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World-Building: A Visit To Bellerby & Co. Globemakers In London

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After an unsatisfying two year search for a globe for his father’s 80th birthday, Peter Bellerby decided to just build his own. “After all how difficult can it be to make a ball and put a map on it?”, he thought, never actually reflecting that the reason no one was making globes today was because the process was so difficult.

Quickly after beginning, Bellerby realized that crafting a globe meant much more than simply throwing a map on a ball—but he didn’t give up as most people probably would have.

He painstakingly created a map that could be used for his project, correcting spelling errors and misplaced locations, poring over every inch of the globe. This took him no small amount of time, he hesitates a guess at around six hours a day, every day for a year. “At the start, I had to learn Adobe Illustrator,” Bellerby explains, “which is not so difficult. It’s about as intuitive as the interweb and the email web are to my parents.”

After finally finishing the map, he looked for a ball that he could use for his globe—and was disappointed again. It turns out that no one was able to form a mold that could meet his expectations. With every minor error came issues—making an making it impossible to place a map that was correct upon it. So, Bellerby determined to create his own resin mold to form a perfect sphere upon which he would then create his globes.

In the end Peter Bellerby spent almost two years on his first globe, the gestation period from which Bellerby & Co. Globemakers was born. Driven by the poor quality of globes available on the market, he aimed to create the most “beautiful, original and accurate globes ever made.” Today his globes have been made famous by Hollywood movies, are bought for private collections, are featured in artworks and were even in an exhibition of globes by the Royal Geographical Society.

Making a perfect globe takes several months, while the team behind Peter Bellerby has developed their own techniques to make the globe spin smoothly and give it an aged, varnished look. All globes are made to order so each one is unique. Every step of the process is done in-house so that the team is constantly learning and growing from their mistakes.

We’ve seen and met quite many exciting characters but Peter Bellerby’s imperturbable dedication to a forgotten craft is unique in its way. You can read more about his journey here and follow his work on their blog, Facebook and Instagram.

Photography by Ana Santl, Text by Caroline Kurze