“When I was a child, on family holidays we would go and camp, or stay in tumbledown cottages,” says The Little Globe Co founder Loraine Rutt.
“Breakfast each morning would start with spreading out an ordnance survey map, and we would plan our journey for the day.” So began a lifelong love of maps. After school, Loraine took a cartography apprenticeship at Birkbeck College, then studied ceramics at Central Saint Martins. Now she combines the two passions, producing topographically accurate, palm-sized porcelain globes. “We have the technology now to see the earth in its place in the universe – we can look at it from space. My globes are about recognising that we’ve got a tiny, precious gem of a planet.”
To create accurate models, Loraine works from remote sensing data gathered by satellites. She crafts a series of moulds, complete with topographical details, to form the porcelain globe; a working mould takes months to perfect, and each can be used only a few times.
“The fine work – the outline of continents, the Pacific islands, longitudes and latitudes – that’s scribed into the globe by hand,” says Loraine. She makes these delicate marks using her grandmother’s sewing needle. When the globes are dry, she paints them.
Each globe is fired in the kiln and polished. “I like the surface of porcelain, because it resembles the paper that maps are printed on,” says Loraine. They are all numbered and signed.
“I adore all sorts of maps – always have done. I’d read a map rather than read a book. I travel vicariously through them, and even when I’m painting a tiny dot on a globe, at a scale of 1:170,000,000, I always have a mental image of what the place looks like.”