Friday, January 5, 2018

Making up for lost time

If I am going to finish this project by the end of this month, it is time to stop procrastinating and get going.

I think by now I have an idea of the basics of Mola and that was more or less the goal of the year-long challenge. Basically, the colorful reverse applique designs created by the Cuna indians of the San Blas islands along the Atlantic coast of Panama, are intended to be worn in clothing.

In studying up on the technique, I read these words ... "Every mola is a thoughtful statement of the creator's personality and relationship with her culture". Therefore, rather than copy directly from the Cuna designs, I decided to make this statement completely mine.

The butterfly was once a symbol of the hidden Christians. 50+ years ago when I came to Japan. there were many young people wearing big fancy crosses. They were only an ornament with no meaning at all. It was then that I decided to join my husband's ancestors as a hidden Christian and exchanged by silver Celtic cross for a tiny gold filagree butterfly. My goal was to express my faith by my actions and deeds. Thus the butterfly. 

Then, there is the frog. He too is reminding me to Fully Rely On God.

The sun was my first attempt where I learned the most as what to do and what I should be doing. I'm sure it will remind me to remain sunny, even in the face of adversity, and learn by my mistakes. I intend this to become a pocket.

The owl and the turtle are the real me ... a relationship with my own culture, so I decided not to include distracting colorful bits. I was hoping to add a strip of quilting across the bottom but since I "cleaned up" for Christmas visitors, I have not been able to find where I hid those pieces. I am still hoping to locate them before the final assembling.

The Owl and the Turtle are more native American designs. As a child, my name was "turtle song", called by my great grandmother. I still remember how happy I was at around June 1944, when I was presented with my own Bible and opened it to the first page of the Song of Solomon, reading ...

For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: 
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; ....
Could that be part of my love of singing?
Driving to my first home, what was going before me but a turtle ... right down the middle of the street!

The Owl is my "spirit helper". A number of my friends have heard my owl stories. Certainly when I was a child camping in the woods with my family, having a screech owl calling above my tent each night was scary, even when my great grandmother told me it was watching over me.  Over the years, wherever I have traveled and lived and camped, an owl has found me bringing greetings and even aide.
I am thinking of adding a bit of stitchery on some of these. I have begun quilting the patchwork parts in the ditch using navy thread which will not show in the back. The patchwork and quilting is also a part of who I am.
So, though the mola origin is with the Cuna indians, This project has evolved to meet me where I am in life.
I am still experimenting on the finishing and hope I will have time to get my act together. In the cold weather we are having now, one can't have too many warm wearables.


  1. What a wonderful testimonial of your faith & life. They are interwoven perfectly. I've been following your mola project this year & am very impressed at how beautiful it is. You have many God given talents that you use so well.
    Becca G

  2. This is a brilliant representation of who you are and how you want to say it to others. I think the Native American designs work very well. I hope you find the missing bit.

  3. I love how you have been able to incorporate all your "personal" meanings into your project x

  4. Your vest will be a winner, in every way. I love the way you have incorporated the motifs, with such meanings. Will others see it as you do? Happy stitching.

  5. Another awesome post!! I love how your faith and who you "are" permeate everything you do - and I also love reading about it. Your posts are just an enjoyable as your projects - ;))

  6. I love how it is coming along and the stories behind the designs. I never knew that about the butterfly, I actually have my cross and a butterfly necklace, the only two pieces I wear.


  7. Great progress! You will finish your waistcoat before I put the final stitches in MY Mola.
    Nor have I put any symbolism in my pattern. Ms Nakayama will give you full marks!

  8. Julie, your jacket will be a wonderful witness of your life spent in Japan: 50 years ... it leaves me dreamy :) Your pst is very interesting for us and permits us to know you better :)

  9. Lovely to see your work coming together and to read about the importance of each part of the design.

  10. Thank you for explaining the meanings and symbols of your Mola. Your work is beautiful and spiritual.

  11. What a wonderfully meaningful and significant piece and beautiful too.

  12. I’ve always admired people who do Mola designs, but it never occurred to me that there was so much meaning behind the design. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Julie, I've been reading all your posts about your Mola, and it's absolutely fascinating. Yours is beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us the very personal meanings. I've always thought you were rather exotic to start with, just because you live in Japan, but now I've learned of a whole new wonderful facet to you. What a remarkable thing to have your childhood Turtle Song name! I don't know if the owl or the cat would be my spirit helper, as both have touched my soul. Just this morning, I really enjoyed listening to a Great Horned Owl couple discuss their night with each other before settling in for the day. They like to converse for maybe 30 minutes around 4am, and it's a privilege to listen in on it.

  14. So interesting to read about what it all means to you. It is going to be very lovely and will surely inspire many comments and questions when you wear it. Or maybe that doesn't happen in Japanese culture...