Jenkintown Walkabout: An Affirmation in Mosaic

Published in, July, 2019

Rebecca Politis has a serious creative itch, which she recently scratched with a glorious gesture for her and her family’s new neighborhood. If you drive down the 300 block of Cedar Street in Jenkintown, you might miss it, but it greets the pedestrian with a riot of color.

Rebecca and John Politis moved to Jenkintown less than two years ago. Rebecca describes herself as a stay-at-home mom who loves to dabble in art. So, when she discovered the medium of glass tile, she embarked on her own mission of making her world a little better than when she found it. Lucky for Cedar Street, she’s starting there.

Her latest and most conspicuous creation is the glass mosaic covering the sliver of a retaining wall in front of her row home. It’s a small but significant statement that affirms an appreciation of the neighborhood. “We like it here and you should too.”

Rebecca and her husband John have both embraced this creative endeavor. John helps out with the wood backings which provide the canvas upon which Rebecca applies her medium, which in this case is hundreds of tiny glass tiles arranged in intricate and sometimes whimsical patterns. 

This isn’t easy work. Before World War II, fine tile work such as this was once a standard feature in kitchens, bathrooms, or any situation that demanded both a stylish and extremely durable surface. Artisans painstakingly applied tiny pieces of ceramic or glass tile in patterns or in pointillistic mosaics.

For such finely detailed work, she seems to work fast. The wall took her all of twenty hours, she says. She embarked on this interest, as all craftspeople do, with smaller projects, learning along the way by reading, trial and error, and by watching videos.

The front porch displays the first two completed projects — one displaying the family name and the other the home address number. Currently, she’s working on a glass tile initial as a gift to her mother, and she says she was approached about a piece for Jenkintown’s planned park on the 400 block of Cedar Street. 

With a two-year-old already under foot and another child on the way, Rebecca still hopes to turn what she currently calls an obsession into a little business. Though busy with her daughter and the new baby only a few weeks away, the art serve as a welcome respite from the demands of parenting. 

Anyone interested in commissioning her services can see a growing portfolio of Rebecca’s efforts just by standing on the sidewalk in front of the Politis’s home. It’s yet another confirmation of Jenkintown’s status as the area’s most walkable community.