. We have had so many questions about Kato which we use because of the high humidity here. Other clays are too sticky. We have found it hard to get information and your comments on various posts have been so clear, thoughtful and helpful. I have copied everything I have found that you said about baking, cornstarch etc and am going to take it to Nepal in a few weeks. (I had to learn about the corn starch thing by bitter, sad, frustrating experience yesterday ironically but fortunately had not suggested that in Nepal with the ladies where we simply can’t afford to be wasting clay or power.) Over there though, because of massive problems with electricity supply, we were initially using the short cooking time recommended by Donna Kato on the pack but were really worried this did not seem long enough so based on gut instinct we are cooking longer even though it means using our precious petrol in the generator more quickly. I wonder why she uses the ten minutes in the recommendations.
    Anyway, this is a thank you and Sue F. if you ever wanted to be Samunnat Kato clay troubleshooter, we’d be thrilled!!! Cindy, thank you for this forum where we could find some answers.
    Warm regards from Nepal and Australia, Wendy Moore

  23. Jocelyn C, 03 February, 2014

    Sue F is brilliant, and she will respond but I wanted you to know that she works long hours in her real job, so she varies in participation here. It’s been awhile, so she’s due back any day…..

  24. Wendy Moore, 03 February, 2014

    Thanks Jocelyn! I am a bit “fits and startsy” with internet related stuff too so totally understand Sue! I look forward to her visit here. This is a lovely blog community you have here!

  25. Cindy Lietz, 12 February, 2014

    Hi Wendy, thank you so much for your kind words! I really appreciate it and am happy to help in any way I can. I think it is amazing what you are doing for those women in Nepal. It must be an incredibly rewarding experience for you and everyone involved!

    In regards to the humidly and heat causing you issues with certain brands of polymer clay, that hadn’t occurred to me. We get a ton of rain here, but it tends to be quite cool so the issues you speak of, don’t happen here.

    It was very helpful to know that Kato works so much better for you when you’re in Nepal, than Premo does. I will be able to pass that information along to others who live in hot humid climates around the world. And because of Sue’s awesome testing, now you know the ideal length of time to bake it for and to use baking soda rather than cornstarch, if you want to support it while baking.

    I thought you should know that I have passed along your message to Sue and she said that she would try and respond soon. Like Jocelyn mentioned, she is extremely busy in her life right now. And since she doesn’t do anything halfheartedly, it is difficult for her to just pop by with a quick word. Hopefully she will be able to say Hi and chat with you soon. She has been a wonderful asset to have around here over the years. I like to call her our ‘Other Resident Mad Scientist!’

    Thanks for commenting Wendy! I is a pleasure to finally meet you!

  26. Wendy Moore, 14 February, 2014

    Lovely to get your reply Cindy and I look forward to hearing from Sue but totally understand about sporadic internet use! I am very fits and starts. Having said that, I have just paid up my membership to the Video library and look forward so much to discovering (albeit slowly!) more about this community. When I am in Nepal, we don’t get much internet access and if we do, videos are impossible,; then when I am back, the time just races by! I am excited though to have the possibility and to even be a relatively intermittent part of this community! In Nepal, one of the things we love to do when we are less busy is to read books and magazines that I bring or that we have ordered. The ladies are astounded at the diversity of what people make. Their delight in this magical medium of polymer clay, and the way it has transformed their lives, is unabated!
    A big namaste to all here.

  27. Sue F, 07 March, 2014

    Hi Wendy,

    Apologies for being so terribly slow to reply!

    Cindy very kindly forwarded your message shortly after it appeared on the blog, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in all sorts of things and haven’t had time to really visit this site for ages. (I always seem to get distracted around here… and I’m constitutionally incapable of giving a short answer to anything. ;D)

    I’m very glad to hear that you’ve found the bits and pieces that I’ve posted helpful… and also to hear that you’re using Kato! The different characteristics of the various polymer clay brands are often overlooked, but I think they’re really important for using each brand most effectively, and also for choosing the brands that best suit particular scenarios. I love Kato’s lack of stickiness anyway in the range of average conditions I experience, but it’s really interesting to hear that other brands are too sticky for your environment. The only brand that’s become too sticky for me to handle here in Sydney has been Pardo… even if I would like to clay in the walk-in fridge at my local bottleshop in summer!

    I’ve recently undertaken a couple of projects where the clay has been specified as Premo, and while I can understand its appeal for some things (and it is logical for those particular projects), for me personally the more I use other brands, the more I appreciate Kato. (Sorry, Cindy! I’m really, really happy here over on “the dark side”! :D)

    I’m not sure why the Kato packaging still shows 10 minutes as the curing time because I think it’s insane — terribly misleading and more likely to cause dissatisfaction than not — but here’s my guess. The manufacturers’ curing recommendations for all polymer clay brands seem to be a trade-off between sounding accessible (i.e. not complicated or overly time-consuming) and achieving a good result. In the testing I’ve done, there are NO cases where the package recommendations give the best result, which makes the typical manufacturer warning about not exceeding the stated time or temperature quite laughable. Kato seems to be a really extreme case of this. You could possibly say that if your oven is pre-heated to 150C/300F accurately and its temperature doesn’t fluctuate much, and your polymer clay piece is thin, AND whatever you’re curing it on doesn’t act as a heat sink, that 10 minutes would give a (barely) acceptable result, but that’s not exactly the typical way of thinking about things. If you treat it the way normal people do, i.e. not deliberately and separately considering factors affecting the time required for the centre of the clay to get up to curing temperature, because such things are normally already factored into cooking/baking/curing instructions, you’re bound to be disappointed with the results. (This is one of my pet peeves, if you haven’t already guessed! LOL)

    I remember hearing a bit about Samunnat some time ago and will look into it further now that you’ve brought it to my attention again. From the little I do know, it’s an immensely valuable and worthwhile project, and I hope it progresses in leaps and bounds. If you or the other Samunnat ladies ever have any questions about Kato, I’d be more than happy to help if I can (I’ll try not to take so long to reply next time!).

    Best wishes,


  28. Wendy Moore, 11 March, 2014

    Namaste Sue,

    I am replying from Singapore, en route to Nepal with gosh… the odd packet or so of Kato in my bag. Bags. We do order the clay in bulk but with 6-8 weeks delivery times at best, sometimes worse, and then the “facilitation fee” sometimes required to get it from various points in the country, we sometimes get a tad desperate even with preemptive ordering!

    We are coming up to the hot, sticky pre-monsoon and this is where Kato really works for us. We can’t make some of our more fiddly designs unless the power is on and we can use our overhead fans. This may only be for a couple of hours in the day. We can do caning if we begin early and rest our canes.

