Embroidery, beads evoke motherly love on new Canadian stamps
By Molly Goad
On April 18, Canada Post issued two extraordinary animal stamp designs created with embroidery and beadwork techniques.
In the April-May issue of its Details Magazine, Canada Post said the new nondenominated, permanent-rate (currently 92¢) Animal Mothers and Babies stamps marry science and art.
“Issued in the lead-up to Earth Day and Mother’s Day, two new stamps celebrating the bond between sea otter and red-necked grebe mothers and their babies showcase beautiful First Nations embroidery and beadwork techniques — and help raise awareness of the importance of protecting our wild species,” Bronwyn Graves, director of stamp services for Canada Post, said.
Mother sea otters are highly devoted to their pups, a trait captured on the first stamp. She is the sole caregiver for her baby and has been observed licking and fluffing the pup’s fur for hours and cradling it on her chest while floating on her back.
The second stamp image shows two baby red-necked grebes riding on their mother’s back.
Unlike sea otters, mom and dad red-necked grebes share responsibilities surrounding their offspring: They select their nest site, build the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the babies. Pairs usually part ways after the little ones are fully fledged, around four weeks old.
The two species face many threats, including fishing gear entanglements, boat strikes, oil spills, pollution and other human disturbances.
The stamp design concepts were a collaboration by designer Meredith MacKinlay of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Temagami Anishinaabe artist Caroline Brown.
The artists worked for several months on the concepts. They engaged with wildlife experts to render the species accurately, with Brown combining new and traditional techniques of embroidery and beadwork.
“Fabric-based crafts have that feeling of homeyness and familial love,” MacKinlay said. “Embroidery is so textural, it seemed an ideal way to show the fur of the sea otter and feathers of the red-necked grebe.”
Because Brown collected stamps as a child and has always embraced nature through her First Nations heritage, this was a passion project.
“We gave the images a storybook quality and a sense of motion to make people curious about the worlds in which these creatures live — and remind them of how important it is to protect them,” she said.
The Animal Mothers and Babies stamps were printed by Lowe-Martin in booklets of six with the two designs se-tenant (side-by-side) and a souvenir sheet with a se-tenant pair.
The official first-day cover bears the souvenir sheet and a Vancouver, British Columbia, cancel showing a heart inside a heart.
The quantities produced were 200,000 booklets of six; 50,000 souvenir sheets; and 7,000 official FDCs. The stamps are square, 40 millimeters by 40mm, and the souvenir sheet is 128mm by 86mm.
The items are available from Canada Post’s online store; by mail order from Canada Post Customer Service, Box 90022, 2701 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON K1V 1J8 Canada; or by telephone from the United States or Canada at 800-565-4362, and from other countries at 902-863-6550.
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