Sometimes all you need in order to exploit a new passion or even create a new business is to disregard mediocre results from others and get stuff done yourself. This is what Peter Bellerby did in 2008 when he couldn’t find a decent globe for his father’s 80th birthday and started making one himself. What he thought was going to be a long, but accessible task revealed to be a very tough job. But a year later, he realised he had done something very special and unique and founded Bellerby & Co, Globemakers. Today, Globemakers is one of only two handmade globe making company in the world and the only handmade globemaker.
I had the most amazing start of the week, as I was exploring their beautiful studios in North London with my friend Alex. It was like an immersion in the past, in a world where things are made with care, patience, love and time. Lots of time. I learnt about painting and I watched the most careful hands placing slices of the world on naked globes. As you know, I’m a traveller and I have this obsession with globes and maps, because every time I look at one of them I learn something new. They inspire me to travel more, to respect planet Earth but they also make feel me so close to other human beings. So, for me, being able to spend a few hours there, it was just one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. In fact, if I wasn’t leaving in 10 days, I’d ask Jade and Pete to hire me for an internship 🙂
From their stunning studio in Stoke Newington, they do everything from scratch except the fabrication of their moulds which come from Formula 1 experts. Again, as perfection is the main goal, Pete and Jade decided to kill the probability of errors from the start and have perfect globes. From there, applying the slices of paper and paint them, it’s a very delicate and long process. In fact, a small globe can take four weeks while a large one can take almost a year. At Bellerby, the team is obviously the perfectionist type. They would never let gores (the slices of map) to overlap or compromise quality with wrong latitude lines. And I get his point. I’m a detail-oriented person too: why would you want something, anything, if you are not getting the absolute best? Pete told us that if there is any mistake, the globes get stripped completely and they have to start from scratch again.
It was fascinating and mesmerising to watch Isis paint her way through China heading towards Japan. Pretty much my trip, or part of it. With the touch of her brush she took me to foreign and unknown lands and I think I spent a good ten minutes staring at her hand and being lost in lands I don’t know yet, but I already love.
Today, from this special studio filled with a young and creative vibe in north London, the team of trained globe makers produce high quality globes of all size and style, but they also take commissions for maps personalisation and other bespoke elements. Personally, I’ve already made arrangements for a globe that highlights my upcoming journey through Asia and Australia. I can already see Isis painting her way here, along mine there, so that, in a year time, when I will be back, my real-time travel globe will be ready for collection.
Their studios are not open to the public, you can see some of Bellerby & Co globes at Harrods in London and on their website.
I was a guest of Bellerby & Co during my visit. All views are my own.