LONDON—An unassuming studio in North London is the production site for some of the world’s only artisan globes.
Bellerby & Co. Globemakers was started in 2008, unintentionally, by Peter Bellerby.
He was on a search for a globe for his father’s 80th birthday, but wasn’t satisfied with what he found from commercial sellers or auction houses. So he decided to make one himself.
“Naively I thought it would take about three or four months,” he said. “It took two years.”
“About four or five months in I had already spent way more than I already had imagined I would spend on my dad for every birthday put together, let alone one.”
That’s when he took the decision to start a business.
The atmosphere of the studio is quiet and focussed.
“You kind of need to be in your own world,” said Bellerby.
After printing a custom-made map, it’s carefully cut out into tapered shapes called “gores.”
The map might have personal details requested by the client.
Some layers of paint are added and it’s then painstakingly stuck on a sphere, which is sometimes made of a fibre-glass like material, resin, or plaster of Paris. A process that needs one year of training to be at the level of making a sellable globe.
Painters add the coastline detail by hand, and it’s varnished and assembled with a wooden or metal base.
“People are really focused and I think that’s why everyone enjoys their job,” said Bellerby.
He hires over 20 people. The cheapest globe is £1,199 ($1,553) ranging up to £79,000 ($102,364.)
While many traditional crafts have been in decline amid an increasingly digital age, globe-making in this London studio is part of its resurgence.
“It’s much more important having one or two special items than hundreds of mass produced things,” he said.