The U.S. Postal Service continues its tradition of issuing classic holiday stamps with a bright and cheerful rendering of America's favorite holiday flower - the poinsettia.
Available in sheets of 20 stamps, customers may purchase the stamps at: usps.com/stamps, at (800) STAMP24 (782-6724) or at post offices nationwide and on eBay at: ebay.com/stamps.
The Poinsettia Forever stamps are also available at ATMs in booklets of 18 stamps.
"The image of the poinsettia has proven to be so timeless that the Postal Service has featured it on two previous holiday stamps, one in 1964 and one in 1985," U.S. Postal Service Stamp Services Director Susan McGowan said in dedicating the stamp Oct. 10. "As these stamps begin their journey from post offices all across the land, we hope they will extend warm holiday wishes for a peaceful and joyous season."
The stamp art depicts the rich red and vibrant green leaves surrounding the flower - the cluster of small, rather modest cup-shaped structures in the center.
The red "petals" that we think of as the flower are actually modified leaves called bracts.
Artist William Low of Huntington, N.Y., working under the direction of Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Md., created the digital painting in Photoshop.
Using a cordless pen or stylus, he "painted" his brushstrokes on a pressure sensitive screen, adding dabs of color and weaving layers of texture into the painting.
A potted poinsettia served as Low's model.
In order to keep the image fresh after the live plant passed its prime, he photographed the flower at its peak, capturing details in close-ups and preserving the perfect light that accentuated the poinsettia's vivid color.
Many of this year's other stamps may be viewed on Facebook at: facebook.com/USPSStamps, on Twitter@USPSstamps or on the Web site Beyond the Perf at: beyondtheperf.com/2013-preview.
Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service's site for information on upcoming stamps, first-day-of-issue events and other news.
Kathleen Swanson is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.