Inspiring children one color at a time

Paper Cut Molas

I’ve posted about Paper Molas before and because it’s such a fab project, I will post again. Recently I was at a friends home and noticed some newly framed artwork on her walls. They were authentic molas from Panama and Colombia. Molas are cloth panels that form part of a blouse for the Kuna women. They use a quilting technique called reverse appliqué. Because I used to be (and hope to be again!) a quilter, I know all about reverse applique. It’s a pretty fun to do but darn hard to explain to kids. After a few attempts I decided that it’s just best to say that a Mola is a fabric panel with colorful strips sewn in. Sometimes it’s best to keep it simple.

Take a look at this blog, Postcards from Panama. There are some wonderful photographs of Molas. I wish I could see them in person. Aren’t they wonderful? What I’d give to have one of my own!



How to Make a Paper Mola


Copying the handout from the book, Dynamic Art Projects for Children by Denise M. Logan, plus creating a few a few handouts of my own, I showed the kids how to start their drawings. After a few quick demos on the board, the students picked their favorite Mola shape and drew their image onto a piece of 12″ x 18″ white paper using a black Sharpie Brand  marker.

I like broad tip Crayola markers for coloring. I set a tray of them on the table and demonstrate proper marker technique. It really helps to trace around a shape and then color slowly; giving ample time for the ink to flow onto the paper. After image is colored, cut it out.

Glue piece onto black construction (sulphite) paper and glue strips of paper along the borders. Tip: leave a space between the Mola shape and the strips.

Fifth Grade Paper Molas….


  1. These look nice, Patty. Our high school social studies teacher has several authentic molas that he has brought in for me to share w/my students.
    I have made molas w/6th graders, and, using construction paper, actually did a “reverse applique”. We started w/one paper and the shape of an animal (or other choices) and simple repeating shapes in the negative space drawn w/pencil. It was cut with an Exacto knife. Then, that paper gets placed on another paper, and the animal shape is repeated inside it, and additional shapes inside the shapes; then cut again. This step is repeated (inside the animal shape other shapes can be made) and when all the layers are done, they are flipped and glued together. By flipping it all, the pencil lines cannot be seen (they are on the back of each layer). This wouldn’t b so easy w/younger kids, as it’s too hard to do w/a scissors.


    July 19, 2011

  2. I did the same project last year with my year 4/5s- I just loved the results. What I did was I created a lot of simple templates of the traditional animals- I found some quilting fabric with the designs on line from the US. I also purchased some molas on Ebay to show the students. After tracing the animal shape out we cut it out. We then glued it onto another piece of paper and then cut around it leaving a 1/4 inch border. I suggested to the students that they use complimentary colours . The students then cut out some simple shapes to decorate the animal. They even used the hole punch to create dots which again glued onto a slighty larger scrap of paper and it was cut out to make eyes. We used glue sticks for this encouraging them to glue the small pieces and carefully placing them onto the original animal shape. The decorated animal was glue to the black paper background. To speed up the creation of the back grounds I cut strips of coloured paper about 1/2 in wide. The students were then able to with cut lots of rectangles etc and made the most amazing patterns. I would happily email you the images.

    ebay has some fabric by andover- link is as follows

    Cheers from afar
    Cheryl H

    Cheryl Hancock

    July 20, 2011

    • Dear Cheryl,

      I am interesting in creating molas for Hispanic Heritage night with my Kindergarten students. Please the images so I can generate different ideas.




      September 27, 2011

  3. just started following your blog…loving it :]


    July 20, 2011

  4. These look fun! I’m going to try them with my 5th graders this year. Thanks for all of your wonderful projects!


    August 17, 2011

  5. I made these no-sew molas with my middle school students. They were a great success. I got the idea from dick blick:
    I really liked the explanation of a reverse applique “Two to four layers are ideal for this
    project. Layers will be created using
    either an appliqué or reverse appliqué
    technique. In the reverse appliqué
    process, a shape is cut and removed from
    the piece to create a negative shape that
    functions as a window to a layer behind.” I thought I would pass along this explanation.


    February 19, 2013


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