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Evelyn Larson, Nisse's Creator
Hand-carved wooden Nisse
Evelyn began painting on mirrors and selling them in 1951.There is one in a show case at the Snowflake building in Timber Coulee. It is now 55 years old. Mirror painting turned into sign lettering in 1954, along with lettering trucks and store windows. There were three barns with a design and lettering, one remains south of town. The Old Town Ranch with a horse design, done 48 years ago in 1958. From 1956 to 1960 there were 58 trucks and 423 signs lettered.

In 1961 she went to work at Tri-State Breeders now known as Accelerated Geneticsworking in the laboratory for 14 years. During this time she had the opportunity to illustrate the covers for the I-A Digest magazine out of Columbia Mo. And the Sheepman magazine, plus some graphic design.

1968 was the year Westby placed three Velkommen till Westby signs along the highways leading into town. She was asked by Mayor Palmer Rude to design two Nisse to go on these signs. Not knowing much about Nisse at the time she came up with a happy little fellow, learning later in Norway they are portrayed a bit gloomy and dressed in dark cloths.

Many years have gone by since the beginning of the Nisse and some may have been forgotten. There were several farm signs ordered featuring Ole, one still remains intact after surviving a rather serious accident that called for a head transplant, Borgen's Café has four Nisse on the wall of the back dinning room. Borgen's also the only ones cut out of plexi-glass sitting in the front window .Dregne’s Scandinavian Gifts have two on their outside wall, plus the only three dimensional Nisse made sitting above their entry way. The earlier ones have gone by the wayside, The Farmers Union now known as Heartland Country Cooperative Nisse had their misfortune of having their legs cut off by a truck and were discarded. Jim Weber after selling his store returned his diamond carrying Nisse to Evelyn. It can be seen at Embroidery and More on Main Street along with two original ones in the window...

The one on the Vosseteig's building lasted the longest being on the wall until the building was sold. When they began to remove them, the weather and time had taken its toll and they fell apart. But after being up for more than twenty years that was to be expected. Ole is making a come back, Westby is using him on their main street banners, he is alive and well on the wall at Apple Blossom Apartments on Saugstad road north of town. Tip Bagstad carved a seven foot wooden Ole designed out of a log designed by Evelyn Larson. Ole stands proudly holding the Norwegian flag by the Stabbur tourist information building on North Main. Evelyn and her husband Orin have retired from making the large wooden Nisse. There was a time where Orin sawed out several a week ranging in the three to four foot size. Evelyn finds doing ink and watercolor paintings of Ole much easier. These are sold as prints.

Evelyn also taught evening classes in Rosemaling and landscape painting for several years at Gallery E and Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse. In 1980 she opened her own ceramic shop, holding classes and doing shows. This closed in 1999 when they moved to Westby. Evelyn and Orin are best known for the literally hundreds of nisses produced in the past 38 years. Ole the nisse is available in framed or unframed 8x10 and 5x7prints Ole has his own picture book telling about the different trolls. The nisse is also a troll but he is one of the good guys .The nasty trolls are ugly. With large noses lots of hair and a long tail. This book is also a coloring book. It came out in 1998 and there only a few left. Ole and his 'family' are covered by several Federal Copyrights. A copyright is valid for the lifetime of the owner plus 50 years.