Saturday, February 18, 2012

More Panamanian molas, incredible textile art

Here are some more examples of the multi-layered Panamanian molas that Ana loves so. (The first installment is here.) No matter what planet one is from, anyone with an eye for color and design will be understandably struck by these gorgeous works of art.

Ana particularly loves the zest for life embodied in these works (and in the arpilleras and other Latin-American art elsewhere on her blog). Many reveal a fascination for human, animal, and plant forms--art that springs from nature, in other words. Some may dismiss it as "folk art," but to Ana, whose ancestors on Thomo barely survived hard times, there is no more precious, more cherished, force in the world than life itself.

Above is a mola turned into a lined vest by someone who labeled it for sale. This is not typical of most molas, which generally seem not to have been created with commercial purposes in mind. Below are more typical examples of this amazing art form. (Click for more detail.) First, a jungle scene with a boat and at least five human figures:

Here are a bat, we believe, and a bird, in molas that were "repurposed" and sold after their owners felt they had fulfilled their original use:

This is one of the more extraordinary molas Ana knows of. We do not know how old this artwork is, but it's possible that the artist could have created it after having seen her first helicopter:

Here is a detail from the mola above to show the fine stitching:

Finally, here is a mola which depicts something we cannot identify. After that photo there is another of the same mola from the back, and then a detail of the back. Quilters, textile enthusiasts, and artists in general will be fascinated to examine how these unique works were created.

See more of Ana's favorite art, music, and poetry in the column to the right, under the photo of the LOVE sculpture-->

The mola, part 1

Monday, February 13, 2012

Ana (and son) explain a great card trick!

Ana Darcy Méndez is very, very good at math. She had to be, to navigate a vessel 25 light years from Thomo to Earth! Her son Julio is even better. Both were fascinated by this marvelous card trick:

Notice that the person performing it begs someone for an explanation. We can offer that gentleman an explanation, since Ana and Julio, her son, spent the better part of an hour playing with it. Ana said it's basically a simple matter of "odds and evens," made more confusing by all the cutting of the cards, which leaves their basic order unchanged.

Math teachers are always asking their students to "Show your work." In case you'd like to see Ana's and Julio's work, here it is, in Ana's handwriting.

If you've read Ana's stories, you'll already know the fun her family has with puzzles and other games. Just imagine them talking this through and jotting down the results. They love this kind of thing!

(Right click to another tab to enlarge.)

Other Méndez family games and puzzles:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Big cats in the bedroom: a caracal and a serval!

Ana's daughter acquired a caracal cat in Distant Cousin: Regeneration. These little known, medium size cats can make excellent pets, provided the owners raise them from kittens to be members of a human household and follow other suggestions from experts as to their housing and so forth. Julie's Jungle is one such source of expert advice. Servals, another medium size cat, also make good pets under similar conditions.

Caracals resemble half-size mountain lions. Servals resemble half-size cheetahs--long and lean, very active and playful, with beautiful spotted coats. Ana's daughter would love one, but so far, alas, it hasn't happened.

Here, however, are a caracal and a serval playing in someone's bedroom. Any cat lover will first note how these two gorgeous animals act just like standard house cats. Early in the clip, the serval reaches for the caracal's chew toy: notice how lightning fast the serval's paw is, and how equally fast the caracal responds with a warning that "It's MY toy, thanks!" A little later the caracal hisses, which Julie says is common for the breed. They have many different hisses (and some chirps) to signify "Stay away," or "I see you," or "What is that?" or any of a variety of non-emergency situations. It's simply how they communicate.

Enjoy these stunningly beautiful creatures:

Thanks to Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory & Education Center!

See more caracal and serval photos in the right column under the photo of the blue-eyed kitty (near the bottom of that section).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Ana discovers the mola, from Panama!

(All these photos can be clicked for greater detail.)

You might find it strange that a woman from another planet should be interested in exotic textiles and stitchery on Earth, but you really shouldn't. After all, her own people on Thomo have a long tradition of textile styles and patterns, which in some ways resemble those of Eastern Europe, with colorful patterns and layers of frills. Not surprisingly, Ana has been fascinated by textiles which spring from Hispanic cultures, one of which she has married into!

Once her life on Earth settled down a bit and she had a household and time to devote to it, Ana was delighted to pursue her curiosity about out planet's diverse offerings in many fields, including art and textiles. Most recently, we have posted information about the South American textile sculptures called arpilleras, made from Chile to Ecuador and Bolivia. This time, Ana has discovered the Panamanian mola, the riotously colorful and beautiful two-dimensional multi-layered textile creations of the Kuna people living on islands in the Gulf of Mexico on the eastern side of Panama. Some of these can be worn, and Ana wears several!

The photo above, from Wikipedia, shows a Kuna woman displaying a number of her gorgeous creations. Below are the first molas Ana ever saw, in the community room of a church she attended. Each has a Biblical theme: Jonah and the whale, and Noah's ark. Below each is a detail photo revealing the extremely fine stitching that produced them. In some cases, a colorful bit of material is appliqued over another. In others, the top layer is cut to reveal the colored layer underneath. More examples may clarify matters.

The technique of covering different colors with another one is seen in the next two molas. The first is of five animals. Note the ruler on the left, to show the scale. The second is a fish, also with a ruler for scale, and a detail for a closer look.

Ana's rudimentary sewing skills, sharpened by her husband's grandmother, enabled her to piece together several molas to turn into a shirt. Ana was encouraged to try this by the knowledge that Kuna women also recycle their work, often selling the older pieces to tourists. Here's such a project:

And here is a piece of fabric with three small mola designs, turned over to reveal the stitching on both undersides. Can anyone not understand Ana's fascination with this beautiful, ingenious technique?

Ana discovers arpilleras