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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Retirement brings out new creativity for artist

Eileen Stoyanoff in her studio in Abingdon, Va.
Eileen Stoyanoff in her studio in Abingdon, Va.
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Eileen Stoyanoff opened The Glass Ceiling Studio, Abingdon, Va.

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | January 29, 2014

Eileen Stoyanoff's enthusiasm for her new career is infectious. She spent 30 years in computer deployments for Computer Sciences Corporation, a major outsourcing company, where she travelled around the world and dedicated herself to problem solving and putting out fires on a daily basis. "I used to fly out on Monday and come back home on Friday. Needless to say this was no fun and very stressful," she says.

When she moved to Abingdon six years ago, she took a stained glass class from Marilyn Peacock. Upon her retirement a year ago, Stoyanoff began to look for something to occupy herself and opened The Glass Ceiling Studio, Abingdon, Va.

"I had filled my home, my daughter's, friends and family members' homes with stained glass, and I thought now is the time to see if I can keep busy doing what I love."

Her pieces include small and large window hangings, lanterns, floor lamps, kaleidoscopes, night-lights, ornaments and gift items. "I did two lanterns for the front door of my daughter's house that I really am proud of. I also did a surround for an entry into a pantry. It represents my three grandchildren and the tree of life. I really like this one."

Her favorite style is arts and crafts, mission style and geometric pieces. She adds elements such as copper, agates, nuggets, seashells, geodes and other embellishments.

She typically only makes copper foil/solder pieces. Unlike other stained glass artists, she does not use patterns.

"I get my inspiration from the first piece of glass. I think it's an Italian thing. I will start with an interesting piece of glass or other item. Then I start putting colors together and just cut and create it from there. I incorporate a lot of glass nuggets, agates and other items into my pieces. Each one is unique. I love the look of the glass and all the colors."

Stoyanoff also uses patinas on her pieces. The solder is silver, which can be left as is, but she prefers its look with a black patina because it "brings out the colors of the glass and defines the piece. After the patina is dried, I then polish the piece so the solder and glass are shining and preserved.

"Typically you would start with a pattern, cut out the pattern and go from there. I'm not a bird or flower stained glass artist. I love the geometrics, abstracts and negative space type of work. I love to embellish my pieces with solder." She does this by adding small nubs of solder to create texture and visual interest.

"When I get a piece completed, I look at it and think "where am I going to embellish?' I think it's beautiful. I just love glass. Sometimes I put the rough side on the front, sometimes I put it on the back; it just depends on the feel. I always try to embellish a little on the back, so when you're on the other side of the window you'll have something to see.

"I always use the edge of the glass and incorporate it into the piece. I love that negative space. I just start, and that's why I say it's the Italian thing. I have a great uncle, Cesare Ciani, who has artwork in the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy. When we went there, we looked for it. He has a self-portrait in there, and he kind of looked like us. I guess that's where it comes from. Who knew? One of my sisters creates beautiful quilts; my other sister makes old-world Santas with sculpted faces. I just never had time to do arts or crafts before moving to Abingdon. I think I just had a knack. It comes from inside. It's just in there. I had an aunt who was about 78 years old, and she started to paint. Her paintings were so wonderful that they gave her a gallery show.

"I just create based on my feeling at the time and the colors and textures of the glass," she says. "Who knew that this late in life I would find the most amazing, fulfilling creative skill to fill my retirement time? For so many years I was involved in raising a family and working in a very stressful corporate environment. When I retired, I did not know what I should do until I took that stained glass class. This was the beginning of what I feel is my inner creativity emerging. Life is a miracle and full of wonder. I am simply expressing my creativity via my stained glass pieces. Life is wonderful."

Her works can be seen at her studio which is located inside The Marketplace, 207 West Main Street and at The Arts Depot and Hidden Memories, all in Abingdon, Va. To learn more,visit or call 276-477-0355.

- Richard Donoho

Topics: Art, Crafts

One of Eileen Stoyanoff's geometric designs.