Creating the world in miniature isn’t easy. The detailed craftsmanship of globe making has been refined over centuries—requiring multiple steps and often multiple artists. In the 1955 video above archived by British Pathé, the skilled globe makers at an unspecified North London firm of geographers take viewers through the fascinating process step-by-step.

The globe makers start by applying thick, brown strips of paper around a wooden ball to create the shell, which is then coated in nine layers of plaster. At the 52-second mark, you can see the globe maker slather fistfuls of the wet plaster over the shell, spinning the sphere so the surface comes out smooth and creamy. This step alone takes about six hours, the narrator explains.

Then the globe gets its geography, which is “like restoring the skin to a peeled orange.” It’s an important step that can significantly affect the end product if there’s an error.

“The covering process calls for a keen eye and a steady hand,” the narrator says. “A fraction of an inch out will put the world miles out of joint.”

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