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December 2017

Ceramicist makes lovely leaf trays

Ceramic artist plant leaf clay trays interview
Janell Petzko of Shady Hill Clayworks in Media, Pa makes lovely leaf-shaped ceramic plates by  rolling plant leaves directly into clay. She cuts out the shapes she wants and bisque fires the pieces with the leaves still on. After firing, just an ashy white skeleton of the leaf remains atop which gets dusted off. By applying a glaze and then sponging it off, the glaze caught in the crevices reveal the distinctive vein patterns of the leaves. She may then add additional colored glazes. In the winter she uses vegetable leaves such as large kale and pumpkin leaves. She will also use skunk cabbage leaves, ferns, bamboo and other grass leaves. From small begonia leaves she fashions ceramic refrigerator magnets, one of which is now attractively serving its purpose in your correspondent's home. Petzko's wares were on display for sale at the annual Water Tower December holiday craft show in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA.

Thrives despite non-verbal learning disability

Teacher overcomes nonverbal learning disability
It wasn't easy growing up for this educator. When he was about 10 years old, he got diagnosed with a non-verbal learning disability. He was not picking up cues and it was difficult and taking him longer to comprehend things. He also showed signs of ADD, tending to rush and not keeping things in their place. He says he is unique, nearly affected with Aspergers syndrome but not actually on the autism spectrum Academically, he was accommodated for the disability by being given special homework and prep materials and allowed more time on tests. But his trouble reading social cues kept him from being part of social groups at school and subjected him to bullying. At college, life became easier because his classmates were more accepting. Meanwhile. he has developed several coping strategies - writing things down more, using organizers and technology such as an electronic chip that lets his keys, should they be misplaced, communicate with his phone. He is finding that talking with others openly about his disability, such as with your correspondent, is helping him build his confidence. He has come a long way since he was younger and terrified of talking on the phone. Video Interview of teacher who overcomes non-verbal learning disability.


Inspired art teacher, inspired student art work

Art teacher clothesline exhibit
JS Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences Teacher Jon Tietz is motivated to have his students produce good art. And to do that, he regularly integrates math concepts of patterns and perspective into student lessons and projects. He recently showed off eye-catching student works of art in a variety of media, some inspired by Greek classics, Alexander Calder or M.C. Escher, dramatically on display along the school's first floor corridor. Tietz has built 12 large collapsible wooden frames with horizontal wires for moveable clothesline type exhibits in the school. The frames can hold over 400 pieces, using front and back. When not in use, they are folded up and stored behind the auditorium stage. Walking down to his art room Tietz, pointed out the framed artwork along the stairway walls, part of the growing Jenks Art Gallery or "JAG," a reference to the school teams' mascot, the Jaguars.
Student clothesline art exhibit and video interview.

Street musicians serenade holiday shoppers in Chestnut Hill

Street musician chestnut hill coffee

Street musicians Tahir Jamal and Carty Brown (above) both grew up in Northwest Philadelphia. On a temperate fall day Jamal was outside Kilian Hardware improvising on his keyboard while Carty Brown, on the guitar, tried out instrumentals he just recently composed outside the Chestnut Hill Coffee shop. Watch music video and interview of Chestnut Hill street performers.

Street musicians chestnut hill

Tahir Jamal (drums) and Eddie Flotte (guitar) entertain passersby on Germantown Avenue. Watch video of street musicians playing What a Wonderful World.