The Mysterious Wunderkabinett by Hedi Kyle

The Mysterious Wunderkabinett by Hedi Kyle

Of all of the book and paper structures invented by Hedi Kyle over her long and inspiring career, one very mysterious Hedi marvel has drawn the most curiosity and many questions from artists: the Wudnerkabinett or Wundercabinet.

As many book artists have no doubt done in recent months, at first reference to this elusive creature I turned to Dr. Google. Very little information about this wonder comes up, sadly, no photos, no tutorials, nothing at all helpful. The structure looks like a cross between an origami paper box and a Jacob’s ladder, but it can fold up into a nifty little box, or it can be extended out to include several connected boxes, perhaps along the lines of her multi section slipcase? All of this searching left me even more confused. So, I turned to the source, Hedi herself. Here is what she told me via email:

“The whole thing is a bit vague. It was more a concept applied to several book structures than a name for any particular one. The idea was to include found or make 3-dimensionaI objects in a book-like construction mocking the Wunderkabinetts so popular in earlier times. I taught several workshops on the subject. I do now refer to the models below as Wundercabinets, but I'm not sure others do as well. Tara O'Brien for instance told me that she taught a workshop on the Panel Panorama book and called it Wunderkabinett. I know I haven't always promoted the names of my structures enough but on the other hand even if the name seems established, people still make up their own version.”

Happily, Hedi sent me the photos of this very intriguing structure that you see here. Yes, I know, they are very small, and that size is all she has. There is also another photo on Amy Borezo’s blog from a 2008 workshop at the Garage Annex School for Book Arts. Check it out here. (Amy also shows a model of Hedi's multi section slipcase mentioned above.)

It looks like it is going to take some experimentation and creativity for those artists who are interested in exploring this structure for the HELLO HEDI show. And, remember, this show is not just about copying Hedi’s work, but it is also a chance to take her ideas further, developing new interpretations and new models. The Wonderkabinett is the perfect opportunity for just that. I hope HELLO HEDI inspires you to think outside, as well as inside, Hedi’s very smart box.

Now, get out some paper and experiment!