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Ancient Art Of Making Globes By Hand (Part 2)

We invited Berlin photographer Ana Santl into our private London art studio for the day, to see what daily life is like for a traditional globemaker. We do not usually allow visitors as the smallest mistake can set an artist or maker back weeks in work. To make globes requires concentration, patience and a steady hand.
Each globe is made bespoke to order, by hand cutting strips of the paper map called gores. The paper is then wet and stretched without ripping, rippling or overlapping across a sphere. Once all the pieces of the map are on the globe, a watercolour artist painstakingly hand paints the map in fine detail. It takes between a few weeks to a few months depending on the size of the globe and the amount of added personalisation the customer has requested. You can see more of the process in our last post here.

Our globes are made in the same way there were hundreds of years ago, by hand cutting strips of the paper map called gores

It’s worth noting that we physically make and paint the globes the same way as hundreds of years ago but instead of using a printing press and engraving our map onto plates to print we use computers to do the cartography.

Each gore is wet and then stretched across the sphere without ripping, tearing or overlapping with the other gores

It takes around 6 months of training as your hands literally must learn how to move correctly and get used to working with delicate paper

Once all the pieces of the map are on the globe, a watercolour artist painstakingly hand paints the map in fine detail

The first layer of watercolours is painted onto the strips of the map after they are cut into the correct shape, further layers will be painted once the gores are applied

Painters work 9am – 6pm 5 days a week, and sometimes on the same sphere for weeks at a time

The team employs a full-time cartographer to ensure each globe is always up-to-date

Artists hand paint shading on the land of a handcrafted world globe

When a mistake is made with painting, the globe must be stripped of the paper and re-worked

Some of the most difficult parts to paint are in the Arctic

Customers often ask for little hand drawn illustrations to be added on land and in the oceans

Sam who has been in the company almost 2 years works on both the 23cm and 36cm globes now

Work in progress… One side of the coast around Russian has been shaded and the rest is still to go

Tests of colours from past commissions hang in the studio

Mini desk globes sit on a a base with ball bearings allowing for a 360 degree spin in a fluid motion by hand

It takes between a few weeks to a few months to make each globe

The studio started just 8 years ago and now employs 15 full-time artists, woodworkers and craftsman

Here are some spheres ready to be made into globes alongside recently finished worlds

Each globe is made bespoke to order allowing customers to choose the colours of the ocean, land, the style of shading and allowing for personalisation of any kind

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