From Zuni with Love: The Clay and Carlos Laate

From the clay in the hills of the Middle Place to the hands of people around the world, the Carlos Laate-designed mug represents Zuni culture wherever its journey leads. This café-style ceramic mug is a replica of a single pot handcrafted by Carlos Laate of Zuni Pueblo, and the second entry in series two of the popular Pueblo Pottery Mugs available at Shumakolowa Native Arts, located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC).

Carlos began making pottery around 1987, and also crafts jewelry and carvings. His destiny as an artist was almost certain, as his mother was a jeweler, his father a carver, leatherworker, and welder, and his grandmother and aunt renowned potters Daisy Hooee and Jennie Laate. “I got the inspiration from my grandparents, and my parents,” he says.

“My aunt and my grandmother, they were both famous potters,” Carlos tells with pride. “That’s where I picked it up.” Creating pottery came naturally for Carlos, his hands, heart, and clay seemingly destined to combine forces. “Once I got a hold of the clay, it just kind of came to me. I can make anything. I get a hold of the clay and start working with my hands, and I would just make anything out of clay.”

Carlos looks to ancient pots found in museums, and potsherds found while walking near his Zuni home, to inspire the designs of his work. It was his grandparents who explained the meanings behind the images he found. “What they taught me was that all the designs that are on the pot are the prayers we use in our daily lives – to have a good life, to have a successful life, and asking for longevity.”

The designs Carlos chose for his mug reflects these same blessings and prayers, carrying over to all who drink from it. He says he’s pleased to represent Zuni and Pueblo culture this way, and is thankful to everyone who buys one for supporting Pueblo culture and artists, and the IPCC.

“I’m representing Zuni Pueblo, and that design comes from Zuni, and that’s what makes me happy.”

To see more work by Carlos Laate, click here.

It is by carrying on our traditions, and actively including our youth in them, that #WeShallContinue.

Additional background on the Pueblo pottery design mugs:

In January 2015, five Pueblo potters, Erik Fender (San Ildefonso), Elizabeth Medina (Zia), Frederica Antonio (Acoma), Patricia Lowden (Acoma), and Robin Teller (Isleta), were commissioned by Shumakolowa Native Arts to create traditional Pueblo pottery in the form of a contemporary coffee mug, which could be replicated.

The popularity of the mugs prompted the commission of a second series of Pueblo Pottery Mugs, this time with designs by Martha Romero (Nambé), Carlos Laate (Zuni), Denise Chavarria (Santa Clara), Helen Bird (Santo Domingo), and a collaboration from Lisa Holt (Cochiti) and Harlan Reano (Santo Domingo).

Series two debuted with Martha Romero’s design just before Christmas 2017, with the others being released at intervals through mid-February 2018. Series three debuts in October 2018 with mugs from Juanita Fragua (Jemez), Clarence Cruz (Ohkay Owingeh), Natalie Sandia (Jemez), Myron Sarracino (Laguna), and Hubert Candelario (San Felipe). The goal is to eventually have potters from each of New Mexico’s 19 Pueblos produce a mug design representing their Pueblo.

The originals for series one through three are on display at Shumakolowa, located inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. All of the participating artists receive royalties for each mug sold, with proceeds also supporting the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.



  • Carlos is an inspiration! Looking forward to seeing more designs, and am delighted to read the story!

    C Foshee
  • I would love to have this mug! How much?

    Johanna Wato Abeyta
  • Beautiful work! I love your cup design and also the wedding vase. My grandparents and parents are from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. I live in San Diego CA and I do visit New Mexico when I can. Sorry, to say I do not know too much about my cultural as I grow up mostly In California.

    Wanda Cusson
  • I love this one.

    Barbara Witemeyer

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