I was born in Chicago, Illinois. When I was three years old, my family moved to
San Diego, California. My God given artistic ability came via my father Sam Qualiato,
a plumbing contractor by trade. In his free time, he enjoyed calligraphy and photography.
I inherited my business sense, persistence, and creativity from my mother, Antoinette,
who was born in Italy. As a gifted and creative seamstress, she taught me the
importance of quality workmanship and attention to detail.

Even though I was the runt of the litter – the youngest of the four children, my mother encouraged
my artistic talent early on by allowing me to have a cigar box with a single edged
razor blade and some large cakes of Ivory soap. In no time I was carving animals,
the Blessed Mother and Mickey Mouse.

I developed an early love of animals when I would bring home every stray in the neighborhood and
beg to keep them.
My father was the oldest of 14 children and my mother came from a little village
in Southern Italy where her family kept a goat for milk. Having pets was not a
part of their cultural upbringing, but I was persistent and would inevitably get
my mother to convince my dad to let me add yet another pet to the family menagerie.
In those days there was no such thing as spay and neuter clinics so my dad would
only let her have male pets so the house would not be overrun with critters.

My first pet was a gray tomcat named Smokey who was abandoned as a kitten and rescued
and absolutely adored by me. Smokey almost seemed to enjoy being dressed in doll
clothes and paraded around in my baby buggy. I can still conjure up the image
of him jumping out with a baby bonnet trailing from his head after he’d had enough
of my “adoration”. Over 50+ years, we’ve had birds, cats, dogs, ducks, chickens,
a pony, peacocks, snakes, fish, frogs, tortoises, mice, hamsters, a tarantula,
crayfish, skunks, coyotes, bees, salamanders, and countless ants enrich our lives.
Well, maybe the ants in my kitchen wern’t so welcome. I had to cut a deal with
them. Animals were a fascinating part of my youth and played an important part
in helping my children to learn responsibility and respect for nature and God’s
wonderful creatures.

People often ask me why I sculpt so many dogs. Don’t I like cats? I love cats and I’m aware that
millions of homes include cats and other pets, but I get the greatest number of requests for dogs and I
have become intrigued by the close bond that exists between man and dog. Now cat lovers please
don’t write hate letters, remember I love cats. Because dogs are able to do more jobs, can be
trained, and interact more with humans, I believe this creates the
opportunity for a closer bond for most people.

Each time I go to sculpt a dog I study up on the breed’s origin and how they have evolved over the
years. Many breeds did indeed have a job and were and still are essential part of many cultures.

They are also the most difficult for me to sculpt. No other animal has standards or expectations for
what is considered “correct” in a breed.
When I sculpt a Rhino, no one is going to say that the distance between the two
horns is not correct or that their giraffe’s neck dosen’t look like my piece.
The wild animals are the most exciting to do for obvious reasons. I’ve been up
close and personal with some pretty awesome beasts and they can sometimes be both
thrilling and scary to do.

Cats? I have to make appointments.

Sandra Brue lives in San Diego and enjoys traveling, reading, theater, dining
out, and crossword puzzles. She is a history buff who is especially interested
in ancient Roman times. She studied art at the University of San Diego and San
Diego State University. Prior to starting Sandicast, Sandra was a freelance graphic
designer for 12 years. She has four grown children and six grandchildren. Her
favorite pet for 12 years was her English Mastiff “Brutus”. She is active in the
community and serves on several boards.

Leaning Tree Landing
About The Artist