    I love the banter about the “dark side”! I have to admit, for us there is the economical element too in that we can, from a limited range of base colours, create so many colours.

    So Sue, rest assured, we WILL indeed pester you and Cindy’s readers with questions. I am excited that in just over a day, all things being equal,I will be seeing our new home, the building that people in the wonderful polymer clay community helped us to build!

    Thank you to all, Wendy

  29. Sandra Grounds, 07 January, 2013

    I love Kato for it’s strength and it’s ability make great jewelry. Never noticed the smell and have used it combined with Premo, which is not as strong.

  30. Jocelyn C, 07 January, 2013

    Wow, have no idea about the editing comment that came up on the top when I published the thread. Doug what did I do wrong?

    Also, think Kato recommends that due to it’s formulation, you not use cornstarch with it. I will leave that to our resident Kato expert Sue F, to explain why. LOL!

  31. Polymer Clay Tutor Doug Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    You did not do anything wrong Jocelyn. That is a bug caused by an “upgrade” that happened on our server. Notice how I put “upgrade” in quotes, he says facetiously.

    I am aware of the situation and am still looking into a fix. The good news is that those lines of code actually disappear on their own after just a short while. If you refresh the page, you will probably see that they are already gone.

  32. Monique U., 07 January, 2013

    I was pleased to learn that peculiar message originated from your server, Doug. I am temporarily on a borrowed laptop, and I was worried the error was related to the new browser I am on!

  33. Polymer Clay Tutor Doug Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    I think I got the error fixed now… could someone post a test comment and let me know if you still see all those lines of code that were showing up previously when posting a new comment. If I did my job correctly, your comment should post normally without any errors. Thanks.

  34. Jocelyn C, 07 January, 2013

    test for Doug

  35. Polymer Clay Tutor Doug Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    Jocelyn – With your “test for Doug” comment, did you see any of those ugly lines of error code that showed up earlier today when you were posting your morning comments?

  36. Cindy Lietz, 07 January, 2013

    Doug, I just made a comment and the script was gone. Phew! That was a pain in the butt! (Mostly for you since you had to deal with finding the fix. Thanks btw.) ~C

  37. Jocelyn C, 08 January, 2013

    Saw nothing, the edits before showed up immediately on posting the thread, and it didn’t for the test. Thanks for fixing it!

  38. Marcela S, 07 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy, You are right, the smell is like plastic but it is not a trouble for me. I have being using it for a while since I found is the only one than can me send to me to México because I only can find here sculpey III and it is not the better one to use for my beads. I really like it, even there are not that much colors, I have worked mixing colors and obtained every color I wanted, I have recipes to equal almost every Premo color and it is great. Of course it is easier to find the color as it self without mixing, but as I have that problem not to find other clay here, for me had worked just perfect. When baked, sanded and polished, the don´t smell at all.

    One thing that has being very useful for me to mix colors is that I´m a graphic designer, so I know about color and combining to obtain other colors and Kato does really a good work in it, it mixes so fast an blends great.

    I hope this comment is good for you, thank you Happy New Year and my best wishes to you and your Family from Guadalajara Mexico

  39. Andrea S, 07 January, 2013

    yes ! i was thinking it was giving my a headache..and was bothered by the smell..but.. my initial problem with the clay was that it was brittle..the project i am working on uses about 5 blocks of premo and i was working on a way to produce something less expensive..fimo and kato are available in tx an both can be gotten with 40%off coupon :)) but like i said ..the kato broke into pieces..and the fimo was not staying white.. (btw i purchased an oven therm and that helped with the color) the end..i combined the two.. so it stayed white ! didnt crumble!! and i believe it will work.. :)) saving money and time.. oh yeah..and the odor wasn’t as bad..cooked it on 230 f for 1 hr….

    and your site and am amazed by all the info!!!!! should have joined a long time ago..!!!!

  40. Sue F, 08 January, 2013

    Brittle Kato is often due to the baking temperature not being high enough (or not being high enough for long enough). Kato really requires 150C/300F for proper strength, and when I emailed Van Aken International a few years ago about baking temperatures I got a lovely and very helpful reply which included information about optionally baking it at even _higher_ temperatures than that for added strength (plus some interesting background on the rationale behind the recommended temperatures on the packaging).

    The other thing that I’ve found to really seriously weaken Kato — and I mean being able to crumble it with your fingers in the worst cases — is overexposure to cornstarch / cornflour. If you baked your Kato items in or on a bed of cornstarch, which is often recommended for other brands, that would definitely result in really brittle and weak clay even if the baking temperature was correct. The technique of baking on or in a bed of protective material is a really good one, however: you just need to use something like baking soda / bicarb soda instead if you’re doing it with Kato (baking soda / bicarb soda works beautifully for the other brands I’ve tried too).

  41. Ken Hamilton, 09 January, 2013

    Ok, I am not a science/chemistry person I understand that they’re two different (for lackof a better word) products, but why the different reactions between cornstarch and baking soda.

    Just curious.

  42. Sue F, 09 January, 2013

    I’m not really any more either. I did some chemistry at uni, but that was a looooooong time ago and on the science side I was much more into physics and astrophysics anyway. I also don’t have access to the equipment and material I’d need to analyse it properly even if I could find my old chemistry texts.

    But my GUESS, based solely on empirical evidence, is that there are at least two factors.

    The first is that something like a super-leaching effect takes place. Cornstarch is relatively porous and absorbent compared to baking soda. It could be that the plasticisers in Kato are relatively more volatile than in other brands (indicator: the smell!), or they could be more susceptible to this for other reasons.

    The second is that cornstarch is a more effective insulator than baking soda, so immersed polymer clay items in particular will take significantly longer to get to temperature in cornstarch than in baking soda. Kato not only has to reach a higher temperature to cure properly, but its response to lower temperatures seems to be less linear than with other brands.

    The weakening, however, is definitely not due _solely_ to the increased insulating effect of cornstarch. Two clear indicators for this are:

    a. Kato polyclay items baked sitting ON TOP of a bed of cornstarch still exhibit serious weakening. Since such items are at least half exposed to the oven environment they will heat almost normally (the portion in contact with the cornstarch might heat more from the item side than the cornstarch side), i.e. there is little delay in the clay reaching the curing temperature. I normally cure Kato items at 150C/300F for 40-50 minutes (well in excess of the 10 minutes indicated on the packaging!) but my 45-minute cornstarch-supported Kato flat test pieces were much weaker than test pieces cured on ceramic tiles for just 20-minutes. The cornstarch-supported pieces would simply snap with moderate finger pressure.

    b. Even if the item is completely immersed in the supporting medium — cornstarch or baking soda — it will _eventually_ get to temperature (although it takes much longer with cornstarch, so baking time becomes a factor again). I’ve tested this with a probe borrowed from one of my kitchen ovens because I wanted an additional check that it wasn’t solely a temperature problem.

