Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mola-inspiration: Clay coil birds and yarn painting

My friends went to Panama this winter and brought me back two molas!

I used them as inspiration for my fourth grade project. We just finished them up and it went really well. I was inspired by the use of lines and wanted to teach the kids how they could apply their understanding of coils in a new way (other than making a coil pot).

After our class getting snowed out three weeks in a row we finally got started!
The students first did practice drawings of the birds and how they would create the shapes out of coils.
We used model magic to make the birds, when they dried I glued them to mat board.

The next week we painted the birds with tempera paint mixed with acrylic gloss.
We re-examined the use of continuous lines and spirals in the molas.
Then we painted lines on to the mat board and then began to glue down yarn designs. I wasn't sure how much yarn we were going to glue down but after one day of work on them I decided to encourage  the students to really fill in the spaces with yarn as much as possible.

The textural result of this project is fantastic. The clay becomes three-dimensional in a new way and the feel of the yarn is such a strong contrast to it. The class took a few minutes to experience how you can actually feel the pictures and the use of lines when you touch the pieces with your eyes closed.

*Due to my traveling to the classroom and wanting to glue the bird down to the board we used model magic.
I think this would be a cool lesson to do with regular clay though- creating an animal or design out of coils.  Especially if you were to attach the coil creation to a slab tile or some kind of base.


  1. What a great interpretation of mola's!

  2. Very cool idea ! I might try to modify somehow for Grade 2 my oldest kids.
    My school is PK-2

  3. great idea to transfer this design to coils! You could also stick the clay creation to a sheet of self adhesive paper....leaving the sticky part still exposed. The yarn sticks down very nicely to the sticky paper. I have used this kid of paper to do yarn painting and it elimnates the drying time. I think this is an awesome idea and I hope to try it out soon. Check out my blog for other ideas at