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Thursday, April 1, 2021

St. Louis Artist Selling Tile-Covered 'Sewer Pipe Home'

Posted By on Thu, Apr 1, 2021 at 1:48 PM

click to enlarge JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA

Artist Jeanne Spezia never intended to actually live inside the massive sewer pipe she keeps on the side of her driveway. Covered in mosaic tiles and representing years of work, the eight-foot-long concrete pipe turned up Facebook marketplace Thursday with an asking price of $100.

The listing for a "Sewer Pipe House" has already attracted potential buyers. But in an interview with RFT, its creator explains that it had started as an idea for a kind of art gallery spread across a curved concrete canvas.



"I wanted to make a mosaic sewer pipe that you could walk through," Spezia says. "They delivered it on a flatbed, and just dropped it. They're very heavy, about 13,000 pounds."

"I tiled it inside and out," she adds. "So now it's probably heavier."

click to enlarge Additions to the pipe include a front door, glass window, and an all-over makeover with mosaic tiles. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • Additions to the pipe include a front door, glass window, and an all-over makeover with mosaic tiles.

Spezia says she purchased the pipe around 2013, and spent the next two years transforming it into something far more artful than its intended purpose. But the plan for a walkthrough art installation changed after she read about the Dasparkhotel in Austria, which usess converted city drainage pipes as cozy hotel rooms with "maximum comfort in a minimal amount of space."

She remembers deciding, "Let's make ours a pod."

Spezia got to work, laying more than a thousand pieces of cut tile and turning the dull gray concrete into a work of art, while her husband framed the interior, installed a pull-down table and added a window on the other end.

By the end, Spezia had covered every inch in tile. The interior is a nightscape complete with stars.

click to enlarge JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA

On the exterior, one side shows a tree spreading its branches against a blue sky. The other features a close-up portrait of the artist herself.

click to enlarge Jeanne Spezia, shown sitting atop the pipe as she covered its concrete surface with tiles. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • Jeanne Spezia, shown sitting atop the pipe as she covered its concrete surface with tiles.

Spezia says she completed the work in 2015. The interior features a chalkboard finish to the new walls, allowing visitors to write or draw with chalk if they wished. Battery-powered lights light up the tiled night sky, and her husband added a frame for a bed.

Not long after finishing the project, Spezia says she and her husband planned to spend the night on new year's eve. That same night, her year-old dog escaped from an unlocked gate and, tragically, was struck and killed by a car.

Years later, Spezia says it was that loss that brought the pipe to market.

"I was in a hurry and didn't close the gate that night, and I just can't look at this pipe anymore, because it brings back that memory," she says. "It's been bugging me, and I just want to get rid of it."

click to enlarge Before it was covered in tiles, the nearly seven-foot-tall, eight-foot-long pipe arrived at Spezia's house on a flatbed truck and marked in spray paint with the words, "JEANNE FAMOUS ARTIST." - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • Before it was covered in tiles, the nearly seven-foot-tall, eight-foot-long pipe arrived at Spezia's house on a flatbed truck and marked in spray paint with the words, "JEANNE FAMOUS ARTIST."

So far, she says one prospective buyer is waiting for approval to move the pipe to his property. Another has offered to pick it up immediately, though she advises that any buyer will need a flatbed truck and "can't just roll it out of here."

Still, she says the attention toward her Facebook listing has been gratifying, though it's come at a time when she's ready to give up the product of so much time and effort.

"My husband could just destroy it, but my friend said that I could put it up on Facebook marketplace, and it's already got some 6,000 views. It's just funny," she adds, "Nobody cared about it while I was on there doing it, but now that I'm going to get rid of it, everybody is interested."

click to enlarge A self-portrait of Spezia occupies one side of the sewer pipe house. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • A self-portrait of Spezia occupies one side of the sewer pipe house.

click to enlarge Spezia, tile in hand, shown sticking the first tiles onto the pipe's surface. The final image, of a tree branch, took years to complete. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • Spezia, tile in hand, shown sticking the first tiles onto the pipe's surface. The final image, of a tree branch, took years to complete.

click to enlarge The pipe, shown here still partially covered in tile, was deemed nonfunctional for actually moving sewage — but it worked great for Spezia's unusual art project. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • The pipe, shown here still partially covered in tile, was deemed nonfunctional for actually moving sewage — but it worked great for Spezia's unusual art project.

click to enlarge A view of the front door and chalkboard surfaces on the interior of the sewer pipe home. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • A view of the front door and chalkboard surfaces on the interior of the sewer pipe home.

click to enlarge There isn't much room, but you'll always be under the stars. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • There isn't much room, but you'll always be under the stars.

click to enlarge Outside the pipe, one side shows a blue sky, clouds, and a tree branch stretching towards them. - JEANNE SPEZIA
  • JEANNE SPEZIA
  • Outside the pipe, one side shows a blue sky, clouds, and a tree branch stretching towards them.


Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at
@D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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