    Anyway, the above is my current theory. If anyone has official information or scientifically supported details I’d love to know too! :)

  43. Cindy Lietz, 09 January, 2013

    Great comment Sue! Do you want to know what my gut says on this? I have recently seen some Pins on Pinterest on how to make your own polymer clay using white glue, oil, lemon juice (of all things) and cornstarch. (No I don’t think it would be a decent replacement for any of the clays on the market right now.)

    This got me to thinking that perhaps, Kato Polyclay has cornstarch in it? If it were one of the actual ingredients, it may cause the cornstarch in the dish to try and bond with the cornstarch in the clay? Or at least the oils to flow freely between the two cornstarches. Baking soda on the other hand is an entirely different material and may careless about bonding with the clay. Just a thought. Highly doubt Donna is going to share with us her ‘secret ingredients’… so this may be a question that never gets answered… ;)

  44. Sue F, 09 January, 2013

    It could be! (Hmm… I wonder how I could check?) And, hey! I’ve got all of those ingredients on hand! (I’ve got a real urge to go all mad scientist now. :D)

  45. Andrea Schundelmier, 11 January, 2013

    additional comments about mixing fimo and kato..
    hmmmm..what about 300 for 10 minutes like the kayo pkg says and then lower to the fimo temp for 30 minutes.. :)))

  46. Sue F, 14 January, 2013

    The idea is good — I do something similar with Kato/Premo mixes sometimes — but I’d strongly recommend different times.

    10 minutes at 150C/300F is DEFINITELY not long enough to get good results with Kato, no matter what the packet says! See my long reply to your other post upthread for more info on this.

    For a Kato/Fimo mix, I’d personally try 30 minutes at 150C/300F, then another 30 minutes at Fimo’s 110C/230F.

  47. Tantesherry, 09 January, 2013

    welcome Andrea :) this is a supper nice place -Sherry

  48. Andrea Schundelmier, 14 January, 2013

    yes it is a super nice place ! :)))) awesome info too!! so excited to be a part of it !

  49. Denise P, 07 January, 2013

    Thank you for this video and your opinion!! I’ve always wanted to know more about Kato clay! I would also like to know more about the euro brand…Cernit I think it’s called? Have you experimented with that brand?? Thank you Cindy!! Happy New Year!!”

  50. Patty Jorgenson, 07 January, 2013

    then there is Prosculpt for doing dolls. its all so fun learning

  51. Roly Z, 07 January, 2013

    I like working with Kato clay. It’s the brand I use the most.
    I also find the smell very strong, but I got used to it and it doesn’t bother me.

  52. Stepahnie B, 07 January, 2013

    I bought some of the new kato but I have been to scared to open it. I say this because I have broke both of my shoulders and have trouble working with the clays that are stiff.

  53. Jocelyn C, 08 January, 2013


    This is an older thread with some great advice on working with Kato.

    Also Donna has a free video which discusses the method she uses and it really helped me:

    Hope you try it, Kato clay is a great product to use once you get past the conditioning.

    She has acknowledge that different formulations have proven difficult, and now the current formula (which I have not used) is more manageable. I would use the search facility, especially “Sue F,” for some great tips, as she is our resident Kato expert and beloved mad scientist, lol.

    All best.

  54. Cindy Lietz, 09 January, 2013

    Stephanie, I think you will find that the new Kato is fairly easy to condition. I found it about the same as an older block of Premo. If there was a hardness scale where 1 = mushy and 10 = rock hard, I would give it a 7. Sorry to hear about your broken shoulders. That sounds rough! Heal quickly and maybe think about getting a motor for your pasta machine if you don’t already have one. That would make conditioning a little easier for you. Take care.

  55. Sue F, 07 January, 2013

    Welcome to the dark side, Cindy! :D

    Regarding the smell, I agree that Kato is the strongest smelling polymer clay out there — when I handle other peoples’ polymer clay creations I can usually tell what clay they used by the smell, and with Kato I don’t even need to get very close to do so! — but I actually like the Kato smell! So no, it doesn’t bother me.

    To me, it’s actually Premo that smells a bit unpleasant. That doesn’t normally really bother me either, although I found the smell combination of Premo + Paprika when baking made me feel a slightly ill stomachwise when trying out the faux flaking rust tutorial.

    I’m still using the older Kato formulation because I find the new one too soft, although it wasn’t as bad (read: soft) as I’d feared. But I stocked up big time on the old formula after trying the new one so it’ll be a while before I “have” to switch; those are 10-litre containers; most of the packets are 12.5oz; the small yellow packets are the standard 2oz size; and my working supplies are in addition to that!). Anyway, the new formulation has relatively more plasticiser, so maybe that’s a factor in the strength of the smell you experienced too.

    Regarding combining Kato and Premo, unless there is visible Premo translucent (e.g. on the surface around cane slices), when I use them together I just bake at Kato temperature. I haven’t had any problems with burning or discolouration, although I use a convection oven which keeps its temperature very accurately and doesn’t have exposed elements (it might be different if you are using a toaster oven or similar which has notable temperature spikes). I also sit or immerse the items in bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

    The colour mixing is very different. I find both pretty easy, although I’m better at Kato because I use it nearly all the time. The biggest thing that strikes me is how “weak” Premo Black is compared to Kato Black… I usually add at least four times as much black to a Premo mix than I would to a Kato mix to get the same degree of darkening. Premo has a definite edge for pearlescent colours (it actually has them) and highly saturated dark colours though, unless you get Kato Concentrates (which I love!).

  56. Elsie S, 07 January, 2013

    A few years ago I placed an order for $100 worth of Kato clay with expensive shipping to Canada. A lot of it was impossible to condition. I tried a rubber mallet, food processor with liquid clay, driving over it with my car and it was a nightmare to work with. The smell was definitely stronger and more plasticky smelling and somewhat off-putting. It made me appreciate my Premo clay even more!

    To this day i have an aversion to ever trying Kato clay again. Maybe the new formula is better, but my original experience was a big turn-off!

