Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Molas (Grade 7)-a paper cutting project

It was in December of 1995 when I landed my first official teaching gig, granted it was only a 40% semester-long slot for a teacher cutting back her hours to finish a master’s program. I had big shoes to fill, not only was she a popular teacher but the quality of her student's work was top notch. It was a good starting point and I welcomed the competition. Now some of you might be asking "competition?" Let me illustrate, I believe that humans are naturally competitive and to have an experienced teacher in your presence will inspire you to be a better teacher and in the end it benefits the students. I understand and accept that I can always grow and become a better teacher, but being the only Art teacher at a school and the lack of professional development and/or meetings with other art teachers is like living in a vacuum. This is one of the reasons why art blogs are great; it promotes the idea of sharing.

This approach to making molas is borrowed from Ms. Jill Gartland during my six-month stint at the long-gone Baseline Middle School in Boulder, CO. I like doing this project every couple of years with middle school.

Supplies: construction paper, x-acto knives, cutting boards, white color pencil, paperclips, pencils, rulers, and paper.

Vocabulary: mola, layers, bridges, boarders, outline, negative/positive space, cutting, overlapping, lines, warm/cool colors, and shape.

Step 1: Use pencil and paper to design outline of an animals (lines can be used as a bridge to connect the animal to the border).
Step 2: Transfer rough draft idea to the top layer of the construction paper. IMPORTANT-the student should only draw on one side of the paper even if they make an error.
Step 3: Once the outline and bridges have been established, the student will use an x-acto knife to cut away the negative space.
Step 4: Place the paper with the outline and bridges on a different color paper and draw different shapes or even multiple shapes within the large negative space. Cut those shapes out.

Step 5: Repeat step 4 for 4-5 more layers of paper. The final sheet should not be cut.
Step 6: Flip the papers over so that the sides with the pencil are not showing and glue the papers together.
Working on their second layers.
Removing shapes to create negative space.
Making shapes to cut.
Getting detailed.
Farida A's


  1. Great! I do paper molas when I am teaching about the Cunas, culture. I teach Spanish in High School and this project you have shown gave me more ideas. GRACIAS :)

  2. This is great! Thank you for sharing!

  3. How long does this usually take students? I teach on block schedule (80 minutes, every other day). Thank you for sharing your work.

    1. Sorry for the delayed reply. Thank for the comment Doña. These will take 2-3 80 minutes block classes.