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Magnificent Molas

Hooking with intense tropic colors is a challenge. Here are some tips to help you along.

Mola from Panama City, 13" x 15", cotton with cotton thread.  Collection of Norma Batastini, Glen Ridge, New Jersey. 

Many hooked rug designs are based on the needlework styles seen in quilts, needlepoint, crewel, and samplers. Often, these adaptations from other fiber arts contain amazing, bright colors that bombard the senses. How do we work with high-intensity colors? Let's take a look at molas, the colorful blouse panels made by the Kuna Indians of Panama. I've found that they translate into very interesting rug designs.

The Kuna use solid cotton fabric and colored cotton threads to create unique designs with a reverse appliqué technique. The first step in making the molas, or blouse panels, is to layer three to four pieces of cotton fabric, each a different color. Each layer is approximately 12" by 15". Then the main motif shapes are cut out of the top layer to expose the layers below.

This article is from the November/December 2011 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.

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