Canada Post created the large, nine by 14 centimetre stamp as the Maple Leaf flag marked its 50th anniversary earlier this year.
Made from rayon, the stamp features a three-dimensional image of the Canadian flag and provides $5 in postage. While the stamps can be used as regular postage, they are aimed at collectors and those looking for a unique souvenir to showcase Canadian pride.
Jim Phillips, director of stamp services, said the plan was to create something similar to a patch that a person might wear while travelling in a foreign country. Phillips and his team had wanted to develop a fabric stamp for a number of years but waited for the right opportunity.
"The flag for Canada's first fabric stamp was the perfect subject and the 50th anniversary of the flag was a great time," Phillips said from Ottawa. "It just seemed to be a natural for us on this one. You just wouldn't do a cloth stamp for a series of flower stamps or something like that."
Phillips said the stamps make a "statement" and are being received very well by collectors.
"Sales have been very strong, lots of interest," he said. "I don't expect they'll be around past the summer season,"
Stamp designer Kostas Tsetsekas said printing the image of the flag on rayon was a unique technical challenge.
"There's a real coarseness to the material, so ink doesn't quite behave the way that we're used to," Tsetsekas said from Vancouver.
A flag was photographed by Tsetsekas' company Signals and then the image was digitally manipulated to create the final picture. Different inks were tested to try to recreate the red featured in the flag on the stamp material. A lot of trial and error took place before the final process for creating the stamp was worked out, said Tsetsekas.
Despite working on about 70 different stamps for Canada Post, this one was special for Tsetsekas as the release of the fabric stamp and the flag's anniversary coincided with the 50th anniversary of his family's immigration to Canada.
"It has a lot of special meaning for us as a family," Tsetsekas said. "It's going to be a special Canada Day for us for sure with the flag stamp."
The fabric stamp is available on a limited basis with only 300,000 for sale. A second version made of paper, and much more similar to regular postage stamps, is available as well.