Alton Komalestewa


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, after marrying her daughter Jeanne and moving to Santa Clara. Helen taught him the process she had refined to make her trademark melon bowls and jars: the designs are pushed out from inside the pot, not carved in from outside.

A few years later, after both Helen and Jeanne had died, Alton returned to Hopi and began producing melon jars with Hopi clay. What tipped his mind to make the move back to Hopi was a session he spent with Jake Koopee where Jake showed him how Hopi clay could be used in the same way. Those were the only melon jars ever made by Jake.

Life at Hopi was good for Alton for a few years and he married Pam Lallo. A few years later he returned to Santa Clara, took up residence with his son and went back to using Santa Clara clay to make his melon jars.

Melon jar with 16 ribs 16-rib melon jar
8.5 in H by 9.75 in Dia
Plain, polished two-tone brown jar
Polished plain two-tone brown jar
7.75 in H by 8.5 in Dia
Red band around the neck of a large buff bowl
Large buff bowl with a red band around the neck
7 in H by 13 in Dia
Red melon jar
Formed red melon jar
4.25 in H by 5.25 in Dia
A red melon jar
A red 16-rib melon jar
8.5 in Dia by 6.75 in H

Hopi Potters