This Shrikes my fancy!

I really can’t wait for The Book that Carol Soderlund and I have been working on to come into print! While I can’t go into specific detail about this, I can give broad overviews as to what you might expect to learn. So here goes.


As artists, it is suggested that we find a subject matter we are passionate about and to apply ourselves and our artwork to this. We do this in order to work in series and to show continuity of subject matter. I have chosen birds and even more specifically, the Audubon list of Common Birds in Decline as my focus. (Unfortunately, Audubon has not updated their web site in such a way that all the links work properly, the above link shows the full list of birds, at least).


Loggerhead Shrike is number 18 on this list. Delving deeply into acquiring knowledge of this bird began by drawing a Shrike from the pages of a birding magazine. From there I went on to inform myself about this bird, learning that it is a meat eating songbird who uses tools, like barb wire to kill it’s prey. This bird can sometimes be misidentified as a Northern Mockingbird, because of its color and size. It can also be mistaken for a hawk because its meat eating beak is sharply curved, to make it all the easier to eat its prey.

When bringing these facts to the design table, it is important to illustrate just the essentials. As you can see, when looking at the stamped image of the print, above, I chose to illustrate the curved beak and this birds propensity to use tools to kill it’s prey. These are two things that distinctly differentiate the Loggerhead Shrike from the Northern Mockingbird.

Note: A ‘strike off’ is a first printing of a stamp or tool.


I love printing cloth to be used in quilts, so the Loggerhead Shrike print was paired with two differently sized feather prints and some commercial solids to help fill out the yardage necessary to make a quilt.

Melly quilt

And while, I have not illustrated how to make the tools for this particular design, the above quilt will be featured in our upcoming book with Crafting a Life, LLC. Directions on how to place your own most favored subject matter into repeat will be covered-in detail.

I know that I often choose some pretty detailed imagery to work with, so I followed Carol’s suggestion to teach the effective use of motif and repeat by using more simple and approachable motifs than Loggerhead Shrikes! That is what working with a coauthor and friend does!! I hope you are as excited to learn these techniques and ideas as we are in being able to share them with you!

3 thoughts on “This Shrikes my fancy!

  1. I am so excited about your new book coming out. I know you and Carol will author an outstanding book that will be required reading for all textile artists. Aren’t birds fascinating? I didn’t know about the barb wire. My 3 year old nephew is into animals, so I have been seeking out books for him. I found a Nat’l Geographic book that had so many interesting facts written for young people. His Auntie is learning, too. I have been reading about early women illustrators for books, especially children’s books. I have always wanted to work in a series. I think I get hung up by either making the subject too broad or narrow. Thanks for educating me about the Loggerhead Shrikes. I thought of you Wednesday on my walk. I was watching an egret when Flycatcher popped into view. 😉


  2. I cannot tell you how excited I am for this book, Melly!!! Especially all of your hints about doing repeats. This is something I have been working on a lot and I need all the help I can get. You two are going to be awesome together in this book.


  3. I’m very interested as I already do some of this with my favourite subjects plus paint rather than dye. I love your first two books. I know I will love this one and there’ll be lots to learn.


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