Chrome and Lace: Rae Ripple’s Take On Rat Rods

Cars Maker News
Chrome and Lace: Rae Ripple’s Take On Rat Rods

Meet Phillis Gene, a vintage Chevrolet Deluxe that just got a one-of-a-kind redesign by Texas-based metal artist Rae Ripple.

“I wanted to keep that real classy lady feel, so that’s where the lace came in,” Ripple says of her work, commissioned by a rat rod enthusiast and named after his mother. “I guess if you were going to put a piece of lace up against a woman’s body, that’s exactly where that inspiration came from.”

Phillis is Ripple’s fifth custom car, and one of dozens of art projects she’s created since picking up a welding torch eight years ago. The hobby turned out to be a saving grace, sparking a creative process that would transform a life once defined by struggle, including homelessness as a teenager, into one of joy, gratitude, and purpose. Now 36, Ripple has a flourishing business and family, as seen on her vibrant Instagram feed followed by 157,000 people eager to see her next make — or best advice. “Today is a beautiful day to chase your dreams. So just go for it,” reads a recent caption.

This article appeared in Make: Vol 81. Subscribe today for more robot projects and tips.

Her triumphant story and optimistic outlook compliment her art, leading to speaking engagements intertwining all three into community service to inspire the next generation of welders. Ripple just spoke at the Pennsylvania College of Technology when we connected to discuss the challenges of crafting Phillis. Using a Hypertherm 65 SYNC air plasma cutter, she free-handed all of the cuts: “I don’t really draw anything on or trace anything out, I just start at one end and work my way around. So, if you overcut, there is no fixing that.”

Mistakes become part of the art. Or as Ripple reframes, “There’s no mistakes in art.” It’s a perfect metaphor for life: Sometimes we overcut, but those accidents are crucial moments in the creation of our best selves. —Greg Gilman

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Chrome and Lace: Rae Ripple’s Take On Rat Rods

Greg Gilman is a writer and musician based in Los Angeles, California, where he began his career as a reporter and editor for TheWrap. After forming rock band Greg in Good Company, he pivoted to freelance journalism, with his work appearing in publications including MovieMaker Mmagazine, Syfy Wire, and Make: magazine.

View more articles by Greg Gilman


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