Else Bigton was born and raised in the village of Spjelkavik near Ålesund. Traditional Norwegian handcraft was an element of daily life for Else’s family in Norway for many generations. Else makes furniture designs and carves acanthus leaf ornamentation influenced by the Baroque period.
Else met Phil Odden at the Hjerleid woodcarving and furniture making school in Norway. In 1979 they established their traditional Norwegian woodcarving business, Norsk Wood Works, in the small rural town of Barronett, Wisconsin. Since then, Else and Phil have made their living by designing, making, and selling traditional Norwegian woodcarvings, furniture, and architectural elements across the United States. Their work is produced in studios located on their farm where they also raise and train Norwegian Fjord horses. Since 2009 Phil and Else have organized and lead an annual tour to Scandinavia focused on folk Arts, music, food, religion, and rural culture from the Viking age to the present with emphasis on the period of emigration to America.
Phil and Else collaborate to support and inform the greater American Scandinavian community through making, teaching, writing, demonstrations, apprenticeship, and mentoring with the goal of discovering, interpreting and promoting traditional Scandinavian values, creativity, and self-expression in the modern age.