The hidden date for this stamp can be found in the top-left corner.
Thoughts of peace, joy, and hope usually play a major role in the festivities, regardless of how we celebrate the holidays. Canada Post is issuing a set of three stamps that celebrate these perennial themes of Christmas with traditional religious imagery. A PERMANENTTM stamp at the domestic rate (52¢) features a nativity scene full of hope; the U.S. rate (93¢) stamp depicts a joyful trumpeting angel; and the international rate stamp ($1.55) portrays a dove of peace.
"Our intention was to make the three stamps as different as possible, so we chose three different artists to create original pieces in three different media," says Naomi Broudo of Tandem Design in Richmond, B.C. "We gave each artist one of the three words to work with, but we didn't specify a symbol to represent it-they came up with their own ideas."
Three different artists and three different media, but the stamps still work as a set. They share a focus on craftsmanship-each of the three art forms recalls traditional methods and handcrafted care, even when not actually crafted by hand.
The Hope stamp is a case in point. Artist Stephanie Carter has created traditional woodcut prints in the past. But for the stamp, she composed a nativity scene in woodcut style with entirely digital techniques. "I relied on Old Master woodcuts for reference," she says, "but on the computer I could produce cleaner, straighter lines. It made for a classical look that's also modern." In keeping with the classical model, Carter paid special attention to facial expressions to convey the tenderness of the moment, and included background story elements in silhouettes of the Wise Men on the far horizon.
For the Joy stamp, artist Steve Hepburn created three original oil paintings on textured board, depicting the angel, the town background and the stars. These were scanned, then digitally positioned to compose the stamp scene. Hepburn deliberately painted the images in a style reminiscent of folk art. "I wanted to create something a bit stylized, with a fun, whimsical quality."
Paper sculptor Jonathan Milne works entirely by hand. For the dove of Peace, he created a roughly life-size, fully dimensional, white-on-white paper sculpture. He then sculpted the olive branch and stars separately. "All the dove's feathers were individually cut, by hand, from flat paper," he says. "As I construct the work, I'm attentive to how the light hits it and brings out the dimensions." Even at stamp size, the photographed result captures the feathery detail in a play of light and shadow.
Strong colour is an important feature in each stamp as well. The very different, but equally intense, shades have an effect that unifies the set and brings a vibrant, modern quality to these traditional images.