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MACHEN – Nicoleta Dānila & Carolin Kropff

Courtesy Britta Kadolsky.

MACHEN - a workshop talk with Nicoleta Dānila & Carolin Kropff

August  22 2021 - 12 - 2 pm

A collaboration with the Frankfurter Kranz, network of culturally active women in Frankfurt.

Sonja Müller from Frankfurter Kranz moderated the workshop talk.

Texte by Sonja Müller and Carolin Kropff see below.

The workshop talk was dedicated to the topic of textile handwork and artistic practice. It refered to the preceding homage by Carolin Kropff - "" Hassan Sharif & Carolin Kropff - and the collective making of a baby quilt with the actress and director Nicoleta Dănilă. Using the example of English paper-piecing, textile was understood as an artistic material and experiences were shared. Quilting as a social practice was presented.


Nicoleta Dănilă will share her experience sewing her baby quilt together, which the two artists stitched from ties from their student days before the birth of their son Radu. Carolin Kropff will give insight into her work with patchwork, English paper piecing, quilts' history, and their role as an expression of social connectedness about image-making and hand sewing. Furthermore, she will talk about her quilt Rainbow Garden and about her understanding of the work of Sharif, who described his artistic practice as weaving.



Quilting was a healing experience. After a failed relationship and the news of an unexpected pregnancy, I was quite shaken. A child changes everything. Life as you know it. Suddenly isn’t anymore. I needed something to help me reconcile with the thought that all the plans I had for myself needed to either be put on hold for a while or given up altogether. So, when Caro proposed that we work on a baby quilt together, I didn’t need to think twice.

When you think about it life itself is a patchwork. The memory of every person we encounter, the memory of every day, they are nothing but patches in this invisible lifetime quilt that we sew unknowingly. When you look back, what do you see? As a well-worn cloth, some of the memories are losing their colour and are fading. Objects carry memories, cloth carries memories. And I want to remember. As a student, I used to wear neckties with funny prints. I don’t know why I brought them with me to Germany. Maybe they were a reminder of the best years of my life? A time of freedom, or carefree? A time I was now saying “Goodbye” to.

Caro and I used these neckties for the Baby quilt. By offering some of my most beautiful memories to my unborn son, I was letting him know he was welcome and loved. In the process, Caro was most supportive. She showed me, taught me how it was done, but allowed me the freedom of drawing all the patterns, making all the choices. In a way she put the tools in my hands, reassuring me there was no way I could go wrong. Quilting with Caro gave me the opportunity to let go of life as I knew it and brace myself of what was to become. I was healing and I had no idea I was doing it. Beautiful memories keep my boy warm. Literally.


There are fascinating combinations of ways to create a quilt and there is an inherent connection between making quilts to people, time, and stories. I devote my time to learn more about the craft. My exploration of a more material-based way of creating colourful surfaces by painting (or dying, printing, stitching), and cutting textiles (like canvases or those worn already by someone) enables me to connect more directly with people and allows me to re-thing painting. And doing so similarities in the so-called low and high arts are evident. There is creative and meaningful potential in the things we make. If I look at the handmade textile creations, mainly done by women all around the world, at all times, I am just overwhelmed by the variety of expressions, innovations, craftsmanship and improvisation. The support for family and communities that goes alongside those creations is fascinating to me. Textiles are everywhere. We literally live in clothes, decorate our homes with them, use them to carry stuff and so on. High and low? Who cares?

2007 I had the privilege to met Hassan Sharif in Dubai. I like to quote him:

"I'm not trying to make magic of some kind that would impress an audience as to how the work is created. There are no secrets. The philosophical or psychological question here is how, as an artist, I give myself the authority to make art."

Hassan liked to speak about his artistic practice as weaving.

I have spent a lot of time understanding textiles, their vocabulary of forms, manual manufacturing processes, and cultural and sociology-environmental backgrounds. With my preparation for the homage to Hassan Sharif, I feel encouraged to spend even more time researching textiles' processes and backgrounds. With my collaboration on Nicoleta's Baby Quilt, I feel encouraged to learn more about working with textile as a social practice rooted in art.

About the artists:

Nicoleta Dănilă studied at the University of Performing Arts in Romania and graduated as an actress (BA) in 2010 and as a director (MA) in 2013. She prefers directing to acting. Since 2015 she lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.

Carolin Kropff studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and the Städelschule Frankfurt am Main and previously worked at the Theater Dortmund as a men's tailor and costume assistant. From 1999 - 2002 she maintained a studio in Madrid, Spain and 2006 - 2011 in Dubai, UAE. Since 2015 she has been collaborating with British artist and fashion designer Felicity Brown. In 2020, she founded STUDIOSPACE Lange Straße 31 in Frankfurt, Germany. She lives and works in Frankfurt am Main.

MACHEN - is a series of workshop talks, a combination of artist talk and workshop, in which the audience has the opportunity to enter into a conversation with the invited artists about making art. It is about making something that has to do with textiles, about handwork that tends to be seen as a woman's domain, about the idea of making together and working with textiles as a social practice.

