Three layers of 1-in. Sign·Foam 4 high density urethane board with TAP dimensional letters flush-mounted. Background is a digital print.
Left to right, standing: Doug Owen, Tracy Dunphy and Dave Sautter; Foreground: Dave Myers and Heather Snyder
Letters are ¾-in. thick, painted white with 22K gold leaf edges on the 1½-in. high density urethane [HDU] oval panel. The border detail is hand-shaped copper wire, painted light blue.
1½-in.-thick HDU panel with 1-in.-thick decorative cap; maple leaves are hand painted.
Digitally printed graphics on aluminum sign panels mounted to internal frame of pressuretreated wood, mounted on a three-member post system
1-in. HDU panels painted brown and mounted to panel wrapped in copper sheeting. Logo and text are ¼-in. matte white acrylic, flush-mounted.
Letters are ¾-in. acrylic painted matte white, on Sign·Foam 4 HDU panels over an internal frame attached to aluminum posts. Panel is finished with satin exterior acrylic paint. The feather is cut and sculpted from HDU board, then finished with gold paint with light and dark painted highlights.
Rounded and hand-sculpted letters spray finished with aluminum paint on an HDU panel finished with gloss black paint. “The sign is in its crate,” says Dave, “getting ready to ship to the client in Texas. We ship nationwide.”
Digitally printed graphics on a food truck
Dave Couch is ½-in.-thick acrylic. Faces are gilded and edges painted black. SIGNS is prismatic carved and finished with 22K gold leaf, pin-mounted ½ in. off the HDU sign panel. The logo is hand sculpted.
Incised text and address on HDU panel with incised border finished with 22K gold leaf. The two hand-painted illustrations represent two passions of the customer: mountain biking and deer hunting.
Incised text, finished with 22K gold leaf on a Sign·Foam 4 HDU panel with sculpted and gilded eagle. Sign is mounted in a traditional custom bracket on single post.
“This sign was zoned to allow only 6 square feet,” says Dave. “To increase the visual footprint we teamed up with the client to produce the stone column. Combining the custom column with our sign helped improve the presentation while showcasing the client’s work.”
“This sign was built for permanence,” says Dave. “It has a stone foundation and painted 10-by-10-in. aluminum posts. The sign face is three layers of 1½-in. HDU board. Stowe Electric Department is incised and finished with 22K gold leaf, and the graphics are digitally printed.
Graphics and text are digitally printed and applied to aluminum composite panels sandwiched over an internal pressure-treated wood frame. The existing post system was wrapped in cedar lumber.

Dave Sautter

By SignCraft Magazine

Posted on Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Shop name:
Dave Couch Signs

Shop size: 2000 sq. ft. total

Staff: Five plus Dave

Age: 53

Graphics equipment:
Roland 54-in. printer/cutter
Graphtec Cutting Pro FC5100-75
Gerber Omega software
Adobe Illustrator

On Instagram @davecouchsigns

Dave Sautter began his sign career in the Stowe, Vermont, shop of Jay Cooke, who was first featured in SignCraft in 1985, and went on to work with another SignCraft alumni, the late Doug Williams, in Hawaii. Now 35 years later, it’s our turn to share Dave’s work and his story in SignCraft.

Dave eventually returned to Stowe and put together a team of creative signmakers who serve their resort community of about 5,000—which is visited by hundreds of thousands of skiers each year, not to mention other tourists. SignCraft spoke with David he was beginning another busy Monday:

Early days I got started in the sign business in 1988, working in Jay Cooke’s shop and really enjoyed the work. I learned how to hand letter and hand carve, and how to lay up a wood sign panel.

I was around 21, and eventually decided I wanted to do something a little different. Being a New England surfer, I was pretty limited to when I could surf. I wanted to go somewhere where I could surf year-round, so I decided to roll the dice and go right to Hawaii.

Jay had been to Hawaii, and he told me he had met woodcarver Doug Williams there. I read the article on Doug in SignCraft and saw his beautiful signs—and that he was a surfer. I wrote him a letter, then Jay gave him a call. Doug invited me to stop by when I got to Hawaii.

I bought a one-way ticket then took a bus to LA to catch the plane to Hawaii. Before long I was working with Doug. I worked with him for about five years and am really grateful for that experience. It isn’t easy for a mainlander to make it in Hawaii, but I was able to do it because Doug took me under his wing. He introduced me to his family and friends and showed me the way of the diverse culture.

He helped me become both a better sign maker and businessperson. As a subcontractor, I had to estimate my own jobs, determine the cost and set up the draw I wanted from it each week. Doug took my price and marked it up. It was great experience.

Besides being a mentor, Doug became a great friend. He did super work and was a big influence in my life. I introduced him to mountain biking, which was a relatively new sport in Hawaii. We rode a lot together. I owe a lot to him. He died from cancer in 2012.

Michelle, my wife, and I met in Hawaii— though not for the first time. [Laughing] We had known each other in college, then one day after I had been in Hawaii for a few months, I ran into her while walking to the beach to surf. She had moved to Honolulu and was on her way to work. We ended up dating and marrying, and have two sons.

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