Molas with Norma Batastini

(my thoughts – Deb A.)

When I heard our program this year included a presentation on Molas I was surprised. I knew a little about Molas having made some paper ones as part of summer art projects with my child care and wasn’t sure how they fit with rug hooking. Needless to say I looked forward to this presentation and was not disappointed. (disclaimer* In over 15 years of rug hooking I have never bought a pattern or kit until now – 1 kit and 2 patterns)

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To start – walking into our space one noticed all the wonderful color with the wools for sale and the rugs spread out. (As those in the group know I love color, scrappy and geometrics.)


The presentation by Norma Batastini explained how she came to research Molas as part of developing a program (I believe she said was for Teacher’s Workshop). While talking about the history of molas Norma shared slides depicting the Kuna Indians of Panama and molas made by the women.  The women wear these molas on the back and front side of their blouses. Oct. Tin Pedlars 001 There was an explanation of the sewing/applique process and examples were passed around for the closer inspection Oct. Tin Pedlars 006 needed to see and appreciate the detailed stitchery.

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Through the presentation these are the points that gathered my attention:

  • background same color as design. It’s all about the outline colors.
  • duality
  • need white for the eye. IMG_0417 Mouths often have a white part to them.
  • intensity of color for the balance, not always the same color – but same intensity
  • darker burgundy background is common
  • dull color used to balance the brights
  • shapes, cut-outs, labyrinth for filling in background
  • designs adapting for touristsIMG_0414
  • always a border at the top
  • for hooking dip and dye work well
  • majority if not all work done with solids, not plaids
  • build design – add leaves, sea, etc.
  • figure out the number of outlines want, then how will fill in spaceIMG_0415

For more information you can check out this link to Norma’s article on Magnificent Molas  found in the November/December 2011 issue of Rug Hooking Magazine.

Before beginning my mola I wanted to see other examples and found this nice site with history and examples: Panama Mola. However, this was the site that I found the inspiration I was looking for in regards to finishing off the kit I had purchased: Molas of the Kuna Indians. I had in mind to make a pillow from my kit, so after hearing about the borders used in attaching the mola to the blouse I wanted to add a border and even a representation of the blouse. Need even more inspiration? If you are on Pinterest try typing in molas. If not check out what I found when I typed it in.

Here is the progress I’ve made with the added border. I used a #8 cut which spread the design, but that was ok by me, just needed a little adapting on the filling in. The area outlined with white will become the blouse and I plan on using a variety of greens for that.


A few other members had worked on their kits/patterns and brought them to Nov.’s meeting. It was fun to see how the same pattern/kits worked up. A few members planned on designing their own Molas and one had theirs on hand.

If we can get members to share their Molas on completion we’ll post them in the gallery.

If you like color, exploring other forms of artistic expression, or just challenging yourself you might find a mola to be perfect for that.