The World at Your Fingertips | God's World News

The World at Your Fingertips

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    An artist paints a globe for Bellerby & Co. Globemakers in London, England. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    A worker fits gores to a sphere at the Bellerby & Co. studio. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    Artists work on a large globe. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    This map of Asia on a globe was hand painted. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    Artists construct globes. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    Peter Bellerby, founder of Bellerby & Co. Globemakers, speaks at his studio in London, England. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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Spin a globe. Stop it with your finger. Where did you land?

In the age of Google Maps and watches with built-in GPS, globes still have enduring appeal. The miniature, spherical representations of the world are for sale everywhere from Amazon to Home Depot, meant for decoration or education.

London globemaker Peter Bellerby thinks a human yearning to “find our place in the cosmos” helps globes survive changing times. (Read David’s take on the subject in Psalm 8.)

“You don’t go onto Google Earth to get inspired,” Bellerby says in his studio, surrounded by dozens of globes in various languages and states of completion. “A globe is very much something that connects you to the planet that we live on.”

Historian Jan Mokre thinks that people like the 3-D presentation and beauty of globes. Plus, it’s hard to resist turning them. “Perhaps a certain nostalgia effect also plays a role, just as old cars and mechanical watches still exert a certain attraction on people,” he says. Globes are generally more accurate than flat maps too, since they better represent the spheroid shape of Earth.

Bellerby’s globes aren’t the budget friendly ones you might find at Target or Walmart. His sell from about $1,900 for the smallest to six figures for the 50-inch model. His team of about two dozen artists, cartographers, and woodworkers makes about 600 orbs per year.

Creating a globe is a complex process. It starts with the construction of a sphere. Then workers fit petal-shaped panels, called “gores,” around the sphere’s surface. Bellerby artists painstakingly blend and apply paint. Cobalt and mint color the oceans. Yellows, greens, and ochres create landscapes. Imagery from constellations to mountains to sea creatures decorate the globes.

There is no international standard for a correctly drawn map of Earth. Countries, like people, view the world differently. China doesn’t recognize Taiwan as its own country. India’s northern border is disputed. Many Arab countries, such as Lebanon, don’t acknowledge Israel.

Offend these countries with “incorrectly” drawn borders on a globe, and sellers risk impoundment of the models at customs.

Bellerby says his company marks disputed borders as disputed: “We cannot change or rewrite history.” And as countries are created or cease to exist, records of history are just what such globes become.

For He looks to the ends of the Earth and sees everything under the heavens. — Job 28:24

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