The comparative handful of Navajo pottery artists all come from an area of north-central Arizona, around Shonto and Cow Springs, where water is reliably available.
Alice Cling’s name is synonymous with award-winning, contemporary interpretations of traditional Navajo pottery.
Navajo pottery was born from necessity, since they are far from Pueblo pottery centers.
Alice was taught by her mother, Rose Williams, the matriarch of Navajo pottery, but went way beyond the unrefined original styles, creating exquisitely elegant shapes, with a highly burnished finish.
This stately vase is a nod to tradition, but still as beautifully formed and finished as her contemporary pieces.
The raised fillet that encircles the mid-section, the wide mouth, and the fire clouds, are traditional; the caressable, smooth finish and zen-like serenity are signatures of Alice’s work.
This was entirely traditional in the making: locally gathered clays, mixed, coiled, smoothed, by hand, and fired in the ground.
Black against the reddish clay, dramatic fire clouds form from the heat of the firing, enhanced by daubing the pot with melted pinon pitch, for a bit of water resistance. They are a signature feature of Navajo pottery.
NOTE: Navajo pots were meant for use, in the old days, but don’t you think of putting water in this vase! You will find a pile of mud, very soon.
Alice often achieved the wonderfully smooth finish by burnishing the pot with a plastic hairbrush handle – a modern version of stone-polishing!
Impeccable in form, with a look back at past styles, and dramatic fire clouds, this tall vase has an impressive presence.
Majestic on its own, it would also make an interesting contrast to Alice Cling’s more contemporary pieces.