One of my favorite places in Baltimore is the Walters Art Museum's Chamber of Wonders. In a series of rooms overlooking the Mount Vernon neighborhood, museum curators have assembled what a seventeenth-century nobleman from what was then the Southern Netherlands might have gathered in a space of his own--objects of curiosity and beauty, kept on permanent display.
I love looking at other people's work spaces--at the small chambers of wonders we all create routinely, without much forethought or deliberation. Next to laptops and graphics tablets and calculators I've seen, among other items, cicada husks, kindergarteners' pinch pots, sea glass, and long-dried-out fountain pens. Though clutter normally makes me kind of antsy, my own work space's chamber of wonders gets fuller every year. Just this month, my newest acquisition came along: a wood block that my great-aunt, a graphic artist, created for a Methodist church association decades ago.
For me, the wonder of this block is not just the grace of the lettering and design, but the fact that she achieved that grace while carving into wood--and working backward, to boot. (It's kind of like that quote about Ginger Rogers--dancing backward and in heels.) My great-aunt probably thought nothing of this wood block, but I think it's a marvel.