Meet Sundie Ruppert, a sculpture felt artist who has found a unique use for remnant felt from hat brims. She works alongside her husband Brad Ruppert, using rescued pieces of felt, to create detailed, dimensional works of art that toe the line between wall art and sculpture.
The duo brought innovation to one of the oldest textiles still in use –– felted fur. And to their knowledge, they’re the only ones doing what they do.
Sundie shares how they discovered this medium, how their art has evolved and why they love being able to interact directly with collectors.
What is your medium?
We take the remnants that are trimmed off of the brim of hats. These went in the landfill for over a hundred years until seven years ago, when we decided to cut them into thousands and thousands of little pieces, and then nail each one down to a carved wood base to create all of this texture.
How has your art evolved over the years?
I always said I wanted to be a sign painter because that’s all I knew. I’d see billboards and thought, ‘I want to do that.’ Well, I went to school for graphic design and that’s also where I met Brad. We ended up doing the whole corporate America thing for 20 years working as graphic design art directors and creative directors for Meredith Corporation. Then we both went to work for garden.com back in the 90s, which was one of the very early e-commerce sites and the ride of a lifetime. That was the early dotcom, bring-your-dog-to-work era.
When that went down in the dotcom crash in 2000, we decided we weren’t going back to corporate America. So we did freelance graphic design for several years. And then we did this [sculptural felt] on the side. We always said when our kids get out of the house, we’ll do this. Then 2008 happened and we lost all the graphic design work. So we had to move this [art] up in our life plan by about seven years and the rest is history.
How would you describe the Celebration of Fine Art?
It’s awesome. I feel so honored to be a part of so many talented, well-curated artists. In fact, one client that came in that we got a commission for was so excited and she said, “I have to tell you…I feel horrible, but I’m an art snob. And I went to art school and I have driven by this tent for years and thought, I’m not going in there, but I am blown away by the art.” I said there’s a lot of good stuff that goes on underneath the tent. You just have to walk in the door.