Posted by: efsacco | March 24, 2010

4/11/2010 : 3er Festival del Mundillo, Orlando, Florida

Tejedora Darlene Rodriguez has organized a third Festival del Mundillo/ Festival of Bobbin Lace which will take place on Sunday, April 11 at the Asociacion Borinquena de Florida Central, 1865 N/. Econlockhatchee Trail, Orlando, FL 32817, from 11-6PM. Lacemakers from Moca, Puerto Rico will be participating.

If you have any questions, please contact her at 407-518-7947 or 787-587-3467 or by email at: darlenepiano@embarqmail.com




Posted by: efsacco | March 24, 2010

Carmen Quinones Marcial

I met Carmen and her family at the Festival del Mundillo in Moca. An accomplished lacemaker, Carmen pushes the bounds of her skill, and seeks new ways to make lace. When she was a young girl, she remembers that there were mundillistas along Carretera No. 2 where she lived then, in Barrio Palmar, Aguadilla. Fascinated by the work of women in mundillo, she began to learn how to make lace, and supplemented this knowledge by taking the courses offered in Extension Agricola in Moca and in Aguadilla. She has experimented and learned other bobbin lace techniques, which she applies to a variety of forms and fabrics. Hers is a family of artisans– her husband makes traditional masks, paintings in addition to bobbins, and her daughter sews wonderful handbags and creates beaded decorations for accessories.

samples of handkerchiefs with handmade lace edging

mundillo de Carmen Quinones Marcial, 2006

mundillo de Carmen Quinones Marcial, 2006

Posted by: efsacco | April 7, 2009

Lacemakers Remembered, Moca, Puerto Rico

Angela 'Gelita' Feliciano Ramirez (1920-2008)

Angela 'Gelita' Feliciano Ramirez (1920-2008)

There are a generation of lacemakers, tejedoras or mundillistas, that I was fortunate to meet before they passed. There is something very tactile, very intense about making mundillo- the skill that makes the sounds of wood bobbins rhythmically ring, the amazement in seeing someone work on a large pattern with hundreds of pins and bobbins. Others are younger artisans who have an entire career of making and teaching before them.

In the Museo del Mundillo Puertorriqueno on Calle Barbosa in Moca, there is a memorial board, on which the names and dates of mundillistas who have passed are put on small plates that are affixed to a dark wood panel. Included among the names are family members and persons who made lace.  Instead of just posting a foto of that board, here are some photographs of several tejedoras- some of whom made lace for their families, others who sold lace they made to a shop or who had a shop themselves.  I was able to interview Vina Arocho, Gelita Feliciano and Nene Nieves. I’ll post more about them in the future.

Lucia 'Nene' Nieves Morales (1924-2007)

Lucia 'Nene' Nieves Morales (1924-2007)

Domitila 'Tila' Caban Alonso (1902-1982)

Domitila 'Tila' Caban Alonso (1902-1982)

Virginia Egipciaco Vasquez (1912-2005)

Virginia Egipciaco Vasquez (1912-2005)

Virginia 'Vina' Arocho Rodriguez (1921-2007)

Virginia 'Vina' Arocho Rodriguez (1921-2007)

Julia Vale Mendez (1906-1991)

Julia Vale Mendez (1906-1991)

Gelita's mundillo, Moca, 2006

Gelita's mundillo, Moca, 2006

Posted by: efsacco | October 27, 2008

Visit with Ada Hernandez Vale, mundillista of Moca, PR

Ada brought her mundillo to make lace at the Plaza during the evening
Ada brought her mundillo to make lace at the Plaza during the evening

 

I met Ada by chance when visiting a pharmacy adjacent to the plaza. She was holding her chihuahua Trompito and asked me (in Spanish) if I was looking for mundillo. When I said no, what is it? She answered, If you’re from here, you should know, it’s your heritage! She then took me and my husband over to her home and began showing piece after piece of handmade lace. This is how I began my foray into studying mundillo.  I later met her brother, Don Benito Hernandez Vale, also known as Mokay, who runs the Museo del Mundillo at 237 Calle Barbosa. Their sister, Malene Hernandez Vale was also a recognized lace maker who was celebrated at the Festival del Mundillo, which each year honors a local tejedora for their creativity and work in making mundillo. 

Ada introduced me to other tejedoras whom I interviewed, and will write about in future posts. What impressed me about this process is that it consists primarily of a network of women joined by thread, family and skill sets passed on from person to person.

Posted by: efsacco | August 16, 2008

Visits with mundillistas –

I had the opportunity to meet many amazing people when I was involved with field research for my project. I’ll be posting about them over the next few weeks. Some spent time teaching and helping others get through particular stitches, or discussed designs, thread and items they made or sold. 

The first person I interviewed was Isidra Perez Bourdon, who passed away this year at the age of 99. Dona Isidra was born in Moca and moved to Indiana, where she continued making mundillo. She returned to Moca to retire in the 1970s. 

 

Isidra Perez Bourdon speaks about her life, Bo. Capa, Moca, PR, 2006

Isidra Perez Bourdon speaks about her life, Bo. Capa, Moca, PR, 2006

Posted by: efsacco | August 23, 2007

Generaciones

Mundillo has several generations of practitioners, which becomes murky before 1860. The US Federal Census actually lists various artisans in and around Moca for the 1920 and 1930 censuses. I use oral history to supplement these records, along with other data to reconstruct the trajectory of mundillo on the west side of the island.

Among the families involved in mundillo in Moca are Arocho, Bosques, Egipciaco, Hernandez, Lassalle, Mendez, Moralez, Nieves, Perez, Rodriguez, Vale, and many others.

