Every year I do this project with my second grade classes, and they are amazed at how beautiful and well crafted Molas are. I like to pretend that we are taking a trip together to the border of Panamá and Colombia to visit the Kuna-Yala people so we can learn firsthand about their art.
Many live on a small island in Panamá called San Blas, and they also live in small villages in Colombia in the “Darien Gap.” They speak the Tule language, and some of them speak Spanish. They are famous because of their art which is called “Mola,” a term which also means clothes in the Tule language. The Kuna women are the ones in charge of making the molas that are part of their clothing. I take this opportunity to share pictures of a few molas with the children and ask them to describe them by naming the colors they see.
I observe the pictures with my students and share with them the fact that molas are made of three layers. Two of the layers are the same shape, but with different sizes, a small shape and a big shape, laid on top of one another to expose the different colors. Then, simple shapes are used around the main part of the art to decorate it. All the layers are usually of different colors and are sewn by hand.
The “Make Your Own Molas” Art Project
In this project we will use the same basic technique, but instead of sewing, we will be using paper and glue.
Putting your Mola together
2. Glue the slightly smaller fish (red here) in the fish shape of the template.
3. Glue the smallest fish (yellow one here) on top of the small fish (red here).
5. Use a different color and glue strips and dots of paper on the other shapes (green bits here).
6. Add some shapes to the fish (green strips here), and you will have a beautiful Mola!