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Cobalt & Curry takes over from tylerWARE

By Lynn Burton
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Call it small-town serendipity, Carbondale style.
Rebecca Wilson moved from Lexington, Virginia to Carbondale last October to be closer to her children and grandchildren. After settling into Carbondale she decided it was “time to find some work.” Wilson mentioned this to her chiropractor, Dr. Lauren Whitaker at LUX Wellness.
“She got excited,” Wilson told The Sopris Sun. “You should go talk to this lady right across the road who is selling her business – studio and all.”
The owner was Lea Tyler, of tylerWARE. Tyler has built a reputation for her brightly-colored wooden salad bowls, which are sold at retail outlets and artisan fairs. Wilson, who grew up on the Front Range, returned to school 10 years ago and earned a degree in studio art with an emphasis on portrait sculpture.
“I had never heard of tylerWARE or seen the bowls … (but) love all creative outlets.”
Wilson’s serendipitous business opportunity moved quickly after her mid-December talk with Dr. Whitaker. She talked to Tyler shortly before Christmas, thought about their discussions over the holidays, and told her she would buy the business in mid-January.
Within two months of our first conversation, and with the help of some great Realtors and bankers, we closed on the sale. These are some of the reasons I love small towns.”
Tyler, whose studio and gallery is located at 117 Village Ln., has been working with Wilson since the deal closed. Although the maple bowls and designs are the same as Tyler’s, the name is now Cobalt & Curry (cobaltandcurry.com).
“I wish everyone could buy their business from someone like Lea. She is so organized and helpful, and has gone the extra mile a hundred different ways to help get me going. I can’t thank her enough. My job now is to continue to produce the high quality, artistic work that she has been producing,” Wilson continued.

Getting here

Long before moving to Carbondale, Wilson said she studied architecture but did not finish before she got married and had two children. “That (architecture) went on the back burner.” She then spent 30 years in the restaurant business but looking back said, “ … the wrong place for an introvert.” From restaurants she renovated houses and worked as a kitchen and bath designer before returning to school.
In 2004, Wilson decided to move from Virginia “wanting to be closer to my children and grandchildren but not on their back doorstep.” With children and grandchildren in Denver and Edwards, Colorado and Culver City, California, she decided to split the difference between Los Angeles and Denver by choosing the Western Slope.
“It offers so much in terms of a relatively lower altitude, a great farming and ranching community full of hard working people, and the ability to grow things. I just got certified in permaculture last summer.”
Continuing, Wilson said, “I have grown to love Carbondale and am so glad this is where I landed. I walk to most anything I need and feel right at home … people have been so helpful.”
As for Tyler, she isn’t going anywhere.  “ … I am picking up bookkeeping clients and working in my ceramics studio!”
And, she’s keeping her tylerWARE brand for the future.

The Story Behind Our Beautiful Bowls

Beginnings—Peggy Potter

In the late 1980’s, in a small town in central Vermont, Peggy Potter began creating her luminous salad bowls. Turned from a solid piece of maple, each bowl was carefully hand-painted with vibrant colors, and sealed to make a completely functional work of art. As popularity and demand for the bowls increased, Potter launched the Peggy Potter Bowl Company. The bowls became, among other things, a signature wedding gift; all who received one treasured it. Potter painted continuously, refining her craft, and the business took off. Eventually she was selling the bowls in stores and galleries across the country.

The Next Generation—Lea Tyler

Lea Tyler had grown up in Vermont alongside the Potter family, and had worked for the company off and on throughout her teen and college years. Upon her college graduation, she was awarded residencies at Anderson Ranch Arts Center and Carbondale Clay Center, both in Colorado. Lea resided in Colorado until 2010 when she returned to her home State of Vermont.

It was fortuitous timing, as Tyler was appearing back in her home town just as Potter began to entertain thoughts of retirement. Peggy offered her young friend the opportunity to take over the bowl business, and the two reached a working agreement. Tyler began training under Potter, and was soon creating the next generation of Peggy Potter Bowls.

When, in 2011, Lea made a more permanent move back to Colorado, she brought her paints, brushes and beautiful bowls with her. She re-named the business tylerWARE, and quickly became a familiar face at the local markets in Aspen and Vail. Tyler’s cheerful smile and ability to connect easily with people, along with her attention to every artistic detail, made her assortment of richly‐hued, high quality hardwood bowls a sought-out commodity in the Colorado Mountains. Lea faithfully replicated many of Potter’s original designs while adding some designs of her own, and for six years, continued to sell the now well-known bowls in Colorado and Vermont and to select artist’s galleries across the Country.

An Old Brush, A New Face—Rebecca Wilson

In the summer of 2016, in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a Colorado Native began to feel a tug. It was time for Rebecca to pull up stakes. After more than a decade of living in the midst of the gently rolling hills and deciduous woods of Central Virginia, it became important to make the West home once again.

“I have always loved my adult children, and tried to visit them often. But when my children, (in Colorado and California) kept having these irresistibly cute little grandchildren, I knew I had to live closer. They grow up too fast! There was no other good answer. Here I am.”

“I took one step at a time. I decided to land in Carbondale because of its small town feel, the valuable work ethic of a ranching and farming community, its comparatively lower altitude, all the outdoor activities, and of course, for its beauty. It took me a few months to settle in, and then it was time to seek out a livelihood.”

Again, the timing was right. Lea Tyler had recently made the decision to pursue some of her other artistic passions, and tylerWARE was being readied for transition. A chance conversation led to a meeting between Lea and Rebecca, and within weeks the arrangements were made.

“This form of creativity fits my skill set beautifully. With a background in art, sculpture and design, I think I have been preparing all along to do just this. I love to paint, I love to combine colors, and I especially love to think about families and friends enjoying a meal using something I have made,” she reflects.

Rebecca decided that the next generation of Peggy Potter Bowls will be produced under the brand name Cobalt & Curry.

“Despite the changes in ownership, and the change of name, I think people who know the bowls will be amazed at the continuity in the quality and beauty in what is being produced. Peggy trained Lea directly and Lea trained me directly. The bowls are still precisely turned from single log, high quality American hardwood— the best quality wooden bowl you can find. The process is painstaking… there are at least 25 steps in completing one bowl. Amazingly, Lea has turned over a set of brushes to me that she has cared for over the years, which originally belonged to Peggy. And Peggy Potter’s original “Wedding Bowl”, among others, is still being carefully painted for the current generation to enjoy using at their own family gatherings.”

Rebecca continues, “These bowls are so beautiful! I’m really honored and feel very blessed to be able to carry on this 30-plus year tradition. I’m told there are people who are still using their original Peggy Potter bowls on an almost daily basis. I want someone, thirty years from now, to be able to say the same about the bowl I will start painting tomorrow.”