When we got a call from the UK’s (and probably the world's) premiere globe designers Bellerby & Co Globe Makers, we couldn’t resist a visit to their workshop. What we found was a colourful world of exquisite cartography, a team of workers devoted to their art form, and stories of inspiration found in the most unlikely of places.
“Craft is really having a resurgence at the moment,” says Peter Bellerby, who founded Bellerby & Co a little over 10 years ago. “We choose to do things really painstakingly by hand and that’s really appreciated by our customers.”
It is a clear mid-May morning and we sit in a sunlit workshop, located in the trendy Stoke Newington district of East London. It is a quiet environment, but clearly a busy one, with globes of all shapes and sizes in various stages of development taking up every available space. I'm sat with Peter, and we are discussing the birth of the company, which began with a search for the perfect present.
Peter: “It was very random really. I’ve bought my father rubbish birthday presents for the past 30 years or so and thought a globe would be a really good one for his 80th birthday. I hunted around and went to auctions to try to find one but there was nothing suitable available. I had a slightly mad idea to try to make one and having no experience, I gave myself three months to do the job. It took me two years.”
Therefore, for two years Peter experimented. With no professional background in art or manufacturing, he got his hands dirty, testing various papers, paints, techniques and methods. “There is literally no information out there to help you… I had to experiment and I did not necessarily know what I was doing, which one was helping or which one was hindering. To be honest I had about four or five moments within those two years where something happened by sheer fluke. Without those happening, I don’t think I would be here today."
Fast-forward 10 years and the company Peter has since founded employs a dozen full-time artists, who produce a vibrant array of handmade and bespoke globes. True artisans, the techniques they employ require expert skill, a steady hand and a lot of perseverance. “Everything we do here really is handmade, it’s done by hand. There are other commercial globe makers that are using machinery, quick methods to make the globes, which is fine, but we choose to do things really painstakingly by hand.”
When asked about the hardest aspect of their work, Peter responds “The main challenge on an ongoing basis is actually having the patience and persistence to do the job. You will try and make a globe one day and it will go swimmingly well and the next one you make will go completely wrong… you have to have the strength of character to remember you actually know what you are doing, and keep at it.”
As we discuss the techniques and day-to-day tasks of a globemaker, our conversation turns to how Bellerby & Co came to get in contact with HÅG. “One of my team actually introduced me to HÅG,” says Peter. “The painters will essentially spend all day painting and they need something that can give them really good support, which is really comfortable.”
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“It turned out to be a revelation,” says Peter, “The Capisco is really comfortable, and so we moved forward from there.” A couple of months down the line and Bellerby & Co’s have fully converted to the HÅG Capisco, with almost every worker using one.
Speaking to Isis, she explains how the HÅG Capisco has revolutionised the way she works “It’s nice to move around so you are not sitting in the same position the whole day. When I had a vintage looking industrial wood stool I was painting in an awkward position and only realised how painful it was later that night whereas, with the HÅG Capisco, I can just wheel myself around the globe. My posture has become a lot better.”
Hear more from Isis about using the HÅG Capisco in a workshop
In Peter, we see the same passion as the designers and manufacturers at HÅG. Individuals striving for perfection, paying attention to the finer details, and creating extraordinary things, something which Peter makes note of as we finish our conversation.
“The thing that I have learnt with setting up my own company is that we have had to really go to the best companies for anything that gets made for us. We have things made by Aston Martin technicians; we have things made by Formula One fabricators.”
“Because we are sitting, sometimes 6 hours a day, we need to go to someone who takes pride in their product, who make incredibly good handmade products, and that, for me, is why HÅG is such a good company to work with.”
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