Navajo pottery historically was made out of necessity and for the potters’ use.
There aren’t many areas on the Navajo lands that have enough water for pottery-making, so a small group from the area around Cow Springs is best-known.
Alice Cling learned from her mother, Rose Williams, who taught most of the current potters, as well.
Alice, however, forged a new path for Navajo pottery, bringing it from its unrefined tradition to polished (literally) excellence.
Elegantly formed, gorgeously burnished – with a hairbrush handle! – and minimally adorned, Alice Cling’s work is made in traditional Native fashion.
That requires real physical labor: going out and gathering clay, mixing, it, coiling, smoothing and firing in the ground.
Navajo pots are the only ones where the random dark “fire clouds” are tolerated, even encouraged, as embellishment.
Coating the finished pots with melted pinon pitch created both a semblance of water resistance and those random fire clouds. (NOTE: these pots are NOT waterproof. Never put water in them, please.)
With its elegantly tapered shape, this olla bears a resemblance to classic Chinese pottery; Alice’s pieces fit into a variety of decors.
A trio of raised, stepped forms on top add animation to the pot, and represent rain symbols, which are good luck.
Traditional, with a timeless look, this handsome olla is a fine example of contemporary Navajo pottery.