Els Mommers – Country – Emblems
Antique mola – Tribute
For me this series will be a tribute to the Guna Indians of the San Blas Islands.
Since 2011 their country is named Guna Yala (before it was Kuna Yala). It is an autonomous province in North East Panama. Between 1994 and 2013 I have been very fortunate to travel about 27 times to the island of Nalunega, spend lots of time with the Indians, travelled by boat with an Indian to several other islands and bought their molas to sell in my shop and different other places. I even had my own hut on the island and was often the only outsider.
It is my intention to incorporate a traditional piece of a mola in each quilt. This time it is an really antique piece and I spend a lot of time mending it a bit. It is adjusted to the left sight of the panel.
For the emblem I made a circle with 3 layers in the mola (reverse applique) technique and embellished it, just like they often do, with a piece of rick rack. The cotton fabric I am using is the same fabric that is used by the Indians. Inside the circle I made the original motifs that are very often used in their molas. I appliqued it all by hand and am happy I don’t have to show it to the Indians, because it does comes nowhere near their beautiful work.
Since it is a very matriarchal society I choose a Guna lady as icon. I copied it from a mola that is in my possession, appliqued several layers and embroidered it just in the way they do with a very fine chain stitch and thin sewing thread. I even embroidered their “wini” bracelets , necklace and nose-ring.
Finally I added the batting and backing. The echo lines around the circle are machine quilted.
After working on this piece my admiration for their skills has become even a lot more than it was already before. It needs so much practice and patience to come to their level of professionalism.
I don’t have to mention anymore I guess that Panama is my chosen country.