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Cassidy Webb

Alchemy Clayworks: Where Small-Batch Artistry Meets Functional Charm


Shirin Lutfeali of Alchemy Clayworks is a local talented ceramicist who creates unique, handmade, and functional pieces. She works out of a community ceramics studio in Fort Lauderdale and has been doing ceramics for the past five years. However, in 2022, Shirin took her craft to the next level by launching an online store, Alchemy Clayworks, where she sells her beautiful, small-batch artisanal ceramics.

Alchemy Clayworks: Wheel-Thrown and Hand-Carved Ceramics

Shirin’s love for ceramics was sparked from a hobby she initially picked up during her college days after taking a semester-long ceramics class. She spent the last several decades mastering her craft in pottery studios in all of the various cities in which she has lived.

In 2022, Shirin officially launched Alchemy Clayworks after moving to Fort Lauderdale from NYC. Before opening Alchemy Clayworks, she tested the waters with her craft by participating in a few local markets, all of which proved to be a great success.

On her website, alchemyclay.com, you can find a variety of hand-crafted pieces that can be used in everyday life, ranging from dinnerware and drinkware to planters, vases, and more. Shirin also works with clients to create custom pieces based on their preferences. In the future, she would love to grow her business and open up a store in the Fort Lauderdale area selling home goods, jewelry, and of course, her ceramics.

Materials and Style

Shirin says she has worked with nearly every type of clay, and she’s still exploring which kind she likes to work with best. She has developed a keen preference for dark body stone clay that is speckled with iron, which adds a distinct freckled appearance post-glazing. According to Shirin, “When you glaze it, it has these mild freckles that make it look very beautifully speckled.”

Shirin’s style can be described as earthy and organic. She explains, “I gravitate toward subdued and serene colors…they go with everything. I work with a lot of whites, beiges, and tans.”

Embracing nature’s beauty, Shirin also likes to leave parts of her pieces unglazed, creating texture on the surface where the glaze can highlight the clay’s unique properties and natural beauty. Her love for earthy tones and natural colors extends to her glazing choices, favoring neutral and calming hues, with turquoise and pink finding recent favor in her more recent creations. For 2024, she plans to use more dark black and red clays, both of which she says make gorgeous vases and mugs.

Shirin’s Creative Process

The magic begins with an idea – Shirin envisions functional pieces like mugs, vases, plates, and pitchers that she herself would love to use every day. Then, she sculpts the raw, wet clay on a wheel, carefully shaping and forming until the piece begins to take its final form. Her artistic touch comes alive through intricate textures, carving, and earthy aesthetics.

The firing process is a crucial stage where each piece is fired at high temperatures to achieve the desired finish. The result of this time-intensive process is a product that blends functionality and organic beauty that can add an elegant touch to any home.

Each of her pieces is meticulously crafted in small batches. Shirin says, “One mug can take up to two weeks to make depending on how quickly things come out of the kiln and other factors.”

Supporting Local Artists and their Small Batch Artisanal Work

Shirin is a passionate advocate for supporting local artists and their dedication to small-batch artisanal work. She emphasizes the significance of this support as a lifeline for these artists, highlighting that their craft isn’t just a hobby, but for many, it is a livelihood, stating “there are so many great artists out there that need support.”

Each purchase not only brings unique, locally sourced beauty into homes but also sustains the livelihoods of passionate creators.

Whether you’re looking for a practical gift anyone can enjoy or are searching for a custom-crafted ceramics piece, you can view Shirin’s work or contact her directly at her Instagram, @alchemy_clayworks.


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