Living in a digital era has its perks, of course, but at the same time the advanced technology pushes those old things that once we loved so much into the “extinction museum” classified under “stuff we don’t need any more.”
One of those endemic kinds is the handmade globe, with the advent of GPS in addition to the abundance of mass-produced globes and maps, the art of globe-making has seemingly long disappeared.
There are only two remaining workshops in the entire world that still use the ancient art of making globes by hand; one of them is Bellerby & Co. Globemakers, a studio based in London, England.
The founder of Bellerby & Co. Globemakers, Peter Bellerby began the studio in 2008, after struggling for two years to find a handmade globe for his father’s 80th birthday. Frustrated by the poor choice between cheaply made modern globes or fragile, expensive antique reproductions, Peter decided to make his own globe. However, that also turned out to be a complicated and costly process, so he gave up, and then is when he decided to open a globe making workshop. He gathered a small team of dedicated Globemakers constructing high-quality, handmade, terrestrial and celestial globes.
It takes each new team member at least 6 months of practising and learning to make a globe.
The Louvre commissioned the company to remake Coronelli’s original celestial globe, first made for Louis XVI in 1683. The original plates have been stored for over three centuries and are in almost flawless condition. The Louvre will display the piece on the grand staircase at the museum.
Two globes were commissioned for the 2011 film Hugo.In 2012, the company hosted the first ever globe exhibition at The Royal Geographical Society.In the same year, an egg-shaped Bellerby globe was donated to The Faberge Big Egg Hunt charity for auction in London. The auction raised £11,100 for the Elephant Family conservation movement.
A second “egg” globe was auctioned at Sotheby’s in New York in 2014 and raised $25,000, for both Elephant Family and Action for Children.The company is involved with a charity campaign called ‘Travels to my Elephant’ – a one-of-a-kind rickshaw they made was auctioned on 30 June 2015, raising £22,000 towards the £1 million goal of creating elephant corridors in India.
The globes are made of hollow plaster of Paris hemispheres which are glued together. The map details are created from contemporary maps that are customised and corrected usingAdobe Illustrator. The maps are then printed onto paper gores and are hand painted. After they are glued onto the globe, they are coated in layers of resin. The globes are weighted so they come slowly to rest when spun.
The “Churchill Globe”, at around fifty inches in diameter, is the largest made by the company. Its design is based on a globe presented to Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt by George Marshall, the US Army’s Chief of Staff during World War II.
There is also a short film dedicated to this very unusual and yet beautiful workshop. Take a look
Bellerby & Co. has collaborated with British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare on a number of gallery and exhibition projects; for instance Shonibare asked for a “globe head” for his ballerina statue for the Royal Opera House.