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April 3, 2017updated Apr 04, 2017

In the Studio of Globemakers Bellerby & Co.

By Lauren Jade Hill

By Lauren Jade Hill

It’s not often you come across a studio that specializes in making bespoke hand-crafted globes. And that’s exactly why Bellerby & Co have garnered such an increasing amount of attention, even being commissioned by Hollywood’s most esteemed movie directors. In an intimate studio of North London, a small team of artists and craftsmen bring their skills of carpentry, design and illustration together to produce globes of every size, across a spectrum of styles, with pride taken in ensuring each one fits the studio’s uncompromising standards.

It’s on a visit to this workshop that I meet the Globemakers’ founder Peter Bellerby who set out to make a globe for his father’s 80th birthday and subsequently realized the extent of knowledge and skill that goes into each one. While this first foray into globe-making spanned a number of years, it was the learning process that lay the foundations for Bellerby & Co, a company that now produces these covetable globes for clients worldwide.

Image © Alun Callender

As an entirely custom-made item, each globe is made according to the client’s exacting requirements, from the size of the globe and the style of base to the design of the map and individual illustrations. Models range from the mini desk globe and the 36cm-diameter Livingstone, to the meter-high, 50 cm-diameter Britannia globe and 80cm-diameter Galileo, up to the majestic 127 cm-diameter Churchill globe that takes inspiration from a pair of globes Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt were presented during WW2; Bellerby & Co plan to make just 40 of these at a rate of just one or two globes per year.

It was owing to the size of these globes that Bellerby & Co had to move into their studio in North London, realizing they couldn’t fit a globe of that size through the door of their previous workshop. “The door in the studio was 68 inches wide and the globes would be up to 80 inches across,” Peter explains, “I started the company in 2008, and we’ve now been based in this studio for five years.”

From the time a globe is commissioned, the cartography is designed digitally, and each section of the map is then printed and hand-painted. The oceans are painted first, then each section of the map is meticulously positioned on the sphere before the land is filled in and illustrations are added. As more detail is added to the map, the globe is brought to life.

Image © Tom Bunning

Bases vary in equal measure, spanning a wide range of styles and crafted from a variety of woods and even aluminium; due to the difficulty of working with this metal, these aluminium stands are welded for Bellerby & Co by technicians of Aston Martin. Each wooden base is then crafted by the studio’s carpenter. “We’re on a constant search for different types of wood,” Peter explains as he shows me some he has managed to source, “This is bog oak. It’s at least 5,300 years old, and is so saturated, it takes about a year to dry out.”

With so many different options, people are encouraged to come to the workshop to commission their globe, which, starting at $1,375 for the mini desk globe, rising to $78,680 for the Churchill, takes a minimum of six to eight months to complete. Some people ask to have the places they’ve traveled to illustrated onto its surface, while others ask for their hometown. Having attracted clients such as movie director Martin Scorcese, who commissioned four globes for his film Hugo, the appeal of these hand-crafted globes is clear.

Most recently, Bellerby & Co were commissioned to create a one-off globe for Royal Ascot, which will be on display at the prestigious event. And as Chelsea Flower Show takes place from May 23 to 27 2017, the Globemakers will be making an appearance with a pop-up studio at the horticultural event, giving passersby an insight into this rarely seen craft and tempting them to commission their own.

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