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A holiday labor of Love

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 4:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 7:00 p.m. CDT

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DIXON – Dixon crafter Ann Love of Imagine That may be the first in town who already is prepared for Christmas.

It is the one season she thinks about and works toward year round. Love’s handcrafted holiday art, which has been sold at arts and craft shows all over Illinois for the past 9 years, will be at the Post House Ballroom today and Saturday in a special sale she hopes to make an annual affair.

She recently participated in the Mother’s Club of Geneva’s 38th annual Arts and Crafts Show. Pamela Poole, crafter chairwoman, said Love’s work is something everyone looks forward to and is very excited to see.

“Ann’s work is kind of like the decor you’d see when you go into a high-end department store during the holidays,” Poole said. “It is a very sophisticated and elegant style, something that people stop and talk about.”

Poole said a personal highlight of Love’s creations is how she recycles. She takes old wooden sleds and worn children’s chairs and gives them new life by adding embellishments with interesting colors and designs.

“We may stain or paint them, and then I do my thing,” Love said. “I love the old ‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ adage.”

She does the same with wooden ladders and old window frames, sometimes removing the glass, other times using a frosting technique. She then adds various decorations, creating new works of art.

She finds her base items at consignment shops, flea markets, auctions, estate and garage sales she and fiancé Jeff Montavon attend throughout the year. They also travel to North Carolina each year to a Christmas store, where she finds embellishments to add to her arsenal.

Her shop is in a small room in the basement of their home, with wall-to-wall decorations. She spends as many hours a day as she can there,

Love and Montavon have been together for 5 years, rekindling a relationship that began when they were in grade school.

As he was packing the trailer last week, loading up for the show in Geneva, she said, “I couldn’t do it without him. It is a lot of work what we do, from lining up these shows, traveling, setting up and breaking down. He’s very helpful.”

She already has 150 pieces for the show at the Post House, and said she will continue making more. She will stage the ballroom and decorate with trees, furniture and her displays to bring out the feeling of Christmas in an “already beautiful place.”

“It will be a versatile selection of traditional, old and new, I’ll have a patriotic tribute, whimsical corner, and an elegant area. There is a little bit of everything running from $25 to 175,” Love said.

This is my dream and passion. Ever since I was a little girl, I would make things, and Dad would let me go door-to-door and sell stuff. I think back, … it was silly, but it was a sign.”

Love has two daughters, Sgt. Charli Summers-Betancourt, 23 and Chelsi Summers, 21, and two grandchildren.

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