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Globe making

The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts


Globe making


The making of globes, spheres covered with a map usually of the earth or the heavens.


Status Endangered
Historic area of significance London, Edinburgh
Area currently practised Isle of Wight, London
Origin in the UK 1640 recorded, but likely earlier than that
Current no. of professionals (main income) 4 businesses and 1 individual
Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
Current no. of trainees 1 at Bellerby & Co Globemakers
Current total no. serious amateur makers
Current total no. of leisure makers



The earliest English globes were made by Emery Molyneux a scientific instrument maker. The earliest surviving example is at Petworth House and dates from 1592. There is another fine pair of his globes at Middle Temple which date from 1603.

There are several types of globe: terrestrial globes (showing the Earth), celestial globes (showing the skies), lunar globes (showing the moon), and planetary globes.



The traditional method of globe construction involved making a papier maché sphere and then covering it in plaster (although today, many globe makers outsource the spheres and have them made in resin/fibreglass or plastic).

There are a number of key skills involved including:

Cartography / map-making – creating the map that accurately can be applied to a sphere.
– Construction of the sphere
– Cutting of the gores (the almond shaped pieces of the map that are applied to a sphere)
– Wetting and stretching the gores across the sphere without ripping, tearing, bubbling, overlapping, or leaving gaps between gores.
– Construction of bases / stands for both Desktop and Floor Standing Globes

Local forms



  • Wood turning (stands)
  • Ball making (fibreglass, plaster, plastic, etc.)
  • Map making
  • Restoration
  • Engraving
  • Engineering


Issues affecting the viability of the craft

  • 20 years ago Globe making was incredibly endangered. Now it is a rare, niche craft but this has possibly always been the case at the higher end of the market.
  • Globe making is becoming increasingly recognised across the world, much of which is driven by social media


Support organisations


Craftspeople currently known

Individual makers:

  • Loraine Rutt – been making porcelain relief globes since 1990, and more recently trading as The Little Globe Co since 2015 selling pocket globes


Other information