The term tape-to-tape in hockey is used to describe a crisp on-the-money pass from one teammate to another.
But for Pete Cote, going tape to tape means he has begun a new art project.
Cote, of Stillwater, Minn., makes distressed hockey signs using layers of hockey tape. His unique talent has led him to making signs for some of the biggest names in hockey, including Phil Housley and Wild owner Craig Liepold.
Cote says he stumbled upon the idea while making one of his custom wood signs.
“I don’t know if I saw someone on TV taping their stick or what, but one night it was about midnight and I was working on a sign and I went and grabbed some hockey tape out of my kid’s bag,” said Cote, whose son, Sawyer, is a junior defenseman for the Stillwater Ponies.
His first attempt using tape created a cut out of a Wild tree. The next day, he bought a bunch of colored tape and went to work on his new idea. He made a couple of taped signs and donated them to charities. That’s when he set a meeting up with Mark Fasching (Minnesota Wild) through the help of Tom Sagissor.
“Mark thought they were really cool and wanted to borrow a couple to show some people,” said Pete. “He called back and said the owner of the Wild is interested in one of your signs. I was in awe.”
Of course Pete agreed and made a custom sign for Wild owner Craig Leipold. He made a few more for the Hockey Lodge at the Xcel Energy Center. Sooner than later, his taped signs were more popular than his wood signs.
A graphic arts major, Cote has always had a creative eye and creative hands. He remembers his first taped sign looking too new, so he chipped off part of a hockey puck and rubbed it across the tape to give it a distressed look.
“It really brings out the layers of the tape,” he said. “It got a great response.”
Cote says it takes up to 20 hours and five rolls of tape to complete a sign, depending on the detail. He is part owner of a printing company so his daytime hours are spent working there while he spends his evenings working on signs.
“It may take up to a week off and on to finish a sign,” he said. “Just to get the frame ready takes a lot of time. But it’s something I love to do.”
Cote has a room in his basement where he does his work. Usually a hockey game plays in the background as he sits and starts stretching tape across the base. What starts out looking like just a cross section of tape turns into layered, almost 3D-looking work of art. He credits his artistic abilities to his father, a former police officer and cabinet maker.
“There were many mornings where I woke up to the sound of a hammer and before you knew it I would either be out in the garage or on site helping my dad with an install,” he recalled. “I remember all his note pads, with all the numbers and dimensions, all his hand drawn, but 3D looking plans of different types of cabinets. If you ever had a chance to walk through his garage and then walk through mine, they are one in the same, down to the note pads.”
These days, 75 percent of the signs Cote makes are hockey signs (he will have a few signs hanging at the Wild’s new practice facility and has several on display at the LumberYard Hockey and Sports Center in Stillwater). But he also does corporate signs and has made them for the likes of Home Depot and Andersen Windows.
“The majority of my clientele are hockey fans,” said Cote. “I do a lot of high school stuff.”
As his signs are hung more often, he gets more phone calls asking for a custom made sign using his unique tape-to-tape design. His signs typically retail for between $400 and $2,000, depending on the size of the sign and the detail that goes into it. Some signs have up to eight layers of tape.
“Everybody wants to have something nobody else has,” said Cote. “People like the uniqueness of it. It’s a unique, customized personal gift.”
Interested in a sign? Contact Pete Cote at (651) 247-7497 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit his Facebook page DeSigns Unlimited or check out his website www.cotewoodworks.wix.com/designsunlimited to see more of his work.