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This is Table Crumbs, a weekly series of culinary bites from Columbia and the Midlands. Email Jane with story ideas or questions at [email protected].

When Kyle Smith was a senior in high school, he took his first pottery class. Because of his natural talent and the encouragement of his art teacher, he knew he had to dedicate his life to this profession.

“It was an eye-opener and I fell in love with the potter’s wheel,” Smith said. “I saw that I could make a profit out of it – it wasn’t a lot in 1993, but I did it.”

More than 30 years later, Smith crafts pottery for local restaurants, food artisans, interior designers and art consumers. He honed his skills at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in art education and minored in ceramics before moving to South Carolina and becoming an art teacher at Eau Claire High School in Richland County.

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“That’s where my passion for art, for ceramics, came back,” he said of the Richland County school. “It just started this whole process.”

While Smith continued to teach full-time, pottery became his “sideline.” He sold original work at festivals and craft shows throughout South Carolina. Before he knew it, Kyle Smith Pottery was gaining traction. As he began to expand his staff and set up his home studio, he drew on his experience in education.

“Through my teaching career, I’ve taught my coworkers to do some of the repetitive tasks that I’ve always done,” he said. “This gives me more time to spend on the potter’s wheel.”

When Smith first started his business, he began by producing decorative pieces, but he soon realized he could expand his audience by moving into electroplating.

Kyle Smith Ceramics

Kyle Smith, an independent ceramicist from Columbia, makes plates for his Etsy shop and his booth at Soda City Market.

“I really like the functional side of pottery,” Smith said. “I’ve always been tinkering around with it to solve problems.”

Eventually, a customer approached him with a food-related problem – a problem that led him to create a best-seller.

“This lady said she and her husband like to sit on their patio and eat sushi, but their soy sauce bowl keeps sliding around,” Smith recalled. “I made her one and then a whole batch of them, and they sold really well at local events.”

In addition to being available for direct-to-consumer sales, Smith’s Sushi Plate was also available at Soda City Market – at its counter and at the booth of independent grocer Yakeju Sushi.

Many of Smith’s most popular ceramic items have to do with food, including lime green butter domes (or butter pots), garlic graters, and microwaveable egg cookers.

Through his Instagram business page and Etsy shop, Smith has been able to maintain sales – and enjoy the positive response to his work.

“When I get four or five star reviews on Etsy, my heart lights up,” he said. “It’s been an absolutely amazing journey and I pinch myself every day.”

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Fulmer-Pendleton Collaboration: The War Mouth on Franklin Street invites chefs Harold Pendleton and Wes Fulmer to cook and serve a collaborative dinner on July 28 starting at 4 p.m. Those interested in making reservations can email [email protected] or call (803) 596-6144.

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