The Art of the Handcrafted Globe

To have the whole world in your hands would be a terrifying burden for many, but one that globe maker Peter Bellerby chose to bestow upon himself when he started designing and making them in 2008.

Working on the Churchill
Bellerby at work

Now an exhibition Geographical Blueprint: The Art of the Handcrafted Globe will display Bellerby & Co’s full range of hand-made globes, as well as bespoke examples and artist collaborations.

Terrestrial and celestial models are promised, planetary installations, globes suspended in mid air, and globes pertruding from walls. These will be set on roller bearings.

Working on the Churchill
Working on the Churchill

Visitors will be able to interact with the 80 series which are 80cm in diameter. One example has had its bearing system exposed to show how the globe gives a multidirectional movement, as opposed to a meridian which allows the globe to be moved along one plane.

You’d do well not to touch all of them though. Some go for around £35,000. And given that most are a painstaking one or two man job, and that Aston Martin make the stands for the largest Churchill model, you can begin to see why.

Working on the Churchill
From Classic globe range

‘They have metal bases and Aston Martin have got all these old tools from the 60s for bending aluminium perfectly,’ says Bellerby.

 Visitors can see how the globes are made – even the popular Mini Desk Globes take three weeks each – and the processes vary.

Working on the Churchill
Artist collaboration

The essence though, is to ‘establish a good sphere’ – the Mini Desk Globes being a resin ball, and the Classics being a plaster of Paris mould, which can be ‘balanced so it comes to a perfect halt, with no bias’ says Bellerby.

As with any cartography, you’d kind of hope it’s accurate, and with Bellerby’s globes his margin for error or ‘tolerance’ means that any mistake, even a millimeter, is exacerbated by 3.14 – that’s pi for anyone who didn’t pay attention in maths. Which means, there’s really no margin for error at all.

Working on the Churchill
Mini Desk Globes

Geographical Blueprint: The Art of The Handcrafted Globe runs from September 29 – Friday 12 October 2012 at the Pavilion space at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR.

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