Mola Artwork Used for Handmade Purses and Other Clothing
The mola is a piece of artwork crafted by the Kunas. The Kunas are a group of indigenous Indians living in Panama. The molas originated from a custom of painting geometric patterns on their bodies. After some time the women started sewing these designs on cloth panels. The molas were eventually sewn on dresses and blouses. The molas contain geometric patterns or images of animals. They are always very colorful. The technique used to sew these beautiful patterns is called “reverse applique technique.” To accomplish this technique the women use several layers of fabric of different colors. They cut away whatever layers necessary to reveal whatever color desired. The extra material is cut away and the layers are sewed together. As the complexity of the design increases the amount of work involved increases dramatically.
The Kuna women begin making these molas when they reach the age of puberty. They become very skilled at this technique after years of sewing these pieces of artwork. Two to seven layers of cloth are used to make each mola. The value of a mola increases with the increasing amount of layers of cloth. The complexity of the design and the invisibility of the stitching also influences the value of the mola.
Some of the molas for sale were part of a traditional Kuna dress or blouse. When the dress is no longer worn or the owner is bored with the design, the dress is disassembled and the mola is sold. When all molas are offered for sale they have already been washed several times, so it is safe to wash by hand. The mola is very well made and very durable. The molas are incorporated into clothing, wall hangings, pillows, purses, and some people incorporate these designs into quilting projects.
Every mola produced is a one of a kind article. It is a unique piece of artwork. A mola can take up to 6 months to complete, and it is a personal expression of the artist making it. The designs vary from detail geometric designs to beautiful floral designs to designs incorporating animals such as birds or other jungle animals. Often a particular mola is an expression of an event in a persons life.
Molas can be found in Panama and the Northwestern coast of Colombia where Panama and Colombia connect. The Colombians utilize these molas to produce many things. One popular article to make with a mola is a purse. The molas are sewn on to a cloth purse and even on suede purses. They demand some very high prices even in Colombia. Not many of these products make their way out of Colombia. They are very sought after. They can be found in some the upscale shops in Cali, Bogot, and Medellin. By the time the mola has been used to produce a product to sell, the end product has taken a large amount of time and talent to produce. There are many people who just collect the mola panels. After all they are very beautiful and each is a unique, one of a kind piece of artwork that will give the owner a lifetime of pleasure.
To view a few examples of some mola purses you can visit the following site: