The great grandson of Nampeyo of Hano and grandson of William Komalestewa, Alton Komalestewa was born at Hopi in 1959. Despite the famous Nampeyo family connection he learned to make pottery from his mother-in-law, Helen Shupla, of Santa Clara Pueblo after marrying her daughter Jeannie and moving to Santa Clara. Helen taught him the process to make her trademark melon bowls and jars: the designs are pushed out from inside the pot, not carved from outside.
A few years later, after both Helen and Jeannie died, Alton returned to Hopi and began producing melon jars with Hopi clay. That was good for a few years, then he returned to Santa Clara and went back to using Santa Clara clay to make his melon jars.