The Wicklewood Blog
- 24 Jan 2019
- DESIGN INSPIRATION
Lilly de Jongh Osborne (1883-1975), the great-great-grandmother of Wicklewood’s co-founder, Caroline, was a prolific collector of textiles and crafts from Central America in the 1930s. Her textile collection - one of the biggest in the world - formed the foundations for Wicklewood's original designs. We are discovering a bit more about Lilly and her fascinating life in this week's blog post.
Lilly de Jongh Osborne was a Dutch woman raised in Costa Rica who had a love of meeting new people, a distaste for ladies’ luncheons and a fascination with Guatemalan traditions and culture.
‘Mamita’- as the family calls her - spent her days travelling on horseback through the highlands and exchanging new textiles for old ones. She carefully documented her discoveries and dedicated decades to becoming a pioneer collector.
'I started my textile collection with the idea of having it contain as many of the various textiles worn by the Indians of Guatemala. Little did I dream that the undertaking would be so difficult or so much fun or that I should learn so much in my search for the more elusive specimen'
- Lilly de Jongh Osborne 'Making a Textile Collection' article 1933
Lilly was a fantastic writer, lecturer, collector, and scholar specializing in Mesoamerican arts, crafts, and textiles. Some of her many artifacts are part of the collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Lilly's lifelong passion for textiles and impressive collection served as a starting point for Wicklewood's original designs.
|A photograph taken by Lilly of a craftswoman working on a backstrap loom. Wicklewood's Ciche cushion in red and Ciche oblong cushion in blue are made from fabric handwoven on a backstrap loom, an ancient weaving technique practised for centuries in many parts of the world. All of our Guatemalan Jaspe designs are first made by hand binding the yarns to prepare them to be dyed and dried in the fields. From there the weaver sets up the yarns on the loom with the pattern ready to be woven using his hands and feet. The looms are simple often handmade and are easily portable making weaving an activity that can be done almost anywhere.
Written by Lilly in 1965, 'Indian Crafts of Guatemala and El Salvador' is a book devoted to the materials, techniques and articles made from textiles of Guatemala and El Salvador. A combination of technical information and many detailed illustrations, including the meanings of designs and the part they play in ceremonies. Wicklewood's Lilly cushion in cream, Juanita table runner and Jaspe oblong cushion are inspired by Lilly's books, photographs and textile collection and our Diamond rug was also inspired by designs found on Lilly's extensive collection.
|Lilly's horseback travels through the highlands was the inspiration for our Caballo cushion alongside the traditional Carrera de las Animas in Huehuetenango. Every November 1st, this city in the highlands of Western Guatemala celebrates a horse race where the riders dress in elaborate costumes boasting feathers in their hats and special jackets. The riders try to stay on their horse all day, doing rounds on the 328-foot track while drinking agua ardiente (booze) all day long(!)