Komalestewa, Alton – Large 22 Rib Dark Brown Fired Melon Jar with Painted Rain Designs
This is a very unusual melon jar by Alton Komalestewa. It is the combination of color, form, polish, and design, that makes it exceptional. Alton learned to make pottery from his mother-in-law, Helen Shupla. She was famous for her traditional melon bowls and over the years Alton has taken and refined this form with thinner walls and a highly polished surface. This jar is thin-walled and highly stone polished. As it was being made, each of the twenty-two undulating ribs is pushed out from the inside. It is technically difficult to stretch the clay and create even ribs. The rim of the jar and the tops of the melon ribs were then painted. Each rib has either a cloud or rain design painted and extending downward. The jar was then fired a dark brown coloration, with a lighter coloration near the rim of the piece. It looks almost black in some areas, but then in the light, it is a dark brown. It is highly polished to a glassy appearance. The painted areas, I originally thought were etched, as I have seen him etch designs in the past. However, this one has painted designs, and it is easy to feel the raised design on the surface! The jar is signed on the bottom in the clay and Alton has also included his hallmark, which is a katsina face. The jar is in very good condition with no chips, cracks, restoration, or repair.