Bellerby & Co Globemakers – Manufacturer of unique globes using Schmincke HORADAM® Watercolours

It's hard to believe there is such a thing: The British Bellerby & Co. Globemakers manufacture individual globes in their London factory, which are then hand-painted with watercolours, e.g. HORADAM® watercolours. We were so impressed that we would like to show you some beautiful photos of the production steps, even if this is not a classic step-by-step blog to imitate, but mainly for amazement.

How the business started

The inspiration came after a lifetime of buying his father standard gifts like books and socks and ties, when Peter Bellerby went to buy a globe all he found were poor quality imitations, plastic school type globes or fragile and insanely expensive antiques. Everything he saw that was close to modern was so badly made with cheap stands and incorrect cartography, it really inspired him to work to create globes that could be up to date, personalised to suit any taste and preference, aesthetically beautiful as well as functional.


The team uses Peter Bellerby's technique which was developed through that first year of trial and error and improvements over the years that followed. It's the traditional way of globe-making.Firstly, they need to create a perfect sphere, using two half-moulds.
Their first globes were made using plaster of Paris but for the larger globes they now use modern composites and the smaller ones are made from solid / weighted resin. Next, they edit their map, since each globe is made to order they are updating the cartography regularly and personalise depending on the customers preferences. They work with each customer to help them design their globe, this can sometimes be a process over months or even years. Once the map is ready, it is printed and cut up hand into precise shapes called gores.

The gores are painted by hand using watercolours, which give a unique result for each globe. Therefore, they use only the best and lightfast watercolours. Most colours come from German producer H. Schmincke & Co as they provide best quality and highest lightfastness which guarantees longevity of our handpainted maps.
The brand name is HORADAM® watercolours, named in 1892 after the co-founder of the company. Of course, there are typical tones to be used painting typical globe sceneries. So, if you are interested in painting maps, we recommend from the HORADAM® watercolour series e.g. Phthalo Blue, Cobalt Cerulean, Cobalt Turquoise, Neutral Tint, Titanium, Sepia Brown, Sap Green, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber, English Venetian Red and many more.

When the gores are dry, they are ready to be attached to the globe, which is called 'goring the globe'. That stage is very precise work and very difficult because they are wetting the paper and stretching it, wet paper, as you can imagine, is very fragile. The paper wants to rip, ripple, bubble or tear naturally. If you work with one piece too long, it will naturally degrade. 

After the gores are applied, many more layers and details of watercolour are added, and the globe is sealed with either a gloss or mat finish. The globe is then placed into its base, they make a variety of traditional and modern bases of their own design which are fully handcrafted and stained to the customers preference.

When the globe is complete it is placed together with the base and engraving. Once they are happy with the final outcome and have thoroughly checked the globe over, it is packaged carefully in either a bespoke "flight case" or a special made crate and shipped off to its new home.

How long does it take to make a globe?

Between a few weeks and a few months. That is not every minute of every day of course and there is drying and resting time between phases. Each globe passes through at least 5 set of hands. Meaning they work on multiple globes at once.

The largest globe, the 127cm Churchill, takes at least 6 months to make from the time they start cartography work to the time they can deliver.