Noted as the potter who elevated Navajo pottery to a new level, Alice learned from her mother, Rose Williams, an accomplished traditional Navajo potter who had been trained, in turn, by her aunt, Grace Barlow.These three women have been the inspiration for many Navajo potters who have recently begun to market their work. Navajo pottery was made for domestic or ceremonial use only, until recent times. It was, and is still, made only in a small area of the Navajo land, near Cow Springs, Arizona, where water is readily available.
Alice Cling pots are special because of their finely modeled, pure and simple forms and beautifully hand-burnished finishes. Usually, the only embellishments are the “fire clouds”. These undulating, smoky patterns are caused by covering the pots with melted pinon pitch. The use of melted pinon pitch is a historical characteristic of Navajo pottery; it provides a bit more waterproofing than plain-fired pots – needed since water has always been scarce for the Navajo, unlike the Pueblos who live by the Rio Grande. (DON”T however, put water in any Native pottery!)
Alice and her family dig the clay from a special place, screen it to eliminate impurities, and mix it with sand, for temper, and with water to make it workable. The pieces are hand -coiled, smoothed and pit-fired.
Her gorgeous, burnished surfaces, warm reddish coloration and elegant shapes distinguish her pottery from that which came before, and from the younger generation’s, as well.