I read today on Donna Kato's website that Kato Polyclay has been reformulated-- "gone green". The phthalates have been removed from the formula.
I'm no chemist, but I know that large amounts of phthalates probably aren't good for us. Because of concerns over the effects of contact with phthalates, more and more restrictions are being placed on their use in goods-- particularly products intended for children.
Donna writes that the new formula will be just as strong as the old one. It's even supposed to be easier to condition-- "but not too soft".
The packaging of Kato Polyclay will also be changing. Instead of the larger 3-ounce blocks, it will come in 2-ounce packages (like Premo and Sculpey III). For those interested in testing the new clay, there will be sample kits of four 1-ounce packages of different (but coordinating) colors. Oh, and Kato Clear Medium will be sold in colors. No idea which colors, but there's something else to be on the lookout for. (I wonder if the colors will be opaque or translucent. I guess we'll have to wait and see.)
I'm not sure when the new formula will hit stores-- or how the change in package size will affect the price of the product-- but it will be interesting to see what happens next. I've barely touched Kato Polyclay, myself, since I've mostly been happy with Premo (which is also easier for me to get), but if the new formula is easier to condition, I'll definitely have to give it a try.
On a related note:
On the Prairie Craft website, I found an update on the status of Donna Kato's upcoming book. I have no idea when it was posted, but the report indicates that the photos are all done and they're working to get final approval before sending it off to be printed. They haven't even chosen a title, yet, or set a release date, but it shouldn't be too long. (Still no mention of it on Amazon, but I guess that's not so strange, considering that it's not even named yet.)
If I remember correctly, this next book's supposed to focus mainly on millefiori. I haven't done much caning, to date. Every now and then I make a very basic cane-- usually for something relating to miniature food. Millefiori can be beautiful, but it simply hasn't appealed to me as much as other techniques. That said, if the new book is anywhere near as lovely as her last, I'm sure it's worth owning-- and maybe it will be the incentive I need to give caning some serious attention. There's a lot to learn!