Machen is a cooperation with the Frankfurter Kranz.
The workshop talks will each be accompanied by a night exhibition at STUDIOSPACE Lange Straße 31, Frankfurt am Main.

text sonja machen 2

Carolin Kropff and Nicoleta Danila

Text: Sonja Müller

We came up with the MACHEN series of events in order to sense what doing things together does to our thinking and reflecting. Today we are talking about an old handicraft technique - quilting. And a new world is opening up to me.

I learned that patchwork and quilting are somewhat different, but can be combined. I tried my hand at paper piecing and once again realized that sewing with needle and thread is not really my passion.

I have heard a lot about the history, socio-historical and cultural origin: The further processing of existing fabric scraps, mostly from poverty, from which warm blankets are made. Recycle, as they say today. Also that the quilts in Anglo-American countries belong to everyday life, until today apparently, is new to me. The early American settlers, who had to work with the smallest pieces of fabric due to lack, made quilting and patchwork a handicraft art form. Settler women working together was an important social event, small patchwork pieces were made into quilts together, news and stories were shared.

I learned that there is a revival of quilting and different currents and typologies. Also in Germany various groups form, join together, quilt together (or not) and try different techniques. There are many books and instructions on the net; a technique that was originally passed on from generation to generation through the common MAKING.

Carolin Kropff is a painter and has previously trained as a men's tailor and staged stage designs at the theater. In the meantime, she has rediscovered textiles as an artistic working material and combines her creative work with a great interest in needlework techniques and their social component of doing things together.

What particularly interests Carolin in quilting (and also in other textile techniques) is above all also the (slow) doing by hand, the process of creating an artistic textile work over several stages of production, the image finding. Which in this case means choosing the fabric or even painting it myself, choosing the color and shape details and cutting the hexagons, composing the patchwork pieces together and finally the process of creating a large form.

I have to say, I learned a lot this afternoon. Perhaps the thing that made the most lasting impression on me was the memory quilts: I think the idea of using fabrics tinged with memories or clothing of loved ones and giving them a second life via a traditional, contemplative textile technique is beautiful.

MACHEN - 21. August 2021

Text: Carolin Kropff

"I'm not trying to make magic of some kind that would impress an audience as to how the work is created. There are no secrets.

The philosophical or psychological question here is how, as an artist, I give myself the authority to make art." - Hassan Sharif.


The idea to MAKE has been developing over a long time. I've been thinking about how STUDIOSPACE could be more inclusive than we normally experience the art world. In doing so, I don't want to be patronizing, nor do I want to sacrifice artistic quality.

One answer then was fairly simple, the implementation to it, as always, not so simple. I have to understand that better and explore it further.I am looking forward to doing that.

I combine the STUDIOSPACE project with the Studio Werkstatt. I invite artists to show works that are in some way related to craft in the STUDIOSPACE project and I invite them to the workshop talk - a combination of artist talk and workshop. In the workshop talk, artistic processes can be introduced and demonstrated by the invited artists in an exemplary way. The audience is invited to join in and actively participate in the conversation. The declared goal is to inspire, to be able to experience oneself as creative, to allow this creativeness and to see that there are many different ways that can be picked up individually.

MACHEN is primarily about work related to manual labor, preferably textile, and thus something that is stereotypically attributed more to women.

This second MACHEN, which took place on August 21, 2021, also evolved from a series of events and reflections. Actually, I wanted to present another 'couple', but it didn't work out for a number of reasons. The first was certainly the inability to travel because of the pandemic. And the second reason was obvious at some point. Hassan Sharif liked to call his artistic practice weaving. This is one of the best and most compact descriptions of artistic self-understanding and process that I have ever read or heard. And I had long since begun to gravitate toward working with textiles.

My first quilt was a collaboration with Felicity Brown.

I love the process and the incredible story behind quilting, the overwhelming range of possibilities and simplicity, the sense of creating community, making for others. Quilts can be enormously elaborate with printmaking, painting, patchwork and appliqué, and can be very playful and uncomplicated. And I'm able to make them everywhere, in my studio, out in nature, and in the company of others. And you can make them from what you already have.
It is this fascinating combination of ways to create a quilt and the inherent connection through quilt making to people, time and times, and stories that attracts me. I am taking the time to learn more about this craft. My investigation into a materialized way of creating colored surfaces through painting (or dyeing, printing, sewing) and cutting textiles (such as canvases or those already worn by someone) allows me to connect more directly with people and allows me to rethink my painting. And in doing so, commonalities with the so-called low and high arts emerge.

There is creative and meaningful potential in the things we make.
The history of quilts is and was written mainly by women and is hardly known in Germany.

Nicoletta Danila helped me find out more about English paper piecing and I helped her sew a quilt for her son Radu. So we both entered into the healing making together and for each other, embedded in the great cosmos of knowing and sharing experiences and materials, with needle and thread in our hands.

And also the MAKING on August 21, that followed my homage to Hassan Sharif, an important artist from Dubai, who called his artistic practice weaving, and in which he himself could not participate, I dedicated to him, with Nicoletta's help, a give and take and give and take.

We gave each other the gift of time.

text sonja
text caro machen 2

I would like to thank the Frauenreferat Frankfurt for their interest in textile work in the context of art on the background of stereotypical assignment as so-called women's work.I would also like to thank the Kulturamt Frankfurt, which generously supports my project work from STUDIOSPACE Lange Strasse 31.

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