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An Ode to Where the Crawdads Sing

This has been a project I’ve been dying to do ever since I read Delia Owens’ ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’. I read it at the beginning of lockdown and it was such a comforting book to read. I won’t go into too much detail because you NEED to read this book for yourself! It’s a coming-of-age story about a young girl, Kya, who grows up in a marsh in North Carolina and who has to learn to fend for herself as each of her family members abandon her in turn. As she grows up, Kya becomes at one with her natural surroundings, befriending the seagulls, collecting seashells and feathers and documenting her findings through paintings. A beautiful love story unfolds when the very kind Tate starts leaving Kya feathers as presents and shares her love for nature.

For this project I wanted to use natural colours to represent the marsh, so I opted for a green and brown colour palette. As Kya was very much a practical character, I wanted to avoid using “manmade” materials and keep everything very natural and rustic, so handmade paper was a must. Cursive text was definitely important too, as Kya had handwritten and hand-painted all of her botanical work – so I also had to hand-paint some seashells in true Kya style! And I loved using the botanical postage stamps with the dragonflies and insects – they really reminded me of a marsh!

The Night Heron was a very important aspect, as Delia Owens refers to the elusive creature quite often – almost comparing the bird to Kya herself. I painted two different herons, and opted for this Great Blue Heron in the end, mainly because I loved the colours and thought they fitted the colour scheme most.

I wanted to make sure that I included one of “Amanda Hamilton’s” poems in the project because they feature so heavily throughout the book. They mostly have quite a sad tone but I found this beautiful verse in one of them and thought it was perfect for Kya and Tate’s love story.

"Child to child
Eye to eye
We grew as one
Sharing souls"

Feathers were essential for this design because they initiated Kya and Tate’s love story, so these little feather name cards represent the many feathers that the two lovers left on the infamous tree stump as gifts for one another.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my process. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you are a big Crawdads fan too!

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