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This site might be the spot for some Valentine variety
Fredericksburg-area residents sell unique gift items perfect for a Valentine on etsy.com

 Some of the woods Ron Rosiello uses for handmade pens were recovered from the old crib dam on the Rappahannock.
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Date published: 2/6/2011


Looking for a unique gift for that special someone on Valentine's Day?

How about a pearl necklace with a red crystal heart, a pen with intricate wooden inlay, cards adorned with pressed flowers or, for the old-fashioned fisherman, a bar of Alan's Catfish Bait Soap?

These are among the many gift possibilities Fredericksburg-area residents are selling through etsy.com, an increasingly popular website for handmade and vintage items.

"It's a great resource for people looking for something unusual," said Cara Helen Feys of Spotsylvania County, who sells her pearl and gemstone jewelry on the site. "You can find things that are not going to be like the standard box of Whitman's chocolates, but something handmade that shows you put some effort into it."

Feys got started making jewelry about 15 years ago after a vivid dream about an aquamarine bracelet left her yearning to re-create it. She stopped in at a local bead shop the next day and a salesperson showed her the basics.

These days she's trying to turn her hobby of creating gemstone and pearl earrings, necklaces and bracelets into a small business. She joined etsy.com a little over a year ago and also has her own website, carahelenjewelry.com.

"It's been a great site for all kinds of artists," Feys said of etsy.com. "It exploded this last year. It's a really good resource."

Retired physicist Ron Rosiello of Spotsylvania had been selling his handmade pens made of exotic woods, including some recovered from the old crib dam on the Rappahannock River, at juried craft shows when he discovered etsy.com last year.

"It's 20 cents to post one item for four months," he said. "I said, 'OK, we'll try it for a few months and see what happens.'"

Rosiello has gotten about a dozen orders directly through woodturner2, his shop on etsy .com, since he began uploading pictures of his pens in October. A number of his clients prefer to window-shop the site, then call to ask if he can customize a similar piece to their specifications.

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