He's got the whole world in his hands: Bowling alley boss quit his job to set up artisan business after making a globe for his father's 80th birthday... now he charges up to £59,000 for each masterpiece

  • Peter Bellerby first made a globe as a present for his father's 80th birthday just five years ago
  • When he researched the market he realised there was only ONE high quality bespoke globe maker in the world
  • He then started his own workshop crafting the magnificent creations which are popular with celebrities

From the bright lights and constant clattering of a tenpin bowling alley to the calmness of a fine art workshop, it has been quite the career change for Peter Bellerby.

A few years ago, the 48-year-old was working as the boss of a tenpin bowling business. Now he is crafting a beautiful array of bespoke globes which sell up to £59,000 a time.

His artisan globe company which has A-list clients from all over the world, one of whom has already paid full price for a 'Churchill globe' mounted on an aircraft engine replica made by the heritage technicians at Aston Martin.

Peter Bellerby globe

Labour of love: Peter Bellerby, 48, and his team built the contents of this stunning workshop from scratch after he attempted to create a homemade globe for his father

Peter Bellerby globe

Painstaking: The papering and painting processes take the longest to learn according to Mr Ballerby. He says a trainee will take the best part of a year to learn the skill

Peter Bellerby globe

Gentle: The sections of paper are soaking wet when applied meaning even the slightest tension can cause a rip, forcing the craftsman to start again

Mr Bellerby, founder of Bellerby & Co, was working as the boss of a bowling alley business six years ago when he made his first globe for his father's 80th birthday.

It was the lack of well crafted globes on the market which forced the maker's hand. According to Mr Bellerby, he wanted a globe which wasn't a 'cheap mass produced item, but also wasn't a 500 year old antique.

The self-starting craftsman decided that he would make his own, and after 18 months of what he said was 'frustration and concentration' his first globe and his new business was born.

Speaking from the studio in Stoke Newington, Mr Bellerby said the process of learning to make globes had been more about persistence than talent.

He said: 'I knew I wanted to get my father something different for his birthday, and a globe was just an idea I was toying with. In fact, to begin with I was thinking about making us one each, that was obviously before I knew anything about the work which is involved.'

After 18 months of toil, and with his first far from perfect globe under his belt, Mr Bellerby decided he would begin making more models to cater for what he saw as a gap in the market.

But according to the modest businessman, the transition from part time hobbyist to full time craftsman was more to do with persistence than innate talent.

He said: 'I couldn't claim to be a natural, that's for sure. When it comes to making globes I'm not sure that there are any naturals it's all about hard work and repetition.

'That's why I had to stay in the business really, I'd put some money into the venture and I knew that the only was it would be a success would be to push and keep making these things until they became the products they are today.'

Peter Bellerby globe

Range: Bellerby and Co produce a range of different sized globes all to specification. The Churchill globe, seen here mounted on a solid oak base, costs from £39,000

Peter Bellerby globe

Team effort: Ballerby & Co employ specially trained artists to help with the production and application of the maps in their Stoke Newington studio

Bellerby's first lesson to learn, one vital to making a proper globe, was how craft a truly round sphere which could then be covered in a map.

Explaining his first attempts as trying, the entrepreneur has since come to rely on some state of the are technology to make the base for his balls.

He said: 'My first attempts were made of plaster of Paris using mathematical instruments, what you quickly learn is that the margin for error is tiny and so much can go wrong.

'Every time you mess up a measurement, you're essentially multiplying that by Pi by the time you're finishing the shape.

'Nowadays we use resin which is shaped using F1 fabricators to help us build the molds. We have a very high degree of accuracy now.'

One the shape is complete, there comes the painstaking process of applying the maps. Something, yet again, Mr Bellery says that there is no quick trick to.

Peter Bellerby globe
Peter Bellerby globe

Technique: The smaller globes, left, are made from solid granite which can weigh up to 2kgs while bigger versions are hollow and covered with paper segments, right

He said: 'I have a trainee at the moment who has been with me for a few months learning to paper the globe, it will probably be another five until she does her first perfect one.

'The papering process is long and requires complete concentration. The paper is wet so it will take the shape of the globe properly, but that makes it very fragile.

'At times there will be five of us papering away on a big project and there won't be a word shared between us, you just can't take your eye off it'.

Bellerby's maps are alterations of other cartographers' works.The entrepreneur says he simply does not have to the staff or time to run a cartography business too, but the decorations on his globe's have made them highly desirable.

Modestly, Mr Bellerby will not be drawn on the household names who adorn their homes with his creations.

He said: 'It's true that we have customers who your reader will have heard of, but they're no more important than my other customers, so I don't like to single them out.

Peter Bellerby globe
Peter Bellerby globe

Quality assured: According to Mr Bellerby,  his workshop operates a quality over quantity policy, he insists it would be impossible to 'churn out' his bespoke globes

'Let's just say a few of my customers have their own wikipedia pages.You can work it out from that, can't you?'

Estimating that his workshop will turn out around 200 globes this year, the craftsman says his focus remains on quality and not quantity, adding: 'I've never had anyone come back to me to say, your globe is broke, or scratched or misshapen... or just not good enough.

'The thought of that makes me feel really, really bad. I suppose that's our driving force really, it keeps my commitment to quality, anyway.

Peter Bellerby globe
Peter Bellerby globe

Leader: Peter Bellerby, right poses with the base of a sphere ready for covering in the magnificent studio. Before globes, he spent his days as a bowling alley manager