Silky Dip with Billie Zangewa

Just when you think there’s not much left to be explored in the world, something amazing happens here.

This time

Billie Zangewa’s work left The Purple Frog spellbound. So, decided to think about her art. Spent some time going through the images of her intricate work and figured it is all fabric that she works with, to be more precise, silk.

It turned out that

A large number of art lovers are glued and stare at her work just like The Purple Frog does. Her admirers are not just in Johannesburg where she lives but all over the world. Upon more research, The Purple Frog found that her art falls under the broad spectrum of Textile Art, a space that has a few more diligent artists whose work stuns you as much as it puts you in awe of the artwork, from concept to creation.

The Purple Frog spoke to Billie Zangewa

To understand how she uses a medium like textile to not just create something beautiful but also to express what she feels strongly about. One of the many things her art proudly displays is her femininity.

Since it is all about falling in love with MAKING here (this time with a cause), The Purple Frog even asked her for a DIY and a start point for anyone who wants to get into Textile Art.

But first,

See for yourself the silky sheen of her art work (tapestries), the meticulously sewn patches, delicately created images with fabric that reflect her own domestic, intimate life which she finds empowering.

The Purple Frog | Billie Zangewa

The Purple Frog | Billie Zangewa

The Purple Frog

The Purple Frog | Silky Dip with Billie Zangewa

The Purple Frog | Silky Dip with Billie Zangewa

How she got into fabric art and that too silk,

She says it was inevitable as she had always been interested in fabric, hand sewing as well as rich textured surfaces. Having grown up in a setting where there were no artists’ studios and no printing press, she learned to make do with what was available. In that journey of “lack and necessity” silk chose her, or how she likes to put it – “to cut a long story short, I believe that I was led to silk. I came to using silk very organically and over a long period of time.”

Did she ever think her work will garner such popularity and love…

Goodness, no! The only thing I hoped for was that I could give up the other jobs that I was doing to pay the bills so that I could focus on my creativity. That happened for me eventually and it was such a personal achievement for me. The rest is really like a fairy tale experience and I feel blessed and humbled by it.

Her favorite places to go to gather raw materials and tools for artworks? 

A shop here in Joburg called Fiona’s and I love it because there are so many different kinds of fabrics under one roof. Soho in London and the Fashion District in NYC.

 Now for all those who are feeling inspired, some tips from Billie

Enjoy yourself, is really all I have to say. There are so many fabrics and techniques that there is so much room for individual self-expression. If you don’t know where to start, join a sewing class and start from there.

And yes, be prepared to work anywhere from 2 to 16 hours.

For her it depends on whether she has a deadline or not. No matter how much she doesn’t enjoy the 16 hours working day, she says, “but, it happens.”

So here is a DIY project Billie thinks anybody can try and from experience she says, it is an extremely satisfying exercise.

It is not related to textile as such, but I urge anyone who wishes to try it, to duplicate a favorite item of clothing that is too worn to wear anymore. Use the old item as the pattern and sew it by hand. Keep it simple. And then enjoy your work by wearing it.

Well, she is right there.

Wearing what you make or carrying what you create is enthralling.

See here in Things This Week

Two pieces The Purple Frog made a few weeks back. One is now a framed piece of art, the other a sturdy, denim-meets-butter yarn bag  going through everyday grind of carrying stuff.

The Purple Frog | Fabric wall art

The Purple Frog

The Purple Frog

Textile art is vast and almost limitless in its scope of work. Many people who practice it have set the bar extremely high in terms of the diligence it requires to work with fiber. There are some during the course of exploring Billie Zangewa’s work that The Purple Frog came across.

Hope to share more stories of inspiration soon.

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