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Breathing life into collections of oddities

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Claire Phillips Laxton 

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For the Chronicle 

Artist Brenda H. Spilios has passion for giving something old new life.

The Inverness resident’s whimsical pieces using old tin and unusual objects are on display now through the month of March at the Coastal Region Library in Crystal River. Her artwork is appropriately named “Whimsy & Tin.”

Spilios, who also writes poetry, began creating unique pieces of art from old tin.

She wondered “what memory do they bring?” 

Her son Michael, a welder by trade, once told her he learned “metal has more memory.” 

Spilios loves fashioning new creations by finding extraordinary pieces here and there in antique shops and thrift shops. She’s always on the hunt for some special treasures to make into something new by adding unthinkable items to it to turn the old piece into new artwork to create a dog, a horse or some artsy conversation piece. 

In one piece, she used an old candle holder, added a draw pull, a jar lid, and wooden legs from a banana stand and “the piece started to come together.”

For a dog she used, among other things, and old nutmeg grater, a pepper shaker, a letter S found in a necklace and a wooden spoon. 

She got the creative bug about three years ago after visiting the Appleton Museum in Ocala and seeing a traveling art exhibit called the Art of the Robot where special artists from all over created new art out of old pieces. 

The exhibit intrigued her, and after seeing all the different discarded pieces given new life she thought, “I could do that!”  

Then she began searching for special items to make into something new and used her creative juices to find other objects to finish the artsy pieces.  “Every piece has a story to tell,” she said. 

She uses her only a few simple tools to make her creations: hammer, screwdriver, pliers and drill. 

“She uses my tools more than I do,” her husband Ken said.  

Spilios, a retired elementary teacher, taught for 41 years, with 21 years at Pleasant Grove Elementary in Citrus County. She also taught in Edmond, Oklahoma and in Okeechobee. 

She loved working with the kids and said “It brings out the child in all of us.” 

Spilios also has her unique pieces on display at the Florida Artist Gallery in Floral City where her work is available for sale.