  57. Peggy Barnes, 07 January, 2013

    Elsie I am sorry to hear about your experience. I always use sculpey mold maker as a conditioner with my polymer clay. Add just a smear at a time. It usually doesn’t take very much. I am with Sue I have a huge supply of the older Kato polymer clay and I love it. I haven’t even tried the new yet. I also have a convection oven and I cook my Kato at 275 for 1 and a half hours. Never had a problem with strength. If I am using premo I cook at 265 for an hour and also never had a problem with it. I always cook for longer period of time at a lower temp. I recently purchased pardo clay so I could make some shoes for the American Girl doll for my grandaughter. This clay works wonderful because of the flexibility. You can even make the sandals with the straps that wrap around to the top of the knee and then tie them. This so far is the only thing I have used this clay for but I have read that it is great for using punches with it after it is cooked and also with a cricut machine. Will have to try and let you know.
    Now as far as smell – They all smell offensive to me with pardo being least then kato then premo. I always even in the winter cook my clay in the garage. Cooking in my studio is just too much. I have trouble with headaches when I work with all the clays so I tend to work in shifts. I also always have a fan blowing on me when I am working with clay and this seems to help. But I have problem with smells due to fibromyalgia. Smells bothered me more than normal before I became ill and now it is even worse.
    I loved reading everyone’s comments and it is kind of funny the way we all have such different opinions on favorites and which smells worse than others. Just another way of showing how individual we all are in our own special way.
    Many Uuugggs to all.

  58. Catalina, 08 January, 2013

    Hey,Peggy, you post made me think that maybe the clay might have something to so with your pain. I just had a outbreak of hives, from laundry soap, and I now know I’m sensitive to dyes. I wonder what dyes are used in clay? I wonder if it could be a problem? But, I could never give up polymer clay now!! Gloves might be an option, though.
    Cindy, maybe if you could find out what the actual ingredients are in polymer clay for us. The dyes used could be something we should know about.

  59. Cindy Lietz, 08 January, 2013

    I am not sure if that is something that the manufacturers are going to tell you Catalina. Though it wouldn’t hurt to ask. Why don’t you email Polyform or ask them on their Facebook page and let us know what you find out? That may be of value for some people.

  60. Lesley Symons, 07 January, 2013

    I have to say that the smell of Kato doesn’t bother me, though I know a lot of people hate it. I actually find the smell quite useful … you can always tell a blob of Kato from a blob of Premo just with a quick sniff!

    I tend to buy the Kato black and white. I think the black buffs up to a better shine than the other clays … it also seems to hold textures better … and the white (in my opinion) keeps its whiteness better in baking. Though I do tend to bake lighter clays in baking soda as recommended by Donna Kato.

    I’ve found in the past that underbaked Kato will literally snap in your fingers. I made a beautiful batch of zebra cane beads a while back, and they were breaking as I sanded them. Another bake and all was well. I haven’t found mixing with Premo to be a problem, and I tend to bake at a temp somewhere between the two. Your recommendation for baking for at least an hour has been really helpful!

    Other than that, I love Premo for its great range of colours, so most of my clay is Premo.

    On a slightly different subject …. I’ve been trying the Pardo Translucent, and this is definitely the best of the translucent clays …. sometimes comes out looking like glass, depending on how thick it is.

    I love that you’ve posted a review on this. Different clays all seem to have different properties and to be good for different things! Thanks once again Cindy – I always look forward to your videos!

  61. Catalina, 07 January, 2013

    That was very interesting. I haven’t tried Kato for two reasons, one, for the degree of hardness and two, for the limited access to find it in stores. I love Premo and love the way they mix. The smell issue you mentioned, Cindy, would be a problem for me. I’m confident I don’t need to try Kato. I love Premo and no need to change. If, I were to get into some serious caning maybe I would change my mind. Thanks for the tip!

  62. Hermine R, 07 January, 2013

    I have tried the old version of kato clay when it started. The new version is still smelly but not as much. I can tell you that it smells even after many years even cured because I keep my beads in a container and it does smells. When I go at Morrisburg’s clay gathering if there is an oven to cure the kato clay I make sure to not be near it. It does give me a headacke and sinus troubles.
    I noticed that all clay smell.
    For me fimo smells flowery, premo a bit plasticky.Cernit clay is not as smelly I would say like fimo. I don’t use kato clay anymore even though I thought it was great for canes. I have discovered recently the Viva pardo clay made with wax.Two types jewelry and art clay more for canes. It seems to have another name in Italy it’s called there You clay distributed by To-DO and that one is made with wax too.
    You should try it if you can find it. Not available in Canada and more expensive. The smell when it cures is of wax. So if you stand that smell you’re o.k. Their translucent clay is the best I have found so far.

  63. Karen Johnson, 07 January, 2013

    Thanks for the review and warning about the smell. I have a sensitive sniffer and am not thrilled with the smell of Premo as it is. Would love a review on Pardo translucent!

  64. pattw35, 08 January, 2013

    Lots of info – I use Premo, almost exclusively. I have never noticed that it had a smell. I have tried Fimo Classic, and Kato. Guess this old horse will not change – LOL!. Glad everyone has an opnion, though. Smells bother me too. But, I am most definitely going to try Pardo Trans. The Pardo clay sounds interesting.

    Thanks Cindy for all you trials, it sure helps us decide what to use. If, because Premo changes their line – AGAIN- , I will use whatever clays necessary. I still miss Cobalt Blue and Zinc Yellow.

  65. Bonnie Kreger, 08 January, 2013

    Cindy, I cannot use Kato clay because of the smell. I am very sensitive to perfume and aftershave also but I found the smell of the Kato gave me a really bad headache. I had a bunch of it and I had to give it away to a friend. I took a class a couple years ago and the teacher asked that we use Kato. This was before the formula change and before we were told how to condition it. I almostt gave up. We had to condition the clay before the class and we had to have a lot of clay done. Then we found out you are suppose to put it in a bag and use a mallet on it on the cement floor which was really hard on the arm.

    Kato makes beautiful canes and keeps the lines really well but if you don’t use up the cane within a short period of time it gets really hard.

    I wish I could use it and I wish they could change it so it didn’t smell. I’m guessing because it’s so strong that changing the formula will cause it to weaken or they would have done it by now.

  66. Melodie F, 09 January, 2013

    Cindy you are just such joy to watch.. Always up beat and informative. Thank you.

  67. Karronkay, 09 January, 2013

    Okay, I have to “fess-up” here. I was making the flowers and ran out of the white and black. Clay was on sale so ran to the store to get some. They were out of Premo white so I bought some Fimo and had some Kato that I had ordered – stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it , I never opened it before as everyone tells tales about the difficulty factor. I was desperate to keep going… so I thought ” I know I can mix the Kato with the others and finish”. I dug deep in the drawer and found it….Hooray!
    I opened the package and began my conditioning process. Kept smelling it .ugh. There must definately be something wrong with it. Maybe I kept it too long and it “spoiled” ( can clay spoil? LOL) I actually threw it away!

