The Studio

Red Tree Studio

Red Tree Studio is a peaceful comfortable place in the country.  It is situated on a hill above the Upper Iowa River at the edge of a field, with woods and gardens nearby.

Workshops at Red Tree Studio

When you register for a workshop at Red Tree Studio all you have to do is bring yourself – necessary materials and tools are provided. Class size is kept small, so you will have the personal attention you need. Know that Red Tree Studio is a place where you have permission to experiment, to mess up, to be awesome, to laugh and share.

“I think I’m Red Tree Studio and Frances’ biggest fan. I love paper projects, and it’s so much fun to do them at the studio. Frances has everything all set out and ready and there is plenty of room. She has a lovely selection of materials, fancy cutters, glues, inks, paints and things to embellish my creations. I like chatting and seeing what things others in the classes come up with too. If you feel like your piece isn’t turning out as nice as you had imagined, Frances will have helpful suggestions.” –Beth R.

A little about Frances

Originally trained as a fiber artist and crafts-person, I have expanded my media to include bookbinding, box making, collage, alcohol inks, acrylics, watercolor and mixed media. A favorite material of late is working with discarded books using parts of the old to make new books, journals and specialty boxes.  I am always game to learn new art and craft techniques, and I love sharing what I know at workshops in my studio and at other local venues.



Red Tree Studio is on a hill overlooking the Upper Iowa River in Northeast Iowa, one of the most picturesque parts of Iowa. The studio is about eight miles from Decorah; a small town with a thriving arts community. Decorah has a lively historic downtown with many locally owned business, museums and art venues. It is also home to Luther College, a small liberal arts school that adds to the area’s art, music and theater experiences. In late July, Decorah holds an annual celebration called Nordic Fest, which highlights this town’s strong Norwegian roots. Other highlights of the area are the Upper Iowa River, Decorah Fish Hatchery, Seed Savers Exchange and the many parks, trout fishing, springs and hiking & biking trails.

In Memory of Dolores


Imprinted in the concrete outside the Red Tree Studio’s front door are the words: “My Mother’s Gift”. It is a reminder that Red Tree Studio exists because of my mother’s love, generosity and strong spirit.

Dolores’ life bridged the eras of when women’s choices were limited to homemaker, teacher or nurse to seeing a woman fly into space. In the 60’s and 70’s she stepped up to fight for women’s rights, the environment and other causes. As a teenager, I didn’t always understand her strong convictions and recall sarcastically responding to the question of what my mother did for a living as “saving the world”.

It was later in her life that Dolores’ creative self really blossomed. She became a skilled quilter; she continued to knit and crochet, she learned beading, book and box making and she made hundreds of cards for all occasions. Now there are many beds covered with her quilts and I still use the cards made by her hands. Not only did she pass her creative gifts down through physical items, she also patiently spent hours teaching quilting, knitting and crafting to her grandchildren, inspiring a love of art that will always stay with them.

My mother passed away in 2012 and there hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I have not been grateful to her for all of her gifts.

Why Red Tree

The Red Bud Tree was a favorite of my mother’s. I believe she discovered this tree at some point in the 1970’s and it became a part of the landscape wherever she lived. As the kids in our family grew up, moved out and had homes of our own, the Red Bud found a home in most of our yards.

I love the sweet pink blossoms of the Red Bud in springtime and the soft heart shaped leaves of summer. Now that my mother is gone, they are a lovely reminder of her life.



“I believe that by using the hands, there is healing of the soul.”

Frances Garst-Kittleson