Mundillo, the art of weaving delicate lace using wooden bobbins wrapped with thread probably originated in 16th century Italy and then spread across Europe. The tradition came to Puerto Rico with the Spanish and reached a high state of refinement in towns such as Moca and Isabella.
Rosa Elena Egipciaco was born in Moca into a family steeped in lace-making, as her mother and grandmother were noted makers of lace. She recalls starting to learn mundillo when she was three or four years old. After graduating from the University of Rio Piedras, she continued to practice mundillo and co-founded the Cultural Center of Moca. In 1986, Egipciaco moved to New York and dedicated herself to teaching lace-making through a variety of programs ranging from workshops for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union to serving as a master in the New York State Council on the Arts Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program.
She currently teaches at Boricua College in Brooklyn and demonstrates the art of lace-making at institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History, El Museo del Barrio, and New York University. Egipciaco continues to create new designs for collars, blouses, handkerchiefs, bridal veils, and pillowcases, holding to the dream that someday she will be able to build a museum in her Puerto Rican hometown dedicated to the art of mundillo.
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