    Now that I have read this thread I see that I threw away perfectly good and usable blocks of clay.

    O dear me! Should have posed the question on the blog before my hasty decision to throw it away.

  68. Sam G, 09 January, 2013

    Not so much the smell of the different clays that bother me but I have discovered that with my fibromyalgia, I am in pain more often than not after using Fimo classic (and often have a headache/migraine also boot!!). I usually use Premo and find that on a good day it doesn’t cause me problems. I haven’t tried Kato yet as the thought of anything being hard work to condition puts me off. I have tried the Pardo translucent and it is great to use. Cindy thanks again for your great video x

  69. Angie K, 09 January, 2013

    I found this very interesting and helpful. I have often wondered about Kato clay – we dont have it here in Ireland. Thank you.

  70. Veronica Farne, 09 January, 2013

    Hello Cindy, Ladies & Gents
    I’m a bit late with my comments but…….I also found the smell of Kato very offensive – both while claying and cooking. And I must have tried it before they changed the recipe – tough as ol’ boots to try and condition. I gave up and threw it out. I love Premo – yes a bit sticky at times, but very stable overall. I would also like to hear comments on Pardo translucent as well, or what others are using to make flowers that are a little translucent (if you know what I mean), making them appear closer to the real thing.

  71. Andrea Schundelmier, 11 January, 2013

    @Veronica… I tried some Kato quite a while back and it was as tough as lo’ boots LOL I though “somebody must have shipped this stuff through Texas in august !” ..but checked it out again recently and gave it a squeeze in Hobby Lobby and it was good ! and not sticky ! .. :))) now if i can just figure out how to bake it so it’s not brittle… lol.. *learnin something new every day !

  72. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2013

    Hi Andrea, I will be doing some more PcT Test Labs with Kato Clay but from the info I have received from a trusted member Sue F. she recommends baking for 40 minutes for ultimate strength. You may want to do some small test samples yourself. Since it could take a little bit before my tests come out.

  73. Andrea Schundelmier, 14 January, 2013

    thanks soooo much for all the help miss cindy !! :))))) and I will check it out.. Andrea

  74. Patricia R, 10 January, 2013

    Wow! Premo once again comes out on top. Thanks Cindy, as always that was very helpful.

  75. Jocelyn C, 10 January, 2013

    “I hate the stuff, lol!”

    Just want to mention that for those of you that purchase clay you are not happy with, please throw up a thread here and let us know. Bet you’ll find you could get some money back for it from one of us or we could trade you for the type that you want.

  76. Karronkay, 10 January, 2013

    Great idea! I think I have some still buried in the big cabinet. If anyone wants the Kato I have I will send it to you. It will sit there in my drawer until it maybe will “SPOIL” LOL. I will never use it and would be happy to send it off to clean out that drawer. Let me know.Karonkay

  77. Jocelyn C, 10 January, 2013

    Karon, would love to take that clay off your hands but unfortunately, cost is issue until Fall. Unbelievably, a dear friend is taking me on a cruise in March, so I need every last dime to cope with incidental expenses there and pay off the medical bills, lol.

    If you’d like, I can trade you a wonderful book, “All Year-Round Clay Flowers, Mini Flowers for the Beginner” by Asako Nishiyama, that I purchased through I think you could probably write your own book after your experiences, but this artist uses a clay called “Artista De Luxe” white and adds pigments, and her miniature creations are remarkable, if not for the beginner.

    Up to you, I certainly could understand you passing on this offer, due to the massive knowledge you’ve acquired through your project.

    And I am sure that someone else here can trade you back and put that Kato Clay to good use, lol.

    If interested, please get Cindy to pass my email along to you.

  78. Karronkay, 10 January, 2013

    I only found a couple…. but you are welcome to them. I will get your address from Cindy or you can facebook my timeline Karon Cowger, spo. WA. Hope you can read this am typing in the dark.

  79. Jocelyn C, 11 January, 2013

    Thanks, Karon….pm’d you on Facebook.

  80. Barbara C, 10 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy.

    I use premo and kato clay, sometimes mix them . I don’t really notice much of a smell. I bake in a convection counter top oven , I bake at 250 usually longer than an hour , then I leave the pieces in the oven till it cools down. The oven has a digital clock and timer and when I set the temp it goes in 25 degree increments 300 to 275 to 250 don’t know how to set it otherwise. I do always cover what I am baking. I have never had anything brake and it all seems fine. I like the Kato for canes and the price. I also think Kato does not show as many finger prints and also it buff up really nice.


  81. Sandee L, 11 January, 2013

    Have to say I love KATO nowdays – used to use Premo but after clay carnival in 2011 I was won over to KATO – the old kato use to be hard to condition but the new formulation (without Phthalates) is much easier – infinately better for caneing than premo and gives a harder, firmer finish that feels more like a “scrabble tile” result when baked. the only thing I like better with premo is the frost – much more translucent than kato translucent I’m afraid -I am hoping they will improve kato translucent though!

  82. Gina A, 11 January, 2013

    Cindy, Have you tried the “store-brand” clay at Michaels. Wish I could remember what they call it. Anyway, It is quite a bit cheaper, much stiffer out of the package (which could be because it doesn’t sell as readily and has sat longer). It has, however, a really nice, almost velvetty feel when baked. I bought some black and used it for a backing on a pendant I made using the mica shift technique. I also made a small, coil-like, twisted rope around the edge to make it appear the mica-shift piece was mounted. The matt look really played nicely against the shimmer of the premo clay.

    It may or may not be worth testing these clays because not everyone has a Michaels nearby, but they could be a money saver for folks. Color range? Eh! But for those staple colors (black, white, etc) they could provide a way to stretch the polyclay budget.


  83. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2013

    Hey Gina, I did a review on the Craftsmart Clay in Michael’s, that you may want to check out… let’s just say I am not a big fan!

  84. Denise G, 11 January, 2013

    I thank you for the info. I have a very low tolerance for smells, in which they trigger migraines. so I will bypass these clays. I find your videos very helpful as I am just getting started.

  85. Jo Anne St James, 11 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    I thought your video on Kato Poly clay was very helpful as well as all the comments. I would like to see more testing done too including Cernit and some of the other “non conventional” brands.

    While the smell does not bother me, my problem is that Kato clay is difficult to find in my area and I see others have experienced this problem too. So, when I start a project using Kato I really have to plan out how I am going to use it and how much I need and then order it through the web. This approach to project work is frustrating because I really prefer to have the spirit move me rather than plan everything out!!! I am sure most artists will agree with this!

