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Tampa, Florida

Splat Paint & Design

Painting in ‘Plane’ Sight
Installing gold leaf in an airport ceiling

Safety was paramount in accessing the jobsite at the Tampa International Airport

Airports are busy, but it’s worth the hassle to get the job — people from all over the world can see your work. When Splat Paint was selected to apply some gold leaf at Tampa International Airport, they had some first-class challenges.

First off, the hours. “We only had access to our job site from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” said company owner Tom Henman. Most painting crews don’t work the redeye, so it took a few days to get adjusted. “5-Hour Energy kept us going throughout the night. Most of us were only getting five to seven hours of sleep when getting home at 4 or 5 a.m.

Not only were the hours late, but the project also was up in the air. “We had to drive the scissor lifts only on 4'x8' sheets of plywood, so we had to line them up several at a time and move four lifts from storage area to the work site within the terminal,” said Henman. Over time, they figured out how to do this more efficiently. “We took what was a 45-minute set up/break down to about 20 minutes by using more plywood to transport them to and from the work area. We were able to be more efficient each night with this routine,” he said.

But the challenges weren’t over. “At the base of the helix, which was the widest, we could not reach the wall that we had to gild,” said Henman. “We had to stand or kneel on the ledge of the helix/ceiling lip in order to gild the lower sections. It was secure, and we were secured with harnesses and safety gear.”

This project was part of a series of four works of public art that went on display at the Tampa International Airport. The piece Splat worked on, by Aaron T Stephan of Portland, Maine, is called Paths Rising, described by the airport spokespeople as “a stunning hanging sculpture constructed entirely out of ladders.” Find it at the Main Terminal’s transfer level near the SkyConnect station.

The crew worked high up at late hours to get the job done
The dome, prior to the gold leaf and artistic installation.
The finished installation, called Paths Rising


  • Tom Henman, Paula Bowen,
  • Scott Stifnell, RJ Runas

Key Products

Nazionale Composition Gold Leaf

Dux Acrylic Topcoat