Ceramic Artist Continues Santa Barbara Tradition of Beautiful Tile Plaques

by Michael Imwalle

Jeannie Davis's recreation of the enameled plaque honoring the California Conservation Corps' contributions to El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.
Jeannie Davis’s recreation of the enameled plaque honoring the California Conservation Corps’ contributions to El Presidio SHP. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

I was fortunate to meet Jeannie Davis in 2007 at a Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation Descendant’s and Genealogy Committee meeting, where she graciously volunteered to make a plaque to honor the seventy-seven burials laid to rest the Presidio cemetery. In April 2013 she took on the challenge of replicating a plaque honoring the contributions of the CCC to the development of the El Presidio SHP. Late last year she undertook the daunting task of making a plaque to commemorate the November 15th visit of Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain.

SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones and Jeannie Davis select glaze colors for the plaque honoring Prince Felipe.  Photo by Michael Imwalle.
SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones and Jeannie Davis select glaze colors for the plaque honoring Prince Felipe. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

SBTHP Development Assistant Christa Clark Jones designed the plaque using a combination of artistic elements from the interior of the Presidio Chapel and the Royal Crest of the Crown Prince of Asturias. Christa and Jeannie carefully chose glaze colors that would tie the design elements of the decorative border to the colors in the  crest and in less the than two months, after dozens of hours of painting and firing Jeannie produced the beautiful plaque that is featured on the cover of the Spring 2014 issue of La Campana.

The completed plaque honoring Prince Felipe destined for the donor wall at El Presidio SHP.
The completed plaque honoring Prince Felipe destined for the donor wall at El Presidio SHP.

The plaque is eventually going to be installed on a donor wall honoring major contributors to El Presidio de Santa Barbara SHP. The donor wall will be incorporated into the recently completed Northwest Corner Defense Wall along the proposed Paseo del Presidio.

I am excited to be working with Jeannie on designing a new set of collectible tiles commemorating the twenty-one missions and four presidios of Alta California. For Jeannie’s tireless efforts she was honored with SBTHP’s 2014 Sue Higman Volunteer of the Year Award. Thank you Jeannie for all your hard work and we look forward to working with you on many more projects in the future!

Jeannie Davis with Prince Felipe on November 15, 2013.
Jeannie Davis with Prince Felipe on November 15, 2013.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservaton

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