Molas are an ancient Panamanian art form created from fabric and worn by the Kuna People, a tribe who live in Panama. Molas are an interesting cultural art that can be taught to students as young as about 9 and through high school. Here is how to teach Molas to your homeschool group, playgroup, girl scouts troops, or other organization.
Background. First of all it is important to give the kids some background information on what Molas are. Let them know that Molas are a form of functional art (art than can be used for another purpose) because they are worn as garments. A quick Google search will give you plenty of examples of real Panamanian Molas that you can show the group.
Materials. For each Mola that you wish to make you will need 5 sheets of construction paper, all the same size and each of a different color, glue sticks, decoupage medium, and scissors.
The Procedure. To create a Mola, have the children choose which color of construction paper they want to be their top color. This piece will actually become the one that shows the least amount of color at the end, most likely. They should fold that piece of construction paper in half and cut a large design out of the middle of it, keeping the edges intact. They can choose something realistic or non-objective (a heart, or just a squiggle). This is also a great time to teach symmetry.
Next, they want to take the outside area of the construction paper (not the shape they cut out, just the outer edges) and glue that piece down carefully to their next construction paper piece. The edges should line up and you’ll be able to see the second color choice through the cutout “window” of the Mola design.
Once that piece of construction paper is glued down thoroughly, fold the two papers in half again, so that both colors are facing outward. Next, cut another design out of only the second color area. Keep in mind that you have three more colors to show through, so you need to cut out a fairly large amount. When the design is cut out, glue the Mola to the next piece of construction paper and continue for the remaining pieces. Just make sure that you DO NOT cut anything out of the final piece. The final piece of construction paper just gets glued to the back of the design to fill in the last hole.
Finish. Once all of your pieces have been glued together, you can cover the entire Mola with a decoupage medium (such as ModPodge). This will lay down any pieces that are sticking up and give a nice finish to the art work.
Molas are a great way to teach children about functional art, symmetry, and another culture. With only a few supplies you can create this wonderful art lesson for your group right away.