    However, I feel it is the best clay for cane making and it gives off the best shine after buffing resulting in a very professional finish. Using this material the canes really hold their shape and become very firm after the clay settles and then slice like butter for my projects! The array of colors are great too and blend well. As a result it has become my clay of choice to use for most beading projects.

  86. Andrea Paradiso, 11 January, 2013

    Jo Anne and All—

    As you say, Jo Anne, re: the caning. I understood from Donna Kato’s books that this was formulated to be the best for caning and the polish and the more professional finish. But I’m dismayed to hear Cindy found it oily after baking. Did you find this to be so?

  87. Jo Anne St James, 11 January, 2013

    No I didn’t – not at all.

    Cindy, was this oily finish on pieces you made from one or more than one package of Kato clay? Sometimes there is an “off batch” of clay and if all of your samples were from that package this might have happened here.

    As far as oiliness is concerned while I have not experienced it with Kato clay I have encountered this in metallic clays (usually gold and copper) but always in the pre-cooked stage.

  88. Cindy Lietz, 13 January, 2013

    Oh I guess I should clarify that oily comment I made, Andrea and Jo Anne… I found the clay to feel oily only when it first came out of the oven and was still warm. After it cooled that feeling was gone.

  89. Amy T, 11 January, 2013

    Dear Cindy,

    Thank you so much for the info on Kato Clay! I thought it was just me.

    A few years back (many years) we put up polyeuothane (spelled wrong I’m sure) covered pine boards in our house and I was way overcome in the middle of the night my heart started to pound and I had to get out immediately. Well to make a long story short the same thing happened with the Kato clay I was even worse as I couldn’t breath and my heart felt like it would pound out of my chest. So yes this is serious stuff I wear rubber gloves and teargas mask when working with it. Windows open. Now though I am going to get a different brand and hopefully my problems will be solved.

    Thanks again. Love your videos every week.

  90. Sue F, 14 January, 2013

    I shouldn’t laugh but… that gives me a wonderful mental image of working with Kato wearing a full biohazard suit!

  91. Andrea Paradiso, 11 January, 2013

    Dear Cindy and All—Bought Kato clay and haven’t had a chance to work with it yet but HAD to right away find out what you thought of it, Cindy. Thank you for all the heads-ups and I will report back.

    As I get to know more and more about you, Cindy, and all the folks in this group and all the PC artists all around the world, there is something I cannot get aver no matter what—you are all such generous, supportive, happy, creative people! You are ALL sweethearts and I really needed you all in my life! Thank you so much and pardon my gushing but I could not and did not want to help it.



  92. DawnB, 11 January, 2013

    Thanks for the video Cindy! I picked up some Kato clay quite a while ago, but I haven’t really used it for any projects (you guessed it), because the smell was too strong for me. It’s funny how it affects us all differently. I haven’t noticed any smell with Premo! and Fimo which are the brands I usually use.
    Your public service announcements are fantastic!

  93. Laura Reed, 12 January, 2013

    Thanks for bringing this smell issue up. I have not tried Kato but I get severe migrines (hospital addmision bad) so smell would be a huge factor for me and I would not even risk it. I began the craft of claying because of the headaches as noise, perfumes, etc. so I cannot participate in a lot of activities outside of my home…so I am so thankful that four years ago I came across a picture of your Anjou Pear Bead….that is what lured me in to the craft! I love Premo and rarely use anything else.

  94. Rebecca Doremus, 13 January, 2013

    Hi Laura. I agree with you on this. I also get horrible migraines and will not try this clay again. After watching the video I did go in and open a package and the smell was very strong. I use Fimo/Primo/Sculpey and do not notice a smell. And the KATO that I had picked up to try just made my neighbor very happy as she has been wanting to mess with clay – and now she has some.

  95. Mrs Rainbow, 12 January, 2013

    I generally have used Fimo, because I originate from the UK and that seems to be the most easily available there. I have quite a stock of old Fimo now, because tbh, I have not really done much regular claying for a while…. *hangs head in shame*….but there are so many crafts I want to do….and so little time! LOL

    However, it is my birthday very soon and when my Mum asked me what she could get me, I asked for a fresh supply of polymer clay…. because after spending several hours trying to condition and soften my last lot of old Fimo I just cannot handle the thought of doing that again just yet……and moreover, neither can my hands!! :D

    So…… I chose Premo, purely because I wanted to make the sweet-pea tutorial. Mum, bless her had already bought me the Wiltons kits I need for it, for Christmas…… and rather than making it with Fimo, I thought I would try out what Cindy had recommended in the tute itself. So, I am looking forward to seeing what it is like. It has had to be bought from abroad, I think again from the UK, as it is not available here in Finland. This was another reason why I had not got around to using it before.

    I have however used Cernit as it was the only thing I could buy locally up here inside the Arctic Circle! I used it to make a figure for my Mum a few years ago and it was really totally different to Fimo. It was so soft, it was like working with a hard petroleum jelly! It kept melting in my hands – I kept on having to put the piece in the fridge to allow it to harden off. I would not recommend it for canes and such that is for sure.

    For my sins, I do *somewhere* have some old style Kato. Unused, due to being so darned hard when I first opened the packet, that I thought I would return to Fimo! I only bought that Kato because I had bought a Kato tool from a particular buyer and it made sense to make the package shipping worth the while!!

    I will let you know what I think of the Premo when I get it! :D I would also be curious to know Cindy, what you think of Fimo! :D Why is it that you generally use Premo instead? Is it down to availability?

    Btw….sorry this was such a long ‘comment’!

  96. Cindy Lietz, 15 January, 2013

    Long comments are awesome Mrs. Rainbow, so don’t worry about it. People can always glean over what they don’t want to read. The Google Robots love text, so when you’re talking about polymer clay, the more the better, really.

    I really like Fimo. It is what I started with. So if that is what you have to work with, then it is an excellent choice. I just prefer Premo. Mostly because of the colors that are based on the artist colors I am used to in the acrylic paint world. Makes it easy for me to mix color recipes with it.

    I also love the strength, and consistency of Premo. You can use it with pretty much every technique and I am used to it. So when I go to create a new technique or tweak an old one, I pretty much know how Premo will behave. I would say that Fimo Soft and the latest formula of Premo are the most similar (except the baking temps which are quite different).

    Kind of wish all clays were just as easy to get as any of them, no matter where you lived. That way it would be easier to say ‘use this clay for this technique… and that clay for this other technique’. That would keep us all on the same page, no matter where we lived. But compared to 5 years ago, we are getting to that point faster and faster. It truly has become a Global Marketplace.

