Monday, February 01, 2010


As most of you know, I love hand work of every kind. I came across this Mola a while ago at a yard sale. I bought it for $5. I recognized it as a piece of unique hand work. But it wasn't until I read about them at our last retreat that I began to understand the full meaning behind these intensely rich pieces of folk art. Here for your perusal is a collection of Molas shared with us at that retreat. They are made in South America, mostly in Guatemala. They are appliqued using only bright solid colored fabrics. They use both onset and inset applique or reverse applique to create the layered effects. They are often embellished with embroidery stitch, mostly the stem stitch or the back stitch, but also the seed stitch and the running stitch is used frequently. Embroidery is used to clearly define the facial features and other details such as teeth, claws, beaks, eyes, etc. This one is the same pattern as above, possibly depicting a llama or horse. You can see the difference in workmanship between the two. It is possible that the second one is unfinished or possibly done as by a younger girl practicing her stitches.
A lizard? Because of the colorful scales and the shape of the claws? this piece is unfinished because of the lack of background features.
This is a very finely made specimen, and depicts many different beasts, often with human looking appendages suggesting possibly that they are depictions of mythological creatures or creatures that have a specific divine quality.
Mostly they depict birds and animals but this one very unique orange and green piece has human figures pictured in. The humans seem to be dressed in their Sunday best, women in fluffy dresses and men wearing big hats! And they seem to be dancing!
Once the main figure has been stitched in, slits are made in the background fabric and colorful patches are layered underneath. The slits are then turned back and stitched into place making these horizontal and vertical lines in the background. This is what makes it a Mola. In this depiction of the birds, the background is filled in with spirals. Every inch of the picture is covered with stitching on the finest Molas.
I'm certain that if I were more familiar with South American birds I would probably be able to identify these just by their depiction alone.

This one seems atypical because it doesn't seem to depict a central figure, but just a geometric pattern. But again, it's considered a Mola because if it's use of every inch of space stitched into place.

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