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Designing Women

Debbie Eoff started making stained glass in 1981 and later added glass bead jewelry to her repertoire.

Kentucky artisans create works of art with beads, jewelry, stained glass

In the old children’s fairy tale “Rumplestiltskin,” the beautiful princess could spin straw into gold.

Russell, Ky., just may claim to be the hometown of a modern day equivalent. When Debbie Eoff takes thin, colorful rods of glass and spins them through a propane flame, the result is a glass bead or gem that becomes a work of wearable art.

Eoff started making stained glass in 1981 and later added glass bead jewelry to her repertoire. She met business partner Beverly Sharp, who also does stained glass, in 1991. They began their company, Designed for You, shortly thereafter. Their creations are featured at arts and crafts shows around the region, such as the Pumpkin Festival in Milton, W.Va., and Ashland, Ky.’s Poage Landing Days.

“I’ve always got something going on,” Eoff said as she reached for a glass rod and held one end of it to the propane flame.

A fancy bead will take 30 minutes to make. The glass rod must be heated and the bead formed. But then the bead is cooled in vermiculite and annealed (cooled a little longer) in a kiln before it is officially ready to be used. That glass bead can then be assembled with others or metal pieces to make bracelets and necklaces or, depending on the size and function, used alone as a ceiling fan pull or other decoration.

An “easy” piece of stained glass, may be 6 inches by 15 inches, will take five hours to complete. Eoff is working now on a three-panel stained glass work of art that will feature dogwoods and cardinals and will take a couple of months to complete.

“It’s very detailed,” Eoff said. “I’m working every evening, weekends on it.”

Their work can be seen all over Ashland — literally.

Dr. Joseph Bajorek’s Winchester Avenue office sports an aquarium window with stained glass and agate slices that makes it look like the bottom of the ocean. Katie’s Corner Café on Greenup Avenue has a Designed for You window as well. Bajorek’s window is the most complex creation the ladies have ever undertaken.

While stained glass and beads are a second job for both women, it is a job they’ve both put their hearts into.

“This is my therapy, is what it is,” Eoff said. “I have a rough day at work and come in here and put some music on and get the flame going.”

This is a sentiment Sharp understands. “For me it’s also stress relief and it’s the satisfaction of seeing the finished product.”