Bespoke globes crafted by Bellerby & Co are a testament to the painstaking process behind the product. The company – founded by Peter Bellerby in 2008 after he had difficulty buying a personalised sphere for his dad’s 80th birthday – meticulously (and slowly) churns out these intricate items to unique specifications.
The first challenge is creating a perfect sphere. Peter and his colleagues fashion two half-spheres – fibreglass for the large ones, resin for the small – before they are weighted to rotate perfectly then glued together. The up-to-date map is printed, cut into strips called “gores” and applied to the ball in triangular or surfboard-shaped sections. Once the paper is wet and stretched across the complete sphere, the continents and oceans are hand-painted.
This application is the crucial aspect. “The most challenging part is wetting and stretching a piece of paper across a sphere without ripping, rippling or tearing it,” says Bellerby. A small mistake with one piece can ruin the whole alignment of latitudes. On the bigger globes, misplacement could result in a 2.4mm gap.
Since the company began, a great number of globes have been created featuring everything from remote towns with resonance for the customer, to a buyer’s lifetime of cruise routes marked out with illustrations of the ships and arrival dates, to a Moby Dick-themed orb.
The process can take up to six months. But, as the images show, the Bellerby team seem to have perfected the highly niche art of the personalised globe.