Fish & Crab Kuna Mola

Technique:

Reverse Applique or Applique:

The technique is a little bit complicated, and the basic steps are: drawing the design, basting, cutting, sewing.

The handwork is done in two panels, each panel has similar design but never exactly the same.

Mola panels are made by selecting 2 or more layers of fabric, one of the layers will serve as the base layer, on the additional layers they will draw the desire motif and cut the design through, once the layers that has been cut they will turn the edges underneath and stitch each one to reveal the colors beneath, keep in mind that the base layer will remain uncut. The method is called reverse applique. The ones made on reverse applique are considered the best.

Some molas may have 2 layers, 3, 4 or more, the higher the number of layers means the highest and best quality. A mola can take two weeks to six months or more, depending on the complexity of the design. Many hours of careful sewing are required to create an exquisite and fine mola.

Since mola panels have been worn they can show small signs of wear, this indicate that the mola is authentic and not made solely to be sold to tourist. I travel to Panama and then to the Islands to buy the blouses and then remove the mola from the blouse, I make sure that each mola is in good condition with no fading, no stains, no tears, no dust, no holes. I am very careful when I select my molas. My promise is that you will receive the best molas and the best quality out there.

This art has been handed down from mothers to grandmothers to younger girls for century. Young girls begin by sewing patterns cut for them by women in the family. As they learn, they gradually sew more and more complex designs and are sometimes allowed to sew small sections of molas the women are working on, progressing eventually to cutting and sewing their own blouses.

Many women today also sew panels expressly for sale, as well as products with mola work, such as stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments, t-shirts, dresses, purses, pot holders and more. The production of these items can be influenced by foreing audiences or Kuna perceptions of these audiences.

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