a peek inside the fishbowl

15 Feb, 2013

A little something for the stamp nerds philatelists among us

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Ottawa

I’m not sure if many people know this about me, but I’m a huge paper/design/typography geek. I don’t know how quite to define this area that makes my heart beat a little faster but perhaps I can describe it this way:

I love typography.
I am a paper snob.
I love great design.
I love photography.
I love composition. And white space. And lines.


I love stamps. Stamps are all of these things, aren’t they? Miniature pieces of art designed for a tiny square and printed in super high resolution. It’s art, it’s currency, it’s collectible! If I have a special letter to send I like to go to the post office and pick up a special stamp. I don’t really collect stamps anymore, but I used to. I don’t know why I stopped, but I adore stamps.

I’ve often wondered how they were designed too, so when Canada Post invited a few local bloggers (namely Erin from Ottawa Valley Moms, Loukia, and me) for a behind-the-scenes preview of a new commemorative stamp I had to say yes. AND if that wasn’t cool enough, the stamp they were printing is a new one (to be released in August) that features the artwork of Marie-Louise Gay, author of the Stella series of books. (See her books on Amazon.)

We all donned steel-toe shoes and got a tour of the place where the stamps are printed. It’s big. And loud. And looks like this. There’s lots of high-security, which makes sense, because of the value of what’s being created here.

Oh, here’s a million dollars worth of postage, for example:

A million dollars worth of stamps...

I think I asked a million questions about paper and security measures and ink. NERD ALERT. I don’t think they saw me coming.

Anyway, pictured below was the focus of our tour, the Stella stamp. I was secretly hoping someone was going to offer me this sheet for framing (colour bars! crop marks! CMYK!) but as it turns out, this sheet is incredibly valuable and the author doesn’t even get to keep one. (!)


And here’s a super sneak peek at the stamps themselves. They’re just lovely. I will be buying a bunch. I know my kids will love them. (Added incentive for them to write letters and thank you notes right?)


And here is the author (and illustrator!) herself, along with a young fan:

Marie-Louise Gay, and a fan

Marie-Louise was perfectly charming, and so thrilled to see her work on a postage stamp. It was so cool to talk to her about it. Her excitement was totally infectious.

I’m so happy I had the chance to meet her. Can you imagine seeing your work on a stamp? Oh hold on a sec. I forgot. YOU CAN! ;)

3 Responses to "A little something for the stamp nerds philatelists among us"

1 | Carly

February 15th, 2013 at 8:58 pm


That is SO cool! I don’t know that I’ve ever been a huge fan of the stamp, but I have to say those Stella ones are beautiful! We love the Stella books around these parts.

2 | Tricia

February 17th, 2013 at 7:29 am


When I was in college, my summer job was in that building and one year I worked with the stamps. I had to flip through endless sheets of them looking for flaws. As a stamp collector at the time, it was pretty awesome!

3 | binki

February 22nd, 2013 at 12:35 pm


I love stamps exactly the way you love stamps. Not stamp collecting but stamp admiring. Little works of art. Little homages to Canadian people and things.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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