How to Make a Paper Mola

By Carrie Terry

Molas are a form of art work developed by the Cuna Indians of Panama. Originally made of cloth, many molas are now done with paper in art classes and at home. They require careful planning but result in beautiful designs. Completed molas can make interesting conversation pieces on framed artwork for your walls. A well-executed mola becomes a two-dimensional piece of artwork.

How to Make a Paper Mola

Choose a design for your mola. Traditional mola designs are animals. Trace that design onto one of your pieces of paper.

Cut out your design. This is your top piece for your mula.

Place the cut-out on your second piece of paper. Trace around the shape, leaving a thin border so that the second piece will be slightly larger than the first. Cut out your second shape.

Glue the top design onto the second design to make one layered piece.

Repeat step three with a third piece of paper. Glue the (combined) top piece onto this third shape. Always leave the border open when you're gluing, so you have a uniform border of color around each individual piece.

Glue the three-layer design onto the black paper, which will serve as your background. Use the scraps from your color papers to make details such as eyes and mouths or other traditional mola designs such as triangles, strips and other geographic shapes. Although the designs are usually simplistic, molas traditionally require many of those shapes to be present in the background.

Tip

Traditional molas take almost 100 hours to produce. They are made of material, usually cloth, and require careful and precise stitching.

Warning

Beginners' molas are expected to be somewhat sloppy. Practice molas to improve your skill.