Sandi Austin has called Idyllwild her home since 2016. After moving from her hometown of San Diego, Austin immediately immersed herself into Idyllwild’s art culture.
Austin has always been artistic but found her niche and passion in creating mosaic art.
“I started doing mosaic art about 30 years ago but I didn’t start selling any of my work until I moved up here,” Austin said. “I got involved with the Art Alliance of Idyllwild(AAI) and Middle Ridge Winery immediately after moving here.”
The first mosaic piece Austin ever created was out of a used glass patio table and some broken pieces of tile. The table made it through multiple moves during those 30 years and meant a lot to Austin.
“I had it all these years and used it kind of like a dining table,” Austin explained. “Then last year, we were remodeling and I put it outside. I didn’t realize the snow would cause a problem and it was crushed by the weight of the Thanksgiving Day snow. I was really heartbroken.”
Austin has created many other pieces since that first table and even made a backsplash for her kitchen. What she is most known for now is her unique mosaic deer heads.
Being a part of AAI, Austin entered into the Eye of the Artist event that was held at IdyPark Oct. 17. Her mosaic deer head called “Seek Your Inner Punk” won the People’s Choice award. Cynthia Grady won the piece in a raffle at the end of the day.
This is the third ribbon Austin has won with her mosaic deer heads. The first one was a People’s Choice ribbon at the Del Mar Fair in San Diego a couple of years before she moved to Idyllwild. The second was a first-place ribbon during an AAI event at the Courtyard Gallery. Both of those award-winning pieces were sold within a matter of hours.
“I get the biggest reward knowing people have something I made in their home,” Austin explained. “It’s really cool.”
Austin also creates hand-painted glasses and mosaic-glass windows. She uses Facebook as her main platform to sell her work but also has a set up at Art in the Park and the Saturday Mountain Market.
Austin adds a heart to every art piece she creates.
“I put a heart on the bottom of all of my wineglasses,” Austin said. “Doing my mosaics, I always throw in a heart somewhere. Sometimes, it’s hidden. Other times, it’s easy to spot. I always start working from the heart and create the rest of my piece from there.”
Each mosaic deer head that Austin creates isn’t a short process. Hand-cutting every piece of glass and putting them together like a jigsaw puzzle takes time, taking anywhere from 40 to 60 hours to complete.
Her mosaic-glass frames can take about 30 hours to finish depending on how intricate it is. Her hand-painted wineglasses take the least amount of time, but it all depends on how quickly the paint dries.
“My favorite thing to do is mosaic and the wineglasses are just for fun,” Austin said. “They don’t take as long to make and they’re fun to donate or gift to people. I really enjoy donating to the AAI events.”
No matter the art form, Austin has an eye and passion for every piece she creates. Make sure to find her on Facebook or at AAI events throughout the year.