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Book Review: Two Mola Books

Mola Techniques for Today's Quilters
Charlotte Patera
American Quilter's Society, Paducah, KY,
111 pages
(This book can be ordered, at a discount, from Amazon.com in association with Planet Patchwork.)

The Electric Mola
Sewing Machine Method for Making the Traditional Handcrafted Mola
Jane Hill
Hillcraft Needle Arts, Boca Raton, FL,
42 pages

Reviewed by Addy Harkavy

Molas, as made by the Kuna Indians (also spelled Cuna), stimulate the eye, warm the heart, and invite us to give the techniques a try! Although I would not try to duplicate the Kuna Indians' molas, the techniques they use offer options in making our own designs come to life.

Charlotte Patera's book, Mola Techniques, is required reading for anyone interested in molas, providing a step-by-step guide to using mola techniques as well as an informative overview of molas in general. Richly illustrated with full-color photographs, schematics, and drawings, this book is not only a source of inspiration but should be kept as a reference. Patera opens by telling readers that molas are constructed of layers that enable their makers to construct channels, add appliques, and execute complicated designs without patchwork piecing and continues by dispelling myths about molas. I was particularly fascinated by Patera's description of the uses to which the Kunas put their molas and by her discussion of the group's social structure.

From there, Patera gives a very thorough description of techniques as well as concise, explicit instructions for their use, along with boxed copy for "trouble shooting and helpful hints". Patera tries to anticipate the pits into which quilters can fall. I found her directions straightforward, easy to follow, and a joy to work through.

Not only does Patera tell how to simulate traditional molas, she gives suggestions for using the techniques in making contemporary quilts.

The Electric Mola, by Jane Hill, helps readers adapt mola techniques to machine sewing. Without attempting to show how to make "imitation" molas, Hill shows readers how to use machine techniques to get mola-like effects. The inside front and back covers provide photos of Kuna Indians wearing and displaying their traditional hand-made molas as well as mola designs made by machine. The book contains helpful schematics and full-size pull-out patterns. Overall, The Electric Mola is a source of inspiration for embellishing all kinds of projects from children's and adults' clothing to tote bags to pillows to quilts, and beyond.

(c)Copyright 1996 by Addy Harkavy. All rights reserved. E-mail addy@TheExperimentalQuilter.com


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