    I mean, how cool is that, to be sitting here chatting about polymer clay with me living in Canada and you living half way around the world in Finland!

  97. Mrs Rainbow, 16 January, 2013

    VERY cool indeed! -25c cool actually! :D I believe that is -13f for those with that system. Fortunately, it is always very warm, friendly and inviting here in this site! :D

    Thanks for your reply! Still not got my Premo yet, but then, it is not my birthday yet, not until Sunday. It has two more days to get here in time… we do not have post in or out of the country on Saturdays here. Still, it is not like it is a surprise and I am big girl now (going to be 48 this year – eek!) and so can handle it not arriving by then!

    Mum also bought me some friendly plastic, so I am interested to try that out too! :D I have lots of plastic beads that I want to jazz up! :D

  98. Bertha A., 13 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,

    Though I joined your site some weeks ago this subject is the first one to prompt me to post a message! I was turned into a clay junkie at a workshop I took last summer given by a clay artist known for the gorgeous use of canes in her pieces. Her materials list gave the option of Kato or Premo, with Kato as her preferred choice for making canes now. So I learned with Kato. When I opened the package I got the plastic smell but I assumed that was normal as polymer clay is a plastic! And I have not had any strong reactions like some people have mentioned. However, the subject of the smell was brought up during the workshop, and this artist said she also uses it to tell the difference between the clays!

    For me, smells usually cause allergic reactions of sinus/breathing problems, not migraines. I am allergic to most perfumes (if I have to go through the perfume department of a store I do it at the fastest speed that won’t make security suspicious while holding my breath). And I react badly to a few other things, like chlorine. I often pick up on plastic smells when other people don’t, but I have problems with only some of them, not all. For example, I need the support pillows usually made of some foam type material. I’ve had to return some because the smell is so bad I can’t even have it in the room, let alone sleep on it.

    But fortunately I do not (yet!) have that reaction to Kato because I do like the way it works for canes. But I am still new enough to clay, and still getting my work environment set-up, that I don’t have enough experience to give a lot of useful feedback about Kato vs. other brands. I guess it’s another reason to be glad there are several choices in clay because we react so differently, though it is a pain that so many of us have easy access to only a couple of brands! And I would be happy to buy unwanted packages of Kato off anyone’s hands! ;-)

  99. Kelsey K, 15 January, 2013

    I don’t like the plasticky smell of Kato. It’s not so bad that it makes me ill, but it’s part of the reason I haven’t done much with Kato.

  100. Deby P, 16 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy, I found this very helpful. I have not tried Kato but after your video with your input with the differences of clays I will not be trying it because I do have a sensitivity to smells, so Thank You very much!

  101. Pam D, 17 January, 2013

    I use mostly kato clay, I really like it for canes and the colors stay bright. The other clays are softer and sometimes the designs move.

  102. Debra G., 20 January, 2013

    Hi Cindy,
    Just wanted to say I loved your video on the Kato Clay! I happen to love the smell of Kato clay and Premo clay’s ! But some people are just more sensitive then other’s. I will accually be working with my clay and hold it up to my nose as I am working it just stimulates me and makes me happy when I’m claying ! Call me weird but it’s all true ! I have a nose like a labrador retrevier anyways! I consider that both a curse and a b lessing ! LOL ! I find Kato to be a very strong clay to use as I make jewlery with my clay and sculpt flowers but I also have arititis in my hands and prefer Fimo and Premo because they are easier to condition. Still love the smell in California! I do hope you do some research on Pardo Artist Clay soon !
    Thank You,
    Debra G.

  103. Charlene Turner, 25 January, 2013

    HI Cindy! I have to say that I am one of those that enjoy’s the smell of Kato:) It reminds me of the the smell of opening a package with a new doll in it as when I was a child :) I dislike the smell of premo when it’s baking. The big difference I found was the caning prossess is Much better with Kato. When you build a cane and start slicing you have what I call a Less smush factor then premo or sculpty. It is a harder clay to condition and I do spend alot of time mixing colors because they don’t have a large range of colors. By the way I caught the video of the Translucent test and thank you very much for that one! I am glad to see the colors of each brand and I may have try Fimo…:) Charlene

  104. Danie S, 29 March, 2013

    I like the video alot Cindy, I will return your site and super…

  105. Diana W, 02 April, 2013

    So thankful that you posted this video. I am a retired Art Teacher, however quit teaching years before the Polymer Clay Bonanza…

    I have been wanting to experiment and get my creative juices going again; however just now…April 2nd. 2013 in a good environmental and emotional place to do so.

    Long Story Short…I am quite sensitive to smells and used to suffer horrible migraines and took medicine that only made me violently ill in other ways. After years of experimenting on the healthcare front, conquered my migraines and seldom have one any more. Avoidance of all kinds of triggers is 1 KEY.

    So thankful that you posted this…I will be avoiding this brand altogether, not wanting to take a chance to be put down for 3-5 days w. a migraine.

    Hope to post somethings more positive and less self-involved…however, had to share my appreciation.

    Diana (Candid Camel)

  106. Diana W, 02 April, 2013

    Oh yes…also being an environmentalist since the 1960’s was keenly interested in the Solar Powered Aspect and your April Fool’s Day video was the 1st video of yours that I watched…

    I bought it hook line and sinker!

    Actually thought the experimentation that another post referenced…made me immediately think of the architectural solar drying transfer / processes. I LOVE THE SUN!

  107. Michelle H, 28 April, 2013

    I saw the video and tried Kato poly clay. I really loved it. But as mentioned in many of the comments, even I find the smell very difficult to manage. But my daughter really loves it. Thanks for uploading this video.

  108. Norieta K, 28 April, 2013

    Cindy, I use the Kato liquid clay for my faux opal cabs. I layer my inclusions with the liquid and bake each layer after adding them. I use the cabs for my beadwoven bracelets and collars. I always get oh,s and ah,s when I show them. I am always on pins and needles waiting for your next video . Joining your site has been the very best investment I have ever made. thank you so very much. Aloha. Norieta

  109. Elke V, 11 May, 2013

    hi there,
    i really enjoy your video’s that i receive each week in my mailbox. Although i don’t post reactions that often.
    i use both premo and kato. Some days premo has my preference because of the number of colors that come premade. But most of the time i use kato.
    Because i have rather warm hands, premo and certainly fimo tends to stick to my hands. Kato doesn’t and the color doesn’t rub off that much either. You should see my hands after 5 minutes with fimo :-).
    Kato doesn’t smell that strong anymore since they’ve changed the formula, straight out of the package and while baking. Although I always open the window, whatever the brand when baking.
    I still have some old kato and there is a remarkable difference, the old gives me headaches when i’m using it for a longer time (several days in a row for instance). The new doesn’t.
    I also like it because it leaves hardly fingerprints (less sanding is always a good thing.
    The new kato is also much easier to condition than before.

    hope this helps,

  110. Charles Gravité, 16 May, 2013

    Thanks for the nice video Cindy. It’s funny how it affects us all differently. I haven’t noticed any smell with Premo! and Fimo which are the brands I usually use. Your public service announcements are too good. Thanks again. Love your videos every week.

