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The interlacing of two sets of elements:
one vertical and one horizontal; a continuous wire weft wraps around each warp
Edited-Berk Fig 1 Plain Weave-edit4.jpg
A schematic of the Soumak weave. The warp is the vertical
wire and the weft is the horizontal wire.
Michael's Waves
Click the image to view Michael's Waves

Soumak is an ancient rug weaving technique named for the city (Shemakha) in Azerbaijan in which it originated. It has two sets of elements, one vertical (the warp), one horizontal (the weft). Both of my elements are single strands of round wire: a thin wire weft and a thicker wire for the warp.  The weft wraps around each of the warps in turn. The thicker warp wire provides strength, the thinner weft wire provides the malleability needed to do the tight wrapping that creates a dense weave. The warp is the “skeleton”; the weft is the “skin”. The combination creates a structurally sound form. My warp wires are taped together and held in a vise, creating an open system and leaving my hands free to properly work the weft wire.

Plain Weave
The interlacing of two sets of elements:
one vertical and one horizontal; over one, under one
Berk Scroll Earrings-detail.jpg
Plain Weave
18kt gold flat sheet & round wire
Edited-Berk Fig 1 Plain Weave-edit5 copy
Adapted from Arline M. Fisch,
Textile Techniques in Metal class diagrams,
San Diego State University, Fall 1991. Used with permission.

Plain Weave also has two sets of elements, one vertical and one horizontal. My vertical (warp) element is sheet that I cut into strips or wedges.  My horizontal (weft) element is multiple strands of thin wire twisted together. The weft wire crosses over the sheet and then under the sheet, and continues over one warp and under one warp. As the twisted wire weft passes under the sheet, the sheet is pressed down over it, which “locks” the wire in place and adds strength to the piece. I work my Plain Weave off loom: the sheet warp rests on a thick sheet of plastic so as not to mar the metal during weaving.

Double Spiral Carved Rhodonite  Azad.jpg
Click the image to view the
"Double Spiral" Brooch

I weave each piece, and make each ribbon of lace, individually by hand, working flat and straight. I then curve, loop, twist, interweave and sew my flat “fabric” into a 3-dimensional form. Both the round wire and the metal sheet work harden during the lace making and weaving processes. They continue to stiffen during the shaping process, adding to the structural integrity of the finished piece.


drawings__first set of sketches.jpg

View:   Making the  "Toccata" Pendant 

See how I develop a Soumak design from sketches to prototypes and follow the sequence of steps used to weave the gold pendant.


Barbara Berk Designs, LLC

P.O. Box 4430, Foster City, CA 94404

© 1991-2024 Barbara Berk Designs, LLC 

All Rights Reserved

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