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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Herbilicious – Mint

The Purple Frog is a huge mint fan. Those leaves are magic. From Mojitos to Mint tea, from After Eight to Mint Yogurt there is nothing that is not cherished here.

However, to use mint as an ingredient,

The Purple Frog thinks of it as something to be had a fling with – few leaves and stems here and there, a pinch of dried & crushed coarse powder or at maximum, a bunch to be mixed with something neutralizing like yogurt. Try a full-fledged affair with it in a recipe, and you need one more ingredient to balance its strong flavor that leans towards bitterness.

Yet, nothing stops The Purple Frog from using mint the right way and stretching imagination to come up with more ways to keep it around.


The Purple Frog had mint tea that instead of fresh mint straight from the planter, was made of dried, coarsely crushed leaves added at the very start with water, before all the other ingredients were added. Oh the flavor – how well it fitted with the entire set of ingredients of regular milk tea.

Another recipe is Labneh

Where dried, coarse, crushed mint leaves make for a great addition without disturbing the original personality of the dish. Well, if you are not from the middle-eastern or the Mediterranean region of our world, labneh might not be a part of your staple diet. However, if you’re a yogurt lover, it ought to become.

Sharing the recipe from the start

It makes for a great spread on flavourful multi-grain crackers.

A jar of yogurt hung for a day or more till it is consistent enough to look like a moist ball of cheese. Lightly knead it with a bit of salt and olive oil. At this stage add dried, crushed mint leaves and there you go,

Herbilicious labneh

Roll into tiny balls to add to salads or simply beat it mildly to turn into a lovely mint cheese-like spread or make one big ball to be sliced like mozzarella that can replace the cheese in a cold cheese & tomato sandwich for a low-calorie version.

For another low-calorie, flavourful recipe using mint

Put together grated cucumber, a bunch of fresh mint (crushed using mortar & pestle or blitzed in a food processor), fresh yogurt, a pinch of salt, pepper & sugar and you have a flavourful Indian Raita to go with spicy veg or even, vegan biryani ( a soy chunk, tofu based recipe that The Purple Frog will share later).

Talk Mint and

The options are innumerable. The Purple Frog will come back with some special ones that can add some pop to the arriving festive season.

Till Then, take a look at these

Things This Week

Dips & Sauces platter

To be able to accommodate two to three dips & sauces at one place…next it will go to the kiln and turn into a beautiful (hopefully) ceramic piece.

Mint-coloured mosaic work

Since the theme for this post is mint and this mosaic work is super recent here, the mint-coloured tesserae on this little folding table make for a mention.

The Purple Frog | Mosaic Table


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Crochet Contemporary

There are a lot of laptop bags, covers, tablet sleeves and cases all over the market. However, anyone, especially a DIYer, who is passionate about making objects with knowledge of some craft, would never miss that chance to create.

So, The Purple Frog is one such person. This time the craft used was crochet. Sadly, many call it an oldie’s go-to craft, The Purple Frog enjoys hooking up with it to create something contemporary.

So couldn’t let go of the urge to create a sturdy bag for this fragile electronic data machine that weighs about 2.3 kilograms.

The questions were many.

Can a yarn-woven delicate piece hold it up well? Would taking a plunge in this direction simply prove to be a big waste of time and effort? And, can crochet even churn out something that is worth all this planning?

Putting all the doubts aside, The Purple Frog visited its yarn cupboard and took out some of the most beautiful, soft, chunky and glossy reams of yarn. The two colours picked were shades of green – one an amazon forest green and the other lime green.

They were meant to be together. So, planned the entire piece…

  1. Started with measuring the LBH of the laptop.
  2. Drew a little sketch for deciding which way to weave the colour combo. You see, the colours might just be two, but the ways of weaving them together are innumerable.
  3. Picked the Amazonian green to make one side of the laptop sleeve, using a simple stitch (single) for a tight, fitted weave.
  4. Picked the lime green to make the other side using the same simple stitch but, with some extra sides to give the cover a bag-like depth.
  5. Took about a week to get the sleeve ready. And started using it as a cover immediately since the Purple Frog is traveling.

The work ain’t over yet

To be able to carelessly carry this heavier-than-rock laptop around, this cover/laptop sleeve needs to be converted into a bag with a lining, zip and handles. So the plan is to give it two small yet sturdy leather handles and a waterproof lining that has a pocket for the charger.

By The Way

This glossy piece happened after weaving together some light-weight yarn in puffy (popcorn) stitches. Halfway through it, the Purple Frog realized that this beautiful looking piece wouldn’t be able to hold the machine, So stopped that work mid-way.

Garnered some strength to approach making a laptop bag differently…

Putting all the doubts aside, The Purple Frog visited its yarn cupboard…You know the rest of the story.

The Purple Frog | Crochet Laptop


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