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Find a reasonably round sphere, print a map onto it, and you have a globe. Sounds simple, right? That’s what Peter Bellerby thought when he decided to design and build a globe as a birthday present for his father. This took him on a difficult journey lasting over a year, and culminated in the founding of Bellerby and Co. Globemakers.

Amusingly enough, Peter had owned a bowling lane previously, so you could say he had a slight obsession with spheres. Just as there are high tolerances for bowling balls, there must be the same for globes. Any aberration in the shape of the globe is multiplied by Pi, so when pasting the elliptical “gores” to a blank globe, an error of .1 mm translates to a 2.4 mm gap.

Finally, Bellerby partnered with Formula 1 fabricators who could create a sphere with the exact specifications that he needed. After much trial and error, Bellerby elevated his craft to the point where he is one of only two artisanal globe makers in the world. From his North London studio he makes globes in sizes from 22 cm in diameter on up to five feet wide. He even made globes for the set of the film “Hugo” by Martin Scorcese.

peter-bellerby-001-crop1

Each map is first printed in Adobe Illustrator and then hand-painted. Globes are available in traditional mounts as well as flat bases with roller bearings that give an unimpeded view of the globe.

Globes that are made in the factory today simply don’t possess the exactitude found in one of Bellerby’s globes. It’s heartening to see an artisan that can still ply his craft better than a machine.

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


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