Industrial design is a broad profession, which is a good thing for the Core77 Discussion Boards. No matter how deep your area of expertise, at some point you'll run into an issue that someone with expertise in a different area under ID's broad umbrella can help answer.
We first caught wind of Matt Binns (he of the Giant Globes) when he popped up on the Core77 boards inquiring about how these things are produced:
Those are a series of gardening tools sold by the UK's V&A Museum, each covered in a William Morris print from 1864. Any idea how they got the pattern onto the steel tools?
Reader Greenman's best guess is dip coating, a/k/a hydrographics. Hunters and the military-minded call it "camo dipping," as it's the best way to cover the complex surfaces of a firearm with a camouflage pattern. Here's one manufacturer, "EZ Dip Kits," showing you how it's done:Pretty neat, no? Perusing their site, or others like Campbell Custom Coatings' or Camo Dip Kits', reveals all manner of objects that hydrographics can be successfully applied to...
images via Camo Dip Kits
For objects with complicated surfaces, this looks to be a great and relatively easy way to get complete coverage; in any case it seems a damn sight easier than painting the things by hand.
Binns' original question, by the way, remains unanswered: What's a good way to apply cotton fabric, not necessarily a graphic pattern, over the metal continents of his gi-normous globes? If you've got the answer, please sound off here.