  111. Eric Evans, 07 June, 2013

    Superb demonstration through the video!
    I always loved making creative stuff with clay from my childhood.But later in my teenage and adulthood, studies,work,job,other responsibilities took priority and my hobby took a backseat.But I must thank you for motivating me through your post to go back to the clay.I am also trying with Kato and Premo from last few weeks and not bothered by its smell as of now.Keep sharing such great articles.

  112. Michelle C, 22 June, 2013

    Well the video is good, I liked it. I have used polymer clay for some stuffs but I also find that it smells a bit more stronger for me. For many others it is not that bad. That’s may be because I am more sensitive towards smell. I prefer Fimo brand clay which smell fine for me.

  113. Iveta C, 08 September, 2013

    Hi Cindy,
    greetings from the Czech Republic (Europe)!
    I just watched your video tutorials and I am so excited! Thank you very much for your tips, they are very helpfull .And I must say, you are very sympatic person! Keep making videos and your nice jewelery :)

    You ask about our questions everytime, so I would have some. First of all: Do you have any experiences with the brand Cernit? I dont know, if its sold in Canada, but you didnt talk about it. I am using Cernit and its good and cheap (the cheapes clay here actualy) ;)
    And the second question: How to sand metalic polymer clay? If I tried it, the clay stoped be metalic and start be just dark or smoky and definitely not nice.

    Thanks for your time and have a nice life :)
    Iveta from Prague

  114. Cindy Lietz, 10 September, 2013

    Hi Iveta, Welcome from the Czech Republic! It is a pleasure having you here. I don’t have any experience with Cernit yet. They don’t carry the brand here in Canada (as far as I know) and when I was in the USA last I was unable to pick some up. I would like to try it though. It sounds like an interesting product. When sanding metallic clay, you have to make sure that you keep sanding to a very high grit 1200 to 2000grit is perfect. Then when you buff it, you will see the metallic particles that are below the surface, quite beautifully!

  115. Sue F, 11 September, 2013

    Hi Iveta,

    Another possible reason for your metallic polymer clay becoming dark and not-nice when sanded is that the clay hasn’t been rolled sufficiently to align all the mica particles. If only the surface mica particles are aligned you’ll lose the shiny metallic effect as soon as those surface particles are sanded off.

    If you’re not already doing so, make sure you repeat the process of folding the clay and running it through the pasta machine in a consistent direction at least 10-15 times. Personally, I repeat this more like 20-30 times!

    Some clay brands also have more mica particles in their metallic clay than others, which might make a difference.

    I haven’t tried Cernit clay either. The Australian online seller that carries it only stocks a few colours, and they’re not enough for proper colour mixing (no metallics either, since we were just talking about that). How do you find the full Cernit colour range?


  116. Katie D, 22 January, 2018

    I actually found your video by searching kato clay smell, because I just opened it for the first time to try and it smelled SO STRONG. Totally gave me a head ache and I don’t know how anyone works with it. It has been recommended several times and never once did anyone warn me about the smell! Yiles! I don’t think any other polymer clays have a smell, so it caught me very off gaurd.

  117. Cindy Lietz, 29 January, 2018

    Yeah me too Katie! I had heard that some people didn’t like the smell, but I didn’t think I would have such a problem with it… after all I’m tough, right? I soo wish that it didn’t bug me so much though. A LOT of people really love the properties of it. I also really appreciate Donna Kato, herself and what she has brought to our community, ans would LOVE to support her brand. But I can’t get around the headache part enough to get to use it. So far anyway!

  118. Casey F, 04 September, 2018

    Hi Cindy. I am having trouble with Kato being brittle and breaking after baking at the manufacture suggested temp (usually at 350 F) for 1 hour. I have a pasta machine and make sure to condition the heck out of it (30 times through, using first the largest setting, and then a medium thin setting, again their recommendation) . I usually let it cool on the counter top. And every piece snaps like a twig! I am ready to give up on it, though I previously loved it for its strength, and return the two blocks of it that I just bought. I always run a thin translucent test piece along with the piece that I am working on, and it too snaps like a twig. I am at a loss except to think I got a bad batch of it. Two metallics and a white and a translucent all behaving the same way. Any thoughts you could give me?

    Many thanks,
    Casey :)

  119. Cindy Lietz, 10 September, 2018

    Hi Casey, that doesn’t sound right. At that temp, the clay should have fused together quite strongly (if not burned… I’ve heard you could go higher with Kato, but I thought it was more like 300F-325F not 350). My guess is that your oven is lying to you and that it is not actually baking at that temp. Are you using an oven thermometer? Ans if so, you may need to get a new one. Oven thermometers tend to stop reading correctly after a lot of use, so it could be that. Also on a side note… it is not necessary to condition the daylights out of your clay. You only need to condition it long enough for the clay to be smooth and hold together. Brand new soft clay doesn’t even need to be conditioned. It is a wives tale that clay needs excessive conditioning. I bet the issue here is not a bad batch of clay… just a low or inconsistent oven temperature. Try baking a sample of clay in another oven and see if that makes a difference. Let me know if this solves your problem.

  120. Candice O, 06 November, 2018

    I’ve been using Kato Polyclay for many years, and recent batches (within the last year or so) are definitely more prone to crumbling after breaking. It used to be such a tough, flexible clay! I wonder if the formula has changed.

  121. Cindy Lietz, 09 November, 2018

    Hi Candice, I am not aware of a recent formula change with Kato Polyclay, but I do know there were changes a few years back. Depending on where you buy your clay, it could be that the clay you are using now is different from the clay you used before.

    I have heard that Kato is recommending people bake at much higher temps now for a good cure.

    Another thing it could be is your oven. Ovens are notorious for temperatures being off… even if they weren’t off originally, the temp probes and thermostats can not work as well over time, so it could be your oven, rather than the clay.

    I’d get a new oven thermometer and play around with the temps a bit and see if you can’t get your clay to be strong again. Good luck!

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