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Phil and Else’s
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Artist's Art Form

Phil and Else’s
Art Form

Traditions in Artist's Work

Traditions In
Their Art


Phillip Odden Else Bigton

Norwegian Wood Carving
Barronett, WI


Ancestors: Earlier generations of a family, like great-grandparents.
Bunader: (sounds like, BOO-nard) The national costumes of Norway.
Handcraft: A skill or art done without power-driven machines.
Mangel board: (sounds like, MANG-uhl) Long, carved wooden board with a handle. In Norway, they were used to press wrinkles out of clothing. It was common for a man to give one to a woman if he wanted to marry her.
Norwegian-American: People in America who have ancestors from Norway.

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Journal Questions

QuestionHave you ever planned a project in your head before actually starting it?

QuestionWould you like a career as a professional artist? Why or why not? What art would you do? 

QuestionElse and Phil make items that are both beautiful and useful. Look around your house. What do you have there that is both beautiful and useful? Choose one object. Describe the who, where, when and why of how it’s used. Explain why it’s beautiful.

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Resources For Teachers

Web ResourceNorsk Wood Works is Phil and Else’s website, with lots of good information. They give details on their co-authored book, Treskjaererkunsten (1996).

Web ResourceThis article by Trond Gjerdi on Norwegian Folk Art gives insights to the genre.

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Resources For Students

Book ResourceArtists of Handcrafted Furniture at Work
By M. Rosenberg, 61 pp.
Looks at the work (design, inspiration, tools, techniques) of four US artists. Photo ill.

Book ResourceThe Scandinavian-American Family Album
By Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler, 127pp.
One of a series, this book begins with looking at the Scandinavian countries. It then traces a family coming to the US, finding a job and putting down roots. Page 16 features Phil Odden!

Web ResourceOdin, the website for the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has “Introducing Norway,” a set of pages for kids on Norway.

Web ResourceUp for a fieldtrip? Just 60 miles from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, you can visit the Norwegian-American museum, Vesterheim (“western home”) in Decorah, IA. You can order young-reader books from their gift shop.

Web ResourceThe Sons of Norway is a large, national organization for the celebration of Norwegian heritage. You can find a lodge near you in their lodge directory

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Text written by Jamie Yuenger, edited by Anne Pryor.

Sources consulted include tape recorded interviews with Phillip Odden and Else Bigton by Michael Kline (7/4/98) and Ruth Olson (8/01), with the tapes housed at the Wisconsin Arts Board; and the website www.norskwoodworks.com.

Video footage from Wisconsin Folks, 1998, produced by Dave Erickson for Wisconsin Arts Board and Wisconsin Public Television.

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Wisconsin Folks

For Educators:

To Hire
Phillip Odden



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