Friday, May 16, 2014


Fifth grade students created Molas out of cut paper.  Mola is the spanish word for blouse. Traditionally, these designs are cut out of fabric and sewn together to create beautiful shirts.  These blouses are worn with pride by the Kuna people in Panama (Central America).

Fifth graders discovered how tricky coming up with these designs can be!  Fitting the shapes together accurately is a real brain twister for those who are not accustomed to such tasks.  This was another great art project for stretching the brain in a new way!

First, students painted two papers.  They chose complementary color pairs.  Complementary colors are opposites.  Using opposites helps to create strong contrast.  These colors "pop" when placed next to each other. They make each other look even better (they complement each other).

Complementary Color Pairs: (Opposites)
Red and Green
Orange and Blue
Purple and Yellow

Next, students were asked to draw the outline of an animal on the back of one paper.  (Animals are popular subjects for Molas). Symmetry was encouraged but not required.  The perimeter of the animal was cut out.  This created a stencil from the positive space which was used on the second painted paper. The negative space (scrap paper outside the animal) from the first paper was glued onto black paper.  Students were encouraged to crop this paper down to create a black boarder.

Next, the stencil from the middle of the first paper was traced onto the complementary color and students cut out this second animal smaller than the original stencil.  

Finally, embelishments were added.  The goal was to layer paper with at least three colors.  Students were given extra black scrap paper at this stage to help create the illusion of added negative space (empty space).  They also shared scraps with each other. (Art Teacher Trick: Give each student a 9x12 envelope to keep their scraps in! Have students write their names on the outside of the envelope).

Learning Goals: I can...
- Tell about Molas
- Use positive and negative space to create a mola design
- Tell about complementary colors
- Use layering to create interesting details

1 comment:

  1. These molas look great, I remember teaching a lesson like this when I was student teacher a few years back, I remember how confused the kids got when they had to layer the paper. I love the painted paper twist on the project too, what a great idea.