Posted by: efsacco | July 24, 2007

Telars y bobinas- wood & lace

Telars are the lap boxes that a lacemaker uses. It has a base and a roll so that the crossed and twisted threads that make up the lace can be secured with pins. As the lace is worked, the roll is rotated back, and the pins further away are reused for the new section. There’s no set size for the box, and its dimensions can be adjusted to fit the person, or the project.

Telars are also called mundillo. Wherever you find a maker of telars and bobbins, you’re sure to find other kinds of wood work. In the past, telars were fashioned from recycled wood– fruit boxes or furniture drawers. Today you can pick from a variety of styles, with incised or carved surfaces. There are even telars made of anodized aluminum or even lucite. Bobinas or bobbins can be made from a variety of woods, and in the Museo is a cabinet with bobinas made from 64 different woods, each with a different shade and density. Today, a lathe is used, before, folks used a knife or blade and whittled the bobbin out of coffee branches, or other types of branches collected from the countryside.

Frequently, santeros, the makers of wooden saints and religious imagery also made telars and bobinas. Stylistic regional differences were accentuated in the past, but this is less the case today given mobility; of more importance is the influence of training under particular teachers. It is the same with lacemaking. Moca has a number of master lacemakers, who teach individually or in small classes held in various locations. Each person imparts something to their student, who then can take the pattern and rhythm of lace to another level.

Posted by: efsacco | July 7, 2007

9,000 lacemakers in PR can’t be all bad….

It’s great that there are so many practitioners across the island. However, they are not interchangeable. Each person brings something unique to it. There is such a thing as poorly made lace.

During tours i’ve given at the Museo del Mundillo, folks seem surprised at the estimated number of 9,000 lacemakers. That in itself surprises me! They’ve come to Moca thinking that there are two little old ladies left making lace, when actually, there are many practitioners.

The art of mundillo crosses age and gender. The Director, Don Benito Hernandez Vale has initiated programs to teach mundillo in the schools of Barrio Las Marias that combines mundillo and adult education, so that people can learn it while getting a GED. We can conserve tradition, while strengthening the community. Many women have spoken to me about the therapeutic value of mundillo, how it allows one to lose oneself in its rhythmic and repetitive movements. For others, it’s value is social- the innovation of the lap box or telar allows one to sit together with others, sitting and making lace.

Moca was founded in 1772, and the origins of mundillo are rather hazy. As most of the island’s first centuries were as a military colony, lace was probably not high on the list of things to do, and it was imported. If you look at paintings by Jose Campeche y Jordan (23 Dec 1751-7 Nov 1809), there’s lace on the uniforms, metal lace for the dressings, the buttons. Lace decorates the clothing of women, but where was it from exactly? Its difficult to determine, but I am on the path.

Posted by: efsacco | June 26, 2007

Working with the living and the dead

I’ve been intensively involved in lace and genealogy for the last five years. In order to learn about the women and men who create lace and the tools used to make it, I’ve had to learn about families, and in order to learn about this local history, i’ve immersed myself in genealogy.

Moca, and PR in general, as i’ve mentioned in a previous post, have a 200 year history of lace. I am also fascinated by how racial dynamics are also involved, as among the earlier generation of women who were master artists, some had slave ancestors. Abolition was declared in PR in 1873, and as in other places, aside from being freed, things didn’t change all that much for poor folks in an agrarian based society. This is how lace is connected to more than just a decorative element. There’s a political history to mundillo as well.

Despite lace’s connection to the rich and famous in the past, often overlooked is its connection to exploitative work practices. What’s different about Moca is that mundillo instead offered a way out, a means of earning a little more beyond the factory.

Posted by: efsacco | October 23, 2006

Mundillo en Puerto Rico / Bobbin lace in PR

I am currently working on a study of traditional Puerto Rican bobbin lace making, known as mundillo.

Mundillo is a practice with a two-hundred year-old history that involves invasions, migrations and social changes that impacted society, gender and technology. Moca, a small town on the west side of Puerto Rico, is considered El Capital del Mundillo.

What I enjoy most about the history of mundillo is that it affords a means of making the labor of women visible, not only through text, but through the oral histories that I have been collecting. It involves narratives of survival, skill and of knowledge passed on through family members or associates.

This practice is not restricted to women, however. There are men who make lace, just as there are women who are instrument makers (guitars, cuatros, etc.) or santeras, carvers of saints. Often, mundillo is a family affair, with women making lace on mundillos using bolillos- the lap boxes and wooden bobbins used to create the lacework- made by men. Often, women (or men) were taught by their mothers, grandmothers or aunts.

In the 18th-19th centuries, needlework was the purview of accomplished young women, and in Puerto Rico, needlework was taught in private schools run by nuns of the Catholic Church. Mundillo also became part of this education by the early 2oth century. The waves of immigration to Puerto Rico brought many people from countries with a lace tradition– Spain, France, Belgium, Italy, Corsica, Malta, Germany among other places. During the late 18th century, the slave uprisings on Saint Domingue, and later, the Real Cedula de Gracias of 1815 brought many persons from France who settled on the west side of the island. Mundillo was also practiced in Cuba, and while the islands of Puerto Rico, Cuba and Santo Domingo were under Spanish rule, administrators and their families moved from one island to another to undertake government appointments during the nineteenth century. The blending of traditions continued.

There is a Museo del Mundillo in Moca, of which I am the Curator. You can visit the museum’s webpage at http://www.museodelmundillo.org

 

It’s estimated that some 9,000 persons across Puerto Rico make mundillo.

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