Stamp Academy: Colorful Celebrations

The Colorful Celebrations stamp was dedicated in June 2016 at the World Stamp Show at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. The United States plays host to a sanctioned international stamp show only once every 10 years, with the next one scheduled for 2026 in Boston, MA.

This colorful stamp series is based on a Mexican art form known as “papel picado,” which translates to “pierced paper.” While the designs suggest cut paper, they actually were created digitally by artist Atzin Gaytan, a graphic designer based in NYC.

USPS Forever Stamp Colorful Celebrations

Papel picado is a Mexican folk art. The elaborate designs are commonly cut from coloured tissue paper using a guide or template and small chisels, creating as many as forty banners at a time. Papel picado can also be made by folding tissue paper and using small, sharp scissors. Common themes include birds, floral designs, and skeletons.

Making papel picado

The banners are commonly displayed for both secular and religious occasions, such as Easter, Christmas, the Day of the Dead, as well as during weddings, quinceañeras, baptisms, and christenings.

Papel picado banners in San Miguel de Allende

In Mexico, papel picado is especially incorporated into altars during the Day of the Dead.

Day of The Dead Altar with Papel Picado Banner

San Antonio artist Kathleen Trenchard has become an expert on papel picado. Photojournalist Bill Caldera takes us into her studio where she demonstrates the process of making this beautiful "paper lace".