Today on Art Around the World, we’re doing a molas lesson, a fabric appliqué folk art from Panama. The Kuna people on the San Blas Islands cut and sew these bright and colorful panels and stitch them to the front and back of their clothes.
Molas are made with a technique called appliqué. Each color in a mola is one layer of fabric. Rather than cutting all the shapes and sewing them together along the edges, the layers are stacked and stitched together to make the design. Take a closer look of a mola here. Observe the fine details and level of complexity of the designs. These were cut and sewn by hand. What incredible craftsmanship!
These artworks have bold color and stunning designs of animals, geometric patterns, and more. Many of the examples we can find online are of plants and animals, but the Kuna women don’t stop there. From designs inspired by pop culture or images telling stories of their ancestors, the subjects are only limited by the imagination of the artist.
Check out many more mola designs in this slideshow from YouTube.
The Kuna people pass along knowledge of making molas from generation to generation and take great pride in their work.
Molas Art Discussion Questions
- Study the designs and colors. How do you think it was made? Which colors were layered first and last?
- How do you think the Kuna people feel about these molas?
- How do you think the rise in tourism and increased desire for molas as a cultural souvenir has impacted the Kuna people?
Well, you clearly need to make molas about of paper with your kids. Obviously. Here is a video showing you how to do a molas lesson.
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Molas Lesson Resources
Paper Molas Lesson from Blick Art Materials
Paper Cut Molas Lesson from Deep Space Sparkle
This molas lesson from the Helpful Art Teacher does a good job at showing the layering process.
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