What could be more exciting than finding a completely new use for polymer clay. Polymer clay may breath new life into an art form that began in the stone age with chiseled rock hooks. Today large fishing lure manufacturers with mass production injection molded plastics are producing $800 million in "me-too" plastic fishing lures every year. They all look the same. But if you study older, collectible lures (they are hot investments now days) you can see that a huge part of the creativity has been lost.
On December 15th 2002, an industry, an art form and a proven material were about to converge and change the future. My wife, Mary, asked me for a hand crank pasta machine for Christmas... if you are reading this, you probably know what that meant - Polymer clay. We are both artists and were both interested in polymer clay for different reasons. We have different skills and interests. She teaches ceramics, paints, does mosaics, and a whole lot more... I am an illustrator, web developer and fishing enthusiast. When the pasta machine arrived, I immediately "helped her put it together". Ok, I usually play with her craft toys, sometimes before she does. Anyway, at the time, I was busy trying to perfect ceramic fishing lures... don't laugh, they work too. But it hit me, why not try polymer clay fishing lures? No kiln and I can "re-fire" it in the oven? Surely someone was already doing it? Maybe I could learn from them... apparently not, well at least I couldn't find anyone on the internet. The fishing lure makers weren't and the polymer artists weren't. It seemed perfectly obvious to me but then I was working on ceramic fishing lures... I do get odd ideas.
I figured polymer clay could bring back the creativity, artistry and craftsmanship that real artists and fishing lure collectors were looking for. Shoot, even the fishermen should love this! After all, I'm talking about fishing lures they can shape and bake in an oven. Beside being pure fun, learning to create serious fishing lures in polymer clay might even prove profitable, a rarity in most art circles. Currently, top quality, fine art, lures can bring over $120 each in Asian collector markets. Mass production commercial lures sell for $5-$9 every day, it's an $800 million a year industry in the US alone.
The more I learned the more excited I got. While I never heard of anyone else using polymer clay to create fishing lures, I immediately knew it was a perfect match. Polymer clay opens a whole new world for creative, imaginative fishing lures. Polymer clay has it all - color, strength, the ability to texture the surface and transfer images. You can work from a mold or hand shape. You can add materials to it. There are "glow in the dark" colors. It's non-toxic. It doesn't require fancy equipment. You can blend the colors and even add to a cured shape, It allows for curing multiple times. It's water proof and shock resistant. Best of all, it shrinks 2% when cured, which means it locks tight on a hook or embedded wire structure.
Even more exciting is the fact that polymer clay works with every known piece of lure hardware being manufactured. You can mix and match polymer clay with traditional lure materials like rubber skirts, feathers, fur, and hair to create amazing lures limited only by your imagination. You can use all the existing hooks, o-rings, leaders, rattles and blades. Even more importantly, it allows you to explore your skills and talents. Color blends, finishes, shapes, or textures, fishing lures are the ultimate creative expression. If you happen to fish, and 80 million Americans do, you can have the supreme satisfaction of catching a fish on a lure you created.
After experimenting a bit I found some ways to make it work. You really can create a polymer clay version of every known form of lure. I don't care if you are talking about jigs, crank baits, spoons or flies. There are techniques for making them all. So I started creating "how-to" guides with fully illustrated project sheets for some of the most popular lure designs. I made lures, took pictures and after testing, experimenting, designing and writing, I completed six detailed guides covering every major fishing lure style, a color guide and a general introduction to Polymer Fishing Lure Construction all on easy to use computer CD's.
Polymer clay is a great lure construction material. It makes a tough job easier. Real lures have to function correctly - that means they have to imitate life. They need to fool a fish, and if you want to sell your lure, it also needs to attract a buyer. Guides are important because there really are some secrets to creating usable fishing lures. Jigs have to present correctly. Crank baits have to run straight and right side up. Spoons need to attract the right attention in deep dark muddy water. Flies have to "match the hatch". Pretty isn't "good enough" with polymer lures. You have to get the mechanics right in order to have a "real lure". After you get the basics right, you can start using your artistic skills to create serious works of art.
For an introductory report and project sheet, visit my web site and sign up for my PolyLuresTM Updates.
Copyright 2003 Don Lokke Jr, All Rights Reserved
We want to thank Don for sharing this unusual Polymer Clay project with PCC, and we encourage to visit his website! If you have a lesson or tutorial that you would like to see on the PCC Website, please email or or any staff member and we will help you prepare your article for the PCC Website.