By Lyndsie Kiebert
Nellie Lutzwolf is bringing her love for the unique and antique things in life to downtown Sandpoint through Wolf & Bell, a shop named for a combination of her husband’s last name — Wolf — and her childhood nickname: Nellbell.
Wolf & Bell, located on First Avenue and attached to the Panida Theater, has a style all its own: bold stationary sits beside a vintage typewriter, sprigs of lavender fill tiny glass bottles, wool blankets from Scotland sit stacked in all their plaid glory, Lutzwolf’s unique brand of art lines the walls and a photo booth sits unassumingly but adorably in the corner.
The Reader sat down with Lutzwolf to talk about the inspiration behind Sandpoint’s latest downtown addition.
SR: How did you end up in this space?
NL: Me and my husband, Nick, have a thing for old theaters. We’ve always seen ourselves being a part of something like that … Anywhere else, I don’t know if it would work quite as well. We really wanted to be here, and I’m really proud to be part of the Panida.
SR: Are you (and the Panida) planning to play off each other at all?
I really want to be open during some events. I plan on being open late for the Follies, because I think that will be a good event for people to be able to take pictures (in the Wolf & Bell photo booth). They’ll be in their costumes, so that will be fun.
SR: If you were to sum it up, for someone who is unfamiliar with you guys’ style, what would you call your shop?
NL: *She laughs* This has been a tough thing. When we started actually making this a business, the only category that really fit everything that we had was “gift shop.” So that’s what I’ve been telling people as our short answer, but really it’s a little bit of everything — it’s handmade, vintage gifts; art; stationary; a little bit of surprise here and there.
SR: And tell me about the photo booth a little bit.
NL: Me and Nick, when we travel, it’s always a novelty thing that we like to do to mark where we go, and I know that we don’t have one here so I thought it would be a special thing for Sandpoint to have.
SR: That is so true. It hadn’t occurred to me, but we really don’t have one.
NL: Yeah, and this is a travel destination, and there’s lots of cool things that happen here.
SR: What draws you to the vintage style? Has it been a part of your personal aesthetic for a long time?
NL: Oh yes, ever since I was little. My parents took me antique shopping and I always found wonder in the older objects and the stories that they had. I think that’s also where the plants come from, too — I got my license to sell plants. My dad was a landscape architect so that was a part of my background, too. When (a customer) said ‘This is kind of like being inside of your brain,’ I thought, yeah, the shop is, in fact, the inside of my brain.
SR: Want to share anything about your personal background, just so people can get to know you?
NL: I’m from Montana, and I went to school to be an artist. I found myself in art education, and when I did my master’s, I decided that teaching high school is what I wanted, and that was good for five years, but then I decided opening a shop would be the next best step for me and my husband, and that it would something fun.
SR: Is there anything in the shop that has a particular story you want to share?
Oh, everything has a story. Well, we have a ton of cameras at home — I’d say upwards of 85 displayed in our house, and we’re starting to thin the herd a little, so that’s a bittersweet thing. It’s fun to see them on the shelves, but also we’re excited to see them go to a new home.
SR: Before you started the shop, you were doing the full-time artist thing. What’s the term for the art that you do?
NL: I would classify it as collage and paper cutting.
SR: What draws you to that medium?
NL: Collage, first, is you’re taking in the world as it is. You’re dealing with materials that are already out there and then making something of your own message from it. It is the search — like all of the objects in (the shop), they’re treasures that we’ve found. I feel like my artwork is the same. I search for images, and then I make something from it. And then just the meditation behind the cutting — it’s really relaxing to just do it all by hand.
SR: Is there anything I haven’t asked yet that you really want to talk about?
NL: I do want to say thank you to everybody — I feel like I’ve gotten so much support from the community, and I’m just overwhelmed with how awesome that is.
Visit Wolf & Bell at 300 N. First Avenue — to the left of the main Panida entrance — during current business hours: Wednesday-Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Also find Wolf & Bell on Facebook and Instagram, and browse some of the shop’s available art at www.wolfandbell.com.
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