Using tutorials/books week 2 – Donna Kato | Cara Jane Polymer Clay Using tutorials/books week 2 – Donna Kato | Cara Jane Polymer Clay

Using tutorials/books week 2 – Donna Kato

Posted on January 20, 2013

One of my favourite polymer clay books is Dona Kato’s – The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques. I have always admired the Translucent Overlay Beads featured in the book, as has my friend Hannah so this week we decided to try them out together.

We both made a couple of canes from the selection Donna suggests and put them together. The instructions are pretty clear and as all the canes themselves are reasonably simple we had no trouble making the canes. We made coloured translucent clay by adding Kato concentrates to translucent Kato clay, this is the red and blue clay shown in the canes below. Here’s our cane collection.

We both made a large bead/pendant out of scrap clay which we covered with a layer of white clay – so that we didn’t get murky mud colours showing through any translucent parts. Here’s Hannah’s in progress. Again Donna gives instructions of how to construct the beads which are relatively straight forward.

The layers need to be really thin, the Kato translucent clay was pretty soft so we put the canes in the fridge for a while but they were still pretty hard to ‘shave’ thin layers from without terrible distortion. Leaching the soft clay at the start probably would of been helpful. I would also recommend practising shaving thin layers on a block of scrap clay before using your canes if you haven’t done it before. I need more practise still I think!
The photos above are in progress snapshots captured with my little point and shoot camera whilst we worked. I am currently taking part in an excellent guided online photography course with Brit Hammer – Photographing Fine Art and Craft . so I took a little more time to photograph my end result. Here’s a couple of shots – I’d be interested to know which you prefer if you have the time to leave a comment. The course is keeping me busy but hopefully I will have plenty of beautiful photos to share with you soon. I would highly recommend it as Brit really takes time to find out what it is you want from your photos and helps you to achieve it. I am having great fun and learning loads!

I wish I had taken more care in placing  my overlapping translucent skinner blend striped layers.  I don’t like the way they meet in places. The ripple cut mokume cane (the red and slightly zig zaggy gold bits) is a subtle effect when done with a fine ripple blade. My favourite part is the jelly roll mokume gane which is the gold and translucent spiral cane. It looks like gold fingerprints to me! You can’t sand it much as the layers on the surface are so thin. I just gave this a light sand/polish with some micromesh cloths. 

I made my bead quite large as I wanted it to be bold and striking. Well it’s certainly bold! Perhaps a little on the large side so I shall make smaller ones next time!

 I am pleased with my end result although it’s not quite as I had in mind when I started out. Of course I much prefer Donna Kato’s beads so at some point I shall revisit this and try out different colours and different placement of the component canes. 
I hope you are having fun in 2013 so far!


  1. The last picture looks almost professional Cara – and the bead is lovely too – love that reflection, would love to hear how that was achieved – perhaps in another post??

    p.s. – have just seen the announcement for Polydays 2013 – looking forward to meeting you all there – well, most of you 🙂 again,

  2. Cara, you did a great job on that bead. It’s stunning. It has your personality in it and it’s beautiful.

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