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Scottsdale's Celebration of Fine Art features art from around the country

Eight years ago the Rupperts started making sculptures out of felt material from cowboy hats that would otherwise end up in the landfill, giving it new life.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Celebration of Fine Arts in North Scottsdale has attracted all styles of art from around the country. Among the artists, is a couple who have created art out of scraps of felt left over from making cowboy hats.

“They are the remnants that’s trimmed off the brims,” said Sundie Ruppert.

Sundie and her husband Brad Ruppert started using the material 8 years ago. The walls of their exhibit are covered with colorful, multidimensional portraits of animals including birds, a mule and a jaguar. Because of the use of felt, the images appear almost 3D. 

“I’ve stained this and then we cut it up into smaller pieces,” said Brad Ruppert, who is the primary sculptor. “Then we just nail it there and it’s what gives it great texture – it just gives it life.”

His latest project of a cardinal will take him about two weeks to complete. After the initial sculpting, Sundie Ruppert will put the finishing touches on with paint.

The use of what the couple is calling "sculptural felt" is meant to give new life to something that would otherwise become waste.

“It would just go to the landfill and take up space,” said Brad Ruppert said.

In addition to being beautiful, the art also has an unforeseen functional use. 

“It will absorb sound in echoey space,” Sundie Ruppert said.

Some clients have even said that the multidimensional and soft style has helped loved ones with sensory overload.

“People I’ve talked to, you know, it’s like putting headphones on and muffling the sound around them and giving you that comfort and that repetition of something to pet and touch,” said Sundie Ruppert.

Sundie Ruppert said they hope to learn more about how they can use their artwork to help the members of the autism community.

“It is truly looking at things for what they could be instead of what they are,” said Sundie.

If you’d like to check out their pieces and more, the Celebration of Fine Art runs through March 27 near Hayden Road and Loop 101.

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